Black and white image of boathouses at Barwon Heads, circa 1930.

The first Barwon Heads boathouses were constructed in the 1880s and were used as dressing sheds.The boathouses were built on land that was located directly on the beach. This land was leased to holidaymakers from 1905, when the Geelong Harbor Trust was established. Originally conceived as recreational buildings, the boathouses were subsequently used as dwellings by holidaymakers. However, the boathouses had no sanitation or plumbing and by the 1920s locals were complaining about their beach becoming a health risk and being used exclusively by non-rate payers instead of being available to locals. By the 1930s there were 61 boathouses on the beach, accommodating several hundred people, and a controversial battle ensued to remove them. By 30 June 1936 all of the boathouses had been removed, most to nearby Ocean Grove, some to other beach resort towns such as Queenscliff and Torquay, and a few to other sites in Barwon Heads.

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A beachscape.There are three boats moored and on the beach (it is low tide) there is a row of 'boathouses' in the background.

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