Leopold, a residential and rural suburb on the Bellarine Peninsula, is 10 km south-east of Geelong. Originally named Kensington, it was renamed Leopold in 1892 after Queen Victoria's son, the Duke of Albany. Confusion with the Melbourne suburb of Kensington was a reason for the change.

In 1852, 526 hectares of land was subdivided and offered for sale as the 'Princely Domain of Kensington'. A neighbouring estate at Moolap was subdivided and named Flemington, presumably inspired by the association between Flemington and Kensington, the Melbourne suburbs. Whilst the subdivision did not create a village, it provided a name. Settlers depended on the Anglican church and school in Hays Road, Point Henry, established in 1849-50. Extension of an Anglican church to Kensington occurred in 1859, and St Mark's on the Hill on the Bellarine Highway is on the Victorian Heritage Register. By 1865 Kensington also had the short-lived Bellarine Hotel and a community of 300 persons, mostly engaged in agriculture. A Government primary school (1872) replaced the Anglican school (1854). The free library (1852) was replaced by a larger building when it burnt down in 1893. The railway from Geelong was opened in 1879.

Leopold (as it was then named) was described in the Australian handbook in 1903:

Leopold continued as a rural community until the 1960s, when industrial development at Moolap and Point Henry made Leopold a convenient dormitory suburb. Its population doubled during 1961-71 and doubled again during 1971-81. The population growth, however, was not accompanied by a strong provision of community or shopping amenities, apart from a public hall, kindergartens and the Memorial Park with ovals and courts. There are also Catholic, Lutheran and Uniting churches.

The township is both sides of the Bellarine Highway, with small shopping areas in each part. Population growth reached a level in the early 1990s where a larger centre would normally be developed.

Although Leopold is elevated, it has several waterholes and swamps around its perimeter. One has been made into the Gateway Sanctuary reserve, beside the Bellarine Highway on the Geelong side of the town. On the other side of the highway the Gateway Plaza drive-in shopping centre opened in 2007.

South of the Gateway Sanctuary farm land remains, and there are several impressive homesteads along Melaluka and Matthews Roads. The farm lands are bordered by the Lake Connewarre wetlands. The former railway line from Geelong is the Bellarine Rail walking and cycling trail.

Leopold's census populations have been:

census date population
1881 362
1933 287
1954 377
1961 633
1966 969
1971 1444
1976 2309
1986 3452
1991 4432
2006 8746
2011 9608

Its primary school had 804 pupils in 2014.

Further Reading

P.L. Brown, Leopold memories in Investigator, magazine of the Geelong Historical Society, September and December, 1979

P.L. Brown, St Mark's on the Hill, Kensington, Leopold: Foundations 1850-63, 1959-, the Church, 1959

Leopold Structure Plan, 1989, Geelong Regional Commission, 1989

Ian Wynd, Balla-Wein: a history of the Shire of Bellarine, Shire of Bellarine, 1988 and 2005