Centre History

The motor car has revolutionised the way of life in the 20th century.  It has allowed people to travel where they desire, in comfort and security, at a time of their own choosing. Many technologies have played an important role in it progression and the Ford Discovery highlights such developments.

Gherringhap Street Geelong 1925

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Gherringhap Street Geelong 1920′s

A joint project of Ford Motor Company of Australia and Deakin University, with continued support from Gordon TAFE and initial sponsorship support from the Victorian State Government, City of Greater Geelong, Bendigo Bank and RACV, the Ford Discovery Centre is an important part of Geelong’s exciting Waterfront development. The Ford Discovery Centre is Australia’s leading interactive automotive museum.

The Ford Discovery Centre showcases the Ford Motor Company of Australia, past, present and future, in an entertaining and educational environment.

Ford’s Australian history is fascinating and complex. The company has come a long way since its early beginnings in Geelong in 1925. Local content, design and engineering work are given high priority although the company is linked to the best global technology and practices.

Artists Impresion

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Early artist impression of Ford Discovery Centre

The Ford Discovery Centre has also been creating its own history;

Mid 1996 a dedicated team started work on what would become one of Australia’s premier automotive attractions and one of the jewels in the Geelong Steamapacket Place project which went on to transform the waterfront area of Geelong.

The site was home to one of Dalgety’s Woolstores which spanned much of the waterfront area before being used for several warehouse style retail store selling furniture and carpets.  In the mid 1990’s Deakin University purchased the land to complement their Woolstore Campus which was under construction. The original plans for the Ford Discovery Centre was for it to be built on the South East corner of Brougham and Gheringhap Streets, but with Deakin’s purchase of the property on the South West corner of the intersection there was much more room and scope for the Centre’s exhibition.

Construction

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The Ford Discovery Centre Site late 1990′s during early construction

With a joint partnership between the State Government of Victoria, Ford Motor Company of Australia and Deakin University plans of the centre were launched in a huge ceremony at Deakin’s Costa Hall at the Waterfront Campus in with the premier of the time Jeff Kennett on the 17th of July 1997.

In October of the following year plans for the centre were well underway and as part of the State Government’s Access 2001 the site of the centre was opened to the public to give them a glimpse of the exciting plans of the centre.

1998

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Ford Discovery Centre preview open day as part of Victoria 21 program, October 1998

The Ford Discovery Centre opened in April 1999 as a showcase of the rich heritage and advances in technology of Ford’s design, development and manufacturing operations in this country and has grown to become one of the finest interactive automotive exhibitions in the world.

Ford Australia 75th Anniversary Celebrations

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Ford Australia 75th Anniversary celebrations on Geelong’s Waterfront, April 2000

Henry Ford III, the Great Great Grandson of the founder of the Ford Motor Company, is the patron of the Centre, which is located adjacent to the original site where Ford started its Australian manufacturing operations in 1925.

The Ford Discovery Centre continues to display an impressive selection of vehicles, from the Model T to the latest models off the production line.  But it is far broader than just a vehicle display.  The Centre provides visitors with an opportunity to see how vehicles are designed and made, how they are engineered and tested on the road, on test tracks, race tracks and in a range of simulated environments.  Audiences are able to appreciate how Ford and the automotive industry have influenced the way we live, work and play and how new ideas, designs, global economic influences and environmental considerations will determine the cars of the future.

The centre has been a focal point for many of the major milestones of the Ford Motor Company including celebrating Ford Australia’s 75th Anniversary Celebrations and the Ford 100 Years celebration in 2001.

Ford Motor Company Centenial Celebrations

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Ford Motor Company Centenial Celebrations outside the Centre.

With dedicated staff and and hours of work from our strong volunteer base, the Ford Discovery Centre is an integral part of perserving the history, past and present of the Ford Motor Company, its products, its people and integral part in Australia’s history and culture.

Ford Motor Company Centenial Celebrations

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Then Ford Australia President Geoff Polities and racing car celebrities cutting the Ford Centenial Cake on steps of Ford Discovery Centre.