Town by Town Snapshot: Barwon Heads
The size of Barwon Heads is about 6.8 square kilometres and has one park covering nearly 3.5 per cent of total area.
The population of Barwon Heads in 2011 was 3,535 people and by the 2016 Census the population was 3,880 showing a population growth of 9.8 per cent in the area during that time.
The charms of Barwon Heads got national attention in the late 1990s with television series SeaChange, which starred Sigrid Thornton and David Wenham.
For 39 episodes, ABC viewers could admire the wooden road bridge, the estuary, the jetty and the ‘Beach House’, now a tourist mecca.
The series captured the penchant of many Australians to escape the city for the apparent simplicity of life in a small coastal community.
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.
By the early 1920s the township had a hotel, boarding houses and a golf links (1907) with the river 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 reached 7,400 with holiday makers.
The golf club house (1924) and the bridge over the Barwon River (1927) are heritage listed. The town, and its heritage listed timber bridge, came to national attention with the filming of SeaChange (1998-2000), in which Barwon Heads was named Pearl Bay.
A new road bridge and separate pedestrian bridge opened in 2010 and soon the town itself was the destination of real life seachangers.
CoreLogic data indicates that the predominant age group in Barwon Heads is 40-49 years with households in Barwon Heads being primarily couples with children and are likely to be repaying $1,800 – $2,399 per month on mortgage repayments, and in general, people in Barwon Heads work in a professional occupation.
In 2011, 74.5 per cent of the homes in Barwon Heads were owner occupied compared with 78.9 per cent in 2016.