North Shore is a village of some 200 households sandwiched between Geelong’s Corio Bay and Geelong’s major industrial precinct.
Its neighbours include the Ford Motor Company, Shell Refinery, Pivot Incitec’s fertiliser works and a bundle of other industrial pursuits, warehouses and workshops.
This uneasy marriage of bayside housing, with some of the best views in Geelong, to the region’s gritty, noisy industrial enterprises and wharves, charged with the task of producing much of Geelong’s manufacturing wealth and exports, has itself manufactured some strange bedfellows.
Like much of the Northern Suburbs, North Shore is one of those places that much of Geelong prefers to ignore and forget. The industrial back streets become a convenient dumping ground for those who are lazy or prefer not to pay tip fees.
Until recent years, stolen cars, old refrigerators and industrial and domestic rubbish commonly was dumped along the North Shore clifftops or steered into Corio Bay.
Around the turn of the century, a dramatic change took place. Residents, sick and tired of heavy industrial traffic driving through the residential area 24 x 7, lobbied the Victorian Government for a bypass road.
At the same time they reasoned that local government helps those who help themselves, and drew a master plan of development to protect the residential area.
They formed the North Shore Residents Group and, early in 2000, organised a swim over 1000 metres in Corio Bay. The idea was to direct the attention of the City of Greater Geelong to the rundown state of Moorpanyal Park and its pretty little beach.
Fourteen swimmers responded and so was born the Moorpanyal 1000, now Geelong’s only regular open water swim. Supporters of the original 14 put on a free sausage sizzle and cuppa for swimmers and spectators alike. The free sausage sizzle remains a feature of the event.
This year, 116 swimmers took part and helped spectators tuck away some 250 sausages.
The swim costs nothing to enter, although it costs some thousands of dollars to run. The generous support of local industrial producers and shipping bodies makes it possible. There’s an easy relationship between residents and port and factory operators.
It is said, when it comes to the Northern Suburbs, that ‘Geelong is mostly looking the other way.’
However, the swim has won support from the City of Greater Geelong and the Dept of Sustainability and Environment, with a range works focussed on the Moorpanyal Park and beach.
And North Shore residents are big winners. Organising the swim and involvement in other local projects have drawn them close together. They have a website, a heritage group and they look out for each other, begin lasting friendships and take pride in the neighbourhood. They get along swimmingly..