15 of Geelong’s most iconic places gone but not forgotten

Subscribe to Forte Magazine


15 of Geelong’s most iconic places gone but not forgotten

Surrendered to the march of time.

With all this time we’re spending indoors of late, we’ve had the chance to slow down and reminisce about all the good times we’ve had at some of Geelong’s most iconic places that are now just distant memories.

So here, for your nostalgic pleasure, is our list of Geelong icons they never should have closed down.

The Nash
Who could ever forget those long, boozy, music filled nights, stuck to the carpet or rocking out to some of Australia’s biggest bands in the smokey, dimly lit back room of the dingy, yet charming rock n roll pub dubbed affectionately – ‘the Nash’.

Noodles and late night dim dims lined the stomach perfectly for ‘Sumo Wednesday’s’ – with pre-recorded Sumo matches projected on to the back wall as you marked off your choice of winner on either side of the two forms you’d bought to fill out… knowing you’d beat the system, and all five shots of saki would soon be yours!

There was nowhere like the Nash at the time – the lovable dive bar that feels like you’re at a house party – and this is still true for the present day… Which makes us miss it even more! RIP.

If you need some mems, check out the video below of when UK metal outfit Bring Me the Horizon hit the stage as part of the MySpace secret gig.

Poseidon, his trident and Salty the Seal were present at all your family outings to the all you can eat smorgasbord party that was Smorgy’s.

Located at the end of Cunningham Pier, the restaurant chain, which also had locations in Melbourne, has long been known as the ‘naffest-but-actually-best restaurant ever’. Everyone loved the fact it was all-you-can-eat at a decent price, but the food was fairly average so that part kind of sucked.

Like you’re worst favourite TV show, Smorgy’s is deep-seated in many Geelong local’s memories – not for their food, but for their iconic mascot Salty The Seal, who we used to all think was hilarious. His legacy will live on forever.

RIP Smorgy’s.

Room 99
This is where memories were made but most definitely forgotten.

Room 99 (now the delicious Khan Curry Hut) was the place to be for uni students on a budget. Often waiting more than an hour in the huge line that extended around the corner, Room 99 was packed, hot and sweaty – just the way we liked it.

A time before the alcopops tax, a regular night out would involve completely skipping pres and indulging in $2 vodka raspberries (cough*Ethanol*cough), spinning on the stripper pole and getting down to ‘Sandstorm’. $20 would be enough money for the taxi into town, a night on the sauce, and you’d still come home with change. What a time.

Wild West Saloon
Prior to Room 99, we were blessed with the Wild West Saloon, owned by Stew ‘Disco Stew’ Harrison (that owned Eureka at the same time). In short, the place was full on drunk central. The waitresses used to wear cowboy hats and it was just tacky AF… so of course, we loved it!


Arty Printz
Located on Lt Malop Street, Arty Printz was a renowned hangout and hub of all culture. After detouring to 7/11 for slurpies, only the coolest music fans would head to Arty Printz to rummage through the band patches, movie and band posters, band shirts, and pins they had on offer. You could get screen printed shirts made up from their books of designs and they would even laminate a full-size poster for you to pin up in your bedroom for your mum to yell at you about later.

Eureka Hotel
Remember when all your year twelve classmates were promotors for Eureka Hotel? You couldn’t scroll through your newsfeed without being urged to “use my name at the door for cheap entry” at least once.

Eureka was the go-to place for live music since the building was resurrected in 2009 by paparazzi extraordinaire Darryn Lyons. That marked the revival of Geelong’s nightlife, with Eureka at the heart and centre from the mid-1990s to its peak era in 2009. Since that fateful day, Eureka showcased before-they-were-famous bands such as Tame Impala, Wolfmother, Bluejuice, Grinspoon and Birds of Tokyo. Well before that, we even saw the likes of Midnight Oil, Rose Tattoo, INXS and Cold Chisel.

Beyond the live music, Eureka was the prime destination for uni students keen to let loose on ‘Thirsty Thursdays’. The $5 drinks, the dress ups, the foam and scribble parties, and the nights so crazy you won’t remember it the next day. Ah Spewies, we miss you.

After a crazy night on the dance floor at Eureka, you stumbled across the road for chips and gravy at good old Scooters. So convenient, so delicious.

To be honest, our memories don’t extend much further beyond that… regardless, we still miss it.

Rajs On Pako
Renowned as the greatest spot for a hangover cure, Rajs is only recently gone and nothing can ever replace it. Raj’s was the go-to for massive, greasy breakfasts that you could pay for with what you dug out of the couch cushions. Raj’s breakfasts were not for the faint hearted; you would get your eggs, toast, tomato, hashbrown, on a plate literally surrounded by delicious pieces of bacon.

There was even free juice.

The Lyric
Everyone loved The Lyric. Housed in the historic bluestone St Giles Church on Gheringhap Street, it was well loved by music fans thanks to its amazing setup. They hosted some of the biggest bands of the day, including Skyhooks, Regurgitator, Crowded House, Barnsey and Midnight Oil, among many others. The stained-glass windows were amazing. The mems.

Johnny Rockets
Who doesn’t remember this 1950s diner-style restaurant. A trip here didn’t just include American food, but red vinyl seats, chrome accents and staff that would break out into group dances… It was pretty ridiculous at the time but you’d still wait two hours just to hear your song.

Capricorn Music
Music lovers will remember Capricorn, the music shop on the corner of Ryrie and Moorabool. They sold a decent selection of music across all genres, and were also one of the first places to start stocking vinyl through the resurgence of it. Many hours would be spent browsing their collection of CDs, band tees, and posters. Now but a distant memory…

Colonial Peters
Located on Moorabool Street, the old chicken shop was a favourite amongst locals. Colonial Peters made the best chicken, chip and gravy packs you could get for lunch on a day out in town with your mates. No shit, they were awesome.

Cloud 9
An intimate bar on Pako, Cloud 9 was were it all began for Australian hospitality veteran, Gorge Camorra, the brains behind Geelong’s now famed 1920s Prohibition-style cocktail bar The 18th Amendment. He created this iconic little cocktail bar, and would often run spirit tastings, cocktail nights and a hell of a lot of functions. It was always fun to challenge your mates to get through the list of about 25 different infused vodka flavours. Most of the time you’d be unsuccessful and end up paying for it the next morning. Regardless of that, Cloud 9 was awesome!

The Geelong Hotel (original one)
One of the city’s most iconic buildings was the Geelong Hotel on Moorabool Street, which was torn down to make way for St John of God Hospital back in 2012. Early on, this pub was known for its giant Johnny Walker standing on top of its staircase… because why not?

KFC in the CBD
When you couldn’t be bothered catching a taxi to Kardinia Café, the next best thing was hitting up the CBD’s KFC after your huge night at every nightclub in town. Even if you weren’t drunk, having KFC in the middle of town was just so much more convenient than its locations now.

The Telstra shop just doesn’t provide enough treats.

Honourable mentions:

  • Bloom’s history, including Space Odyssey, McDonalds, Soma, Club 4 Play, Rush nightclub and Toast
  • Sporting Globe’s history, including Preston Hotel, The Halfpenny Bridge Hotel, Coocolat, Desiree’s, Club Central and Rebar
  • The Brit
  • The Wrong Crowd
  • The Scottish Chiefs
  • Mr Hyde, Mrs Hyde and Quban
  • St James’s history, including Rumours, the Martini Lounge, Cream, Tonic, Venom Lounge, Bazaar Bar, Static, Zulu, Shaboom and Gomer’s Pad.
  • The Max, Golden Age prior
  • The Terminus
  • Carlton Hotel
  • Basement 159
  • HomeHouse history, Platinum, Pier 40, My Place and Impuse, Escalations II

This list is certainly not inclusive of absolutely everything (we’d be here all night), but feel free to share with us what we’ve missed.

Looking for more fun content? Check out our list of 30 Things We’ve All Done On A Night Out In Geelong.