If you’ve ever visited the port city of Geelong, you’ve probably encountered some colourful figures, the Geelong Bollards, along the city’s waterfront.
Geelong is located on Corio Bay, just under an hour’s drive south-west of Melbourne. The name itself was derived from the word Jillong, a word used by the indigenous Wathaurong tribe meaning land or cliffs. The city was named Geelong by Governor Richard Burke in 1827. Geelong has long been a city of industry and manufacturing, from cars to wool and distilleries.
Nowadays, Geelong is a seaside city that boasts a thriving arts community. There are many art galleries in Geelong, all hosting an array of traditional and contemporary works from painting, to photography, textiles, craft, sculpture and design.
One of the most famous art displays in Geelong can be found right on its foreshore. Visitors who wander the promenade and Geelong’s waterfront will no doubt be greeted by decorated bollards in different shapes, sizes and personalities. These bollards, over 100 of them, can be found dotted along the shore on 48 sites from Limeburner’s Point to Rippleside Park.
The Geelong Bollards portray many of the city’s historic characters, and give a glimpse into the years during Geelong’s existence both before and after colonisation. The bollards were created from salvaged timber pier pylons from Yarra Street Pier after it was destroyed by fire in 1988. In 1995, Melbourne artist Jan Mitchell was commissioned by Geelong’s council to transform the pylons into the characters we see today. It took many years for Jan to finish her project, which involved as much research into the clothing of these characters as the designing and painting.
It’s easy to just park the car at Geelong’s promenade and take a quick wander along the shore to come face-to-face with some of these personalities. If you have time to burn, then you can take a two-hour (one-way) wander along the Geelong Bollards Trail, starting at Rippleside Park. You can download a map which can be found in the Central Geelong Arts & Culture Walking Trails guide.