Breakwater 3219Breakwater, an industrial and residential area on the Barwon River, is 4 km. south-south-east of Geelong. Its name came from a rock ford constructed across the Barwon River by Geelong's first Police Magistrate, Captain Foster Fyans, in 1837. The ford stopped the inflow of salt water up the river, thus supplying the infant township upstream with fresh river water.
Below the ford the salt water attracted industries much like those which lined the banks of the Saltwater/Maribyrnong River in Melbourne's western suburbs. By the 1870s there were fellmongeries, tanneries and a meat-preserving works. A short way upstream the Geelong Racecourse, and later the showgrounds, were established. The Breakwater railway station is beside the racecourse. Street names such as Leather, Fellmongers and Tanner commemorate Breakwater's origins.
An Anglican church conducted a school at Breakwater (1853-63), and the Breakwater hotel was opened during that period. The hotel continues, a short way from the actual breakwater. Schools are found west of the racecourse, the Geelong East primary school, James Harrison College and a TAFE. (James Harrison, first editor of the Geelong Advertiser, was a pioneer inventor of refrigeration for meat export.) The residential areas are also near the racecourse, and further south is a large industrial estate, including a carpet manufacturer.
Between the industrial area and the river the land is flood prone, and in 1913-16 the Geelong Water and Sewerage Trust built a reinforced concrete bridge to carry a sewer. The structure, 756 metres long, is on the Victorian Heritage Register.
Breakwater's census populations have been 136 (1861), 312 (1871) and 1,521 (1981).
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