why were geelong’s old buildings preserved?

Unlike most cities where highrise dominates the landscape, Geelong’s old buildings were spared demolition. There was a reason for this and it wasn’t just a handful of people who argued against the loss of these tasteful buildings.

T & G Life Assurance building (1934)

The region from the Werribee River to Lorne that included Geelong was first occupied by the Wathaurong who had inhabited the western side of Port Phillip Bay for more that 25 000 years. But with the arrival of John Batman at Indented Head in 1835 who established a holding station, squatters arrived pushing off the original inhabitants. 

Fletcher Jones building, Geelong

Over the next hundred years industries expanded until the 1930s depression, but after World War Two growth continued until the 1970s. Free trade policies squeezed the city’s clothing, footwear, automobile, automobile parts, aluminium, oil refining, food processing, and rope and cement manufacturing so that companies relocated or closed down altogether. The biggest employer, Geelong’s Australian Ford Motor Company, Australia’s headquarters since 1925, closed its doors in 2016. With so many jobs lost, there was no money to revitalize the city and thus, its old buildings have survived.