High Street, Belmont
|Population||13,646 (2006 census)|
|• Density||1,483/km2 (3,842/sq mi)|
|Area||9.2 km2 (3.6 sq mi)|
|Location||4 km (2 mi) from Geelong|
|LGA(s)||City of Greater Geelong|
|State electorate(s)||South Barwon|
Belmont is a southern suburb of Geelong, Victoria, Australia. The name means "beautiful hill". Belmont is geographically separated from the Geelong central business district by the Barwon River. The suburb is primarily residential, with some light industry along Barwon Heads Road. The suburb is part of the City of Greater Geelong local government area.
The area was settled by Geelong mayor Dr. Alexander Thomson in 1836 his pastoral run and subsequent purchases of crown land were managed from the homestead Kardinia. Early settlement was hampered by the lack of a secure bridge. By the mid-to-late 1850s a township had developed with a general store and a number of pubs. The Post Office opened on 21 January 1860.
Many of the streets in the area are named after early properties; for instance Roslyn Road was originally a track which led to the homestead Roslyn in the suburb of Wandana. A few significant older buildings remain, such as Royd Grange which was built by Godfrey Hirst in 1897. Kardinia House, located in Riverview Terrace, is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.
In 1850 Dr. Alexander Thomson offered for sale 93 allotments as the township of Belmont between Mount Pleasant and Roslyn Roads. Further land sales occurred in 1886, 25 acres (100,000 m2) of Crown land was offered for sale in 25 allotments. The economic depression of the 1890s adversely affected land sales. 
In 1909 a substantial proportion of the area, bound by Thomson, Regent and Scott Streets, and Roslyn Road, was acquired by the Geelong Grammar School. On 21 October 1910, Chairman of the school, W.T. Manifold turned the first sod that was expected to be the new era of the school. These plans had faded by August 1911, when adjoining rural land was offered for sale as the Belmont Hill Estate. The Grammar School council indicated that an adjacent suburban subdivision would work against their plans for a boarding school, not one catering for day boys. The school made the decision to buy land on the opposite side of Geelong at Corio, with the land at Belmont, sold for further residential subdivision.
The immediate years after the First World War in the early 1920s witnessed the transformation of the rural farmland in Belmont into a residential area. On 6 December 1913, 86 residential sites were auctioned, forming the Belmont Heights Estate. The streets of this new estate were named after well-known Polar explorers: Scott, Shackleton, Peary and Amundsen. Further subdivision occurred in the 1920s, stimulated by the construction of a new bridge over the Barwon River in 1926, and the extension of the Geelong tramway system in 1927. Construction of houses started during the interwar and early postwar years, most built as affordable homes for textile workers, drivers, labourers, clerks, secretaries, teachers and builders.
Major housing development of Belmont commenced in the years following World War II, with housing developments spreading from the original township on the hill, westwards towards Highton. Later development in the 1970s saw subdivision to the south towards Grovedale.
The Belmont Common was a site of early aviation in the Geelong area. The first person to fly from the Common was Hans Andersen, a garage owner who flew his home made biplane until he crashed the plane at Lovely Banks.
He was followed by Charles and Percy Pratt. Pilots involved in World War I, they erected a large hangar and workshops, from which they taught gliding and flying, overhauled airplanes and motors, and practised aerial photography.
In 1928, 10,000 Geelong residents turned up at the aerodrome to welcome aviator Bert Hinkler who had just completed a 16-day England-Australia flight. Percy Pratt started the Geelong Gliding Club in 1929 which still exists at Bacchus Marsh. On 4 August 1937 Percy Pratt took off from the Common and completed the longest towed glider flight in Australia up to that time.
Avro Anson bombers used by Bass Island Airways on the run to King Island were housed and serviced at the Belmont Common, one being destroyed by floods in 1952. By the early 1950s the aerodrome on the Common had closed.
A narrow gauge tourist railway operated on the Belmont Common from 1969 to 1976. Operated by the Australian Railway Historical Society's Geelong division under the Geelong Steam Preservation Society name, the railway started with 100 feet (30 m) of track and two steam locomotives donated by the Australian Portland Cement company, once used on their private industrial railway at Fyansford.
Further rolling stock was acquired throughout the 1970s, with plans drawn up for track extension though the Common, and all the way along the Barwon River to Buckleys Falls. However the mid-1970s regular flooding had dampened enthusiasm, and the construction of the Princes Highway bypass of Belmont would cut the current railway line in half. At the same time, the closure of the Victorian Railway's Queenscliff line presented an opportunity for the society, which relocated to Queenscliff in 1976, where it now operates at the Bellarine Peninsula Railway.
Belmont is bounded by the Barwon River to the north and east, Waurn Ponds Creek to the south, and the former Kardinia Creek to the west, which was placed underground in the 1960s. Low lying lands follow the banks of the Barwon River. Further parklands follow the Waurn Ponds Creek.
The area of Belmont Common is flood-prone during heavy rainfall. It was also a site of early aviation in the area and a flying school was operated in the area in the 1920s. During 1952, the Barwon River broke its banks, flooding the entire Belmont Common area; flooding covering the same area, including the caravan park and K-mart car park is not uncommon in recent history (1995).
The older populated areas of the suburb are located on top of a hill centred upon High and Regent Streets, overlooking the river and the rest of Geelong. The area near Reynolds Road and High Street are much flatter, and were developed during the post war period. The lower lying areas near Torquay Road were settled from the 1970s onward.
In the 2006 census, 13,646 persons resided in Belmont. 16% of the population were children aged between 0–14 years, and 31% were aged 55 years and over. Belmont is an ageing suburb, with the median age of residents being 40 years, compared with 37 years for persons in Australia. 90% of residents are Australian citizens with 80.3% born in Australia, the most common foreign birthplace being England (3.6%).
The average household size was 2.3 persons, with the majority of dwellings being separate houses. Family households occupied 60% of private dwellings, with lone person households making up 32%. The median weekly family income was $1,053, compared with $1,171 in Australia.
High Street is the main road in Belmont, running from the centre of Geelong towards Colac. A four lane bridge over the Barwon River links Belmont to the north and the rest of Geelong. Once part of the Princes Highway, a bypass of Belmont was commenced during the early 1980s. Completed in 1990, the four lane James Harrison Bridge over the Barwon River removed heavy through traffic from the main shopping centre and diverted traffic down an upgraded Settlement Road. The Princes Highway remained on this route today until the opening of the Geelong Ring Road.
Other major roads include the Surfcoast Highway which runs from Settlement Road south to Grovedale and Torquay before forming the Great Ocean Road. Barwon Heads Road which forms an important link to Barwon Heads and other smaller coastal towns. Shannon Avenue which provided a northerly connection to the rest of Geelong, and Barrabool Road which runs west to Highton and Wandana Heights.
Trams served Belmont from 1927 to 1956. The tramline was opened on 16 December 1927 when the 'South' route was extended from the Barwon Bridge to Colac Road. The extension was made possible by the construction of a new wider bridge over the Barwon the same year. The tram line ran along High Street to the terminus on the corner of Roslyn Road.
The line was single track, except for a one crossing loop near the river bridge, and a second south of Mount Pleasant Road. In 1951 4 trams per hour operated over the line during peak times. The line was the last of Geelong tramways to close, the last run being operated on 25 March 1956. Buses replaced the services.
A motor bus service to Belmont commenced on 15 January 1914. Using 12 horsepower (8.9 kW) double decker buses capable of travelling at 12 miles (19 km) an hour (19 km/h), they were later replaced by the tram service.
Today Belmont is served by a number of bus routes operated by Benders Busways that link the suburb with the city, Highton and Grovedale. All routes run into the suburb via High Street, before splitting off to various destinations. Bus services to Torquay also stop in Belmont to pick up passengers, as do V/Line road coaches to Lorne and Apollo Bay.
Some of the churches in Belmont include:
- St. Stephen's Belmont
- St. Bernard's Parish
- Grace Church
- God Baptist Church
Belmont is served by a number of Primary and Secondary schools:
- Belmont Primary School was the first primary school in the suburb, opened on 1 December 1856. Located on Mount Pleasant Road, the school suffered from declining enrolment during the 1990s but has stabilised .
- St Bernards Catholic Primary School was the school of the St Bernards Catholic parish. Located on the corner of High and Regent Streets, the school was merged with Highton's Mercia Catholic Primary School in 1999, to form Clairvaux Catholic Primary School on Reynolds Road.
- Belmont High School is situated off Roslyn Road, and was the first secondary school in Belmont. It opened during the post war population boom in the district.
- Roslyn Primary School opening about the same time.
- Oberon Primary School also opened when Belmont was first being developed post-war.
- Oberon High School opened on Kidman Avenue in the late 1960s to serve the growing population south of the Barwon River. The school also caters for students from the coastal and country areas to the south of Geelong.
- Oberon South Primary School is located next to Oberon High School on Tintinara Crescent.
Belmont was once home of the South Barwon Technical School on Reynolds Road which opened in the late 1970s. The school was closed in the early 1990s as part of the then-State Government reforms of vocational education. The buildings are now occupied by Clairvaux Catholic Primary School.
A number of kindergartens are also located in Belmont.
Belmont has a large number of reserves and a number of local sporting clubs.
The extensive Belmont Common area follows the Barwon River to the east of the suburb, and has a path along both sides of the river for people to utilise on foot or bicycle. The Common also houses the Barwon Valley Public Golf Course, golf driving range, a number of baseball fields, motocross course, indoor and outdoor shooting ranges, dog obedience school, and cricket and football ovals.
Further major reserves are Winter Reserve and McDonald Reserve. Established in the late 1960s, both reserves have a number of ovals that see heavy use during the football and cricket seasons.
The Barwon Valley Activity Centre houses indoor basketball and netball courts. The centre is also home to a Sunday market and a number of special events.
Sporting clubs include:
The Leisurelink Swimming Complex houses an enclosed 25-metre swimming pool, a number of smaller pools, four external waterslides, and a gym and aerobics centre. The ageing centre was replaced with a large $31million centre in Waurn Ponds in September, 2010.
Belmont has a number of children's playgrounds throughout the suburb, the major one being the Barwon Valley Fun Park.
The Belmont Senior Citizens centre is located on Thompson Street behind the High Street shopping strip.
The Geelong RSL clubrooms are located on Barwon Heads Road, relocating from the city in the early 1990s.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Belmont (State Suburb) - Vic". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 28 February 2008.
- Australian Places - Belmont
- Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Retrieved 11 April 2008.
- Australian Dictionary of Biography: Hirst, Godfrey (1857 - 1917)
- "Kardinia House (H0337)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- Belmont Heritage Areas Report - Volume 1 August 2007 (PDF-3133KB)
- Begg, Peter (1990). Geelong - The First 150 Years. Globe Press. ISBN 0-9592863-5-7.
- Australian Science at Work: CSIRO Division of Textile Industry
- Geelong Parks and Gardens - Belmont Common
- Roy H Holden: Notes on Belmont (at Geelong Heritage Centre)
- Australian Gliding Museum
- ADF Serial - RAAF A4 Avro Anderson
- Victorian Preserved Steam Locomotives
- Paul and Kathleen Kenny (2004) Trains, Troops and Tourists
- "Bureau of Meteorology - Southeastern Australia, June 1952". Retrieved 19 July 2007.
- City of Greater Geelong: Flooding
- Main Roads Victoria - M1 - Princes Freeway / Highway West
- Geelong tramways—a short history
- 'BRUMBY OPENS REVITALISED BELMONT HIGH STREET 'Wednesday, 8 March 2006
- Judy Laging (1974) Shire of South Barwon - A Brief History
- Golf Select. "Barwon Valley". Retrieved 11 May 2009.
- Klaus G Clapinski (15 October 1967) The Shire of South Barwon
- Geelong Advertiser: 'Broken glass showers from roof above pool' - 31Aug07