Committee for Lorne: Lorne and District Mens Shed Avalon Precinct Visit

May 10, 2024 BY

I’m sure most of us have driven past the Avalon precinct and thought to ourselves what happens there?  There are the big hangar sheds, recently new distribution centres and manufacturing facilities that can be seen from the road, with Jetstar and, until very recently, Bonza flights taking off and landing, but no more Qantas 747s coming in and taking off immediately.

So, what really is happening within this precinct which is within the Greater Geelong and West Melbourne region and close to the Surf Coast Shire?

Late last year, 20 Shedders from the Lorne and District Mens Shed were provided with the opportunity to get an overview of the history, what’s happening at the moment and more importantly, a vision for the future.

One Shedder said to me after the visit that he had been on many tours of facilities, seen PowerPoint presentations but they have never been delivered by people as passionate as Dave Moreland and Matt Collins.  This they did on the Tuesday and a day later, they had the official opening of the new Australia Post facility with many heavy weight dignitaries in attendance.

I will try to set out some of the facts that we learned.  There was so much information to absorb that I had to go and visit a few websites to confirm the facts.

The Avalon airport was established in 1950 as a defence facility. The big hangars that are still there were used for maintenance.

Avalon around 1997
Avalon 2023


In 1997, the Fox Group was granted a 99 year lease of the 2,000 hectare site (a Shedder said that’s 5,000 acres) and Linfox would continue to provide maintenance facilities.  Lindsay’s initial vision was to process fresh produce for export to Asia.  This would provide great benefits to the region especially given the close proximity to the Victorian food bowl and fresh produce would be in Asia within 24 hours.  There would have been many hurdles to overcome but that had never stopped Linfox in the past.  Unfortunately. It did not happen, but the Linfox philosophy is never to give up and I am sure that it will occur in the future.

Up until 2014 Qantas continued to do their maintenance at Avalon.

The Domestic airport developed in 2004 especially servicing Jetstar flights with future plans to develop as an International Airport.  Agreement was reached with Air Asia with a contractual obligation that there must be an international passenger terminal operating within six months.  This was achieved, with no time to spare.  I expect there would not be too many organisations that could achieve this.  It’s the “Can do” Linfox culture.

The airport was and still is handling freight for big events.  The F1 Grand Prix, V8 Supercars and Superbikes.  We were told they would be handling the Taylor Swift concert equipment.

Then came COVID.  The Airport basically had to close and is now once more building up relationships with airlines.  Jetstar flies domestically and it looks like there will be an international airline in the future.  Although the terminals look sparse compared to the big capital city terminals, they have the most up to date security equipment and check in facilities and the buildings have been designed to allow growth.

Avalon Airport has a 60 km catchment population of 3.3m, greater than many Australian capital cities and with some modest investment in rail, there could be a train to the Airport.  (Who knows if Tullamarine will ever achieve rail!)  The Avalon team is working hard to get a commitment from Government and is prepared to partially fund this rail link.  Land has been set aside.  It would be great for us in the Geelong and Southwest of Victoria Regions with more flights.  Rail access would also provide an excellent alternative to Melbourne travellers.  A new East – West runway is proposed in the Avalon Precinct Master Plan.  The airport has no curfew and can operate 24 hrs.

Now Avalon is much more than an airport and creates great diverse opportunities. In the prior three years major distribution Centres have been built by Linfox.

Cotton-On.  A local Geelong business with 1,500 stores in 18 countries, having committed to a 45,000 sqm Distribution Centre.

Petstock – 30,000 sqm Distribution Centre.

Australia Post Parcel Facility – 14,000 sqm with automated sorting equipment.  This was opened two days after our tour.  Also, Cotton-On and Australia Post have entered into agreement for handling e-commerce freight deliveries.  Visionary by both organisations.

Other Distribution Centres are in the pipeline and the old hangars are still in use.

Also, within the precinct area, Hanwha Defence Australia (subsidiary of Hanwha Aerospace – South Korea) is building a massive manufacturing centre to build Armoured Vehicles (LAND 8116) and future Defence Vehicle fleets.  I read a $270m development investment.  This is manufacturing returning to the Geelong Region.

The Fox Vision is never ending: a Motor Sport track (potentially capable of handling the F1 Grand Prix), upgraded safety for spectators attending the Airshow, a hotel, retail and support infrastructure such as Day Care centres given there is projected to be up to 6,000 employees (currently 2,000) in the future.  The Vision includes a site that will have has access to air, road networks, sea (Port of Geelong and Bay West in the future) and rail.  This is unique.  This is not a dream, but a documented plan.  We as Shedders may not see it all in our lifetime, but it will happen.

With what’s happening in Geelong and the Surf Coast, we are certainly lucky to be living in a great part of Australia and we and our families will be beneficiaries.

I think the remarkable part of this Vision and investment is that it will create wealth for the Geelong Region and Victoria.  It is clear that The Fox Group know how to invest for future generations and our country.

Many thanks to the Bendigo Community Bank who provided the bus and driver – Rob Cameron (Development Manager) who I know enjoyed the opportunity to be part of our group.

Just to summarise using the words from an email from one Shedder: “I found it sensational. insightful, interesting & innovative.”

A huge thank you to the Avalon Team and the Fox Family for allowing us to visit. It’s the third visit the Fox Family have arranged for the Lorne Mens Shed and hopefully we may get another opportunity in the future.

David Worth

Member of the Lorne Men’s Shed

A word from the chairman

The changes made by the state government to the ward boundaries for the October 2024 Surf Coast Shire council elections are not in-line with the Lorne community’s preferred option, that being, single councillor wards. In the state, thirty municipalities were granted single ward/single councillor status.

The names for the new wards are Otway Range Ward, Torquay Ward and Winchelsea Ward with each ward being represented by three councillors.  Lorne is in the Otway Range ward which also includes Deans Marsh, Aireys Inlet, Anglesea and extends to Jan Juc.

It is currently the feeling that it will be difficult to elect a Lorne Ward based councillor given the larger number of electors in the Otway ward.  The quota needed to be elected will deter potential candidates.

I do not believe that this will be the case for the following reasons:

Firstly, in the period 2004 – 2012 the Surf Coast Shire was unwarded.   In the 2004 election, Libby Mears from Aireys Inlet was elected.  Then in the 2008 election three councillors were elected from Aireys Inlet; Libby Coker, Libby Mears and Simon Northeast.  It can be done.

Secondly, by planning for a strategic preference deal, at least three candidates with aligned values, aiming for common outcomes, a Lorne Ward candidate can be elected.

Thirdly, within the existing Lorne Ward we have the residents with the drive, talent and resources to ensure that a candidate is successful, and

Lastly, my faith in the Lorne community’s ability to meet challenges.

There will be a range of information sessions available for aspiring candidates in the realigned wards. Candidate nominations will open on 19 September and close at noon on 24 September.

The Surf Coast Shire Council is running a series of candidate information sessions for anyone thinking about standing for the Council.

Candidate information session:

  • Torquay Ward session, Thursday 23 May, 6pm-8pm, St Therese Primary School Hall
  • Winchelsea Ward session, Wednesday 12 June, 6pm-8pm, Eastern Reserve
  • Otway Range Ward session, Monday 24 June, 6pm-8pm, Aireys Inlet Community Centre


These sessions will be delivered by independent facilitator Ruth McGowan OAM.  Ruth is a former councillor and mayor of Baw Baw Shire who believes that with the right attitude, skills, and experiences, nearly anyone can be a councillor.

I have found that my four years representing the varying interests and concerns of the constituents of Deans Marsh and Lorne to be extremely fulfilling.  Advocating for policies and initiatives that attempt to address the needs of the Surf Coast residents (35,000 people) is both challenging and rewarding, plus involvement in a local council offers an insight into the workings of government at the grassroots level.  I am certain that over this time I have broadened my networks and made many lifelong friendships.

Cr Gary Allen

Lorne Ward Events Calendar


11th – Lorne Dolphins Football and Netball V South Colac, at Stribling Reserve, juniors match from 9am, seniors at 2pm

12th – Lorne Country Club Mother’s Day Evening of Fun – Drinks, Dinner, Raffles and Comradery from 6pm

25th – Lorne Dolphins Football and Netball V Birregurra, at Stribling Reserve, juniors match from 9am, seniors at 2pm



8th – Lorne Market, 9-3pm https://www.lornemarkets.com/

8th – Lorne Dolphins Football and Netball V Colac Imperials, at Stribling Reserve, juniors match from 9am, seniors at 2pm

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