The Shire of South Barwon was located on the south side of the Barwon River (now part of the City of Greater Geelong). The name Barwon was coined by John Helder Wedge, surveyor, in 1835, from the Aboriginal burwan, meaning great, wide or deep water. The local Indigenous people are the Wathurong.
Settlement began at the mouth of the Barwon River on the eastern side in 1854. Settlers included survivors of the Earl of Charlemont shipwreck in 1853. Settlement on the other side at Barwon Heads was delayed until 1875. Barwon became a centre for boating and fishing, with waterfowl upstream at the Lake Connewarre swamp lands.
Barwon became a district on 2 June 1857, and became a borough in 1863. The Shire of South Barwon came into being with amalgamation of the Connewarre road district and the Borough of South Barwon on 24 December 1874.
The Shire of South Barwon issued a medal to commemorate the jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897 (NU 20435). It named E.W. Gibson as Shire President.
Barwon Heads became a holiday destination for Geelong residents in the early 20th century, and the provision of camping facilities on the foreshore near the Barwon Head or Bluff attracted many holiday makers.
On 18 May 1993 the Shires of South Barwon and Corio, the cities of Geelong, Geelong West and Newtown, the Rural City of Bellarine and parts of the Shires of Bannockburn and Barrabool united to become the Greater Geelong City Council.
Blake, L. (1977). Place Names of Victoria.
Geelong Historical Records Centre website http://www.zades.com.au/geelong/gdtime.htm
Australian Places website, Monash University, http://arts.monash.edu/ncas/multimedia/gazetteer/list/barwonheads.html
Municipal Association of Victoria website http://www.mav.asn.au