Geelong is a community of collections and collectors. The City of Greater Geelong holds a rich and diverse Heritage Collection of over 12,000 objects. Spread across numerous locations throughout the region, the collection reflects Geelong’s history as a vibrant and progressive city.
The oldest artefacts in the collection date to the 1790s. There are mayoral chains, industrial machines, extensive maritime and wool collections. There is an ever-changing outdoor collection, which includes both monuments and public art. There are even confiscated contraband items from the old Geelong Gaol – handmade tattoo guns, shivs and drug paraphernalia.
In April 2020 the City of Greater Geelong finalised the report Our Heritage, Our Collection that lays the foundation for caring for managing and providing access to this extraordinary heritage collection.
We have hand-picked 100 treasures from the collection curated by the themes: Waggas, War, Wool and Work. If you would like to see other themes or objects on this site, jump to the about page to find out more and let us know.
We have hand-picked 50 treasures from the collection curated by the themes: War, Wool and Work. In time, more Geelong regional treasures will be added. If you would like to see other themes or objects on this site, jump to the about page to find out more and let us know.
This large wagga is made from fabric pieces that were handstitched together and lined with jute wheat bags. The fabric pieces are roughly rectangular and of various sizes. They are made from cut-down pink and green cotton knit garments. The wagga was once described by early collectors as the ‘world’s worst wagga’. Today, it is considered one of the most significant waggas in the National Wool Museum’s extensive collection. Unfortunately, very little is known about the maker of this wagga.
There is an extensive list of finishing processes in wool production for both worsted and woollen fabrics. Fulling is the immersion and pounding of fabric to make the fibres interlock. Crabbing permanently sets this interlock. Decanting shrink-proofs the fabric. Dyeing changes the fabrics colour. This large Fulling Machine is a distinctive item related to this phase of cloth production. Made by J. Dyson and Sons in Geelong, this Fulling Machine completes all the above steps, except dyeing, with a combination of hot water, soap and friction. Before the invention of such a machine, all these processes had to be completed individually.
The Geelong Gaol was proclaimed as a Training Prison from the 1950s and in this role was used to educate prisoners in various trades including printing, sign writing, painting, tailoring, brick laying and toy making. This tricycle was made by a prisoner in the 1950s.
This is a 1931 British Torpedo Gyroscope made of brass and steel. Most likely from the Royal Gun Factory in Woolwich, it supplied gyroscope to the Royal Navy through World Wars One and Two. The Gyroscope works to keep a fired torpedo aimed straight and towards its target. It has an additional wooden case for transportation that also contains instructions. The case is made from wood, foam, paper and ink. The box includes notched carvings for the gyroscope to sit in for the protection of the delicate instrument in transportation. The box is also designed to have a wall removed for the retrieval of the gyroscope, as shown in the accompanying images.
This small woollen suiting wagga was machine stitched, backed with orange cotton and edged with brown navy and white striped braid. It shows how important old and disused suiting fabric was for quilt making during World War Two.
North, by Mark Stoner (2000) consists of seven cement objects resembling sails or fins that vary in size from 2.2 to 3.5 metres high. No two fins are positioned on the same plane and by moving within and around the sculpture the profiles change quite dramatically.
This wagga was made by Jean Hepner’s grandmother from used woollen garments during the Great Depression. The garments were hand stitched on to an old woollen blanket. The quilt was used by at least five of the seven children in the family. It had assorted covers that were replaced when needed. In later years, it was also used by Hepner’s grandchildren.
The White Farm is a series of eleven artworks by Linda Gallus of a neglected sheep and cattle farm in Curlewis, Victoria. Purchased in 1994, the property was painted white for sale. The shearing shed has not been used since the sale and has turned to ruin over the last thirty years. Gallus was compelled to capture these buildings and their strange patina of white paint before nature reclaimed them completely. Two artworks from the series, Another Gust of Wind and Green Trough, are now part of the National Wool Museum Collection.
This patchwork quilt is made from suiting and fabric offcuts. It is machine stitched with red diamond and rectangle motifs at strategic positions. Little is known about the maker or owner of the quilt but the red triangles and squares show a flourish of creativity for the humble wagga quilt.
Painted black enamel metal chest, thought to be the original lock box used by William Weire, the first Town Clerk of Geelong. It was used to store important documents such as early leases and agreements.
This was the jumper of John Brown, who played 48 games for Geelong including the 1963 Grand Final in which he wore this jumper. Formed in 1859, the Geelong Football Club is the second oldest in the Australian Football League and one of the oldest clubs globally.
The Goldrush of the 1850’s attracted thousands of immigrants from Asia and Europe who came to “try their luck” and find personal fortunes. Amongst their numbers arrived several British and German silversmiths, clockmakers and watchmakers who brought with them a long tradition of metalcraft. Geelong attracted many of these craftsmen setting up trade in the centre of the township. Thomas Wright was one of leading watchmakers in Geelong who oversaw the Town Clock. Unfortunately, very few examples of his work have survived.
Squatter is a wool themed boardgame. With more than 500,000 games sold in Australia as of 2007, it is the most successful board game ever produced in Australia. The National Wool Museum holds the original “Squatter” board game design package as well as several versions of all major alterations to the game, such as the change to decimal currency and an electronic version of the game.
Invented by Joseph Ferrier in 1866, the patent was purchased by Humble & Sons who manufactured and distributed them from their Geelong foundry. The Ferrier Wool Press was used throughout Australia, New Zealand and Africa. Sent out as a flatpack, the press was put together on the farm. This press was made by Humble & Nicholson in Geelong in 1890 and sold to Shanahan Brothers in Birregurra. A key feature of any woolshed, this wool press needed three people to tip over the wool filled top box before it was pressed into the lower box using the lever. It is an early example of Geelong’s long history of design, invention and manufacturing.
This distinctive wagga was made by Mrs Lizzie Morton on her farm ‘Wanera’ at Benjeroop on the Murray River. It was stitched with a treadle machine. Her sister Flora MacDonald did the running stitch and provided the silk backing. The squares were sent as samples from a firm called ‘Fred Hesse’ who advertised in the Melbourne papers: “Be smart and dressy in a suit by Fred Hesse”. The buyer chose a sample and then sent it back with measurements and received a ‘mail order’ suit. In this case, the samples were used to make this unique quilt that has survived from the 1930s.
These parking street signs from the 1960s are very diffrent to their modern-day counterparts. They spell out their entire messages whereas modern equivalents use only a few letters and numbers to display the same message. Made from yellow and black painted steel, these signs are heavy but easy to read.
This coverlet was made for Chris Neyland by Rene Densham when he was born in 1953. The quilt was created from scraps of woollen fabric from clothing used in the family. It was used in Chris’ cot or pram when he was an infant. His aunt Lois Densham donated the quilt. Lois can remember the dark green fabric coming from a jacket she once wore and the blue tartan pieces from a skirt worn by Rene, her mother. Lois also remembers her mother being “a better piano player than a cook or a sewer”. According to her, the quilt was “made in the tradition of making do from a family who knew how”.
The 1891 Shearers’ Strike was one of the most significant events in the development of the Australian Labor Movement. Barcaldine in Central Queensland was the location for much of this conflict. Graziers were attempting to negotiate agreements on individual stations that went against union rules including a reduction in shearers’ wages. Queensland pastoralists engaged Victorian “free labourers” or “scabs” to keep their sheds running while local shearers were on strike. The conflict required armed police to guard Victorian shearers as riots toke place and woolsheds burnt down. With both sides bearing arms, there were thoughts of a possible “Australian Revolution”. The conflict ended in June 1891 with rebel shearers regaining work, however, several of the strike’s leaders were sentenced to prison
This ten-kilogram flour bag came from the Murrumbidgee Milling Company Limited, Wagga Wagga, NSW. The name ‘wagga quilt’ takes its name from the flour mills that operated in and around the NSW town. As you will see throughout the exhibition, bags like this one were used as the interior layer of early wagga quilts.
Mrs Faulkner of Bendigo made this wagga for her father in his later years when a hot water bottle was considered too dangerous and a blanket was not warm enough. It was donated to the Running Stitch Collection by Mrs Faulkner after she saw their memorabilia exhibition curated by Murray Walker at the Museum of Victoria in 1985. Mrs Faulkner sent the wagga down on the train and Lois Densham picked it up from ‘Travellers Aid’ at Spencer Street station. Many of the quilts in the National Wool Museum Collection were originally part of the Running Stitch Collection.
Patons and Balwins’ and many other yarn companies published kitting pattern books during the World War I and II containing instructions for articles of clothing carefully chosen to meet the requirements of the armed forces. Many of the articles of clothing were distributed by the Red Cross and Australian Comforts Fund.
Discovered in an antique shop in 1990, this was believed initially to be the 1943 shield of the Navy Patrol Vessel ML 817 but later found to be from the 817 Squadron of the Navy’s Air Arm. Originally a Royal Navy Squadron, the fixed armed aircraft team was transferred to the Royal Australian Navy. Their aircraft operated off HMAS Sydney and HMAS Melbourne, which were aircraft carriers in the late stages of World War Two. Their motto AUDE FACRE means “DARE TO ACT”.