Barwon Heads, Victoria
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.
The township of Barwon Heads was surveyed in 1827 but remained sparsely populated for years, a Post Office finally 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 this there was a rowboat service across the river. The bridge was used in filming the ABC television series SeaChange.
A proposal was made to align a new bridge with Geelong Road, permitting traffic flows to bypass the main shopping precinct and primary school, but with the consequence of taking out three homes. An independent panel was appointed by the then Minister for Planning, Rob Hulls to decide on a location. Evidence was presented, for and against Geelong Road, and the existing site, and concluded that Geelong Road 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. The new road bridge and a parallel pedestrian bridge were constructed in 2010.
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. Its last premiership was in 1993, it has made finals in a number of seasons since but has failed to make it to another 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, 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.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). “Barwon Heads (State Suburb)”. 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
- Post Office List, Premier Postal History, archived from the original on 10 May 2008, 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.
- “‘Sea Change’ bridge wins reprieve”. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 28 July 2006. Retrieved 1 August 2006.[permanent dead link]
- 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 May 16, 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 2009=8)
- Riding buddies hail ‘sensational’ Cadel, ABC Online, 25 July 2011