Bellarine is a rural locality on the northern side of the Bellarine Peninsula, between Clifton Springs and Portarlington. During the nineteenth century Bellarine was more extensive than today, probably including today's Drysdale. During the 1860s it had an estimated population of 350 persons, and the reduction of its area produced a population figure of around 50 in the 1890s.

A Presbyterian church and a school were established in about 1854. Later there were a Wesleyan church and school (1865) and a mechanics' institute (1858). Mount Bellarine is east of the village.

On 18 September 1865, the Bellarine shire was proclaimed. It extended from Boundary Road, Geelong and along the east side of the Barwon River to Ocean Grove, occupying all of the Bellarine Peninsula except Queenscliff. Other coastal townships included Clifton Springs, Indented Head, Portarlington and St Leonards. Inland are the Drysdale township and farmlands with good soil for agriculture. The shire's area was 332 square kilometres.

The Bellarine Peninsula's agricultural statistics for 1891-92 are illustrative of its farm crops for several decades to come:

Farm crop acres
Hay 4764
Onions 1984
Peas/beans 880
Potatoes and root crops 669
Wheat and barley 643
Market gardens and orchards 141

The Peninsula's industries included creameries, wattle liquor factories and boiling-down works. Cereal crops were phased out when the north Victorian wheat lands were developed.

Bellarine shire became a rural city on 12 December 1989, and Drysdale remained the municipality's administrative centre. On 18 May 1993, Bellarine rural city was united with five other cities and parts of two shires to become Greater Geelong city.

Bellarine municipality's census populations were:  

Census date Population
1871 3802
1921 4009
1954 7015
1971 18,791
1991 41,310

Further Reading

Ian Wynd, ‘Balla-Wein: a history of the Shire of Bellarine’, Shire of Bellarine, 1988