South Geelong, mostly an industrial suburb, is immediately south of the railway line which curves eastwards from the Geelong railway station. It includes Kardinia Park, the home of the Geelong Football Club and which takes up about one-third of the suburb. South Geelong is bordered on the south by the Barwon River.
Before the railway line was built in 1876, South Geelong extended closer to central Geelong, probably to Kilgour Street. A State primary school in Kilgour Street, named South Geelong, opened in 1879. It replaced a Wesleyan school (1854) which was associated with a church in Fyans Street, both south of the railway line.
Kardinia Park, formerly known as Chilwell Flats, was reserved and named in 1872. Much of it was gullied waste land. Three ovals were laid out, the eastern one becoming the home of the Geelong Football Club which transferred there from the Corio oval in 1941. There were shops and businesses along Moorabool Street from Kardinia Park to Barwon Terrace.
Further south, land uses were industrial and arguably noxious. Gravel Pits Road was the home of wool scourers, with discharges to the Barwon River, above the breakwater which protected fresh water from tidal salt inflows.
A short distance from the wool scourers there was the Godfrey Hirst woollen mill at the corner of Swanston Street and Barwon Terrace. Hirst, from Meltham in Yorkshire, started his business in a shed in Fyans Street, South Geelong, and acquired the mill site in 1899. To its immediate north there was Valley Worsted Mills (1924-73). Hirst continues as a carpet maker.
Kardinia Park also has a public swimming pool (mid-1960s), the Kardinia senior citizens’ centre, netball courts and a Boer War memorial on its north-west corner. The original Wesleyan church and its replacement building (1869) continue as a Uniting church. Reserves along the Barwon River include the John Landy athletics field.
South Geelong’s census populations have been:
A.E. Bell, A history of the South Geelong Uniting church – formerly a Wesleyan Methodist cause 1838-1990, Geelong, 1990
South Geelong primary school No. 2143: centenary 1879-1979, 1979
Ivan Southall, The weaver from Meltham, Melbourne, 1950
Judith Rice, The mill of mystery: a history of the Valley Worsted Mills Ltd, Geelong, Melbourne, 2009