Whilst von Guerard spent many hours sketching the river from several vantage points along the Barwon Valley through what would become the suburbs of Highton and Newtown, he also took his sketchbooks to some more out-of -the-way locations. Places that I've seen too.
Most recently, I paddled up the river from Baum's Weir to the bridge at Merrawarp Rd - a section of the river I've paddled many times before. My main aim on this occasion was to take some photos of a couple of locations I was fairly sure von Guerard had visited a little over 160 years before me. Surprisingly for a July afternoon, we headed out in short sleeves on a sunny, windless afternoon, but with the river flowing somewhat higher than the usual summer levels, paddling upstream required a little more effort than normal.
Our first stop, was not far from the Geelong Ring Road where - as you head upstream - the river sweeps around three right-angled bends in succession, to form a large "U" shape beneath the Barrabool Hills. It is here that we think von Guerard's made two of his sketches. Neither, as far as I'm aware, was ever developed into a painting, however even in sketch form, they give a good impression of the height and dramatic appearance of the Barrabool Hills at this point.
Whilst I was certainly not the first person to take in this particular view, neither for that matter was von Guerard. In 1848, the landscape painter, squatter and later civil servant Charles Norton painted a very similar view to that of von Guerard's sketch. The watercolour, titled View from front door "Carlsbadt" on the Barwon, was one of a number of watercolours and sketches of the area completed by Norton between 1847 and 1849. For this short space of time, he occupied a squatting run on the Barwon which he named 'Carlsbadt' after the town in Germany in which his father was born. I can find no mention of 'Carlsbadt' on the maps or in newspapers from the era, but from context assume it must have been situated on the north bank of the Barwon, immediately to the west of the Fyansford township reserve, on land originally held by the Mercers on behalf of the Port Phillip Association.
|View from front door "Carlsbadt" on the Barwon, 1848 by Charles Norton|
|Similar view to the above sketch, July, 2016, but taken from midstream|
|'Carldsbadt' near Geelong, sketched by Charles Norton, 1848. Image taken from|
the State Library of Victoria
|Eugene von Guerard sketch looking south to the Barrabool Hills near Fyansford,|
13th March, 1855
|A similar view to von Guerard's sketch as it appears today. 25th July, 2016,|
possibly somewhat altered by the building of the Geelong Ring Road in 2009
Next, as I traversed this section of the bank, I noticed that I could see not one, but two von Guerard "sketches". The second sketch (actually made earlier the same day), took in the hills a little further downstream from those shown above. Upon first seeing it, I had quickly recognised the location of this sketch, but had assumed it was made from a point near to the closest bend in the river to the hills. Looking across the Barwon from this more easterly perspective however, I realised that what I had thought was another hill, was actually the tip of the promontory around which the river flows and that this sketch must have been made from a very similar view point to the other with the two drawings effectively being a continuation of the one scene.
|A second von Guerard sketch of the Barrabool Hills and Barwon River from a|
|A similar view to that sketched by von Guerard, 26th July, 2016|
|The Barrabool Hills, 25th July, 2016. Click to enlarge|