top of page



Barwon River

Anchor 1

William Buckley

"There are still several significant sites in the area relating to William Buckley, such as the Buckley Park Foreshore Reserve near Point Lonsdale, where it is said Buckley hid in the cave on the beach. There is also the Buckley Falls at Geelong. Buckley spent a lot of time at the falls. The Barwon River breaks into several rivulets just before the falls so it was a great place for trapping fish and water fowl. This was one of the first places Buckley took white settlers to see.....’ 


Buckley Takes His Change

By Mary Ryllis Clark, Discover Historic Victoria, 1996


Other worthwhile Information Sources:

Ian Wynd in "Barrabool ~ Land of the Magpie" (1992) reported how John Helder Wedge, former member of the Survey Department in Van Diemen's Land, in August, 1835, while exploring areas around Corio Bay, descended to the junction of two rivers in modern-day Fyansford. He named "the one coming from the west the Worragong (the Barwon) and the one from the north-east the Yaloke (the Moorabool); the river below the junction he named the Barwoune. About a quarter of a mile above the confluence of the two rivers Wedge came across two waterfalls, the first and smaller he named Buckley Falls, for the other he used its native name - Banyu Willock (also spelt Booneawillock). At the falls he crossed to the south bank and followed the river along the foot of the Barrabull Hills for five or six miles. He noted that the hills afforded 'fine pasturage for sheep'...." (p.4-5).


*  I read somewhere that Yaloke was Aboriginal word for 'woody'.

Interesting reads...

William Buckley The Age   Sat 29 Jul 1911 Page 4 

William Buckley The Argus  Thu 27 Mar 1856 Page 6

Wild White Men The Capricornian  Thu 13 Jan 1927 

Portrait of William Buckley published in The news letter of Australasia.

Frederick Grosse - engraver  

Nicholas Chevalier - artist (Ca 1850s)

Print: wood engraving.

From the State Library of Victoria's Pictures Collection.

William Buckley - Portrait
State Library of Victoria
Anchor 2

"Rectangular concrete slab in the middle of a gully heading into the Barwon River at Buckley's Falls. The slab has three raised, rectangular mounts for machinery and there are the remains of a wall to the north east of the building. The creek has been diverted by a race and enters the Barwon to the south west of the site. There is also evidence in the fabric for pipes being mounted...."   Source: On My Doorstep

Buckley Falls Pumping Station

 (Published by Barwon Region Water Authority in 2005) 

“Drought led to the decision to construct a pumping station on the Barwon river at Buckley Falls"

“Trust began using three pumps to transfer water from a weir built across the Barwon River, near Buckley Falls, into the Montpellier service basins”

1928 Pumping from Buckley Falls pumping station                           recommenced”

1929 Trust complained about the quality of the water from the         water from the Barwon system

1931  “Temporary weir at Buckley Falls dismantled"

1933  "The emergency pumping station was removed"

Anchor 3
Anchor 4

Barwon River Deaths

Death by drowning in the Barwon River

14-year old Frederick Collins

Geelong Advertiser, 1893 (TROVE)

Feared gangster Horatio Morris is investigated over gruesome deaths

Ernest Dew and William Sheargold

Herald Sun 2012 

Body in the Barwon Murder (1953)

Geelong Gaol Ghost Tours 2013 

And, often, unfortunately,

in the midst of beauty there is tragedy...

A poem written by W. Stitt Jenkins (1812-1878) describes the tragedy.

One of the six verses reads:

“Ah! winding Barwon! fatal stream

That looked so smiling on that day!

Could they e’er think that sudden death

Within that placid bosom lay.

Alas the weeds , the clinging weeds

Dragged James & Ernest deep below

And in an instant happy homes

Were plunged in all the gloom of woe”


Reference ~ Tragic Losses...

Buckley's Falls, ca.1882

near where Ernest Scholes and James Hillard drowned in 1866.

Anchor 5

And, After Rains... 

Individual Recollections:
                  Buckley's Falls ~ Thanks, Ross Rawson...

Anchor 6
Anchor 7
Anchor 8

The GerryKellie Martin Contribution

A while back I received a lovely bundle of goodies from "GerryKellie Martin" which will be used as a focus over the next however-many days.
From what I have gleaned from subsequent Messenging Kellie grew up in our district; her parents owning “Bellinya“ or button hill, next door to the old paper mill for 40 years. Kellie lived there for 16 years and her dad was  Harrie Grey (Some in our community might have memories of the family). She now lives in Texas USA (Small world ~ My wife, Mary, hails from Kansas and we have a daughter in Dallas, Texas). Kellie's husband, Gerry, is retired after having spent 25 years of service in the United States Coast Guard. Their daughter is currently in the Coast Guard.

Included within the eye-watering 1983 bundle of goodies was a fact-filled document with an accompanying map. This will be the centre of my attention for the next however-many days. It is just so good when members of our community dig into their family resources for sharing. 

Gerry 1.jpg
Buckley Falls 2.jpg
Gerry 4.jpg


Gerry 1.jpg

The map, the origin of which I have no knowledge, will hopefully rekindle a few nearly-lost memories.

Buckley Falls 2.jpg
Buckly Falls2.jpg



Buckley Falls 2b.jpg
Gerry 1ppp.jpg


  • Click to open

  • Use arrows to move back or forward

Reference: Living BY Water by Leigh Edmonds (PDF)


Buckley Discovering Himself To The Early

Samuel Calvert 1869

William Buckley  The Wild White Man Fred


Anchor 9
Marcus Wong 2007.jpg

Marcus Wong 2007

Gerry 1.jpg
Barrabool Flour Mill.jpg
Barrabool Flour Mill 2.jpg

... a lot of conjecture...

Still by far the best resource for investigating further the history of this area ~

Jo Mitchell's Barwon Blog  Grist to the mill.. (1 July, 2011). 

I suggest interested parties take the time to read the many community comments following Jo's blog;

'though it may lead to more questions than answers.

In this link Commentary on Jo's Blog I have edited comments to those I found particularly thought-provoking. I feel it was such a shame nobody followed -up on Mr. Harold Baum's invitation..

Jo Mitchell.jpg

You might be interested in reading

Anchor 10
Anchor 14

Baum Weir or Baum’s Weir?

I'm a paragraph.




































Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

“Baum Weir was built in 1851 to create a constant level for the river enabling water to flow along two bluestone races and generate power for the Barwon Paper Mill. The area a little upstream of Baum's Weir was known to the Wathaurong people as Boonea Yallock meaning a place to catch eels. The deeper water provides a haven for Pacific Black Ducks, Eurasian Coots, Ibis and other water birds. Along the water’s edge the secretive Nankeen Night Heron or White Faced Heron might be seen poised to take any small fish that pass within reach. “ (Conservation Volunteers)

Jo Mitchell's Barwon Blog ~ What’s in a name? June, 2011, indirectly gives the answer.

An anonymous commentary on Jo’s blog (14 July, 2013) adds some clarification: The weir was.... "Named after Gottfried Baum once owned the land from south of Barwon River to Waurn Ponds.
I spoked to Ken Baum last week about my parent property back in 1930's. He's descendant to Gottfried still living in an old brick house built in 1857".  

#6 Baum's Weir & Water Race

Barwon Paper Mill water race.jpg
Gerry 3.jpg
Water Race.jpg
Buckley Falls 2.jpg
Geelong. Barwon Falls from opposite Pape

Daniel Dendy (Nov 16, 2018)

The Baum Weir (built in 1851) created a constant level for the river enabling water to flow along two bluestone races and generate power for the Barwon Paper Mill. 


  • Click image to open

Benito's treasure and Queen's Park to Ba
Barwon River flood 16.1.11 061.JPG

Jo Mitchell

Barwon Blog (19 March, 2017) Paddling the Barwon - Part 2

Baum's Weir to Fyansford

Between the weir and Fyansford, the river flows over a basalt (bluestone) base and is generally shallow and rocky for a distance of about 1.5km. Much of the water is diverted into the water race constructed for the Barwon Paper Mill in the 1870s. Whilst the mill no longer uses it as a power supply, the water still runs via the race making levels on the river bed too low for convenient paddling at most times.











Bunyip Pool looking upstream, November, 2013

The exception is during periods of flooding when more experienced paddlers often brave the torrent which pours down over the weir and through Buckley Falls in order to ride the rapids. A second smaller weir also dams the flow of the river immediately upstream of the Bunyip Pool.


I have not currently tackled this section, in part because there is pedestrian access along both banks throughout this section which is predominantly parkland.

In flood. Looking upriver from the Bunyip Pool, January, 2011



Jo Mitchell on the Barwon, January, 2013

Jo - in action

Our "man-on-the-ground" Rambling Rod Morrison reported 27.6.2021

Last week, I had heard from a Fyansford local, that Baums Weir may have been breached. This was the case as there was an article and photo in today’s Geelong Advertiser.

This afternoon, I decided to walk to Baums Weir to check it out.

It is a disaster. As a result of the breach, the water channel from Baums Weir to the old Fyansford Paper Mill has virtually no water in it, and no flow whatsoever. What this means that unless the breached weir is repaired, people will never again see water flowing over the Spillway at the old Fyansford Paper Mill. Below are a few photos I took of the breached Baums Weir and the water channel. I believe that the breached wall at Baums Weir must be repaired as, as the water flowing over the Spillway is a very good tourist attraction. The old Fyansford Paper Mill and surrounding buildings, including the Workers Bluestone Cottages are Heritage Listed.

Many, many people love and visit this area, and I am sure that they would like to see the old Paper Mill spillway flowing again, like in the below photo when the paper mill was in operation.

I believe that it the City of Greater Geelong must repair the breach in Baums Weir. Sooner, rather than later....

Anchor 15

Water over the Weir by Rambling Rod (Oct., 2021)

For the best ever pre and post weir-break videos
Clive Rose

#7  Finally, the last of a great bunch

As well as all the Barwon Paper Mill information, GerryKellie Martin sent me some photos from the 1989 flood (!) and the cover of what looks to be an interesting

Shire of Bannockburn project.

I'll post them here in the hope someone might be able to add to the picture.

Gerry 8.jpg
Gerry 7.jpg
Gerry 5.jpg

Buckley Falls development, Fyansford, May 1983 /​ prepared by Shire of Bannockburn.


Also Titled

  • Buckley Falls Project


  • Bannockburn (Vic. : Shire). Council


  • Bannockburn, Vic. : The Council, 1983.

Apparently, this is at the Deakin Library.

I'll have to check it out.


if you are interested in floods around Fyansford...

Anchor 11

The Barwon River Precinct

Barwon Paper Mill.JPG

The Bunyip Terror of Geelong















The Geelong Advertiser has this fascinating bit of local lore in the paper this week.

Devil's Pool, the Bunyip Hole - the Barwon River precinct at Queens Park better known as Buckley Falls, for the British convict who lived with Aborigines for 32 years - has long hosted an unusual rocky cascade, water race and remnants of a long-gone industry.

That's not to mention enough snakes among its rocks to make anyone nervous on a warm summer's day. But as a picturesque riverside scene it is difficult to match the bluestone, red brickwork and craggy texture of the former paper mills that operated at Buckley Falls from 1878 to 1923.

At its height, the mill employed 200 people, making paper from not just wood pulp but rags, sacking, used paper, rope ends and other species of refuse to make some 40 different types of paper for writing, printing, wrapping, blotting and more.

It was set up by Robert Miller, at a cost of between 40,000 and 50,000, as the Barwon Paper Mill. It underwent various changes of ownership; in 1888 to Victorian paper Manufacturing Company and two years later again to H.L. Littlewood & Co.

The mill buildings lay unoccupied from 1923 to 1929 after which the Hydro Manufacturing Company ran iceworks and cool storage until the war years. More recent years have seen them utilised as factoriettes for a variety of trades pursuits.

The 3/4-mile water race to a Belfast-manufactured turbine that generated some 300 horsepower of cheap electricity to the mill was constructed by 30 men who blasted their way through solid rock, presumably oblivious to the devil or bunyip allusions of the pool. Had they been aware of local bunyip lore, however, they might have been a tad nervous. For some years earlier, in the 1840s, a bunyip scare struck fear into the fledgling Geelong settlement.

As this newspaper reported in 1845: "We have been favoured by Mr Menzies with the inspection of a petrified bone found on the shores of Lake Timboon to the westward of Lake Colac.

"The bone is apparently the head of the tibia, or lower joint of the knee. The dimensions of this fragment of bone are of the most colossal nature, measuring as it does 10 inches across the front of the knee (in diameter, not circumference)."

On being shown to an "intelligent black" it was "at once recognised ... as belonging to the bunyip". This was corroborated with several other Aborigines.

No big deal, you might have thought, but next came detailed reports of several bestial attacks on animals: a mare at Little River, a mutilated cow near Barwon Heads. Bunyip fever whipped through the area. And purported attacks further afield even led scientists of the day to study and speculate on the Timboon bone. Hysteria peaked in 1847-48 when a bunyip "skull' was found in a stream near the Murrumbidgee River.

But the scientists were never able to corroborate any bunyip. Speculation has since ranged from seals to bitterns to diprotodons but the creature has remained steadfastly untouchable - and consigned to history as much as Robert Miller's operations next to the Bunyip Pool.

*    Source: Centre for Fortean Zoology Australia

**  I have not been able to locate original Geelong Advertiser reference

Anchor 12
By Barwon River.jpg

Courtesy Val & Paul Synot

Anchor 13

Rambling Rod

Anchor 16

"Caring and sharing by unknown person"

This afternoon on my walk to Baums Weir, I came across a couple of small rocks with caring messages written on them.

The small message rocks were placed beside the path. One in the grass, and another on a fallen dead tree branch.

When returning from my walk, I spoke to another walker who was coming back from Buckley Falls; she advised that there were also a few message rocks beside the path going to and from Buckley Falls.

Thank you to person who placed these caring message rocks beside the paths around the Barwon River.

bottom of page