Barwon Heads is a coastal township on the Bellarine Peninsula, near Geelong, Victoria, Australia. It is situated on the west bank of the mouth of the Barwon River below Lake Connewarre, while it is bounded to the west by farmland, golf courses and the ephemeral saline wetland Murtnaghurt Lagoon. At the 2016 census, Barwon Heads had a population of 3,875.
Barwon Heads lies within the territory of the Waddawurrung Balug clan, of the Wathaurong people. Its traditional name is Koornoo. Barwon derives from the Wathaurong word Barrwang or Baarwon meaning magpie. The river and upstream lakes (Lake Connewarre and Reedy Lake) were frequented by Aboriginal hunters and fishermen, including William Buckley who lived with the Wathaurong for 32 years.
When settlers arrived to Port Phillip in June 1835 a camp was established at Indented Head. Port Phillip Association surveyor John Helder Wedge explored the Bellarine Peninsula, including the Barwon and its lakes in August 1835.
It is unknown when settlers first took up land at Barwon Heads, but by the 1870s a township was formed, with a Post Office opening in the area on 15 December 1889 (renamed Connewarre East in 1890 when a new Barwon Heads PO opened in the township).
Fishing was the mainstay of the town in its early years. In the 1920s and 1930s the town became a popular holiday resort and a number of the richer families of Melbourne built houses here. The summer period today still sees a large influx of holidaymakers to the town.
The Barwon Heads Golf Club clubhouse, located on Golf Links Road and dating from 1923–24, is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. The former Barwon Heads Bridge is also listed on the Register; however, it was demolished in 2009.
Barwon Heads Bridge
The Barwon Heads Bridge was opened in 1912, crossing the Barwon River between Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove. Prior to that, there had been a rowing boat service across the river. The bridge was a central element in the ABC television series SeaChange.
A proposal was put forward to align a new bridge with Geelong Road, permitting traffic to bypass the main shopping precinct and primary school, but with the consequence of removing three homes. An independent panel was appointed by the then Minister for Planning, Rob Hulls, to decide on a bridge location. Evidence was presented for and against the Geelong Road site and the existing site, with the conclusion that the Geelong Road alignment was unsuitable for environmental, social, economic reasons.
On 16 March 2007, it was announced that the current bridge would be improved and there were no plans to build a second bridge upstream. In 2010, a new Barwon Heads road bridge was constructed on the alignment of the existing one, making use of its components and design elements. A parallel pedestrian bridge was also built.
SeaChange and tourism
During the late 1990s, Barwon Heads was the primary location of filming for the popular Australian television series, SeaChange. In the past decade Barwon Heads has become subject to what is colloquially known in some parts of Australia as the "seachange effect".
Since the SeaChange television series first aired in 1998 there has been a significant increase in tourism and real estate sales and development (both commercial and residential) in the area. This has resulted in a very substantial increase in property and land values, making the town an ideal location for property developers. Since then, the area has experienced a boom in tourist numbers during the summer months.
Nearby Thirteenth Beach is a popular surfing location, the beach is named for its proximity to the 13th hole of the golf course. The town was subject to flooding, including a flood that lasted some weeks in 1952, until the construction of levee banks in the 1950s.
The artist Jan Mitchell erected her first bollard sculptures in Barwon Heads. Visitors to the area will encounter the colourful soldier and parrot bollards which designate a route for the local children from the primary school, through the streets to the bike path, park and playground. She then went on to produce more than 100 bollards at the Waterfront Geelong.
The town has an Australian rules football team competing in the Bellarine Football League. It has made finals in a number recent seasons, losing the grand final in an upset to Modewarre in 2018 but avenged that loss in 2019 winning its first premiership since 1993 by beating Torquay in the grand final.
Barwon Heads has a cricket club which won five premierships in eight seasons (2005/06, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2010/11 and 2013/14). They defeated Queenscliff in the A grade final on Sunday March 15, 2014 by 102 runs at Jan Juc. They are currently competing in the Bellarine Peninsula Cricket Association.
Barwon Heads also boasts a tennis, bowls, surf life saving, cycling, surfing, soccer and pony club. Golfers play at the Barwon Heads Golf Club on Golf Links Road, or at the course of the Thirteenth Beach Golf Links on Barwon Heads Road. Barwon Heads has great recreational fishing from its river to the heads, it caters for all types of anglers.
The radio program The Rush Hour features a caller named 'Todd from Barwon Heads' that phones into the show to annoy Billy Brownless.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Barwon Heads (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
- Clark, Ian (1990). Aboriginal languages and clans : an historical atlas of western and central Victoria, 1800-1900. Melbourne: Monash University. Department of Geography and Environmental Science. ISBN 090968541X.
- Clark, Ian; Heydon, Toby (2002). Dictionary of Aboriginal placenames of Victoria. Melbourne: Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages. p. 26. ISBN 0957936060.
- Morgan, John; Sayers, C. E (1967). The life and adventures of William Buckley : thirty-two years a wanderer amongst the Aborigines of the unexplored country round Port Phillip, now the Province of Victoria. London; Melbourne: Heinemann. p. 66.
- Post Office List, Premier Postal History, retrieved 11 April 2008
- "Barwon Heads Golf Club Clubhouse". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
- "Barwon Heads Bridge". Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
- Benton, Jessica (21 May 2009). "Protests to greet work on bridges". Geelong Independent. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
- Beauchamp. "Barwon Heads Bridge: History or heritage?". Australian Journal of Multi-Disciplinary Engineering. 9 (1).
- "Barwon Heads Road bridge (listing RNE102760)". Australia Heritage Places Inventory. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
- "Print Email Facebook Twitter More 'Sea Change' bridge wins reprieve". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 28 July 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
- City of Greater Geelong: Councillors welcome Barwon Heads bridge announcement Archived September 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Barwon Heads, Full Points Footy, archived from the original on 16 May 2008, retrieved 25 July 2008
- Barwon Heads, Golf Select, archived from the original on 28 March 2009, retrieved 11 May 2009
- Thirteenth Beach, Golf Select, retrieved 11 May 2009
- "Barwon Heads folk praise their favourite son" by Jessica Craven, Geelong Advertiser (29 July 2008) Archived 16 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- Riding buddies hail 'sensational' Cadel, ABC Online, 25 July 2011
Towns on the Bellarine Peninsula
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