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Ocean Grove: Boathouses

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Boathouses of Ocean Grove

Dotted around the town of Ocean Grove are houses now unrecognisable from their original size and style. These are the Boathouses of Ocean Grove - they originally stood on the foreshore of the western bank of the Barwon River at Barwon Heads.

Although Barwon Heads was not in the Shire of Bellarine, the history of the boathouses is an important part of the growth and development of Ocean Grove, and therefore merits recording here.

Barwon Heads boathouses

The western bank of the Barwon River at Barwon Heads in 1916, showing the boathouses and a jetty for small boats. The site of the present road bridge (built in 1927) is between the jetty and the Bluff.
[Photograph from the Ocean Grove Album compiled by Bob Irving, courtesy of John Irving, Ocean Grove]

Holidaymakers flocked to Barwon Heads and by the 1930s there were 61 boathouses along the foreshore.

From the mid 1920s, some Barwon Heads residents were trying to have the foreshore boathouses removed. The battle over the boathouses was fought in the newspapers, the courts and State parliament. Finally the order was given that the boathouses must be removed by June 30th, 1936.

The first boathouse to be moved to Ocean Grove crossed the Barwon River on June 10th, 1936. At that stage plans were in place for 25 boathouses to go to Ocean Grove, two to Queenscliff, two to Torquay and five to other sites in Barwon Heads. [Sun 11th June 1936]

Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove boathouse

One of the Boathouses crossing the bridge on the road to Ocean Grove, 10th June, 1936.
[Photograph from the Sun, 11th June 1936]

The boathouses which were moved to Ocean Grove were used as holiday cottages - many located on the Esplanade.

The removal of the buildings to Ocean Grove is welcomed by residents of that resort, and with the erection of other new buildings and extensions to existing ones, Ocean Grove appears to be entering an era of prosperity that it has not enjoyed for some years. [Geelong Advertiser 5th June 1936]

Barwon Heads: Grant's boathouse

Up to the early 1930s, there were several dozen boathouses like this one called "Karrest" on the right bank of the Barwon to the north of the present bridge. The two women wearing blazers are Lily Grant (playing the harmonium) and Ethline Grant (seated on the ramp). Both are aunts of Bob Irving. Lily Grant lived in "Spray Cottage" on the corner of Dare Street and Bramwell (now Wedge) Street at Ocean Grove.
[Photograph from the Ocean Grove Album compiled by Bob Irving, courtesy of John Irving, Ocean Grove]
Note : This photograph was probably taken after the boathouses were moved to Ocean Grove in 1936 - the foliage in the background does not appear to be on the foreshore at Barwon Heads.

The original Barwon Head Boathouses have become the core of some of Ocean Grove's present day homes. Extensions have been added, and although often not obviously a boathouse, the tell-tale fretwork and gable shape usually identify its origins.

Ocean Grove: boathouse

A former Barwon Heads boathouse now in Dare Street, Ocean Grove. Extensions have been added to make this a good sized home - photo taken in 1978.
[Photograph from the Ocean Grove Album compiled by Bob Irving, courtesy of John Irving, Ocean Grove]


History of the Boathouses - from newspaper clippings

This section is quite long, however the story of the Barwon Heads Boathouses and their eventual relocation to Ocean Grove makes fascinating reading. There were many articles in local and Melbourne papers throughout the battle to remove the Boathouses, and extracts have been selected to provide a comprehensive picture of the history, the turmoil, the owners, and the effect of their relocation on both Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove.

A summary of the articles to follow :-

  • 6th December 1932 - history of the boathouses, and legal and parliamentary intervention into the validity of licences
  • 7th December 1932 - history of allotments and erection of "sheds"
  • 8th December 1932 - push to remove the boathouses, history and description. Buildings to be removed by 14th January 1933.
  • 8th December 1932 - Letters to the Editor : for and against
  • 8th December 1932 - Loss of trade expected in Barwon Heads if boathouses removed
  • 7th January 1933 - supporting the boathouse owners, criticising the "privileged few" who want them removed
  • 11th January 1933 - Licences renewed for another 12 months : list of licensees
  • 11th January 1933 - Policy not yet decided - Government to review policy towards all buildings on foreshores
  • 18th January 1933 - Letter to the Editor demanding the Government take control of the Barwon Heads foreshore away from the Geelong Harbor Trust
  • 17th April 1936 - Final decision that leases are to be cancelled : deadline 30th June 1936
  • 22nd April 1936 - Bellarine Council would welcome boathouses in Ocean Grove
  • 7th May 1936 - There will be NO extension of leases
  • 4th June 1936 - Mt. Colite Hotel applies for permission to take several boathouses
  • 5th June 1936 - Removal operation begins - sites at Ocean Grove in demand
  • 11th June 1936 - First boathouse moved across the river to Ocean Grove

Herald - 6th December 1932 :-

BARWON HEADS BEACH SCANDAL : Houses Illegally Erected : Public Shut Out

Residents of Barwon Heads are incensed against the attempt of the Geelong Harbor Trust's efforts to retain houses on the river beach in defiance of the law.

Recently, in an action brought by residents, Mr Justice Lowe declared that the Trust had no power to grant leases without the consent of the Governor-in-Council, and ordered the removal by January 14, of the so-called boating sheds, which are really ordinary houses, in the event of the consent not being obtained.

A request for such consent has been made by the Trust, and permanent residents of Barwon Heads are strenuously opposing it.

Barwon Heads beach is vested in the Geelong Harbor Trust, which was authorised to lease the land with the consent of the Governor-in-Council. The Trust surveyed a strip of the beach 30 ft. wide and divided into allotments 30 by 25 ft., without obtaining the consent of the Governor-in-Council. The allotments practically extended over the whole available beach.

BEACH VANISHING : Leases were granted and sheds intended as residences were built according to a prescribed plan. The available space began to fill, and the residents of Barwon Heads began to realise that they were losing their beach. A campaign was instituted some years ago to have the sheds removed, but it failed.

The chief objections of residents were that their beach had been taken away from them and by a bureaucratic body in defiance of the law, and that occupation of the sheds by summer visitors for long periods created insanitary conditions that were a menace to the town. About 1924 the Health Commission south to secure the removal of the sheds or the installation of proper sanitation. Nothing was achieved, more sheds went up and more people became temporary summer residents on the beach. ...............

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Age - 7th December 1932 :-

BARWON HEADS : Residential Boat Houses : Is Beach Being Filched?

..... Before the formation of the Geelong Harbor Trust in 1905 there were on the river beach at Barwon Heads a few boat sheds, which were used for boats, and were really boat sheds. In these persons camped for a night or two occasionally. When the trust came into existence the beach was vested in it. Shortly afterwards the trust had a substantial strip of the beach surveyed and divided into allotments 30 feet by 25 feet, and proceeded to grant leases of such allotments along the whole length of the available beach. The trust insisted that the lessees should build on a prescribed plan sheds, which were intended as residences, and not as sheds for boats at all. The sheds so erected had a comfortable living room in front and bedrooms behind, but contained no sanitary conveniences of any kind, nor were they built in accordance with the building regulations of the township. Thereafter people began to stay for longer periods, and as more sheds went up the residents realised that their beach was being filched from them, and that the number of people living on the beach in the heat of summer constituted a menace to the health of the community. .....

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Argus - 8th December 1932 :-

BARWON RIVER BEACH : Alienation Resented : Removal of Buildings Desired

Landholders and residents at Barwon Heads are awaiting with concern the result of an application which has been made recently by the Geelong Harbor Trust to the Executive Council for permission to grant leases for boatshed sites on the river beach at Barwon Heads. The objection to the application is based mainly on the ground that the sites are being used as dwellings and not as boatsheds, and that in the holidays many people live in these houses in circumstances considered to be gravely prejudicial to health.

When the Geelong Harbor Trust was formed in 1905 it was charged with the duty of keeping the Barwon River clear of obstructions, and was vested with the control of the beaches at the mouth of the river. Before that time several boatsheds had been erected on the river beach, which is about half a mile long, and on which the township of Barwon Heads is built.

Soon after its constitution the trust had this strip of beach surveyed and divided into allotments 25ft wide and 30ft deep, and, without seeking the consent of the Executive Council, it proceeded to lease these allotments. With the exception of two small gaps, one of which is occupied by the bridge over the river, the whole of the beach was subdivided in this way. At the outset the trust granted leases only of allotments adjacent to the park, and the outlook of landholders adjoining the river was not obstructed, nor was their access to the river beach impaired. During the last 27 years, however, practically the whole of the beach has been leased. Although the buildings on the beach before the formation of the trust had all been bona-fide boatsheds, those erected under its lease and in accordance with plans which it approved were all designed as ordinary dwellings.

Most of them have three rooms and provision for cooking, and they are surrounded by verandahs. They are not sewered, and there is no systematic provision for the disposal of washing water or kitchen waste. The sanitary facilities provided for this beach settlement, which in summer accommodates as many as 400 people, consist of several communal conveniences provided by the harbor trust. Many of the houses are so far from these conveniences that residents complain that insanitary conditions prevail in the settlement.

After many unsuccessful protests against the extension of the beach settlement, the people of Barwon Heads were informed by counsel that the Geelong Harbor Trust had exceeded its legal powers in granting leases for the beach sites without the approval of the Executive Council. With the approval of the Attorney-General, the authority of the trust to lease the sites was tested about two years ago, and the action was successful. An order was made directing the trust to remove the buildings before January 14 next. So that it may not be necessary to carry out this order the trust has applied to the Executive Council for permission to grant leases for the sites.

People of Barwon Heads consider that an important principle is involved in the application. The result of the trust's action, it is contended, has been to transfer the beach from the general use of ratepayers of Barwon Heads to the exclusive use of persons who are not ratepayers, and thereby to alienate practically the whole of the beach within reasonable reach of the town. It is felt that if the Geelong Harbor Trust is given the right to lease this beach, other beaches in many parts of the State may be alienated in a similar manner. Several outbreaks of disease have occurred in the township, and these are attributed to the insanitary conditions on the beach. An earnest request has been made to the Premier (Sir Stanley Argyle) that the trust's applications should be refused.

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Herald - 8th December 1932 (Letters to the Editor) :-

OWNERS' REPLY TO CRITICISM

Sir - The members of the Barwon Heads Boatshed Owners' Association read with amazement your Special Representative's obviously inspired article about the boatsheds which appeared in Tuesday's issue of The Herald.

To correct a number of the mis-statements contained in it my committee has directed me to write you in the hope that the same publicity will be given to this letter as was given to your Special Representative's report.

The article states that "residents of Barwon Heads are incensed at the attempt of the Geelong Harbor Trust to retain houses on the river beach in defiance of the law."

As a matter of fact, the Supreme Court recently specifically recognised the legality of the Geelong Harbor Trust's action in granting the boatshed licences, with the right to camp therein, provided the approval of the Governor-in-Council is obtained and it is the application for such approval that is now meeting with outside objection.

Your article also states : " ... The available space began to fill and the residents of Barwon Heads began to realise that they were losing their beach." This also is inaccurate, as the boatsheds occupy an infinitesimal portion of the available river frontage, and the great majority of the Barwon Heads residents ridicule the suggestion that they are being interfered with in this direction.

"WONDERFUL ASSET" : The present opposition to the boatsheds emanates from a very few permanent residents at Barwon Heads. Most of the residents and all the shopkeepers at Barwon Heads recognise what a wonderful asset the boathouse occupiers are to the township, an amount of about £4000 being circulated there annually in the purchase by them of meat, groceries, vegetables, and other household necessaries; and neither the Barwon Heads Progress Association nor any other public body in the township or Geelong district is in favor of the removal of the boatsheds. The great majority of the local residents are against removal.

The article also says: " ... The Health Commission sought the removal of the sheds or the installation of proper sanitation." This is incorrect. The Health Commission has never made any such attempt. On the contrary, the reports of the Health Commission's medical officers always refer in very favorable terms to the boatsheds, and state that the Geelong Harbor Trust has established there "a sanitary system above the average." When it is remembered that the boatsheds have a daily sanitary and garbage clearance, compared with a weekly clearance for the householders, it is obvious that the sanitary conditions for the boathouses are greatly in advance of those for the occupiers of houses.

Another mis-statement in the article is that "the shed lessees make no contributions to the rates necessary for the maintenance of the town." As a matter of fact, all the boatsheds are rated annually by, and pay rates to, the Shire of South Barwon.

EPIDEMIC "BOGEY" : The real, and in fact the only, objection to the boathouses comes from a very few of the residents, whose houses are built on the lower portion of the river frontage, and whose view of the river and ocean is to some extent obscured by the boatsheds. It is this few who make up for their paucity of numbers by the virulence of their attack. It must be remembered, however, that the present objectors either purchased or built their houses long after the boatsheds were built, and they should not now be heard to complain of an obstruction of their view which they knew existed at the time of their purchase.

The boatsheds have existed at Barwon Heads for 40 years. Successive Governments have approved them, and the policy of the Geelong Harbor Trust in renewing their annual licences. Medical officers of the Health Commission have frequently inspected and reported favorably on the boatsheds, and their sanitary arrangements. The persons occupying the boatsheds are people accustomed to living in cleanliness and comfort at their own homes, and it is not likely they are now going to live under insanitary conditions at Barwon Heads. The epidemic, which is so greatly feared by the few objectors, has not developed over a period of 40 years, and can therefore, be regarded as a bogey which is useful now in the present agitation by a select few for removal of the sheds.

The boatsheds provide means for a happy, healthy and economical holiday for many adults and children annually, and no case for their removal has yet been made out.

Yours etc., E. L. HEYWARD (Hon. Secretary, Barwon Heads Boatshed Owners' Association), Barwon Heads, Dec. 7.

"ALIENATION"

Sir - I was pleased to see the prominence given to the Barwon Heads beach question in The Herald. The matter concerns not only residents of Barwon Heads, but the general public, as the leasing of this part of the beach deprives the general public of the best part of the river front.

Usually the Government is emphatic about refusing the alienation of public lands, but it appears that the Geelong Harbor Trust has been leasing this foreshore for years and nothing has been said.

Recently a judgement was given against the Trust, declaring that it had no power to grant leases without the consent of the Governor-in-Council. The Trust is now seeking this consent, but I sincerely hope the Premier will refuse the application.

Yours etc., J. F. S. SHANNON, Geelong, December 7.

"SAVE THE BEACH"

Sir - May I congratulate you on your outspoken article in last evening's Herald about the action of the Geelong Harbor Trust in allowing a favored few to erect and use residences on the beach at Barwon Heads.

The Geelong Harbor Trust has been making substantial losses on two of its assets, as appeared on Monday, when Mr T. Forrestal, an officer of the Treasury Department, visited Geelong. It certainly seems a pit that the Trust does not devote all its attention to its business enterprises instead of wasting its energy in the development of a housing scheme on the people's beach at Barwon Heads.

I hope your efforts to save the beach for the people will meet with the success they deserve, and that the people of Victoria will appreciate the stand you have taken on their behalf.

Yours etc., TAXPAYER, Melbourne, Dec. 7.

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Geelong Advertiser - 8th December 1932 :-

BARWON HEADS DISPUTE : Removal of Boathouses : Loss of Trade to Resort Expected

In estimating what the coming holiday season will mean to the township the only point of conjecture at Barwon Heads is the fate of the boathouses. Recent developments and the publicity given to them has given rise to a feeling of uneasiness to those who are dependent on the greatest possible influx of visitors to stimulate business to such an extent that the success of their undertakings for the whole year is assured.

Amongst business people there is a unanimous feeling that the boathouses should not be removed. There are about seventy boathouses on the beach, and it is estimated that their cost of erection varies from £150 to £250. Throughout the summer season they are occupied for practically the whole of the time, and the people who are in them buy practically the whole of their requirements in the township. It is considered that their banishment would mean that the owners would not buy sites elsewhere and erect the houses, but would choose other resorts, and thus their patronage, which would probably run into thousands of pounds, would be lost to Barwon Heads.

The accommodation that the boathouses provide, said one business man, is such that those who occupy them cannot bring large supplies of goods with them, with the result that their presence for the summer season, which is the best spending time of the year, means a considerable sum.

Another business man expressed the opinion, which is one that is generally shared, that the manner in which a section of the Press has handled the matter is most misleading and cannot be otherwise than detrimental to the resort. It is maintained that the deputation was composed on only that section which are in favor of the removal. The Progress Association has not identified itself with any movement either for the retention or the removal of the structures. .....

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Truth - 7th January 1933 :-

EXCLUSIVE RESORT OF A PRIVILEGED FEW? : Move to do away with boathouses at Barwon Heads should not be tolerated

Is Barwon Heads to be kept sacred to the high hats who make a golf headquarters of it?

That seems to be the motive behind the agitation in a section of the Press to do away with the leasing to holidaymakers of the boathouses and camping sites along the Barwon Heads river beach.

For a quarter of a century or more, Barwon Heads has been looked upon as the ideal seaside resort for Geelong, and the thousands that flock to the place during the holiday season is sufficient evidence of its popularity.

However, some people have suddenly taken it into their heads that the boathouses are insanitary. They also constitute an infringement on public parks, they say, and they blame the Harbor Trust for permitting their erection.

But, there, facts are somewhat astray. Boathouses were on the river bank many years before the Harbor Trust was constituted. True, they were rather unsightly, and erected without any regard to uniformity and building alignment. But the Trust soon took steps to remedy this defect, and the result is that the row of boathouses along the spacious sweep of the river beach constitutes one of the pleasing attractions of the resort.

At present about 50 of these buildings are leased to citizens of Geelong, Ballarat, and Melbourne; and the assertion that the places are insanitary and not well kept is rather a reflection on the people who occupy them year after year. As a matter of fact, the houses are far from insanitary.

Recently the Trust was taken to court on the question of the boathouses, but the issue was fought, not on the merits of the buildings, but on the question as to whether the Trust had exceeded its rights in granting yearly licenses without the consent of the Governor in Council. The court held that the Trust had exceeded its rights, and stipulated that, unless consent was given by the Governor in Council, the erections should be removed by January 14.

Sir Stanley Argyle has called for a report on the question, but one thing that he should bear in mind is that the removal of the boathouses would deprive the Trust of a certain amount of revenue, and make it more difficult for it to meet its financial commitments to the Government. This is an important matter, for the Trust is being criticised in quite another quarter for its failure to pay the Government interest on loans advanced.

Those people who occupy the boathouses year by year are more than satisfied with what has been done for them. They lead a clean, healthy life in the buildings, without interfering with the rights of those who enjoy the wide stretch of sandy beach along the river. A former Attorney-General after an inspection remarked that one of the places would "do" him for a holiday.

But Barwon Heads appears to be earmarked as the exclusive resort for a privileged few. Will this be tolerated by the Government of the day?

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Argus - 11th January 1933 :-

BARWON BOATSHEDS : Licences Renewed for 1933

..... Boatshed Site, with or without camping right :-

  • Barwon Rowing Club
  • Mrs. G. Brownlee, Marnock Vale
  • C. N. Brown, Geelong
  • T. S. Barnfather, Newtown
  • A. Bell, Geelong
  • C. R. Bernard, Geelong
  • Miss A. Blakiston, Geelong
  • W. Carr, Colac
  • Church of England Grammar School, Corio
  • K. J. Coghlan, Ballarat
  • D. T. Casey, Geelong
  • Captain Cumming, Geelong
  • Dr. Crawford, Ballarat
  • Miss E. N. Clarke, Ballarat
  • Miss E. J. Cathcart, Newtown
  • A. Davies, Ballarat
  • B. W. Douglass, Geelong
  • Mrs. L. Flockhart, Melbourne
  • Mrs. P. Fraser, Geelong
  • T. J. Fowler, Geelong
  • Mrs. N. Francis, Melbourne
  • J. S. Gray, Geelong
  • Dr. A. S. Grimwade, Geelong
  • Miss Goodwin, Geelong
  • H. C. Giles, Geelong
  • J. Hancock, Geelong West
  • E. J. Heywood, Geelong
  • Mrs. H. Hitchcock, Geelong
  • P. H. Holden, Geelong
  • Mrs. May Hoban, Melbourne
  • Rev. A. T. Holden, Kew
  • Mrs. F. E. Humble, Geelong
  • P. Hoskin, Geelong
  • Mrs. Helen Hodges, Geelong
  • E. F. Holden, Geelong
  • M. J. Illingworth, Geelong
  • W. J. Jarman, Barwon Heads
  • E. L. Julien, Geelong
  • Mrs. O. A. James, Geelong
  • W. C. Kernot, Geelong
  • T. J. Kerley, Geelong
  • Mrs. M. Langhorne, Barwon Heads
  • Mrs. A. M. Little, Geelong
  • T. F. Murray, Geelong
  • Miss L. Millett, Ballarat
  • Rev. John Nall, Geelong
  • E. C. E. Opie, Geelong
  • Miss A. W. Storrer and Mrs. A. L. Storrer, Geelong
  • J. F. S. Shannon, Geelong
  • P. H. Spargo, Geelong
  • S. H. Thompson, Geelong
  • J. McN. Turnbull, Camberwell
  • R. J. Thomas, Melbourne
  • C. H. Tutton, Melbourne
  • Mrs. A. R. Thear, Geelong
  • Mrs. Thiemeyer and Mrs. F. Evans, Melbourne
  • Mrs. M. H. Williams, Geelong

[Licences were renewed for one year to the above] .....

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Herald - 11th January 1933 :-

BARWON HEADS SCANDAL : Policy Not Yet Decided : To Be Reviewed

Before the licences granted by the Geelong Harbor Trust for the occupation of the boathouses at Barwon Heads expire at the end of this year, the State Government will decide on a general policy towards all buildings on foreshores.

The decision to allow the boathouses to remain for another year was made by the Premier (Sir Stanley Argyle) and was not discussed by Cabinet.

Sir Stanley Argyle made these points clear today when speaking on the telephone from his country property at Lake Kangaroo, where he is spending a short holiday.

"FULL CONSIDERATION" : "I am not surprised that there has been some criticism of my action," said the Premier, "but I reached my decision only after full consideration, and I am prepared to stand by it.

"It should be understood that the policy of the Government toward buildings on the foreshores and river frontages has not been decided, but it will be considered before these licences expire. It is quite possible that the position will be changed.

"This matter came before me in two capacities - as Minister for Health and as Treasurer. Officers of both these departments made detailed reports, and I also inspected the boatsheds myself. I am satisfied that the decision I came to is fully justified.

"The issue of the licences by the Harbor Trust for a further 12 months will enable people who have made commitments for this season to honor them."

WERE IN THE DARK : Other members of the Cabinet were not aware yesterday of the decision which the Premier had come to, and it is certain that before the Government's policy on this matter is decided there will be a full examination of the claims of both sides.

In his report on the boat houses, the Under Treasurer (Mr H. A. Pitt) suggested that the licences should be issued to December 31, 1933, and that in the meantime the Government should decide its general policy. He stressed that licensees should be clearly advised that the issue of the licences should not be construed as a recognition of their rights to continued occupation.

Apparently the Premier, after making his own investigation, accepted this view.

AGITATION TO GO ON : Private Prosecutions Possible : Despite the decision to allow the boathouses to remain at Barwon Heads for another year, the agitation for their ultimate removal is likely to continue.

Consideration is now being given to the possibility of instituting private prosecutions against individual licence-holders for breaches of building and health regulations which, it is alleged, have occurred.

If the sheds are to remain after the end of this year, it will be necessary for the Geelong Harbor Trust to obtain the consent of the Governor-in-Council again when the time to issue licences arrives on December 31.

"TWELVE MONTHS ONLY" : The secretary of the Geelong Harbor Trust (Mr J. H. Grey) said today that no undertaking had been given to, or demanded by, the Government that further licenses would not be issued.

It was not necessary, he said, to advise licensees that the issue of licences for this year should not be construed as recognition of the rights to continue occupation.

It is generally forgotten that these licences are issued by the Trust for 12 months only," he said. "We have power to refuse to continue them at any time and it is made clear on the licences themselves that they give no right of renewal."

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Herald - 18th January 1933 (Letter to the Editor) :-

CABINET AND THE BEACH FRONTAGES

Sir - It is to be hoped the State Cabinet, which will resume its meetings shortly, will outline at the first possible opportunity its general policy with regard to the alienation of beach frontages, whether at Barwon Heads or elsewhere. I was more than surprised to learn that there was any doubt as to the policy of the Cabinet on the matter, but as the statements appearing in the Press suggest such a doubt, the Cabinet owes it to itself to make its position clear without delay.

When dealing with the matter, the Cabinet might also well consider whether it would not be proper to hand over the case of the River Barwon to the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission, which is the appropriate body for the purpose, and which, so far as I know, has the control of all the rivers in the State, which are not used for navigation. The Barwon River has nothing to do with the Geelong Harbor Trust, and it is difficult to understand how it ever came to be placed under its control.

Clearly, the legislature never contemplated that the beach of Barwon Heads would be made available for purposes of residence by privileged individuals. Yet this has been done, and by the abuse of its powers the Geelong Harbor Trust has forfeited its right to the continued control of the river, which should now be made over to the appropriate authority.

Yours etc., E. F. HERRING, Melbourne, January 18.

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Age - 17th April 1936 :-

BARWON HEADS BOAT SHEDS : Leases to be Cancelled : Government's Decision : Long Agitation Ends

The boat sheds on the river beach at Barwon Heads, which are used for seaside residences, are to go. Cabinet decided yesterday that when the leases of the sites expire on 30th June next they should not be renewed.

There are 61 wooden "residential" boat houses on the sandy banks of the river, some of them reaching down almost to high-water mark. Several of the buildings were erected over forty years ago. For years there has been a strong agitation for their removal, and deputations and counter deputations have waited on respective Ministers. In recent years a decision has been deferred or postponed. But the present Government feels that quite apart from the alienation of foreshores from the people the lessees have had four years' notice that their leases were to be terminated. A few weeks ago the present Minister of Lands visited Barwon Heads, and after meeting rival deputations made an inspection. Mr. Lind left no room for doubt as to his objections to the continuance of the leases. Cabinet yesterday confirmed his view.

The control of the foreshore was vested in the Geelong Harbor Trust in 1905, but prior to that the Lands department had granted certain occupancies. In 1932, when there were 56 structures on the beach, some of which had been built only twenty years, the trust spent £700 on a sanitary scheme and services. There were then 81 sites marked out on the beach. About this time the leasing of the beach was the subject of litigation, the objectors submitting a case to the Supreme Court. Mr. Justice Lowe decided that as the approval of the Governor in Council had not been given to the leases, those granted by the trust were invalid. His Honor directed that the leases should be vacated by 14th January, 1933, unless the approval of the Governor in Council was obtained. This decision caused some perturbation at Barwon Heads, because it was the summer holiday season. Not the least worried was the Government of the day, and it eventually decided to recommend the Governor in Council to approve the granting of permissive occupancy for two years. This period expired on 1st January last. In the meantime, however, the Geelong Harbor Trust Bill, passed in September, 1934, removed the control of the foreshore from the Geelong Harbor Trust to the Lands department, and the land was to become "unalienated land of the Crown." In these circumstances the Government felt that lessees had been given ample notice. The present Minister extended the leases for six months from 1st January last so that he could go into the position.

The local revenue obtained from the leases in 1934 was only £260, and the cost of the sanitary services was £182.

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Geelong Advertiser - 22nd April 1936 :-

BARWON BOAT-HOUSES : Transfer to Ocean Grove : Would Be Welcomed by Bellarine Council

Following the decision of the South Barwon Council on Tuesday that the boat-houses at Barwon Heads could not be removed to vacant land and used for residential purposes unless they complied with building regulations of the shire the attitude of the Bellarine Council at its meeting yesterday is of much interest.

The subject came before the council on account of a letter received.

Writing to the council, Miss Gladys Bell, Ocean Grove, said: "How much longer does the shire intend to keep its eyes shut to the type of shack being erected on the river front here in Ocean Grove?

"Now that the boat-houses in Barwon Heads are for sale and land for the erection of same has been already advertised in the local papers it is surely the time for the council to realise its responsibility and enforce building regulations and so make it worth while for the few ratepayers, who take pride in a house and a garden, to live in Ocean Grove."

In an informal discussion on the matter councillors expressed the opinion that if boat-house owners could be induced to remove buildings to Ocean Grove and there erect them on vacant allotments they would be an asset to the shire. The persons concerned were a good type of ratepayer, and would be welcomed to the municipality.

Owners of some of the boat-houses were, it was stated, looking for suitable sites at Ocean Grove, particularly near where electric light and water facilities were available. Plenty of suitable sites were said to be available.

It was pointed out, however, that with houses coming from another municipality certain requirements in accordance with the Health Act were necessary.

It was also pointed out that so far as the erection of shacks were concerned the council had ample powers to deal with them if they became a menace.

The letter from Miss Bell was disposed of by Crs. Wilton and Vines being appointed to interview her on the matter.

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Age - 7th May 1936 :-

BARWON BOAT SHEDS : No Extension of Leases

Since the Government recently decided to revoke the leases of the sites of the sixty "residential" boat house on the beach at Barwon Heads as from 30th June, several applications have been received by the Minister of Lands for an extension of the time for removing the buildings.

Mr. Lind said yesterday that in no circumstances would the leases be extended beyond 30th June. As the buildings were not likely to be occupied during the winter this should not cause any hardship.

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Argus - 4th June 1936 :-

BARWON HEADS BOATHOUSES

Although it was feared that the fact that so many of the buildings would be on the market at the one time, and that it would be difficult to dispose of them, there are indications that the Barwon Heads boathouses, which have to be removed from the banks of the river by the end of the month, will be sold and utilised for a variety of purposes. The South Barwon Shire Council has been asked by the licensee of the Mt. Colite Hotel for permission to have several of the buildings placed in the hotel yard so that they can be utilised as sleep-outs. The council decided to offer no objection to the removal of the buildings provided that the plans submitted comply with the building regulations.

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Geelong Advertiser - 5th June 1936 :-

BARWON BOATHOUSES : Removal Operations Begun : Sites at Ocean Grove in Demand

The removal of the first boathouse from the foreshore at Barwon Heads to another site will take place to-day. The boathouse, which is the property of Mrs. Walter C. Kernot, will be removed to another site at Barwon Heads.

At Tuesday's meeting of the South Barwon Council permission was granted to Mr. H. L. Ziman to remove some of the houses to the rear of his hotel, provided that when re-erected they complied with the regulations. At the Bellarine Council on Wednesday the engineer (Mr. Arnold Dean) reported that seven permits had been granted for the removal of boathouses into that municipality. Many of the owners have chosen sites in Ocean Grove as near as possible to the foreshore and near the water and electric light mains. Up to the present it is expected that at least fifteen of the boathouses will be removed to Ocean Grove. In the last few days there have been several persons at Ocean Grove looking for suitable sites to which to remove their houses.

One group of five owners - Messrs. A. L. Storrer, H. C. Giles, B. W. Douglas, T. J. Fowler and T. F. Murray - are removing their houses on to the Esplanade at Ocean Grove west of the beach cutting. Those of Miss Blakiston, Mrs. Thear and Messrs. H. J. H. Storrer, McKenzie, Freeman, and N. Hornsey, are to be removed to other sites at Ocean Grove. Those of Mirs. Flockart and Miss Goodwin are to be removed to sites in Barwon Heads and the accommodation of the buildings increased. Another has been purchased for removal to Queenscliff, whilst in other instances local residents have purchased some of the buildings for removal to their existing residences.

With many of the houses which are being removed to Ocean Grove septic tanks are being installed. Where a number are to be grouped together, they will be served by one tank, whilst others will be served by separate installations.

The contractor for the removal of many of the houses (Mr. T. Coleman) expects to remove three or four of them daily. Three motor trucks and three rubber-tyred jinkers are to be used in connection with the work. The buildings are to be lifted bodily on to the jinkers and removed intact without any of the internal fittings or contents having to be removed.

The removal of the buildings to Ocean Grove is welcomed by residents of that resort, and with the erection of other new buildings and extensions to existing ones, Ocean Grove appears to be entering an era of prosperity that it has not enjoyed for some years. The removal of the boathouses to that centre has also created an increased demand for land, picked sites selling at prices much in advance of a year ago.

It is not expected that there will be any difficulty in having all the boathouses removed from the Barwon Heads foreshore by the stipulated date, June 30.

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Sun - 11th June 1936 :-

BARWON HEADS BOAT HOUSES

Barwon Heads Boat Houses are being removed from the foreshore, and the time for shifting them expires at the end of this month. ..... Of the row of houses 25 are to go to Ocean Grove, two to Queenscliff, two to Torquay, and five to blocks of land at Barwon Heads.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 23 August 2015 09:50  

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