Bellarine Historical Society Inc

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Barwon Heads

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Barwon Heads does not officially come under the Bellarine Historical Society and was not covered by the Shire of Bellarine as it is west of the boundary of the Barwon River. However, the history of Barwon Heads cannot be separated from the history of Ocean Grove - two towns separated by the Barwon River but joined by the Bridge - hence Barwon Heads has been included as one of our "adopted" towns.

An extract from Tourists' Guide to Geelong and the Southern Watering Places, published in 1893.

In giving a description of this locality, there is a difficulty in compressing all the interesting features, which nature and art have combined to make it one of the most desirable to visit. The writer has heard more than one visitor declare that it is the best and healthiest seaside place in Victoria. The purity of the atmosphere, the close prosimity to both ocean and river, and the facilities for boating and fishing, certainly make it a great favourite with many people.

Barwon Heads proper is marked on the maps as Point Flinders, and it is also known as Mount Colite. The Bluff itself is one of the most conspicuous objects on our whole coast-line, and is easily seen from a great distance seaward, in every direction. The township is laid out on the lake side of the peninsula, and comprises some very pretty cottages and villas, chiefly owned by residents of Geelong. Flowers and shrubs abound, and the perfection to which many kinds are grown would delight the hearts of our practical gardeners. Recently much has been done to beautify the public park - thanks to Mrs. Hitchcock and the boys of the "Ministering Children's League" in the locality, who have displayed much energy and good taste in transforming a wild waste into an attractive pleasure ground. Summer-houses, shelter-sheds, and seats have been erected in convenient places, and a public rotunda near the top of the cliff offers both shelter and convenience for visitors. From the eastern side of Mount Colite the finest view possible of Port Phillip Heads, and the entrance between Points Lonsdale and Nepean, is obtained, and is as extensive as it is varied, and on a clear day well repays the visitor.

Barwon Heads Coffee Palace

Barwon Heads Coffee Palace.
[Sketch from Tourists' Guide to Geelong and the South Watering Places : Geelong Historical Records Centre]

The principal building at Barwon Heads is the Coffee Palace, which is owned by a company, and, although only about three years established, has won golden opinions from its numerous patrons. The courteous manager and his assistants have proved themselves all that could be desired, both from the financial consideration of the company, and the comfort and requirements of visitors. The palace contains thirty-four bedrooms, parlors, dining room, and sitting-rooms. An inexhaustible supply of pure water is laid on to the premises, and fresh-water baths are available for all. The supply of fresh-water baths are available for all. The supply of fresh water is obtained by sinking, and three wells have been so formed: two by the Shire Council for public use, and one by the Coffee Palace Company, from which the water is laid on to the Palace and Cobb & Co.'s Stables. The whole scheme of the water supply is effective, ingenious, and inexpensive; a windmill being the motive power to raise it for distribution. We believe the entire cost was under £100. The aim of the management is evidently to make this seaside home replete with every convenience, combined with reasonable charges.

Barwon Heads Tennis Courts

Barwon Heads Coffee Palace Tennis Courts.
[Sketch from Tourists' Guide to Geelong and the South Watering Places : Geelong Historical Records Centre]

A commodious Recreation Hall adjoins the palace, and is well-lighted and seated for entertainments. The billiard-room measures 25 feet by 30 feet, fitted with one of Alcock's best tables, the use of which can be obtained for a small charge. A good asphalt Tennis Court is also attached, and is a great attraction to many. A Post and Telegraph Office is connected with the palace, and mails are despatched and received daily via Geelong.

Boating, fishing, and picnic parties are made up as required, to visit the lake and other points of interest; those desirous to avail themselves of such, should apply to the manager the day previous to starting. Cobb and Co. have here well-appointed stables, horses, &c.; conveyances can be obtained on very reasonable terms.

Coaches leave Geelong daily, at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., during the summer season, and once a day all the year round.

The drive is a pleasant one, and if intending visitors prefer the route east of Connewarre, or by railway, or Queenscliff, a boat will be sent across the river to Ocean Grove, and on payment of a small extra charge Cobb and Co. will convey passengers to the crossing-place at the edge of the river.

The vicinity of Barwon Heads has, from time to time, figured largely in the matter of shipwrecks. We have only to recall the deep interest awakened in this colony by referring to the "Sussex", the "Joseph H Scammell", the steamer "Bancoora", and the "Enterprise". The two former became total wrecks, and the two latter were ultimately saved. A trip to Bream Creek and Spring Creek would give the tourist the exact locality of such disasters, and conveyances can be obtained from Cobb and Co.'s Stables for drives in this direction.

Visitors from Melbourne will find the combined Tickets issued by M. L. Hutchinson, 305 & 307 Little Collins Street, ensure a pleasant and inexpensive trip. The Tickets include first-class return fares per Huddart, Parker & Co.'s Steamers, and Cobb & Co.'s Coaches. Tickets available for one month at the small cost of 8s. Cobb & Co.'s Coach meets 10 a.m. Melbourne boat at Geelong wharf.

Round Tickets may also be procured from the same Office for 9s. The Tickets entitle the holder to a First-class Return Passage from Melbourne to Queenscliff per bay steamers Ozone or Hygeia; also return fare from Queenscliff to Barwon Heads.

Passengers may return, if desired, via Geelong, the Tickets being available for Geelong and Barwon Heads Coaches; also, Huddart, Park & Co.'s Geelong and Melbourne Steamers. Excursionists may break their journey at Queenscliff, Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads or Geelong. One month allowed for return.

Through Tickets, including Coach and Rail, are issued at reduced Rates during summer months by M. L. Hutchinson, 305 & 307 Little Collins Street, or from Cobb & Co's Offices, Melbourne, Ballarat, and Bendigo. Excursionists from other distant railway towns should procure a Sea-side Railway Ticket to Geelong, by which a considerable saving is effected.

If advice is sent to Cobb & Co.'s Geelong Office, a Coach will meet passengers at the local Railway Station.

All visitors should go and see the wonderful collection of stones on the beach, about one mile from Barwon Heads. The geologist, or, indeed, anyone loving the wonders and beauties of Nature, will find material for thought, interest, and discussion as to how such a variety is located on this spot. For about half-a-mile, specimens of various strata are to be found, including different-coloured sandstone, basalt, and conglomerates of every form and hue. Many are really beautiful, as well as curious; and, we have no doubt, some will find a new destination before years roll by.1

References :

  1. A. J. Campbell, Tourists' Guide to Geelong and the South Watering Places, Henry Thacker, Geelong, 1893, pp. 32-34.

[From the Geelong Historical Records Centre and the files of the Bellarine Historical Society]

Barwon Heads History & Other Links

Across Australia and around the world : other sites with similar associations or interests have contacted us or linked to our site.

Record Sources for Barwon Heads

  • Photographs : Bellarine Historical Society; Geelong Historical Records Centre; various private collections.
  • Maps & Plans : Bellarine Historical Society; Geelong Historical Records Centre.
  • Newspapers : Geelong Advertiser Indexes - Bellarine Historical Society & Geelong Historical Records Centre; Geelong Advertiser on microfilm - Geelong Historical Records Centre; various local newspapers - Bellarine Historical Society.
  • Miscellaneous Documents & Advertisements : Bellarine Historical Society; Geelong Historical Records Centre; various private collections.
  • Bellarine Shire Council Records : Geelong Historical Records Centre.
  • More recent Council Records : City of Greater Geelong.
  • Cemetery Records : (Leopold/Kensington Cemetery, Geelong) Bellarine Historical Society; Geelong Historical Records Centre.
  • Land Records : Registrar of Titles, Melbourne; Bellarine Historical Society; Geelong Historical Records Centre.


Brownhill, Geo. H. Illustrated Guide to Geelong And District, Facsimile edn., Deakin University Press, Geelong, 1990.

Campbell, A. J. Tourist Guide to Geelong and Southern Watering Places, Henry Thacker, Geelong, 1893.

Wynd, Ian. Balla-wein : A history of the Shire of Bellarine, Shire of Bellarine, Drysdale, 1988.

Wynd, Ian. Geelong The Pivot : A Short History of Geelong and District, Cypress Books, Mont Albert North, 1971.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 May 2009 03:08  

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