Barwon Heads and its twin Ocean Grove are located on the southern shores of the Bellarine Peninsula and on the mouth of the Barwon River. The town has transformed and grown over the last decade from a sleepy seaside town to a vibrant and exciting township with a great selection of cafe s restaurants and boutiques along its main street Hitchcock Street.
One of the main reasons for the new found interest in Barwon Heads was its feature on the ABC television series Seachange staring Sigrid Thorton, William McInnes and John Howard (the one from All Saints not the ex PM) which was filmed in and around the town during the late 1990’s. Thornton plays magistrate Laura Gibson who moves to a small coastal town when her marriage fails. David Wenham is the hunky Diver Dan (later replaced by William McInnes as Max Connors) and there is wonderful support from John Howard and Kerry Armstrong.
Sigrid Thornton with William McInnes in SeaChange
The giant bluff at the mouth of the Barwon River is just as well known as the bridge this huge limestone cliff face offers shelter to the river mouth and protects the sandy shores making it ideal and fairly safe for swimming and also offer great protection to the large campgrounds at its base. On the south side of the bluff there is a surf beach – the long sandy beaches including 13th beach are some of the best surf beaches in the region.
There is plenty of natural attractions to see and enjoy around Barwon Heads, with the river and connecting Reedy Swamp and Lake Connewarre attracting an amazing array of bird life including ibis, spoonbills, pelicans and ducks. Some of Lake Connewarre is a state game reserve and has been popular over the years with shooters during duck hunting season. Fishing is also a great past time which attracts many to Barwon Heads, with fishing from the jetties, beaches and boats all popular. The township has some great places to ride bikes and plenty of walking tracks to experience the fresh sea air from Bass Strait.
Where Is It: Barwon Heads is situated on the Bellarine Peninsula 22km south-east of Geelong and 95 km south-west of Melbourne.
A walking-cycling track follows Ewing Blyth Drive as it bends west as Torquay Rd. Another passes through Village Park (where there are picnic facilities and a playground), connecting Geelong Rd and Wandin Crescent. Another park with picnic-barbecue-playground facilities can be found behind the river beach adjacent Flinders Parade.
Just to the north-west of Barwon Heads are Lake Connewarre and Reedy Swamp which are important migratory bird habitats and hence are havens for waterbirds such as bitterns, swamp hens, ibis, spoonbills, egrets, cormorants and herons. There are mangrove swamps in Lake Connewarre State Game Reserve on the southern shore.
Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s great drives. The 273 km drive winds its way from Torquay to Warrnambool on the south west coast alongside some of the most dramatically scenic seascapes in the world. It was constructed by ex-servicemen and the unemployed between 1918 and 1932 and is dedicated to those that lost their lives in World War I. The most well known feature in the region is The Twelve Apostles rock formation near Port Campbell, carved out of the limestone headlands by rough seas over time. From Barwon Heads, drive south to Torquay.
Jirrahlinga Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a range of native animals. There is a hospital where sick, injured or orphaned animals are nursed back to health. They are returned to the wild where appropriate while others remain at the sanctuary. But Jirrahlinga is not just for distressed native animals. It is primarily about people. Particularly people who have a disability, a special need, the frail or the aged. What better therapy could there be than to come into a supportive environment to work quietly with animals or just visit and touch a koala or joey that do not place demands on a person’s physical or mental capacities. Location: Taits Road, Barwon Heads.
Brief history: European settlement at the mouth of the Barwon River began on the Ocean Grove side of the river 1854, settlement on the Barwon Heads was delayed until 1875 when it became a fishing small fishing village. The town s landmark the bridge opened in 1927 and soon became a favorite holiday destination with hundreds flocking to the area over the summer months.
Barwon Heads was first known as Flinders Head. Prior to European settlement the area is thought to have been occupied by the Wathawurung people and it is from their language that the name Barwon derives. The name, first applied to the Barwon River as Kondak Baarwon by surveyor Wedge, is said to mean ‘great’, or ‘deep’. .
Jirrahlinga Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary