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Fyansford's  Timeline

Significant markers in the history of Fyansford

The locality of Fyansford has  undergone many changes, experienced different eras and been home to many peoples...

  • The original Australians

  • The early settlers

  • The industrialists

  • The modern commuters

Geologically speaking.... 


Wow ~  Australia's fossil past


..."The Batesford Limestone unconformably overlies Palaeozoic granite (541 to 252 million years ago), and grades conformably up into the overlying Miocene Fyansford Formation (23.03 to 5.332 million years ago)...

Source: Batesford's "Fossiliferous" Quarry ~ 🌏 Earthcache


..."The quarry is the type locality of Batesford Limestone, a biocalcarenite consisting of broken skeletal remains of bryozoans, echinoides and bivalves. It accumulated in a clear water marine environment with a sandy sea floor in the Miocene period. We went there to look for the fossils...."

Source: A fossiliferous quarry ~ Bushranger, February, 2011


Geologically speaking Limestone has been extensively quarried at Batesford and this quarry is a major fossil site..."

Source: Batesford Quarry

For more about Fyansford quarries...

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Cement production under Peter McCann began at Fyansford with a modern rotary kiln being installed in 1911.

The original Australian Portland Cement company plant was located at the foot of the Fyansford hill

between Deviation Road and Hyland Street.













In 1918 a railway line was extended from the North Geelong railway station to the top of the hill above Fyansford, and in 1926 a narrow gauge Fyansford Cement Works Railway was opened to serve a new quarry.

The works themselves expanded across Hyland Street. This became the main production site, Geelong Cement, in later years.



















The cement works were later acquired by Adelaide Brighton Cement and closed in 2001.

April 27  

Matthew Flinders on the HMS Investigator entered Port Phillip and charted the entire bay, including the Geelong area, believing he was the first to sight the huge expanse of water.


Foster Fyans was married to Elizabeth Alice Cane.




Fyans built a stone homestead, Bell-Bird Balyang beside the Barwon.



Charles Norton in his water-colour painting shows an earth roadway with boulders at the margins; the ford constructed of uncut rocks and earth with a wooden post and rail fence on either side of the approach to the ford. The stream is shown flowing through the interstices in a bed of boulders beneath the surface of the roadway. This provided access to the south west coast region in the first 15-20 years of European settlement in Victoria. The bullock track leading to the ford was the route from Geelong. The ford was especially important as a watering hole for bullock teams serving the western district wool market. After crossing the ford it continued past the Swan Inn in a southerly direction and then onto the Inverleigh Road.


February 1          

The first non-Aboriginal person recorded as visiting the region was Lt. John Murray, who commanded the brig HMS Lady Nelson. He anchored outside Port Phillip Heads while sending a small boat with six men led by John Bowen to explore the immediate area. He then entered Port Phillip bay; not leaving until 12 March. During this time Murray explored the locality, claiming the entire area for Britain. He named the bay Port King, after Philip Gidley King, then Governor of New South Wales. However, Governor King later renamed the bay Port Phillip after the first governor of New South Wales, Arthur Phillip.



Fyans was reappointed police magistrate, and nominated mayor for the inauguration of the Geelong Town Council.



A Catholic school opened


The Fyansford Hotel was erected for publican C.B. Dawson. Marking one of the oldest river crossings in Western Victoria, this solid, two-storey brick structure in the transitional Colonial Georgian style, was central to Fyans Town. The heritage-listed structure was built immediately following the gold rushes and has important associations with this historic locality. 


February 1          

Fyansford's population continued to grow justifying the opening of a Post Office  (closed in 1978).


Grave of Captain Fyans at Eastern Cemetery, Geelong

May 23  

Foster Fyans died at Balyang, universally respected.

A sundial beside the approach to Prince's Bridge, marks the approximate site of Bell-Bird Balyang house.



Fyans’ wife, Elizabeth, died aged 42.




An orphan asylum was opened on top of the hill overlooking Fyansford and the Moorabool / Barwon valleys

mostly occupied by orchards, vineyards and other horticulture.




Common School no. 913 opened with an enrolment of 95 children.


As a result of the Education Act of 1872, the school was taken over as a State School. Land was obtained by the Department of Education as the site of a future government school. 


Fyans Ford engraving by J. Tingle


State School no. 1691 with accommodation for 100 children officially opened.

Common School no. 913 was struck off the roll.

A new bridge was built by John Monash and J. T. N. Anderson to replace a deteriorated wooden bridge; the three-arch bridge (with one 100 foot river span and two 60 foot side spans) was the largest Monier reinforced concrete bridge in the world at the time.













It was at a time when bridge construction was undergoing a major change. One system of bridge construction involved the Monier system, patented in 1867 by Joseph Monier, a French manufacturer of garden ware; he made planter pots from a coarse mortar reinforced with a grid of small-diameter iron bars.


The new bridge was the joint responsibility of the Corio and Bannockburn shires as their boundary was the Moorabool River. 


Fyanstown Inn

20-50 Hamilton Highway, Fyansford


October 10         

Geelong gazetted as a town




The Fyanstown Inn (later known as the Swan Hotel) was erected on the Barwon River.

Alexander Skene of Geelong was the architect of this substantial bluestone building with steep pitched roof, colonial Georgian casement windows and French doors opening onto a wide verandah. The contractor, Mr Marr, built the Inn for licencee John Atkins. It was of paramount importance to the history of settlement of Geelong and western Victoria and remains one of the oldest buildings in the area.

Robert Hoddle surveys Geelong; assistant surveyor is W. H. Smythe. (3 weeks after Melbourne)



Fyans ford initially appears on plans, when Foster Fyans, a Police Magistrate, first camped in the area. A local ford provided a convenient crossing-place across the Moorabool River and the small settlement subsequently became an important stopping point for pastoralists and others travelling between Geelong and Ballarat on the principal western road from Geelong to Hamilton.











Fyans had sailed to Port Phillip accompanied by his former batman as district constable, two subordinate constables, a clerk, and twelve convict retainers. After tramping from Melbourne, he established himself on land near a crossing point over the Moorabool River that later formed the common border between the Shires of Corio and Bannockburn. This crossing point came to be known as Fyan’s Ford; one of the earliest places of European settlement in the Geelong region, offering a good water supply and land that was suitable for grazing and growing crops.


Fyans at once tackled the problem of siting a town. He obtained machinery and prison labour from Sydney to make the site more habitable particularly by means of establishing the Barwon breakwater. His role - being a largely self-regulating local watchdog, judging absconders and others, planning a jetty and suppressing the sly-grog traffic. Fyans, in one of his roles as Protector of Aborigines, undertook to take a census of the Aboriginal population calling upon William Buckley, a white man and escaped convict who had been living with the Aborigines for many years, to gather the Wathaurong people and count them. In 1836, Buckley was given the position of Interpreter to the natives, and as a guide for Captain Foster Fyans; his knowledge of Aboriginal language proved very useful. 


In 1840, Fyans was also Commissioner of Crown Lands for the western area of the Port Phillip District and therefore played a significant role in local government and the development of early settlement in Geelong and surrounding areas. He also served as a Councillor and Mayor of the City of Geelong and as Deputy Sheriff. 

Pre White Settlement              


“The name Wathaurong (Wadda-Warrung) is a recognised tribe (community) which consisted of some 25 clans (family groups) that formed part of the Kulin Nation of Aboriginal people.

The traditional boundaries of the Wathaurong people span the coastline from the Werribee River to Lorne peninsula and traverse inland in a north westerly direction towards Ballarat. The Wathaurong people have lived within these regions for more than 25,000 years.”

Source: Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative 


"There are now few, if any, living descendants of the Wathaurong people. There is a shameful history of genocide in the area, for they are known to have been hunted like animals by some of the early white settlers. Introduced diseases also took a heavy toll."




Three squatters, David Fisher, James Strachan and George Russell settled the area having arrived on the Caledonia.


The demand for wool, the original inspiration to settle the Port Phillip region, was also the driver for subsequent pastoral expansion. 

This led to dispersal of population over a wide area resulting in clashes with local Aborigines as well as unauthorised occupation of land.


The aboriginal place-name, Geelong, was first mentioned in the first book on Port  Phillip printed in Australia,

Hovell and Hume's "Journey of Discovery to Port Phillip, New South Wales, 1824-1825."  

 Looking over Moorabool River towards Fyans Ford Hotel,

bridge and Balmoral Hotel visible through trees on river bank


A wooden bridge was built several hundred metres down river by the Corio and Bannockburn Shire councils.

This bridge was tolled until 1877. Because of its poor condition load restrictions were introduced in 1898.

The Balmoral (now Balmoral Art Gallery) was opened with ensured patronage because of its location on one of the two routes between Geelong and Ballarat.


The Barwon Paper Mill opened beside Buckley's Falls.

The mill used the flour-mill water race near Buckley's Falls and continued production until 1923.


The mapped route connecting Geelong with Ballarat and the Western District continued to sustain heavy use, particularly during the gold rush in the early 1850s.

King Billy, referred to as the last of the Barrabool tribe,

is buried in the Geelong Western Public Cemetery

The first settlers discover Buckley

By F. W. Woodhouse (1861)

Fyans ford by Charles Norton (1846)

First known image of Fyans Ford

The first flour mill in Fyansford with a water race from the Barwon River was erected by William Henry Collins.

But, see an interesting read: A Mill Story!  by Jo Mitchell in her Barwon Blog.  

Jo suggests that this was not in Fyansford but near where the James Harrison Bridge is now located.  



Fyans bought 158 acres (64 ha) at Geelong.

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Fyansford Primary School became a Rural Training School for Geelong and district.



1931 – 32         

The Deviation Road was built with unemployment labour during the Great Depression and opened in 1933.

Cut into the hillside, the surface was originally of concrete construction.

High Street (now Hyland Street) was one of the first sealed roads in the area.

The road was relaid in concrete in 1937.


View of Gen Fyansford estate from Hyland Street

A new bridge was built on the site of the old wooden bridge to cater for heavier traffic on the Hamilton Highway

with the 1900 bridge being retained for pedestrians.



Fyansford Cement Works closed.


Fyansford Primary School closed.


 4 October

Gen Fyansford release their first allocation of Riverside Estate lots

A  New Era...


  • Fyansford is undergoing a revival...


  • The new large GEN FYANSFORD housing estate (and others in the pipeline) will ensure a bright future for what was rapidly becoming a somewhat tired locality


  • Small businesses will continue to expand and multiply 


  • While industry has forever been Fyansford's hallmark and backbone; with essential services, a quarry, pre-mix and concrete supplies and waste-disposal facility, the burgeoning artistic community centred around the old Barwon Paper  mill and the new residential developments, all hint of great things to come...


  • Within 5 years, Fyansford's growing community needs will translate into a bubbling dynamic hub ~  river walks and cycling paths, thriving shopping precinct, growing number of small-business outlets, expanding artistic and social precinct and increased recreational, educational, postal and transport  facilities...

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Fyansford's history is being created with each passing day and each of us can be contributors to its history.
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