|Population||16,355 (2016 census)|
|• Density||1,128/km2 (2,921/sq mi)|
|Area||14.5 km2 (5.6 sq mi)|
|LGA(s)||City of Greater Geelong|
The explorers Hume and Hovell arrived at Lara on December 16, 1824, believing that they had reached Westernport Bay. They recorded that the Aboriginals described the bay as Djillong and land as Corayo, suggesting origins for the names of Geelong and Corio.
The area was originally named Kennedy's Creek but was also given several different names including Duck Ponds, Hovell's Creek, Cheddar, Swindon and Lara Lake. The area of Lara was no more than a few farms at this time.
The railway through the town was opened in 1857 along with the local railway station, with several subdivisions then announced. A Post Office opened on 1 March 1858 as Duck Ponds, renamed Hovell's Creek in 1872, and finally Lara in 1884. The population grew to a few hundred by 1890, and several facilities like schools and churches were built, but a municipal water supply was not completed until 1947.
Several scenes from the 1979 feature film Mad Max were shot on location around Lara, as well as several scenes from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation mockumentary We Can Be Heroes: Finding The Australian of the Year, in which the town carried the fictional name "Dunt".
The town's history is being preserved at the Lara Museum and Historical Centre on the corner of Forest and Canterbury Roads. This historic property, formerly the Lake Bank Hotel (circa 1860), was renovated by local businessman Lino Bisinella and provided in 2013 to the community group which runs the museum, Lara Heritage and Historical Inc.
Heritage listed sites
Lara contains a number of heritage listed sites, including:
- 605 Bacchus Marsh Road, Elcho Homestead
- Princes Highway, Hume and Hovell Monument
- 108 Windermere Road, Pirra Homestead
According to the 2016 census, there were 16,355 people in Lara.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 1.4% of the population.
- 80.1% of people were born in Australia. The next most common countries of birth were England 3.9%, Philippines 1.4%, New Zealand 1.0%, Scotland 0.8% and Vietnam 0.6%.
- 81.9% of people spoke only English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Croatian 0.7%, Tagalog 0.7% and Italian 0.7%.
- The most common responses for religion were No Religion 31.8% and Catholic 26.2%.
Hovell's Creek runs through Lara and ends at Limeburners Bay, a small inlet of Corio Bay. Owing to the poor soils and low runoff inherent in Australian streams, along with the fact the region is the driest in southern Victoria because of the Otway Ranges’ rain shadow (receiving about 425 millimetres (17 in) per year), the creek is ephemeral and is not useful as a water source. Granite peaks known as the You Yangs, 4 kilometres north of Lara, rise dramatically to a height of 352m and can be seen from most areas of Geelong.
Lara offers education through its three primary schools; St. Anthony's Primary School, Lara Lake Primary School and Lara Primary School. Lara Secondary College, which accommodates years 7 - 12 and the VCE, opened in 2004. Lara is also home to Avalon College, a school for International Students preparing them for traditional schools.
On Lara's outskirts are industry parks and two prisons – the maximum security HM Prison Barwon, opened in January 1990, and the medium security Marngoneet Correctional Centre, opened 3 March 2006. The former Pirra Homestead, a home for girls age 13 to 18, part of the Victorian youth welfare system, closed during the 1980s.
Lara is also home to St Laurence Park, which is set on 42 acres (170,000 m2) of parkland and houses 86 self-contained cottages and 22 flats for the elderly.
Ford Australia operates a proving grounds for automotive testing and evaluation at the north end of the You Yangs.
Lara has regular V/Line passenger train services on the Geelong line to Melbourne and Geelong to cater for the many residents who commute to work each day via Lara railway station. Lara has become a popular place to live for those wishing to work in Melbourne and have ties to Geelong. After the extension of Myki ticketing to the Geelong line in 2013, Lara became a Myki Zone 2, 3 & 4 station. Following the introduction of 20-minute off-peak services in 2015, there has been an increase in passenger traffic by train between Geelong and Lara.
Avalon Airport is nearby but there is no regular public transport from Lara station to the airport terminal.
Lara has a post office, two banks, several hairdressers, a barber, a travel agency, a butcher, a greengrocer, a Woolworths supermarket (opened in 2016) and a Coles supermarket. The Coles supermarket opened in December 2014 as part of the town centre expansion on the site of Austin Park, as well as a re-alignment of Waverley Road to create a more spacious site for the supermarket and the re-configuration of the park. There are four real estate agencies and one newsagency. The Lara Library opened in 2011.
There are several eat-in bakery/coffee/cake shops, three Thai restaurants, an Indian restaurant, three pizza shops, three fish-and-chip shops, McDonald's, Subway, three Chinese and noodle shops and other take-aways. There are two petrol stations, both of which are open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Lodging and entertainment are provided by a pub/hotel, sports club, and a lawn bowls club.
Lara has an Australian rules football team competing in the Geelong Football League. There are two soccer clubs in Lara: North Geelong Warriors FC play in the National Premier Leagues Victoria 2 and Lara United FC play in division 5 of the Victorian State League. Lara is also home to the Lara Giants Basketball club that was established in 1992 and competes in Geelong United Basketball association.
Lara Golf Club (known as Elcho Park Golf Club until 2014) is an 18 hole course and driving range on Elcho Road.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Lara (SSC)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
- Sid Brown (March 1990), "Tracks Across the State", Newsrail, Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division): 71–76
- Phoenix Auctions History, Post Office List, retrieved 30 January 2021
- The 1969 Lara grass fire killed 17 people, and high risk of more deadly grass fires this summer Herald Sun 21 November 2016
- "Elcho Homestead (H0283)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- "Hume and Hovell Monument (H1547)". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- "Pirra Homestead (H1723)". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- St. Laurence.org.au Archived 2007-10-09 at archive.today
-  Geelong Advertiser: V/Line commuters to feel myki's touch by July[dead link]
- "Zones". Public Transport Victoria. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
- Dundas, Greg (1 June 2015). "You can get a Geelong train every 10 minutes at peak times under new timetable". Geelong Advertiser. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
- "Geelong Bus Routes". CDC Victoria. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
- Golf Select, Elcho Park, retrieved 11 May 2009
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Lara, Victoria.|
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