Barwon House, Jonathon Barter / Auscape International

Population 1336

This charming little town on the Barwon River west of Geelong was first developed with cattle runs in the 1830s. Many of the historic buildings that grew from this development can still be seen around town, the most impressive being the nearby Barwon Park Homestead – a mansion built by famous settlers of the district, Thomas and Elizabeth Austin. Winchelsea soon became a key stopover for travellers taking the road from Colac to Geelong, and it still serves that purpose for travellers on the Princes Highway.

Visitor Information

Old Library, Willis St (Princes Hwy); open 11am–4pm Fri–Sun; 1300 614 219

Nearby national parks

  • Brisbane Ranges National Park

    In Brisbane Ranges National Park low mountains are dissected by rugged gorges and hidden gullies with basalt grasslands and woodlands. An...more

  • Kinglake National Park

    Surrounding the township of Kinglake, this bush retreat close to Melbourne offers views of the Yarra Valley, the city skyline and Port...more

  • Yarra Ranges National Park

    Lofty mountain ash bathed in mist, rare and endangered plants and animals, snow in winter and pristine pockets of bushland make Yarra Ranges...more

Nearby towns

  • Anglesea

    A pretty and sheltered part of the Surf Coast, Anglesea is one of the smaller holiday hamlets along the Great Ocean Road. The main beaches...more

  • Aireys Inlet

    Aireys Inlet is one of the prettiest towns on the Great Ocean Road and is famed for being home to the Split Point Lighthouse. While there...more

  • Torquay

    Torquay was one of the first resort towns on Victoria's coast, and remains one of the most popular today. It was named in honour of the...more

In Town

Barwon Bridge: an impressive arched bridge, built from stone in 1867; Princes Hwy.

Antiques and collectibles: many shops in town that outline its history; Main St and Princes Hwy.

Winchelsea Historical Trail: map available from visitor information centre, or check township information boards.

Barwon Hotel: known locally as the 'bottom pub' of the town, offers country style; Main St.

Winchelsea Tavern: recently renovated Art Deco 'top pub'; Princes Hwy.

Old Shire Hall: beautifully restored bluestone building, now housing popular tearooms; Princes Hwy.

Old Library: houses the visitor information centre; Princes Hwy.

Marjorie Lawrence Trail: details the life of one of the world's most adored dramatic sopranos from the 1900s; details from visitor centre.


Barwon Park Homestead Only the greatest estate would satisfy Elizabeth Austin, and her husband, Thomas, acquiesced. Barwon Park, built in 1869, was the biggest mansion in the Western District. Featuring 42 rooms furnished largely with original pieces, the bluestone building is an impressive example of 19th-century design. The name Austin might be familiar: Thomas Austin reputedly imported the first of Australia's devastating rabbit population and Elizabeth Austin contributed to major charities, and established the Austin Hospital in Melbourne. Open 11am–4pm Wed and Sun; Inverleigh Rd; (03) 5267 2209; 3 km N.

Country Dahlias Gardens: beautiful gardens, best viewed during spring, with sales of dahlia plants; open Feb–Apr; Mathison Rd; 5 km S.

Killwarrie Cottage: rose garden display, home-grown vegetables; open Nov–Mar; 7 km SW.

Fishing spots near town

Anglesea 26 km

Beach fishing species here are the same as Torquay, with the best fishing east of the Anglesea River, although you need to be aware of the marine park that extends west from Point Addis. But most anglers go here to fish... Find out more

Torquay 32 km

The offshore waters of western Bass Strait, from Torquay to Cape Otway contain an abundance of species including Australian salmon, snapper, barracouta, King George whiting, yellowtail kingfish, silver trevally, gummy... Find out more

Barwon River 32 km

Sometimes going fishing in our southern rivers is about making the best of what is available, as is the case of the Barwon River, which flows through Geelong. Like the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers, the coffee-coloured... Find out more

Lorne 33 km

On the way into Lorne is a popular ledge known as Jump Rock. It consistently produces salmon, silver trevally, barracouta, pinkies and mullet. The drive into Lorne will also take you across the Erskine River, a small... Find out more

Western Shore 36 km

Taking a southerly route around the bay from the lagoon you pass a large industrial and waterfront area. The next fishable water from shore is North Shore rocks, just outside the entrance to Corio Quay. During winter,... Find out more

Stingray Bay 39 km

Stingray Bay on the southern shore is properly called Stingaree Bay, but many anglers simply refer to it as Limeburners, due to the boat harbour at Limeburners Point. The boundary of the bay is roughly between the... Find out more

Inner Harbour 40 km

Following the inner harbour around from Bird Rock you pass Avalon Beach, which is little more than a collection of old huts. There is a boat ramp at the west end of Avalon Beach and the seagrass beds between the old... Find out more

Point Henry 41 km

Point Henry is a sand spit point on the southern shore of Corio Bay and is the demarcation between the inner and outer harbours. It is distinctive in that there is a large aluminium smelter and a long pier used to unload... Find out more

Bird Rock 44 km

An area on the north side of the outer harbour, opposite Point Henry, from Bird Rock east to an area known as the ‘Quarries’ (due to the large quarry on the shore), produces snapper most of the year. Anglers... Find out more

Curlewis Bank 44 km

Curlewis Bank is well regarded for King George whiting during late summer and autumn. However, this vast bank of sand, seagrass and spoil ground also produces snapper, snook, squid and flathead. It is popular with soft... Find out more

Eco-friendly activities around town

Canoeing on Lake Elizabeth 40 km

For a fantastic dawn or dusk paddle in which you have a 95 per cent chance of seeing a platypus, join Otway Eco Tours on Lake Elizabeth. Half-day trips to this remote lake in the ranges depart from the small hamlet of... Find out more

Brisbane Ranges National Park 49 km

With a vibrant koala population, this relatively small national park only 80 kilometres west of Melbourne has picnic areas, walking tracks through rocky gorges and a basic camping area.... Find out more

Golf courses around town

The Sands, Torquay 33 km

Sands by name . . . Sands by nature. It doesn’t take long to figure out the overwhelming feature of a round at Torquay. Standing on the 1st tee of this Stuart Applebydesigned layout, a blanket of white is... Find out more

Thirteenth Beach Golf Links (Beach Course) 41 km

After all the accolades Tony Cashmore received for his design work at The Dunes, on the Mornington Peninsula, he must have felt some pressure to produce an equally fine layout when it came time for his next project:... Find out more

Thirteenth Beach Golf Links (Creek Course) 42 km

Sir Nick Faldo won six major titles, playing himself into winning positions on the back of strong shot-making, a trait that is highly prized on the courses he now designs. The Creek course at Thirteenth Beach, created... Find out more

Barwon Heads Golf Club 44 km

From the moment you pull up at the car park in front of the Barwon Heads clubhouse, it is as if you have travelled back in time to a more genteel era. The old-world charm is present not only in the architecture of the... Find out more

Nearby breweries

Otway Estate Brewery 43 km

Located 12 kilometres from Colac, Otway Estate Winery was established in 1983, specialising in cool-climate wines; a microbrewery was added in 2007. Head brewer Luke Scott oversees the production of up to 15 different... Find out more

Campsites around town

Hammonds Road camping area 18 km

There’s plenty of open space at this campground up in the far north of the national park. Back towards the coast, close to Aireys Inlet, nice short walks include the easy Distillery Creek Nature Trail and the Moggs... Find out more

Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park 26 km

In Anglesea, turn off the Great Ocean Rd onto Cameron Rd to access this waterfront campground, where you can choose between a splash in a river and chasing waves off a surf beach. Anglesea township is only a short walk... Find out more

Big Hill camping area 26 km

This is an open, easily accessible spot that can accommodate about 20 tents. The bushland location has a faraway feel but is within striking distance of many coastal attractions. Big Hill Track is signposted about 11 km... Find out more

Cora Lynn camping area (walk-in camping) 31 km

The 2 campsites at Cora Lynn offer intimacy and tranquillity. They are accessed on foot via a track leading from the Blanket Leaf picnic area – you can take a walk from the carpark here to scenic Erskine Falls. The... Find out more

Torquay Foreshore Caravan Park 31 km

Torquay is the centre of the Victorian surfing scene, so it’s no surprise that this caravan park is adjacent to a great surf beach at the southern end of Paterson Bay – not very far from the best known surf... Find out more

Erskine River Caravan Park 32 km

This park has several dozen sites right beside the Erskine River, which flows through the busy seaside holiday town of Lorne. Tackle the walking trail to Erskine Falls, dive into the surf off Lorne’s main beach or... Find out more

Kia-Ora Caravan Park 32 km

Kia-Ora is one of several campgrounds next to the Erskine River in Lorne that are collectively managed by the Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park. It’s located on the river’s southern bank close to the Great Ocean... Find out more

Meredith Park camping area 33 km

On the northern shore of Lake Colac, this simple camping area attracts hordes of anglers when the water level is good. From Colac, head north on the road to Ballarat for 10 km and turn onto Meredith Park Rd.... Find out more

Allenvale Mill Site camping area (walk-in camping) 34 km

The old Allenvale Mill site lies just beyond the outskirts of Lorne, which is handy for campers who like to have all the conveniences of a modern township within easy reach. This is a walk-in campsite, but it’s... Find out more

Sharps Track camping area 34 km

This site is up in the hinterland behind Lorne. To stretch your legs, head to the nearby Sheoak Picnic Area and follow the well-graded trail to Upper and Lower Kalimna Falls. To reach the camping area from Lorne, take... Find out more

Caravan parks around town

Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park 26 km

This large beachfront and riverfront park is centrally located just 500 metres from the town centre. It has large expanses of lawn, shady sites and a range of good facilities. It is a very nice park! Bookings are... Find out more

Torquay Holiday Park 31 km

The park is located on the highway about 400 metres from the centre of town. It is a very good quality park and facilities include tennis courts, putting greens and private bathrooms with spas. Bookings are required in... Find out more

Geelong Surfcoast Highway Holiday Park 31 km

This park between Geelong and Torquay has been rejuvenated as a tourist park and importantly for those who travel with pets is one of the very few parks in the region that takes pets. It is easily accessible from the... Find out more

Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park 32 km

This is actually a group of five parks all within Lorne, and all five are administered from the one office. Each is well positioned and within walking distance of the resort-style town centre. Lorne is one of... Find out more

Geelong Riverview Tourist Park 32 km

This is a great park on the south side of the Barwon River, just 2 km from the centre of Geelong. Bookings are required at Christmas, Easter and long weekends.... Find out more

Riverglen Holiday Park 32 km

This is a large, owner-operated park with good facilities and is located just 2 km from the centre of Geelong. Bookings are required at Christmas, Easter and long weekends, with a minimum-stay period at Easter and long... Find out more

Barwon River Tourist Park 33 km

On the south side of the Barwon River about 2 km from the centre of Geelong, this place has good facilities and is easily accessible. There are nicely shaded sites and it is just a short walk to the shopping centre. A... Find out more

Cumberland River Holiday Park 37 km

Cumberland River Holiday Park is set in a picturesque spot on the scenic coastal strip. It is close to the beach and a good base for exploring the Otways. Bookings are required in peak periods, with a minimum-stay period... Find out more

BIG4 Wye River Holiday Park 44 km

This is a very neatly maintained beachside park on this fabulous and popular coastline. Bookings are required in peak periods, with a minimum-length stay at Christmas, Easter and long weekends.... Find out more

Barwon Heads Caravan Park 45 km

This is a large park fronting the wide picturesque estuary of the Barwon River close to the river mouth. It is a popular summer beachside park and just a short walk from the town centre. Waterfront sites are available at... Find out more

Rest areas around town

Winchelsea park area 14 km

At Winchelsea

On the riverbank via Barton Tce.

Leigh River rest area 18 km

At Inverleigh

Large grassed area just off the highway under shady trees. On the east side of town.

Urquharts Beach park area 25 km

6km SW of Anglesea (L) or 23km NE of Lorne (R)

On the foreshore 500m off the highway.

Anglesea Park Area 26 km

West side of town

Large area adjacent to the road on the west side of town. Good facilities.

Torquay park area 32 km

At Torquay

Overlooking the beach on the esplanade.

Lorne park area 32 km

At Lorne

On the foreshore, just off the highway. On the east side of town.

Colac park area 36 km

At Colac

Just off the highway under shady trees in the middle of town.

Meredith park area 45 km

At Meredith

Large area located in a side street (turn off at the roadhouse) at Pioneer Park.

What's on around town

Winchelsea Festival: wool shearing, dog trials, wool classing, children's activities, local produce and market stall, plus more; Nov.

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