This little coastal township takes its somewhat contradictory name from its location at the head of the Bellarine Peninsula. The geographical feature of Indented Head was named by British explorer Matthew Flinders in April 1802 when he observed the shape of the Bellarine Peninsula coastline from the summit of Arthurs Seat, across Port Phillip. For many years the name Indented Head was applied to the whole of the Bellarine Peninsula. The small settlement’s population fluctuates throughout the year, increasing drastically during the summer months, and is very much seasonal.
Indented Head has long been a popular family holiday destination and facilities include a sailing club, a boat ramp, jetty, and numerous sandy beaches. They attract fisherman, boaters and families to the area. The shoreline hosts a number of historical boat sheds. The historic Ozone wreck, the Indented Head Yacht Club and the long stretches beaches that line The Esplanade, all attract visitors to the area.
Part of the area’s recent popularity stems from the 1990’s ABC television program SeaChange which was shot in several locations on the Bellarine including St Leonards. It really helped bring awareness of this part of the peninsula. The towns have a lot or retirees and many European migrants have moved to the area for its great lifestyle, beaches and fishing.
The Wreck 2 Reef Open Water Swim Classic attracts swimmers from all over Victoria as is held in March on the Saturday of the Labour Day weekend.
The beaches of Point George and Point George South are north of the township. The Esplanade and foreshore reserve back the beaches, and there is a camping area on the eroding beach front south of Point George. You can only fish from the beach at high tide.
Half Moon Bay beach
At Indented Head, the coast turns and runs due south for 3 km down to the low bluffs at St Leonards. Half Moon Bay and Hood Bight are two east facing beaches, bordered by low rocky points. The Esplanade runs behind both beaches, with a narrow foreshore reserve between the road and the beaches. There is a camping reserve in Batman Park at Half Moon Bay, and a yacht club and picnic area in Hood Bight. Several boat sheds back both beaches and there is a large car park, boat ramp, jetty and picnic area on Indented Head, at the southern end of Hood Bight. Both beaches are relatively safe, with usually calm to low wave conditions. Depth over the shallow sand flats depends on the tide. The generally shallow water off the beaches are popular for fishing, with the points being the best location at high tide.
The retired Port Phillip paddle steamer, Ozone, was sunk at Indented Head in 1925 to form a breakwater. The wreck remains a distinctive landmark visible offshore from the main beach. One of the Ozone’s anchors has also been incorporated into a monument located on the cliff-top beside the Taylor Reserve camping ground. The Ozone was a ship built in 1886 near Glasgow, in Scotland. She could exceed 17 kts and is regarded as one of the finest paddle steamers ever built. She was commissioned by the Bay Excursion Company and relocated to Australia, where she became a great favourite on Port Phillip Bay, in Victoria, and remained in service there for many years. The Ozone’s first bay excursion was on 18 December 1886, when she commenced a run between Melbourne and Queenscliff. On arrival she collided with the pier at Queenscliff. She was involved in two other collisions before being withdrawn from service in 1918.
Indented Head was named by the explorer Matthew Flinders in April 1802 when he observed the shape of the Bellarine Peninsula coastline from the summit of Arthurs Seat, across Port Phillip. For many years the name Indented Head was applied to the whole of the Bellarine Peninsula. As the Peninsula ihas a major indent on its shore (Swan Bay), this might explain what might otherwise be seen as an oxymoron. Flinders was at that time in the process of completing the first circumnavigation of Australia, undertaken between December 1801 and June 1803, making a detailed survey of the coastline for the British government, sailing aboard the HMS Investigator.
John Wedge’s map of the Bellarine Peninsula, 1836
In 1835, the Tasmanian colonist John Batman set up his base camp for the land speculation company Port Phillip Association at Indented Head while he returned to Tasmania (then known as Van Diemen’s Land) to collect his family and additional provisions. He left the small base camp in the care of his ex-convict servants William Todd and Gumm, and 5 Aboriginal members of his party named Bullett, Bungett, Old Bull, Pigeon and Joe the Marine. Some of these Aboriginal people had been brought from Sydney to Tasmania by Batman, who employed them in his bounty hunting ‘roving parties’ rounding up Tasmanian Aboriginal people in the island’s north-east in the late 1820s.
The escaped convict William Buckley made contact with the men at Batman’s camp in July 1835. Buckley had been living with the local Wathaurong people for over thirty years since his escape from an early settlement near Sorrento in 1803. Large numbers of local Aboriginal people frequented the small campsite, and Todd’s diary records what must have been a fascinating intercultural exchange including extensive ‘Corrobboring’, singing, and shared hunting parties, although Todd himself generally did not participate. On 3 August 1835, after the small camp’s imported food supplies ran low, Todd recorded, “We have commenced eating Roots the same as the Natives do” – these were murnong or Yam Daisy roots (Microseris lanceolata) which were a staple of the Wathaurong diet and would have been collected in large quantities by local women. A monument marks the place (now in Batman Park) where Batman was believed to have landed.
Camping grounds were established along the Indented Head foreshore during the 1920s but it was many years before a permanent population was established, the Post Office opening in 1947.