30 September, 2016

Thomas Brock: the ghost of the Friend in Hand

In recent weeks, I have done some research on some of Fyansford's lesser known public houses from the 19th century. In addition to the Fair View Hotel over looking the Moorabool Valley at the top of the Fyansford hill, the Swan Inn - Fyansford's earliest hotel - and the Junction Hotel on the road out of town at the turnoff from Hamilton to Gheringhap, there was another hotel which has disappeared from site, if not from local memory.
Known by the welcoming name of the Friend-in-Hand Hotel, the establishment was situated on the Ballarat Rd from Fyansford (today's Fyansford-Gheringhap Rd) where that road intersects the Friend in Hand Rd.
Whilst the hotel itself was probably only in operation for around ten years, the stories of its past and reputation have lasted much longer in local memory; chiefly in the form of ghost stories - a few of which I have stumbled across over the years. For such a fleeting establishment, I have garnered quite a significant amount of information, so in this post, I will look at the stories and legends of the "Friend in Hand ghost" and in the following post I will look at actual events.
Most recently, in a letter to the editor of the Weekly Review (3rd June, 2013), Geoff Searle gave the following version of events:
The story goes that in the 1850s, the pub's owner hit his son-in-law over the head with a saucepan. He died, was buried on a farm and haunted the area. The pub ended in ruins.
Such was the ghost's reputation that my grandfather and his brother dressed in white sheets to spook a notorious cattle duffer who stole stock from farms at night.
The pair jumped out in front of the thief's horse, which bolted. He was never seen again.
Some of the local ghost stories seem to centre more on kids hiding under sheets
than any possible supernatural occurrence
In his book The Stepping Stone: a History of the Shire of Bannockburn (1995), Derek Beaurepaire talks about the Lamb family, early settlers in the area who lived near site of the Friend in Hand Hotel where a lane bore their name. This version of the tale stated that children riding their horses in the area should be especially careful passing Lamb's Lane lest their horses suddenly take fright and bolt. One of the family described the "Ghost of Lamb's Lane" to Beaurepaire thus:
The Lamb family often had an unwanted visitor who came across the Barwon to pay his respects and drink the Lamb's whisky. He had a habit of staying until the early hours of the morning which was upsetting to everyone. So the Lamb children told him vivid tales about a ghost which appeared in the lane on dark nights. The visitor took little notice, had several more whiskies and set forth, only to be confronted by one of the children dressed up in a sheet. The horse reared and bolted giving the visitor a rapid and rough ride home through the river. He did not return for 3 months and then only arriving and departing in daylight.
Beaurepaire then adds that local legend claimed that a father and son working at the hotel nearby had a disagreement, resulting in the death of one party.
The entrance to Lamb's Lane today, September, 2016
A third version of the story can be found in Roy Holden's notes on Fyansford, held at the Geelong Historical Records Centre:
...the old Friend in Hand, which was situated on the Ballarat road about three miles from Fyansford. It was the home of tramps for many years. Early residents said that when it was being built two bricklayers (father and son) quarrelled and one killed the other with a hammer. Afterwards the place was supposed to be haunted, so that with fewer teams passing and the supposed ghost, trade fell away and tenants did not stay long in it.
These are just a few of the tales told. So what truth - if any - is there to the legends? As it turns out, quite a bit. Surprisingly however, the most accurate version of events is perhaps a fictional account written in 1977 as a children's novel by local author John W Pescott. The book - The Ghost at Friend In Hand - which takes the form of a "boys own adventure novel" follows the story of a group of boys who go looking for the ghost after hearing the tale from an adult.
The Ghost at Friend-in-hand, (John Pescott, 1977)
According to the story, at the height of the gold rush, just over 100 years ago (remember, this was the 1970s), a butcher by the name of Thomas Brock decided to enter the hotel trade, building a sizeable establishment on the Ballarat Rd from Fyansford, at the intersection of the Friend in Hand Rd. Before Brock could complete his hotel however, he was fatally injured by his step-father wielding a large iron saucepan.
Eventually, to cut a long story short, Brock was buried behind his hotel and his step-father was sentenced to seven years hard labour for manslaughter. Subsequent owners of the hotel attempted to make a go of the business, however all were unsuccessful and the building was eventually abandoned and fell into ruin. The reason given for the failure was of course, Brock's ghost.
As for the rest of Pescott's story, the boys set out to find the ghost and were surprised by a strange man who turned out to be all too alive but of course bore an uncanny resemblance to the long-dead Brock, leaving them questioning whether or not there might actually be a connection...
So, what was truth and what was fiction? In my next post, I will dig into what may really have happened...

18 September, 2016

...and up they rise!

By Friday 9th September, 2016 a large rain band was moving across Victoria and over the next several days, heavy rains hit the Barwon Catchment. River levels began to rise and by early Wednesday morning the Upper Barwon was in flood as was the Leigh River at Shelford. By Wednesday evening the combined floodwaters from the Upper Barwon, the Leigh and Moorabool Rivers reached Geelong. With the rising water levels came the usual increased interest in the Barwon.
So, before all the excitement of the past few days dies down and the river heights return to more normal levels, it is probably worth posting a few flood photos for posterity as I have done during other flooding events on the Barwon. I won't go into too many facts and figures as I have done that previously. For those interested this post from September, 2011 looks a little at the causes of flooding on the Barwon.
For comparison purposes, here is the post from a small flood event in August, 2012 and this from the January, 2011 flood which always proves remarkably popular when river levels rise.
The current flood event by comparison reached "moderate" levels on both the Upper and Lower Barwon as well as on the Leigh River at Shelford which peaked mid-afternoon on Wednesday at a height of 7.22m. Through Geelong, the flood level peaked over night Thursday at a height of 3.29m, having earlier reached a peak of 6.13m on the Upper Barwon at Rickett's Marsh at around 5:30pm Wednesday.
Moorabool River
Batesford, 8:15am 15th September, 2016

Fyansford, 9:45am 15th September, 2016

Fyansford, 2:30pm 15th September, 2016

Leigh River

Inverleigh, 9am 15th September, 2016

Barwon River

Pollocksford 8:45am 15th September, 2016

  Baum's Weir, 9:45am 15th September, 2016

Buckley Falls, 4:30pm 16th September, 2016

 Fyansford Paper Mill, 1:45pm 15th September, 2016

Newtown Lookout, 4:45pm 15th September, 2016 

Queen's Park, 4:45pm 16th September, 2016

Balyang Sanctuary, 4pm 16th September, 2016

Barwon Bridge, Geelong 5:15pm 15th September, 2016

Breakwater, 3:45pm 16th September, 2016

Lake Connewarre, 12:15pm 16th September, 2016

Barwon Heads, 12:45pm 16th September, 2016

 Barwon Heads, 1pm 16th september, 2016

 Barwon Heads Bluff, 3pm 16th September, 2016

 For now, the rain has - mostly - abated, the floodwaters are receding and the clean up will soon begin, however on a saturated catchment with more than two months of spring rain still to come it remains to be seen what will happen next...
Further photos at each of the above locations can be seen at the following link: the rivers in flood, 2016

Cementing Fyansford's future

Whilst the Gen Fyansford development on the Moorabool so far only occupies the flats on the east bank of the river, the high ground further to the east of Hyland St is also part of the development and has its own extensive history.
With the arrival of European settlement and the development of Geelong during the gold rush, came the expected social problems and so it was deemed necessary to build an orphanage to house the destitute children of Geelong. The first site chosen was at Fyansford where the Protestant Orphanage Asylum was erected at the top of Fyansford Hill overlooking the Moorabool Valley below. Built in 1855 of local bluestone in the Gothic style, it was designed by Geelong architect Andrew McWilliams, winner of a design competition for the building. A north wing was added to the orphanage in 1857 then in 1865 a Common School designed by Joseph Lowe Shaw was built.
The Protestant Orphanage Asylum/Cement works Retirees Museum June, 2012
Surprisingly perhaps, it was not until 16th November, 1868 that the land where the buildings already stood was temporarily gazetted for use as a Protestant orphan asylum by the government. The area of land totalled just over 15.75 acres. On 7th February, 1881, this order was made permanent and then on 10th June, 1887 approximately 6.75 more acres adjacent to the existing land were also gazetted for the use of the orphanage.
The Protestant Orphanage Asylum 1873 showing the original building and newer
north wing (right). Image by Thomas Washbourne, reproduction rights held by the
State Library of Victoria
From 1889, the remainder of the land between the orphanage and Hyland St was leased by the  Australian Portland Cement Company (APC), established by Peter McCann to exploit the limestone deposit at nearby Batesford. On the low ground beneath Fyansford Hill the company established its cement works. The company operated with limited success over the following years. Liquidated in 1895, re-launched, liquidated again and opened a third time in 1904, it was not until 1912 - some four years after the death of Peter McCann - that the production process and equipment was modernised and the company found a more stable footing. By now, it was under the management of Wesely B McCann, Peter's youngest son.
Over the years, small portions of the original land grant to the orphanage were revoked for the benefit of the cement works. Initially, just prior to the opening of the railway line to Fyansford in 1918 a section was reclaimed for the Board of Land and Works (Railway) to enable the construction of the line to the cement works. Next, the ownership of a small portion of land at the north east corner of the orphanage block was transferred to the ownership of APC in 1927.
It was only around two years before this, on 13th January, 1925 that the company had finally purchased the land on which their works had stood for the past 35 years. In the same year APC also made another significant land purchase when it bought the "old Fairview gardens" (The Age, 2nd March, 1925) along with additional adjacent land, including many of the quarter acre blocks within the Fyansford township reserve which had first been sold in 1854. It was on this site that they built a new plant constructed of steel and concrete, modernising and expanding their operations and floating the company on the stock exchange as Australian Cement Ltd. 1926 also saw the opening of a private railway owned by the cement works which carried limestone from the quarry at Batesford to the new works.
An aerial view of the cement works showing the newly-erected plant on the
site of  the old 'Fairview Gardens'. Photographer Charled Daniel Pratt, 1926
 Image held by the State Library of Victoria
Unsurprisingly perhaps, the orphanage and cement works did not always make compatible bedfellows. On 12th October, 1912 the Geelong Advertiser reported that dust from the cement works was such a nuisance that there were concerns for the health of the children living at the orphanage. Not only did it settle on the grounds and the exterior of the buildings, but also in the dormitories where the boys slept. All would be resolved it was claimed, when new machinery arrived from Germany. Eventually however, in 1933 it was decided to relocate the orphanage to Belmont as the building at Fyansford was deemed too old and too close to the cement works.
The new building was located in Broughton Dr, Belmont where until 1955 it was known as the Geelong and Western District Protestant Orphanage after which it became Glastonbury - Geelong Protestant Orphanage. Today, the building is home to the junior school campus of Christian College Geelong.
At Fyansford, following the departure of the orphanage, the old buildings and the land at the top of the hill were sold to the cement works who used the property to build leisure facilities for its employees. The buildings were converted into a recreation hall, library, billiard room and concert hall whilst tennis courts, a bowling-green, a sports oval and a croquet-lawn were constructed on the additional land. For a time during the 1950s the orphanage building was used to house migrant workers, then in the late 1970s a museum collection was established in part of the building. Over the years it grew to become the Geelong Cement Works Retirees Museum which occupied most of the building.
The Fyansford Cement Works viewed from the south in 1996. Image taken by
Joyce Evans, downloaded from the National Library of Australia
The cement works closed in June, 2001, however the museum along with various sporting clubs continued to operate out of the site after the company's closure. Whilst the Geelong Cement Bowls Club is still in operation today, the museum closed in recent times and the collection was disbanded.
Whilst the orphanage buildings and bowling green still stand, the cement works buildings along with their iconic chimneys were demolished in 2004 to make way for a proposed residential development - Fyansford Green - the brainchild of Robert Moltoni, owner of Moltoni Group Pty Ltd who had been in talks with the City of Greater Geelong as early as 2001. Little remains of the cement works besides the silos which remain a prominent feature of the skyline above Fyansford Hill.
Remaining cement silos at Fyansford, September, 2016
Moltoni envisaged a 2,000 home residential development on both sides of the Moorabool river, utilising the former cement works land to the east and the disused quarry on the west bank of the river. To this end, significant environmental rehabilitation works were undertaken on the former cement works site and in 2008 the land was rezoned from industrial to residential.
In 2011 however, all these plans were put on hold when Moltoni Group ran into financial difficulties. Development of the area stalled until the land was sold to developers ICD Property who are now implementing the first stage of the Gen Fyansford development.
Gen Fyansford development, September, 2016

14 September, 2016

From ford to food bowl

My previous post looked at the early history of the land east of the Moorabool River which is fast shaping up as Gen Fyansford. European settlement began in 1837 with the arrival of Police Magistrate Foster Fyans and his men. Following their departure, there was little in the way of permanent settlement at the ford, however various Europeans did spend time in the district.
From November, 1838 Charles Wightman Sievwright, Assistant-protector of Aborigines made his home near Fyan's Ford until his dismissal from the post in 1842. By implication, like Fyans, he and his family lived in huts near the ford ("they crossed Fyans' Ford by Mr. Severight's huts" - Port Phillip Gazette, 30th October, 1841) where, during his short time in the role, he struggled to bring to the notice of the authorities, the problems caused for the indigenous peoples by the loss of traditional food sources. Sievwright also strove unsuccessfully, to have mass murders of Aboriginals prosecuted. Eventually, he was suspended and then dismissed from his post amidst allegations of incompetence. Attempts to establish a full inquiry were thwarted by the government as were his attempts in England from 1845 to clear his name (Australian Dictionary of Biography). He died there, penniless in 1855. His wife had died in Australia the previous year, leaving their seven children orphaned.
Miniature portrait of Charles Wrightman Sievwright c1825,
reproduction rights held by the State Library of Victoria
Next, in 1842 John Atkins opened the Fyans Ford Inn on the west bank of the river on land leased by the Mercers. The following year, races and stock sales were held at Fyans' Ford and settlers began to view the area as a desirable place to be. However, whilst I found reference to an area for a village reserve at Fyans' Ford as early as 1840 (Port Phillip Patriot and Melbourne Advertiser, 12th October, 1840), I found no mention of the township being officially gazetted. According to survey maps, the first land sales occurred on 21st July, 1847. On this date, James Williamson and Thomas B Payne respectively purchased blocks 1 and 2 of section XIV in the Parish of Moorpanyal.
The map below shows a section of the parish survey map overlaid on Google Earth, including the two blocks which today are Gen Fyansford land. The red line indicates the boundaries of Gen Fyansford east of the Moorabool River.
Moorpanyal Parish survey map overlaid on Google Earth
As I described previously, block 2 became the site of the Fair View Hotel during the 1850s but I am unsure what use Payne may have made of the land prior to its becoming the hotel grounds. Nor can I find mention of Williamson occupying his land.
The following year on 15th December, 1848, the track to the top of Fyansford Hill (now Hyland St) was officially gazetted as a road (Port Phillip Government Gazette, No 52, 27 December 1848, p577). It passed through blocks 1 and 2 of Section XIV, however this may not have been a significant change as early paintings already show the track winding up Fyansford Hill from the river below.
Charles Norton's 1846 view of Fyansford Hill, showing the track running
from the Moorabool River to the top of the hill, Image held by the
State Library of Victoria
The land immediately to the south of Williamson's block up to today's Atkin's St also forms part of Gen Fyansford. At the time of the original survey, this land fell within the Fyansford town reserve and was mostly subdivided into quarter acre residential blocks which were sold at public auction on 23rd June, 1854, some seven years after the sale of the larger blocks to the north. Early photos show some houses and other buildings on the land by the late 1850s, but also many open, unfenced spaces.
 And there things stood until 20th November, 1867 when Edwin Hopton purchased two blocks of land along the river, totalling about 1 and 1/4 acres. Edwin was a noted local who lived for a time at 'Swanville', the original inn built by John Atkins on the west bank of the Moorabool, before moving to another Fyansford property which he called 'Woodlands' where he was a fruit-grower and vigneron. What use he made of the land on the east bank of the Moorabool or how long he owned it, I am unsure.
The next parcel of land to be purchased on the flats overlooking the river and also now part of Gen Fyansford, was an area of about 2 acres which was purchased on 29th May, 1877 by Henry King who with his father George, developed the property into one of the best-known plant nurseries and vineyards in the district: 'Fairview Gardens'. This small land purchase in 1877 appears to be a later acquisition as The Australasian (15th December, 1877) reported that the Kings had held their 26 acre property for around eight years, placing them in the district as early as 1869, although I found other newspaper articles suggesting the Kings' presence as fruit-growers at Fyansford as early as 1863.
Henry King in later life. Image provided courtesy
of the Bellarine Historical Society
By 1880 the Kings were in possession of 46 acres (including river frontage) and were advertising apple trees for sale, boasting many new strains recently introduced from America. The land included the sloping ground above the river with the vines planted on the fertile river flats below.
At this point, I am unable to determine exactly what land was incorporated in the 46 acres held by the Kings, however can only assume that it included some or all of the land originally purchased by James Williamson in 1847 and perhaps some of that originally owned by Thomas Payne and which became the grounds of the Fair View Hotel. Incidentally, I have no idea if the name of the gardens was in anyway connected to, or inspired by the name of the hotel, however the earliest mention I found of the gardens using the name was in 1876, the same year in which Margaret Greenwood - the last owner of the hotel - died.
Advert: Geelong Advertiser 21st August, 1880
In September, 1880, disaster struck when the Moorabool suffered one of the largest floods on record. Upstream, Hope's Flour Mill below Batesford was washed away as was the almost complete Sharp's Crossing bridge near Sheoaks. A number of other structures along the river were also damaged. At Fyansford, of 40 acres under cultivation by the Kings, 20 acres were inundated. Valuable topsoil was carried off and losses were estimated at £500. In addition to a large number of cherry trees, 10,000 apple trees, 500 elms, 600 mulberry trees and a number of gooseberry trees were also destroyed. Despite this setback, the Kings were still able to supply cherries, plums, apricots, apples, and strawberries to the fruit market that season along with trees and seedlings for the nurseries (Geelong Advertiser, 6th December, 1880).
Flooding was not the only setback suffered by the Kings. Initially, in addition to the trees, fruit, vegetables and seedlings, they also planted grapes and it was claimed that their vineyard was one of the best-kept and most productive in the colony. That was, until 1878 when the 'Fairview Gardens' was one of the first properties to be struck by the tiny, sap-sucking insect known as phylloxera. According to the Geelong Advertiser of 16th July, 1878 the pest spread from Charles Wyatt's Frogmore Nursery, located less than 2 miles away on the Barwon River to the Kings' property on the Moorabool. Presumably the Kings had purchased infected stock from Mr Wyatt. As became standard practise, all vines on the property were dug up (April, 1878) and as far as possible, even the smallest rootlets removed to eradicate the pest. From this point, the Kings focused on their other growing interests.
Looking north west across the site of the 'Fairview Gardens', June, 2016
In these early years, water for the gardens was supplied from the Geelong water mains at a rate of £10 per year, however the supply was expensive and often inadequate so in1880 the Kings erected a windmill which would pump water from the river up to three 400 gallon tanks on higher ground (Geelong Advertiser, 6th December, 1880). Conveniently, Alfred King - Henry's brother - was a plumber with works located in Ryrie St. It was he who built the windmill erected at 'Fairview Gardens'. An 1882 reference in the same paper to "Mr King's windmill" suggests that the windmill was in place by that year. 
(NOTE: in both the 1926 image below and the image "dated" 1939 in the post to follow this one, two large holes which I think may be two of the 400 gallon tanks can be seen at the bend near the top of Hyland St. If so, then much of the 'Fairview Gardens' was located on the blocks of land originally owned by James Williamson and Thomas Payne.)
Over the following years, advertisements for the gardens appeared regularly in the newspapers until 1889 when the Kings decided to sell up. The property was sold on a boom market to a group of local investors whose initial intention was to subdivide and sell the land. Instead, they decided to continue the operation, retaining Henry King as manager and on 8th July, 1889 their business was registered under the name of the Fairview Gardens Company Ltd.
One of their first moves after taking possession of the property was to apply to establish a pump capable of taking 8,000 gallons of water per hour from the river. The intention was to carry the water through an 8 inch mains pipe to a 30,000 gallon cement and brick-lined reservoir further up the riverbank which would be refilled with river water every four days. From here, 6 inch pipes would distribute water to the gardens. Unsurprisingly, various community members were unhappy with this plan, fearing that during the summer months they would be left without enough water for their own purposes.
A group headed by local vintner and businessman Edwin Hopton took their complaint to parliament, suggesting instead, that the government should build a plant which would be controlled by a trust for the benefit of the entire community. Their complaint however did not receive a sympathetic hearing. Damming the river was also ruled out as it was feared this would create issues with flooding along the river flats upstream. The Fairview Gardens Co it seemed would have its water.
From this point onwards, the company successfully traded until 1904 when it was unanimously decided at an extraordinary general meeting of the company to go into liquidation. The property was placed on the market and on 17th September 1904 the following advertisement was placed in the Geelong Advertiser:
 Fairview Gardens for sale:
comprising 45 acres or thereabouts of rich river flats, about 10 acres, planted with the choices of fruit trees, and the remainder now under growing crop, has a large frontage to the river Moorabool and main road. The improvements comprise three capital good 4 and 6-roomed cottages, and all necessary outbuildings, stabling, etc., also an extensive irrigation plant, with engine, piping and windmills; besides a supply commanding about 9 acres from the Geelong water main. Extensive marl pit on the property.
Whilst the property did not sell at auction, it was purchased only a month or so later by John Ince, a local businessman and politician who after a short stint in the Victorian Legislative Assembly (December, 1877-January, 1880) served as councillor and mayor of Geelong West between 1875 and 1890.
,John Ince, Mayor of Geelong West and owner of
'Fairview Gardens'. Image held by the State Library
of Victoria
Ince's tenure at 'Fairview Gardens' was somewhat shorter than previous owners and by November, 1915 the property was on the market. In March the following year, by now listed for lease by the trustees of Ince's deceased estate and given the title 'Fairview Farm'.
The King family meanwhile, did not move too far from their Fyansford gardens. In retirement George King and his wife Elizabeth lived at a property in Marshall St, Chilwell and it was there on 21st November, 1894 that George died. He was described by The Age as "a colonist of 40 years". His wife Elizabeth survived him by a further six years, dying at Marshall St in 1900.
Graves of George and Elizabeth King (left) and Henry and Ruth King (right)
at the Western General Cemetery, Herne Hill, September, 2016
Henry meanwhile, after the sale of the property, was invited to take up the role of Inspector of Fruit for the Geelong region, a position for which he was well qualified. At the time of Henry's death on 19th September, 1913 at the age of 76 he and his wife - Ruth - were living not far from 'Fairview Gardens' in Upper Skene St, Newtown. Henry was buried beside his parents at the Western General Cemetery in Herne Hill. Ruth died at the age of 79 in 1921 and was buried with her husband.
Ruth King (neƩ Wise). Image provided courtesy of
the Bellarine Historical Society
As for the 'Fairview Gardens' their days were also numbered. In 1925, the Australian Portland Cement Company (or the Fyansford Cement Works as they are locally known) purchased the the gardens along with other neighbouring properties, thus spelling the end of what was by all accounts a very productive and attractive part of Fyansford's history.
Image by Charles Daniel Pratt dated 1939, however the photo is clearly pre-
1925 as the cement works railway and new plant are yet to be built
(see below), however here is also little (if any) sign of 'Fairview Gardens'.
Image held by the Victorian State Library

12 September, 2016

Fyans' Ford

Today at Fyansford, the residential development which is Gen Fyansford seems to be racing along with new houses popping up everywhere. However, this section of the river flats overlooking the Moorabool River has not always been a residential area and on his Fyansford.com website John Flatt asks the question "is the Gen Fyansford Estate built on a quarry?" No, he decides and I agree. So, after finding some interesting snippets whilst researching my previous post about the Fair View Hotel which used to stand on the hill above, I thought I'd have a look at what uses the land which now comprises Gen Fyansford has been put to over the years.
Gen Fyansford map taken from GENFYANSFORD.COM.AU
The area in question is shown in the above diagram taken from the Gen Fyansford website and includes land both east and west of the Moorabool. I looked at the history of the quarry to the west of the river in a previous post, so will only deal with the land east of the river this time.
The earliest residents of the Fyansford region were of course the Wathaurong. At various times of the year, they used the rocky bed of the ana-branch between the Barwon and the Moorabool Rivers as an eel trap. The Wathaurong name for the area at the confluence of the two rivers was Bukar Bulac meaning "the place between two rivers" and as it was for the early European settlers, a shallow section of the Moorabool about one and a half kilometres upstream from its confluence with the Barwon was a natural crossing point.
The first European settler to take up residence along the banks of the Moorabool River at Fyansford was of course Captain Foster Fyans himself. But where exactly did he erect his hut? (Another question also asked by John.)
It is widely known that Fyans set sail for Port Phillip in September, 1837, taking with him, a dozen convicts and four staff with whom he established a camp at the spot which soon became known as Fyans' Ford. Pinpointing the exact location of that first settlement is a little more tricky, however there are a couple of sources at the Geelong Historical Record Centre which shed some light.
Captain Foster Fyans. Image held by the State Library
of Victoria
James Riley was a 17 year old English immigrant who travelled to Australia in search of land and opportunity. With letters of introduction to Captain Fyans, he made his way across the Werribee Plains to Fyansford where, for want of an inn, he was invited to stay with Fyans himself. An article written by Roy Holden and contained in his "Fyansford History Notes" (held by the Geelong Historical Records Centre), recounts a letter in which Riley recalls his stay with Fyans and describes the hut as well as its location:
"It is built of slabs well plastered, and the roof, instead of bark (like the Van Dieman's station), is grass covered outside with clay to prevent its blowing off or taking fire.
"Inside for a ceiling a large Union Jack was stretched from corner to corner - thus our own country's banner forming a shelter for our heads.
Fyans' Hobby
"There was a turning lathe in one corner, and small pictures of which there were many, hung around the room, the frames of which the old gentleman had amused himself in making, and which were really well done.
"There were spears, swords, armor and curiosities of all kinds exhibited on the walls. The hut is situated close to the River Moorabool, about one mile from its junction with the Barwon,.."
So, according to Riley, Fyans' hut was located on the Moorabool almost a mile from its confluence with the Barwon. At the beginning of the article, Holden indicates that the hut was on the east bank of the river, but oddly, states that it was a short distance downstream of the "current" bridge which is only three quarters of a mile from the confluence and yet, a grainy photograph from the same compilation of notes by Holden perhaps appears to indicate a site closer to the ford, as suggested by Riley.
Looking upstream from the Fyansford Monier bridge towards the ford and
possibly the site of Fyans' hut 
If Riley's estimate of the distance was the more accurate, then the hut would have been located close to the ford - the original crossing point at the time of Fyans' residence in the district - which would seem a logical location to position his hut and the tents of his men.
Fyans did not spend long at the site which would become the township which bears his name. Riley noted in his letter that once the "barracks" were built (presumably at Geelong), the camp would be disbanded. Whether this also included the removal of Fyan's hut or not, I do not know. On the 1st January, 1840 he was appointed Police Magistrate at Portland Bay, taking him away from the district at that time.
His tenure at Fyansford however was only the beginning. Within a few years, the site he had chosen to make his camp had become a thriving village.