Point Henry is the southern point which marks the entrance to Corio Bay. Shipping passes through a narrow channel. In the early days, cattle were moved across from Point Lillias on the other side of the bay, at low tide, when sand bars make most of the entrance very shallow. The animals had to swim the channel.
Since then the channel has been widened and deepened to allow super tankers and other large freighters to enter the Port of Geelong.
Until 2014, Alcoa had a large aluminium smelter and rolling mill on Point Henry, with a pier for major ships, bringing bauxite from Western Australia, and exporting ingots of aluminium.
Huge pylons brought power from Alcoa’s black coal power station at Anglesea, and from the Victorian electricity grid. Alcoa has negotiated a very cheap rate for power from the Victorian government – threatening to close if this is not retained. Some people believe that aluminium production in Australia is a cheap way to transport our electricity to the USA. In February 2014, Alcoa announced the imminent closure of its Point Henry plant, with the loss of 800 jobs.
The smelter closed in July, 2014, followed by the rolling mill at the end of the year. As part of a project at Deakin School of Visual Arts, students visualised a possible development of the Alcoa site as a renewable energy hub and arts centre – CATE@thesmelter (Centre for Art and Technology Experimentation). The plant buildings were renovated to provide a world class art and technology museum, workshops and studios. International and Australian artists and scientists collaborate to produce art works, brainstorm ideas and realise innovative technological projects.