This little creek was for many years, an open waterway which ran from the high ground near Ceres, across what are now the suburbs of Wandana Heights and Highton to Belmont, where the creek formed the western border between the latter two suburbs. It discharged into the Barwon on the bend at the place Yollinko Aboriginal Park now stands, catching runoff water from around 1050 hectares of land.
|An aerial photo of parts of Belomt and Highton prior to development, with|
the course of Kardinia Creek marked by arrows. Image from the Highton
Facebook page courtesy of Ross Rawson
To the Wathaurong people, it was a source of food and water for over 5,000 years. They would camp near the confluence during winter, a fact attested to by a nearby midden where various artifacts have been found. Its sheltered position provided protection from the elements and was within reach of good hunting grounds on the opposite bank of the Barwon.
When European settlers arrived in the region, they too used the area as a meeting place. Initially, the land formed part of Dr Alexander Thomson's property named "Kardinia", then in 1850 Dr Thomson offered a number of allotments for sale as "Belmont Town". They were located between Roslyn and Mt Pleasant Roads. This fledgling town, took its water from a pump located on the south bank of the Barwon, very near the confluence of Kardinia Creek and the Barwon.
|Pump on the Barwon used by the early residents of Belmont with the original|
Prince Albert Bridge in the background. A 1938 print of an 1860s negative held by
The State Library of Victoria
|A modern sign marking the position of the pump|
|the site of the pump|
With the completion of the bridge in 1854 - and presumably other works in the district - ongoing funding was required by the Roads Board. In this era, much of that funding was supplied by toll roads so by December, 1855, the Barrabool District Roads Board were calling for tenders for a contractor to operate the Kardinia Creek toll gate on Barrabool Road.
Things changed again in 1861 with the opening of the nearby Prince Albert Bridge which provided competition for the tolled Barwon (aka Kardinia) Bridge on Moorabool Street, which was the only bridge at that time and located some distance away near the end of Barrabool Road. Initially, the Prince Albert Bridge did not have a tollgate, however competition between the shires of South Barwon and Newtown and Chilwell saw the bridge first fenced off, then with a tollgate at either end before the situation was eventually resolved. What impact this had on the Kardinia Creek tollgate, is not clear.
|View from the original Prince Albert Bridge looking towards Newtown and what|
I suspect is the tollgate (centre) erected by the Newtown and Chilwell Council
Nor perhaps was the state of the bridge the only problem with Kardinia Creek at that time. A nostalgic look back at the 1850s in December, 1918 by the Geelong Advertiser declared that tree clearing had significantly reduced rainfall in the area, with the result that the creek, which once flowed continuously now had a much reduced flow.
Regardless of flow levels, the creek was - and still is - integral to the drainage of water from the high ground south of the Barwon, up towards Ceres. Until the 1960s it performed this function as an open creek, however early in that decade, the decision was made to move the creek underground to allow for the expansion of the Highton shopping centre and help deal with flooding. Since then, the creek - whose original course ran along Bellvue Avenue - has flowed underground via a series of main drains, fed by catchment points, eventually discharging into the Barwon at a "trash rack" designed to trap litter, near the original confluence.
|Outflow of Kardinia Creek|
|The above diagram shows the areas of flooding within the Kardinia Creek catchment area. Image|
adapted from the Highton Drainage/Flood Study Draft Final Report, commissioned by the City of
Greater Geelong, Prepared by BMT WBM Pty Ltd
Time will tell if these measures are successful.