Wrap yourself in woolstore’s history

July 31, 2022 BY

An early photograph of Geelong's woolstore from the 19th century. Photo: NATIONAL WOOL MUSEUM

A FAMOUS Geelong building will celebrate its 150-year anniversary next week, with its present custodians inviting the community to absorb the institution’s illustrious history.

CJ Dennys and Co Woolstore opened for the first time on August 1, 1872 at the corner of Moorabool and Brougham streets, and today stands as a monument to the city’s industrial heritage as the home of the National Wool Museum.

The museum is offering free entry on the anniversary for Geelong residents to learn more about the bluestone building’s background from its staff and volunteers.

Meanwhile, the museum is also finalising an in-house exhibition called Bluestone: 150 years of the Denneys Lascelles Woolstore that opens later this year.

The show will outline the early colonisation of Geelong leading to the opening of the woolstore, while sharing the stories of people that have walked its halls and how the city has progressed through the decades.

The exhibition will also provide perspectives from Wadawurrung people, including how colonisation of the area impacted their way of life. Emerging elder Dr Deanne Gibson will present Wadawurrung Dja: Awakening Country to complement the Bluestone story.


Modern ceremonial garments will form part of an Indigenous exhibition as part of the coming Bluestone show. Photo: DEANNE GIBSON


Museum director Padraic Fisher said he was excited to present the rich history of the organisation’s home.

“It is an honour to be part of such deep connection – in a building embedded in the rich colonial history of Geelong on a place with thousands of years of ongoing cultural heritage,” Mr Fisher said.

“We welcome everyone to come for a visit to the ‘Bluestone Jewel Box’ share a story and make a connection of their own to this place we call Geelong.”


Workers pictured after painting the inside of the woolstore.


Geelong mayor Peter Murrihy encouraged locals to learn more about the famous building.

“The woolstore is so strongly intertwined with the modern history of Geelong,” he said.

“The 150-year anniversary of its opening is a milestone worth reflecting upon for its impact on both the evolution of our city, and the Wadawurrung people who were displaced from their land as a result of colonisation.

“The free open day gives us all a chance to recognise and learn more about both of these elements.”

NWM will offer free entry on Monday, August 1, to celebrate the anniversary, with the event to include children’s activities and a complimentary morning tea. The Bluestone exhibition will open on September 16 and run until April next year.