Saturday, 7 November 2015

Cunningham Pier: Geelong's lost waterfront line

Geelong once boasted a railway line that led directly down to the shores of Corio Bay, and from 1859 to the mid 1980's, those tracks ended at what today is known as Cunningham Pier. So on a recent visit to the city approximately 1 hour south of Melbourne, I just had to discover how the rails got there.

The former Cunningham Pier Line passed right through the middle of the car park before veering left in front of the large modern building in the background. Photo July 2015.

Originally opened as Railway Pier, the line ran between Bayley and Corio Streets and passed behind the large former wool store that is now occupied by Deakin University. Today little remains to be seen of the former right-of-way, but on my visit in July 2015 to retrace the line to Geelong's waterfront, a peek over a fenced off construction site on the corner of Gheringhap and Corio Streets revealed a small slice of railway history that is soon to disappear.

This cutting led to the tunnel beneath Mercer Street on its way to the railway yard. Photo 2015.

Here the former Cunningham Pier Line ran behind the row of buildings on Bayley Street and disappeared beneath Mercer Street through a tunnel that linked it to the railway yard where the commuter car park now stands in front of Geelong Station. The former tunnel is located at around the same location that a drive-thru coffee shop now stands on Mercer Street.

Cunningham Pier as seen from the adjacent carousel pavilion. Photo July 2015.

Content to have figured out how the rails once connected from the station to the pier, I walked along Transit Place and turned into Cunningham Street to follow the path the railway line once had on its way to Geelong's waterfront. As you can see in the top photo, the rails are still there. Although trains no longer venture out onto Cunningham Pier, the pier itself still takes pride of place along the Geelong Waterfront. Though there are no sounds of steam train whistles from yesteryear, the feint sounds of the carousel coming from within the adjacent pavilion still lend Geelong Waterfront a sense of nostalgia.

Geelong and the Cunningham Pier are just some of the many places I visit in my book Train Tripping Around Melbourne. Over 3 days in July 2015, I covered 365 km by train and tram in search of some of Melbourne's most scenic places. My self-guided railway adventure is waiting for you to discover more of greater Melbourne's interesting facts and funny history from the window of a train.

Available now through my Books page

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