Beeac Windmill Park
There is probably nothing more iconic on the Australian landscape than the windmill. These iron towers have pumped much needed water to our harsh landscape over the last two centuries. The windmill has played an integral role developing our continent while providing water for crops, livestock and the population.
The small rural township of Beeac, which is about 20 km north east of Colac in the Western District, has recently opened a special heritage park to celebrate this important piece of rural equipment.
Called the Beeac Windmill Park and located in the main street of the township, the small park has a variety of different windmills all with some strong links back to the surrounding region. Opening in October of 2010, to celebrate the town’s 150th Anniversary, the park is not only an interesting look back at the heritage of the windmill but it is a striking art form in its self.
The park has examples of windmills from six manufacturers that were found around the region between the 1890’s and 1940’s. Donated by local property owners, the windmills were painstakingly restored by local retired engineer Dick Shinners. With the help of members of the Beeac Progress Association, hours upon hours of work went into the restorations in order to bring the historic windmills back to life. Many of the windmills were reconstructed by studying old photographs and sourcing authentic timber and metal to be able to recreate them as close to original as possible.
A pavilion covered in informative displays show the history of not only the windmills but how the town has evolved over its 150 years. There are some amazing old photographs and pieces of trivia that make really interesting viewing and reading. Each of the windmill manufacturers has a plaque also telling the story of the people, times and their heritage.
One of the more impressive of the windmills is known as the Corbet Windmill. This windmill has a huge 10ft diameter wheel and was built by James Corbet who was a wheelwright and blacksmith who lived in the Beeac area. Today, Corbet Road just out of the town centre is named after him.
Prowse is another name associated with Beeac, James Prowse, and later his three sons, operated the Prowse Mills which were once the biggest manufacturing business in Beeac. Their business, Prowse and Sons, even won a contract to supply a version of their windmill to soldier settlements after World War I. At its peak the business employed over 30 people. The contract saw the Prowse mills sent all over Victoria and even as far as South Australia and into New South Wales.
Beeac is leisurely hour and twenty minutes’ drive from Geelong. It can be easily found by taking the Colac Geelong road (Princes Highway) and turning right onto the C146 Colac – Ballarat Road a few kilometres before Colac. Or by taking the Hamilton Highway out of Geelong and turning onto Barpinba Poorneet Road near Barunah Plains and travelling around 6 kilometres.