The Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation is gifting a new name to what has been known as Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre returning Wadawurrung language to country.
Minister for Regional Development Harriet Shing, Federal Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories Kristy McBain, and City of Greater Geelong Mayor Trent Sullivan joined Wadawurrung Elders, family and staff to announce the centre will be named Nyaal Banyul Geelong Convention and Event Centre.
The name Nyaal Banyul means: ‘open your eyes to the hills.’ The name is made up of two Wadawurrung words – nyaal, meaning to open your eyes, and banyul, meaning hill. This name was chosen to encourage people at the site to take time to appreciate the landscapes of Wadawurrung Country.
The Western Beach cliffs are a cultural and spiritual place for Wadawurrung People. From the site, Wurdi Youang (You Yangs) and Anakie Youang can be seen to the north, while the hills of the Bellawiyn (Bellarine) can be found to the east, the Fyansford hill to the west and the Barrabul (Barrabool) hills to the south.
The Victorian Government is investing more than $260 million to build the Nyaal Banyul Geelong Convention and Event Centre precinct as part of the Geelong City Deal, with additional contributions of $30 million from the Australian Government and $3 million from the City of Greater Geelong.
The consortium, Plenary Conventions is delivering the project and will work with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation to embed its culture, values, and knowledge into the building and public realm as part of a co-design approach.
The naming also marks the return of events and celebration to the site which was historically a gathering place known as baierr. The new name also encapsulates the range of events the centre will host.
The Corporation will also work with the future operators of the centre, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Trust, to celebrate and educate the public on Wadawurrung cultural history.
Construction of the purpose-built convention and event centre will commence soon and will be complete in 2026. The Centre will host a range of events from large corporate, sporting and entertainment events to international music and trade shows, through to public exhibitions.
The precinct includes, a 1000 seat venue, two large exhibition spaces, meeting rooms, conference facilities and flexible event spaces. It will also be home to retail spaces for food and beverage, a large public plaza and a 200-room hotel under the internationally renowned Crowne Plaza brand.
Nyaal Banyul Geelong Convention and Event Centre will be a major driver of jobs and economic growth for the City of Greater Geelong, supporting 600 jobs during construction and an additional 270 ongoing jobs once the precinct is complete.
The precinct development is the centrepiece of the Geelong City Deal – a $500+ million commitment between the Australian and Victorian governments and the City of Greater Geelong.
The Geelong City Deal is revitalising the city and regional economy, encouraging visitors to spend more time in the region by capitalising on its natural assets.
For more information on the Geelong City Deal and precinct visit: infrastructure.gov.au/territories-regions-cities/cities
Quotes attributable to Victorian Minister for Regional Development Harriet Shing
“I am so honoured that the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation has gifted the name Nyaal Banyul to this transformative convention and event centre in Geelong.”
“There is a long and significant cultural history with the site which we want to recognise through the design, construction and operations of this significant project for Geelong.”
Quote attributable to the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation Interim CEO Liam Murphy
“Naming in Wadawurrung language is a process only Wadawurrung Traditional Owners can do and we are grateful to have been given the opportunity to return language to Country.”
”We also appreciate being invited to provide design principles to inform the concept of the GCEC on this part of Country, as the Western Beach cliffs, holds special cultural value to Wadawurrung.”
Quotes attributable to City of Greater Geelong Mayor Cr Trent Sullivan
“Council is proud to celebrate the region’s strong First Nations heritage when naming its own buildings and facilities.”
“It’s exciting that this centrepiece venue will further educate locals about the history and ongoing culture of the Wadawurrung people.”
Quotes attributable to Chief Executive of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre Natalie O’Brien AM
“As the future operators of Nyaal Banyul Geelong Convention and Event Centre, continuous engagement with the Wadawurrung community is an important focus for MCET.”
“We seek to strengthen our relationship with and honour First Nations knowledge, heritage and truth-telling in the venue’s brand, throughout the centre and in future operations.”