Barwon Plain


Overall Area118,524 hectares
Climate780 mm per annum at Barwon Downs
666 mm per annum at Birregurra
550 mm per annum at Winchelsea
Main TownsColac
Land UseMixed farming
Cattle grazing for both dairy and beef production
Main IndustriesAgriculture
Main Natural FeaturesBarwon River
Barongarook Creek
Waurn Ponds Creek
Map of the Barwon Plain Landscape System including link to NRM Portal
Click on map to access Natural Resource Management Portal interactive mapping


The Barwon Plain landscape system is situated between the Otway Coast, Heytesbury, Western District Lakes, Basalt Plains and Geelong-Bellarine areas.  Its northern boundary is generally the Princes Highway while to the south it is the Otway Ranges.  Major towns include Colac and Winchelsea, with the Colac-Otway and Surf Coast Shires being the main municipalities. Most of the landscape system is within the Eastern Maar area, but it also includes part of the Wadawurrung traditional lands.

The Barwon River is the main water course running through this area with the flood-plains of the Barwon River and its tributaries extending from the foothills of the northern side of the Otway Ranges to the basalt plains near Winchelsea. Significant water bodies in this landscape include the Wurdiboluc Reservoir, which supplies potable water to Geelong, Anglesea, Torquay and the Bellarine Peninsula. Mixed farming and cattle grazing for both dairy and beef production are the main agricultural industries. The soils also show a gradual transition from acid, freely drained profiles to heavier neutral soils as the influence of basalt-derived alluvium increases towards the north. Key values identified in the Barwon Plains landscape system include:
• known rare and threatened species and platypus
• significant Ecological Vegetation Classes
• significant bird species and important bird habitat
• significant native fish and amphibian species including galaxias
• recreation, including fishing, picnicking, walking tracks
• areas of drought refuge
• urban and rural township water storages.


Grazing for livestock (beef, sheep and dairy) and forestry are key land uses in this area.  Soil productivity on private agricultural land in the Barwon Plain ranges from high relative productivity to moderate, and is higher than the northern and eastern parts of the Corangamite region. The Barwon Plain is constituted of predominantly private agricultural land, with the highest relative productivity soils found on the western side, gradually transitioning to moderate in the east.


The Barwon Plain has a population of just over 19,000 – constituting around 4.7% of the Corangamite region – and is the fifth most populous area of the region. The most densely populated area of the Barwon Plain is the township of Colac.

The community within the Barwon Plain is quite robust and well supported by Landcare and other community groups. As with a number of other systems, the changing demographic of the farming sector is of concern, with the average age of full time farmers increasing, and fewer younger people taking over the operation of farms.

There has also been a growth in hobby farms, especially in the east of the Barwon Plain in closer proximity to Geelong around the Barrabool Hills and Moriac areas, and around other larger centres including Colac and Winchelsea.

Landcare groups include Barongarook, Gerangamete Flats, Murroon, Birregurra, East Otway, Wurdale, Modewarre Buckley, and Barrabool Hills Landcare Groups.

Barwon River