North Shore: Geelong's Boom Town 1920s-1950s
In its heyday of the 1920s - 1950s, North Shore (a small northern suburb of Geelong) was the hub of industrial development in Victoria’s second city. Situated against the backdrop of Corio Bay, North Shore and its immediate surrounds was home to major industries including Ford, International Harvester, Shell, the Corio Distillery and the Phosphate Cooperative Company of Australia (the 'Phossie').
Residents grew up with these companies literally over the back fence and many of their stories depict childhood memories of mischievous exploration. Many residents were employed by the industries, some hopping from job to job, whilst others spent the majority of their working lives at the likes of Ford or the Phossie.
At the commencement of World War II in September 1939, much of the local industry was placed on war footing. Two thirds of the newly opened International Harvester was commandeered by the R.A.A.F. and an ad hoc airfield was established. The U.S. Air Force arrived shortly thereafter.
The presence of American servicemen has left an enduring impression on the North Shore community. Their arrival was the cause of much local excitement, particularly among the children who made a pretty penny running errands for them. They were also a hit with the ladies, who enjoyed a social dance at the local community hall. The story of the American presence in North Shore remains largely untold, and the reflections of local residents provide a fantastically rare insight into a unique period in Victorian history.
A special thanks to local historians Ferg Hamilton and Bryan Power for their assistance during the making of this story. Also thanks to Gwlad McLachlan for sharing her treasure trove of Geelong stories.