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John Henry Harvey

Barwon Paper Mills

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Progress Report  1  Rod Morrison June, 2022

Who would like to see the old Fyansford Paper Mill Race restored

with water again flowing over the Spillway at the old Fyansford Paper Mill?


I advise that since May 2021, the Rotary Club of Highton has been working towards this goal, with the aim to conduct historical tours in and around the old Fyansford Paper Mill that follow the old Mill Race down to where it begins at Baums Weir.

It is the aim of the Rotary Club of Highton that the historical tours will be the Club's major fundraiser with 100% of proceeds going to local community projects and charities. The tours, once commenced will run all year round.

For about 12 years, the Rotary Club of Geelong did a similar thing when they ran the old Geelong Gaol Tours and raised many, many thousands of dollars of which 100% of funds went into local community projects and charities.

In this post, I have listed below details of where the Rotary Club of Highton is at with the old Paper Mill Precinct Project. I have also included several photos showing before and after the breach of the weir near where the Mill Race commences. In addition, I have included photos and old Geelong Advertiser articles from 1982 when the late Ken Middleton, (who was also a member of the Rotary Club of Highton), and was the Shire of Bannockburn Engineer who undertook and restored the old Fyansford Paper Mill Race so that water again flowed through the Mill Race and over the spillway at the old Paper Mill.

Following the amalgamation of Councils, the Fyansford area became under the control of the City of Greater Geelong. Since then very little maintenance has been done in and around the Victoria Heritage listed Mill Race which is all on Crown Land. The Rotary Cub of Highton is looking for Volunteers who can help and assist with this project - see below .

Rotary Club of Highton Fyansford Paper Mill Precinct Project 

The Story So Far

The Start


The story started February 2021 when there was a suggestion at a Rotary Club of Highton Community Services Committee meeting that we should consider whether it might be possible to dredge the water race at the Fyansford Paper Mill and re-establish a water flow – which would improve the tourism potential of the area.

The late Ken Middleton, was a Rotary Club of Highton member and the Shire of Bannockburn Engineer when the water race was refurbished in 1982 - 1984.

There were then various discussions between Rotary Club of Highton members, Rod Morrison, Ian Campbell, and David Sinclair at a Thursday night March 2021 Rotary meeting where it was decided to make something of the idea.

     Rod is a Fyansford resident, regularly walks the paths an d tracks in the Paper Mill area, (on             both sides of the Barwon River);

--  Ian worked for 30 years Geelong Cement works and was General Manager until closure, and for       a couple of years lived in one of the Workers Cottages on Lower Paper Mill Road, just near the         old Fyansford Paper Mill site, and has a tremendous enthusiasm for the history and geology of         the site;

     David saw the possibility of making some money for (100% going to local charities and the               community), from the idea by running historical tours, similar to what Rotary Club of Geelong           had done for many, many years with tours of the old Geelong jail.


So, a Zoom meeting was held, (our first formal meeting), on 31st May 2021 to discuss how we could progress the idea. Present were Rod Morrison, Ian Campbell, Stephen Bath, David Sinclair, Doug Green, and Barry Stokes. Since that meeting, the core working group has been Rod (chairperson), David (secretary), Ian, and Stephen. Ros Horne was involved for a few months, Robert Johnson, (a Geotechnical Engineer), is involved in the project work, and Yvonne Hodgson and Ken Mansfield have recently joined as active committee members.

The Paper Mill site owners received a $1 million dollar grant from the Victorian government early in 2021 to install a sewage system on site. This is an important step in making the site an important Geelong tourist destination.



Rotary Club of Highton Objectives


Our objectives have changed little since that first meeting. Our key objectives are:

1. Work with the Paper Mill site owners to facilitate the regeneration/rejuvenation of the site and infrastructure of the old Paper Mills at Fyansford/Buckley Falls to make the area one of the top tourist attractions in the Geelong area. This would involve:

a. Engaging with all other stakeholders with an involvement in the area

b. Seeking local, state, and federal government grants to assist in improving the infrastructure and returning it to its original form

2. Provide historical guided tours of the site to raise funds of which 100% would go to local charities.

3. This would involve:

a. Researching the history of the site and the local area, and making use of existing knowledge to provide an interesting, engaging, and educational story of the area

b. Working with a like-minded organisation which has the technical and innovative skills to provide a modern, engaging, and exciting tour platform

c. Building a team of volunteers who would be able to tell the story of the site to visitors and tour parties


Stakeholders in our project

We have identified quite a number of important stakeholders in our project, but the following are particularly important:

1. The Paper Mill owners

2. The City of Greater Geelong, (CoGG).

3. The Paper Mill tenants operating various businesses on the Paper Mill site

4. Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, (DELWP), which includes Heritage Victoria

5. The Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation

6. Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, (CCMA).

7. Tourism Greater Geelong & the Bellarine.

8. Local residents


Rotary Club of Highton Work So Far

Since May 2021, the members of the Rotary Club of Highton Fyansford working group have spent many, many hours communicating and discussing with the various stakeholders in our efforts to work towards establishing historical tours of the Paper Mill site. A fee would be charged to tour participants which would 100% go towards local community projects and charities.


Our main achievements are:

1. We have established a good working relationship with the Paper Mill owners’ representative and have had several face-to-face meetings.

2. We are finalizing a Memorandum of Understanding with the owners, to define more clearly our working relationship for the running of historical tours.

3. We have established contact with several important people working for the City of Greater Geelong. The Heritage specialist has been a particularly useful contact person for us.

4. Recently, the City of Greater Geelong approved a heritage planning grant application for $9,932 to enable us to carry out an environmental study, sediment sampling in the water race, and some other preliminary work as a precursor to a future project to re-establish water flow in the race. We have a signed agreement with the City for this work and are currently waiting for the approved funds to be transferred to our account.

We have collected large volumes of historical information about the site; this can be found at

5. We have applied for a grant of $12,000 from the Victorian government for the construction and installation of a number (15-20) of professionally made signs which will tell a story of the history at different locations around the site.

6. We are compiling a tour commentary which guides can use when taking visitors around the site.

7. We are regularly involved in working bees on site to assist the owners in improving the site appearance. We believe this is important to improve and consolidate our working relationship with the owners, and to demonstrate that we have a real interest in improving the site.

8. We met with Wadawurrung community representatives in March.

We are working on a number of other activities directed at our main objective – to conduct historical tours in and around the old Fyansford Paper Mill and down to Baums Weir and return. 100 % of funds made will go to local community projects and charities.


Volunteers Needed

To see the successful completion of this project, we are seeking volunteers who wish to participate and help with the restoration of the Mill Race and the water flow to the old Paper Mill spillway.

Note: Both the old Fyansford Paper Mill and the Mill Race are listed with Heritage Victoria.

The old Fyansford Paper Mill is the only known old Paper Mill in Australia that has a 900 metre Mill Race still intact.

It needs to be restored back to life, so that people can come and see the Mill Race and water flowing over the old Paper Mill spillway.

The long term aim is to have the water from the Mill Race driving a “Water Wheel”.

If you would like to help us with this exciting project please email your name/s and contact details to either one of the below email addresses: -

     David Sinclair


Posted: June 8 Geelong History FACEBOOK

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