Barwon Water is working to improve the safety of its heritage-listed Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct in Breakwater, Geelong, and open up public access to the Barwon River and 66 hectares of surrounding land.
The project will create a new cultural, recreational and community precinct in partnership with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation. The new precinct will acknowledge Aboriginal culture and heritage alongside the European heritage values of the aqueduct. Porronggitj Karrong is the current project name and means place of the Brolga. Wadawurrung Traditional Owners will confirm a final name for the precinct in the planning process.
Caption: Click and drag to interact with this 360 degree panorama of the Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct. The arrow shows the eighth tower. This tower and all the aqueduct structure to the left (8 towers and 8 spans) will be kept for future generations to view and enjoy. The 4 spans of the aqueduct that cross the Barwon River will be removed with a further 2 spans retained, south of the Barwon River. We will add a permanent propping structure to support the remaining spans of the aqueduct and help to maintain visitor safety. If you want to turn off the motion, press the 'pause' button in the top right of the image.
The aqueduct was constructed between 1912 and 1915, and carried the Geelong outfall sewer across the Barwon River. It was decommissioned in 1992 when a new sewer pipeline was built under the river. Safety risks posed by falling concrete from the deteriorating structure have meant the area around the aqueduct has been closed to the public since 1995.
Heritage Victoria permit
In November 2020, Heritage Victoria granted Barwon Water a permit to remove 4 of the 14 spans of the aqueduct. The permit came with conditions to protect and conserve the remaining structure.
A future for the aqueduct and surrounds
In considering the future of the aqueduct, Barwon Water investigated options for ensuring public safety and improving public access to the Barwon River and surrounding land, while balancing:
- heritage values
- Aboriginal cultural values
- environmental values
- and managing costs for our customers.
The aqueduct is a visible part of Geelong’s otherwise hidden first public sewerage system – and a symbol of Barwon Water’s 100+ year commitment to public health. Barwon Water understands the significance of this structure to many in the community and is committed to engaging with Heritage Victoria, community members and stakeholders on an interpretation plan for the aqueduct as part of a wider plan for the area.
Works will take a number of years and Heritage Victoria will be involved throughout the process.
This significant project, costing up to $6.5 million for the aqueduct works, will generate jobs and many other benefits for the region through opening up public open space and river access.
In partnership with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners, we are gathering information about the landscape and water. Together we will engage with other interested stakeholders to develop a plan for the area that is unique for its high ecological, heritage, cultural and recreational values.
The land and river around the aqueduct remain off limits due to safety risks, including the risk of concrete falling from the aqueduct, and while we undertake works on site. Once the site is made safe, we will progressively open it to the community from sometime between mid-2023 to 2025.
Surveys & Forms
Aqueduct and area heritage survey
Do you have a memory, photo or other information to share about the Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct, in Breakwater, Geelong, or the nearby area?
Or perhaps you have questions about the history, construction or cultural heritage of the aqueduct?
If you do, we’d love you to share these with us as we begin to develop a Heritage Interpretation Plan for the aqueduct.
The Heritage Interpretation Plan will cover how we present information about the historic, scientific, aesthetic and architectural significance of the aqueduct to visitors and community.
We will develop it in consultation with Heritage Victoria, the community, and expert stakeholders, for final Heritage Victoria approval.
Wadawurrung Traditional Owners are leading the development of a Healthy Country Plan for the surrounding 66 hectares of land. We are collecting information to help with this. If you have information you think might help, please let us know.
Check out our Frequently Asked Questions for more information on the Heritage Interpretation Plan or Healthy Country Plan.