Djillong, the place where modern day Geelong stands, has been an urban centre for millennia. At the time of European colonisation, the traditional owners, the Wadawurrung, lived in low-density houses and gardens in settlements as large as most other sedentary communities across the world. Most of their basic needs (food, water, fibre, medicine, etc.) were met where they lived, and these attributes are what also drew the first European colonisers to settle on the shores of Corio Bay. Over the course of contemporary Geelong’s history, the places where the Wadawurrung lived progressively became Westernised suburbs. While the Wadawurrung erected their settlements working with the underlying ecological processes, the Europeans who followed did not. Whether it is retrofitting existing suburbs or building new ones, it is now acknowledged that several of Geelong’s suburbs need to change in their ecological perspectives, values and characteristics. While an understanding of Aboriginal land management at the time of European settlement is increasingly being recognized as invaluable, there was another culture that significantly influenced the urban landscape of Geelong - Chinese market gardeners. Arriving as part of the 1850s goldfields migrations, and staying until just after World War 2, Chinese settlers provided most of the vegetables consumed in Geelong in this period. Like the Wadawurrung, the Chinese were pushed to the parts of the Geelong landscape that the Europeans did not want. The result is that today Geelong is the second least sustainable of the twenty largest urban centres in Australia. This paper looks at three different ways that one basic human need – food – was historically sourced and provided in Geelong, and what lessons can be learnt from these different approaches in ensuring that 21st century Geelong lives within its ecological means.
The authors 2018
Proceedings of the 14th Australasian Urban History Planning History Conference 2018