Barwon Heads 3227
The name derives from the Barwon River, named Kondak Baarwon by John Helder Wedge, surveyor, in 1835. The word is thought to be Aboriginal for great, wide or deep water. Settlement at the mouth of the river began on the eastern (Ocean Grove) side in 1854, and settlement on the other side at Barwon Heads was delayed until 1875. It was a boating and fishing place, with waterfowl upstream at the Lake Connewarre swamp lands. A park trust was formed to maintain a public reserve and install basic amenities.
A school, Connewarre East, was opened in 1885. By the early 1920s the township had a hotel, boarding houses and a golf links. The river was bridged in 1927. Barwon Heads became a holiday destination for Geelong residents, and the provision of camping facilities on the foreshore near the Barwon Head or Bluff attracted many holiday makers. By 1970 there were nearly 1,000 sites for caravans and tents. With an estimated population of 2,100 (1996) the peak Summer population reaches 7,400 with holiday makers.
Barwon Heads residential areas are softened by roadside verges and ti tree; some roads are unsealed. The town area is relatively low-lying, protected by a levee bank from flooding from the Barwon River. All the coast has a foreshore reserve, backed by the golf course and camping reserve. A smaller reserve separates the town from the river bank.
There is a main shopping street, Anglican, Catholic and Uniting churches, a community hall and senior citizens and pre-school centres. Towards the north of the town there is the Barwon Heads Village Park, with sports facilities. The residential area extends beyond there to the river where it opens to Lake Connewarre. There is a look-out at the Bluff at the river mouth, giving views to the other side of the Port Phillip Bay. The look out has a monument to survivors of the "Earl of Charlemont" shipwreck (1853), some of whom pioneered the district.
Barwon Heads has had census populations of 177 (1911), 388 (1933), 710 (1947) and 1,053 (1961).
After 1966 its population was counted with Ocean Groves, and their combined populations were 3,144 (1966), 6,777 (1981) and 10,069 (1991).
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