3214: The Norman Lane Heritage Walk

Take the journey around part of the Norman Lane Precinct starting at Labuan Square with your friends, family and children or go on your own and discover some points of interest around your place.

Private Norman Lane, AIF 4 Australian Army Service Corps, died at the age of 35 on 20 September 1943 and is buried at Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery in Myanmar (Burma).


The naming of Norlane

Norman J Lane was the first serviceman from the Shire of Corio to die serving in the second World War (WW2) from cardiac Beri Beri whilst a POW on the Burma Railway, hence the suburb now bears his name. He lived in Donnelly Street, North Shore as it was known at the time.

The name ‘Norlane’ is believed to have been chosen by a small group from the local Progress Association, who approached Norman Lane’s widow to seek her permission to use the name.


So what is in a street name?

Did you know that many of the streets within the Norman Lane Heritage Walk loop have Vice Regal names?

This means that they were named after Governor Generals (GG) of Australia or Governors of Victoria (GOV), appointed by the King or Queen of England.

  1. Forster Street
    Named after Baron Forster, Governor General of Australia from 1920-1925. Baron Forster lost two sons in WW1 and was the founder of TocH in Australia which is a place for people to go to rest the body and refresh the soul after dealing with the tragedies of death and destruction on the battlefields around them.
    53 Forster Street: This is an example of the prefabricated timber houses that were imported from Austria.

  2. Keats Street
    Named after the English Romantic Poet John Keats. His poem ‘A song about myself’ makes references to him coming back to the North.
    Corner Tallis and Forster Streets: This is an example of the prefabricated cement sheet houses that were imported from Holland.

  3. North Shore Station
    Completed in 1857 and named Cowies Creek. It brought many people from Melbourne to the You Yangs which was a popular picnic spot of the time.

  4. Tragedy at the Crossing
    1908 - William Palmer and his daughter Marie were killed after their horse drawn carriage collided with the express train to Melbourne. Their vehicle was thrown into a cattle pit and filled with water. Palmer was struck in the head by the locomotive and his daughter Marie, seriously injured on impact, drowned in the pit. (Source: Barrier Miner Broken Hill, 2 January 1908)

  5. Ford Comes to Town
    1925 the Geelong Advertiser headlined ‘Geelong to be Ford’s Australian headquarters’ ‘The whole city is smiling. There is a spring in the step of every citizen’ reported the Melbourne Herald. ‘Not only would it provide employment but work in other areas like the new wharf, railway siding and an improved water supply and sewerage system for the area’.
    (Geelong Advertiser, 1925)

  6. Stradbroke Street
    Named after the Third Earl of Stradbroke who was the Governor of Victoria from 1921-1926.
    He served in WW1 and his family’s motto was ‘I live in hope’.

  7. Brooks Street
    Sir Dallas Brooks was Victoria’s longest serving Governor and one of the most liked. He was known for being open and receptive to the general population and allowed for the first time,
    the gates of Government House open to the public.
    48 and 34 Brooks Streets: These are examples of rendered concrete prefabricated houses designed and built at Holmesglen, Melbourne and erected on site.

  8. Waverley Reserve
    Land for Pocket Parks were allocated in new public housing subdivisions of the time.

  9. Pettitt Crescent
    The Pettitt family had farmed the land in the area. The Pettitt Bros also manufactured farm gates. Both John Senior and Junior served as Councillors and as Presidents of Corio Shire.
    John Junior was awarded a B.E.M. (British Empire Medal) for his community work.

  10. Tennyson Street
    Named after Hallam Tennyson Governor General of Australia from 1903-1904. He was also the son of the English Poet Alfred Tennyson and an author in his own right. In 1886 he wrote
    the Children’s picture story book Jack and the Beanstalk.
    23 Tennyson Street: This is one example of the large number of pre-fabricated timber houses that were imported from France.

  11. Labuan Square
    Was a swamp until it was made into a shopping mall. Labuan is Malay meaning Harbour or Anchorage. George Park a former engineer of Shire of Corio, and AC Thoms whose firm carried out the subdivisional work in the area, both had taken part in the landing on Labuan Island, Malaysia and assisted in establishing an aerodrome and major bomb dump. It was decided by George Park that Labuan would be an appropriate name for the Square.

The Norman Lane Heritage Walk - Image of Norman Lane and map of the walk and streets listed on this page
Map is not drawn to scale

Distance: Approximately 1.7 kilometres

Time: Approximately 25 minutes


3214 - A brief history

Following the end of WW2 demand for housing was high. Returned servicemen with increasing family sizes were forced to live in makeshift accommodation and numerous displaced persons, many coming from the Baltic Countries, were being resettled in Geelong. In addition, the ever expanding industries on the Northern part of Geelong were also seeking accommodation for their workers.

The Housing Commission purchased land both sides of the Melbourne Road and to the north of Ford which would make it the largest estate of its kind in Country Victoria.

However, there was a delay in the construction of housing due to shortages in both building materials and skilled labour. The solution was to develop a prefabricated system of producing housing components in Victoria and importing prefabricated houses from Europe.

The Norlane precinct features a variety of housing styles including concrete prefabricated dwellings designed at Holmesglen and imported homes from Austria, France and Holland.

The following industries in Corio and North Geelong were reliant on this new estate for workers accommodation:

  • Rylands Manufacturing

  • International Harvester

  • Pelaco

  • Hume Pipe Company

  • Federal Woollen Mills

  • Shell Oil Refinery

  • Australian Cement Company

  • Pilkington’s, Ford

  • Phosphate Company

  • Air Force Base Avalon

There was a strong social network within the estate. As it was situated quite a distance from the Geelong City Centre groups like the Ex-Servicemen’s Trading Company operated an old bus that was converted into a mobile grocery shop and travelled around the estate twice a week.

Due to the increasing number of young families Benders Busways stripped the seats from one side of the bus to accommodate up to 14 prams. This was the first of its kind anywhere in Victoria and a trained nurse was employed to look after sick children and help mothers during the journey.


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Page last updated: Monday, 11 November 2019

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