Geelong has a thriving arts scene and easy access to world-class surf breaks, but you can’t talk about the place without mentioning the Ford Motor Company. The automotive giant set up here in 1925 and for the better part of the century, the city’s fortunes rose and fell in tandem with the company’s. At its peak in 1985, the factory employed more than 4000 people.
The factory closed in 2016, and Geelong has been reinventing itself since. As Melbourne’s small bar legislation of 1994 kicked off a wave of urban renewal, Geelong’s (relatively) affordable real estate and dearth of handsome old Gold Rush-era buildings are driving an influx of new cafes, restaurants and bars. The internationally recognised Igni is the most famous member of this new guard, but there’s much, much more to explore.