Towns in Australia

Exploring Australia, town by town

Winchelsea VIC


Postcode: 3241

Winchelsea is a town in Victoria, Australia.It is in the Surf Coast Shire local government area and located on the Barwon River 115 km south-west of Melbourne and close to Geelong (37 km north-east). The first Europeans to reside in the area were squatters who established grazing runs there c. 1837. The town developed around the Barwon Inn, established in 1842 by Prosper Nicholas Trebeck and Charles Beal. At the 2001 census, Winchelsea had a population of 1,102.

Albert Jacka, the first Australian to win a Victoria Cross in World War I was born at Winchelsea in 1893.

There are several historic homesteads in the area and a number of old bluestone buildings in town although they tend to be scattered about and hence do not form as strong a focal point as they might. The shire relies principally on pastoral and agricultural activities for its income.

The first church was built, with the help of the local grazier, Thomas Austin, in 1846. In the manner of the wealthy country squire, Austin loved shooting and, in 1859, he imported quails, pheasants, foxes and rabbits for that purpose. In this way he became responsible, in the eyes of many, for Australia’s substantial rabbit problems. So profuse did they soon become that the Duke of Edinburgh’s 1867 hunting party shot either 400 or 1000 rabbits in an afternoon, depending on which source you want to believe. Shooters were subsequently hired for the express purpose of eradicating the vermin and a rabbit-meat factory even operated for a time at Colac.

Austin was a noted and wealthy sheep-breeder, being the first to import Lincoln sheep. His wife, a great benefactor, founded the Austin Hospital in Melbourne.