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Anglesea, VIC

Popular seaside resort on the Great Ocean Road

Anglesea is one of the many attractive seaside resort towns along the Great Ocean Road. Its attractions are typical of a seaside town located on a river. It is noted for its family friendly and safe local beaches. There are boats for hire, pleasant walks along the banks of river, excellent surfing at Point Roadknight in the south and around the Anglesea Surf Lifesaving Club on the main surfing beach, and ideal places for a picnic or for holiday laziness. It should always be remembered that the town very effectively hides a large open cut coal mine and the Alcoa World Alumina Australia works which generates power for the aluminium plant in Geelong.

Location

Located 113 km south west of Melbourne Anglesea  is the second major town at the northern end of the Great Ocean Road.

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Origin of Name

From accurate to romantic: Anglesea was originally called Swampy Creek. The creek changed its name to Anglesea River and from there it was a small step for the town to be named Anglesea after the town on the north west coast of Wales.

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Things to See and Do

Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road officially starts at Torquay. Anglesea is the second major town on the route on the 320 km road which runs west along the coast. The road became iconic because it consistently offers dramatic views (in comparison the main coast road in New South Wales has only one place where it overlooks the Pacific Ocean) and its attractions  - the Twelve Apostles, London Bridge. lighthouses etc - complement some particularly lovely vistas across the Great Southern Ocean.

Point Roadknight
Point Roadknight is a narrow ridge which protects the Anglesea beach from the full force of the southern ocean to such a level that is considered poor for surfers and very safe for family swimmers. It is patrolled during the Christmas holidays. There are a number of walks along the coast which include Point Roadknight. It is possible to walk along the cliffs and to walk along the beach. Check out http://beachsafe.org.au/beach/vic312.

Anglesea Golf Course
Few golf courses are a natural tourist attraction even for non-golfers but the Anglesea Golf Course has become famous because of the large number of grazing Eastern Grey kangaroos which keep its fairways trip and enjoy the well watered greensward. The early morning and late afternoon are always the best time.

Coogoorah Reserve
Coogoorah Reserve ('coogoorah' is an Aboriginal word reputedly meaning 'swampy reed creek') covers 31.6 ha and lies on the western side of the Anglesea River and on both sides of the Great Ocean Road. It mixes islands, tracks and bridges and is characterised by river vegetation, tea trees, paperbarks and swamplands. It has picnic and barbecue facilities as well as activity-based equipment for the children. The boardwalk offers excellent opportunities to experience the flora and fauna (11 mammals, 69 birds and four reptiles have been recorded in the Reserve) of the wetland. The park achieved some infamy during the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires set the peat in the Reserve alight. It was subsequently necessary to divert the Anglesea River to extinguish the fire.

Anglesea Heath
Parks Victoria sums up the appeal of Anglesea Heath when it writes: "Anglesea Heath is the richest and most diverse vegetation community in Victoria. Amazingly, about a quarter of Victoria's plant species can be found here including over 80 different types of orchids. Spring time is particularly spectacular as the heathland erupts into a sea of vibrant colour."

This is something which needs to be emphasised. The heath is one of the few remaining remnants of natural vegetation in South Western Victoria. Once this kind of heathland covered the entire area but it was slowly removed as farmers moved in.

The Anglesea Heath Management Plan is rich in its praise for the area describing it as "In spring, a blanket of bushes and windswept vegetation erupts into a dazzling mosaic of colour. Week by week Anglesea Heath changes; the bluish-cream of the Smoke Bush, the yellows and reds of the Bush Peas and the red, pink and white of the Common Heath combine to form a spectacular wildflower display.

Orchids are an outstanding feature of the heathlands, from the tiny Helmet Orchid to the Great Sun Orchid. Seventy-nine orchid species occur in Anglesea Heath, making it one of the most orchid-rich sites in Australia.

Panoramic views of heathy woodlands are divided by moist river valleys that contain thickets of Scented Paperbark and Tea-tree. This naturally sculptured tapestry of heathlands and woodlands provides a haven and food source for numerous birds mammals, insects and other animals that all share a special relationship with the heathland vegetation. This remarkable biological diversity is the reason for listing most of the area on the Register of the National Estate. First-time visitors to Anglesea Heath may not be aware of the floristic richness and brilliance that exists beneath the apparently drab exterior. However, those who take the time for a closer look are richly rewarded."

The Management Plan identifies the rarity of some of the fauna in the Heath: "Over 100 species of native birds have been recorded in Anglesea Heath, of which seven are significant … The waterways in Anglesea Heath, particularly those close to the Anglesea River mouth, provide habitat for a rare fish, the Spotted Galaxias (Galaxias truttaceus). The Southern Pygmy Perch (Nannopercas australis), which has also been recorded in the Anglesea Heath, is not found in any other Otway catchments west to the Gellibrand River. Two species that occur in Anglesea Heath are listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. These species are the New Holland Mouse (Pseudomys novaehollandiae) and Rufous Bristlebird (Dasyornis broadbenti).”

The heath covers 6,731 ha north of the Anglesea. Interestingly it surrounds the coal mine and Alcoa aluminium works. It can be accessed by Forest Road which runs north of the Great Ocean Road north of Anglesea. Page 34 of http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/313277/plan-Anglesea-Heath.pdf has all the tracks and fire trails in the park clearly identified.

Surf Coast Walks
There is a brochure titled Surf Coast Walks: Anglesea which can be downloaded as a PDF from the 'net or obtained from either the Lorne or Torquay Visitor Centres. It lists a total of seven walks along the coast around Anglesea including:

Port Addis to Anglesea (Surf Coast Walk) - 7 km, moderate difficulty, 2 hours mostly beach walking.

Anglesea River Walk to Coogoorah Park - 4 km, easy, 90 minutes - a stroll along the banks of the Anglesea River.

Springtime Flower Experience - 3 km, easy, one hour - walk through the coastal heathland.

Anglesea to Aireys Inlet - 10 km, moderate to strenous - difficult walk from Anglesea along the coast to Aireys Inlet.

Anglesea to Point Roadknight Clifftop Track - 2.5 km, moderate, 1 hour - along the clifftops

Point Roadknight to Urquhart Bluff - 4.5 km, easy, 90 minutes - along the long sandy beach.

Anglesea Heathland Cliff Walk
To the north of the Anglesea River, beginning at the Anglesea Bowling Club, is a glorious coastal walk which passes through coastal eucalypt forests (expect to see koalas, echidnas and wallabies) and along the cliffs. There is a map available at the Tourist Information Office. The walk takes between 45 minutes and an hour.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Point Addis
Located on the coast and off the Great Ocean Road, 7 km north-east of Anglesea and it's 3 km down a dirt road to the car park, is Point Addis. It is a particularly beautiful stretch of coastline with a walking trail which leads to the beach which is popular with surfers and swimmers. The Point is popular with hang-gliders and there is a short, Koorie Cultural Walk, a 1.6 km loop-track with moderate difficulty which takes around an hour. It is a clearly marked interpretative trail which explores the Aboriginal heritage of the area. It connects to the much more difficult and strenuous 7 km Ironbark Track which takes around 3 hours. There is also an excellent coastal walk from Point Addis to Bells Beach which includes spectacular cliffs and a walk along Addiscott Beach. Check it all out in much greater detail on http://www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/Tourism/Discover_Surf_Coast.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the area was inhabited by the Gulidjan people.

* The region was settled in the 1830s by squatters attracted to the freshwater creek and the grazing land which lay behind the sand dunes.

* In 1836 William Roadknight brought sheep across from Tasmania and settled near Ceres Bridge, west of Geelong.

* In 1846 William and his son Thomas pioneered a track to the Cape Otway lighthouse.

* Anglesea developed as a convenient stopover for the mail coaches which plied the southern coastline in the 1850s.

* In 1865, sporting parties with a taste for adventure came on horseback through dense ironbark forests to reach this isolated seaside location.

* The sleepy hamlet changed after the government of the day surveyed land into convenient blocks in the 1880s.

* In 1881 the iron clipper, Hereford, was wrecked of Point Addis.

* In 1883 two boarding houses for holiday makers were opened by Anna Mackay and Agnes Murray.

* In 1884 the town's name changed from Swampy Creek to Anglesea River and the town was subdivided into 8 ha blocks.

* In 1886 Alice Jackson opened Anglesea House where the current hotel stands.

* Until the 1920s Cobb & Co. ran a mail coach service in from Geelong on unformed tracks. They called at nearby Mrs Murray's post office and turned around at Jackson's Anglesea Hotel. Passengers for Aireys Inlet then changed to James Hasty's four-horse wagonette for the remainder of the journey.

* After 1919 the town grew rapidly as a hub for work on the Great Ocean Road.

* In 1950 the town was officially named Anglesea.

* In 1964 Alcoa began construction of a coal mine and power station behind the town.

* On 16 February, 1983 the Ash Wednesday bushfires destroyed over 140 homes in the town.

* Today Anglesea is a popular holiday destination because it combines a good, safe beach with fishing, surfing, sailing and windsurfing. The town's population increases more than tenfold in the summer months.

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Visitor Information

Anglesea Visitor Information Centre on the riverbank is open from 10.00 am - 5.00 pm daily. Equally useful are either the Geelong and Great Ocean Road Visitor Information Centre, Princes Highway, Little River, tel: 1800 755 611 or (03) 5283 1735 OR Torquay Visitor Information Centre, Surf City Plaza, Beach Road, Torquay, tel 1300 614 219.

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Useful Websites

There is a useful local website: http://www.intown.com.au/locals/anglesea/default.htm. There is also an exceptional book on the Great Ocean Road. Check out http://www.rodneyhyett.com.au/great-ocean-road-guide-book.html for details.

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