History of the Heywood Hotel

Heywood, originally called "Second River" and then named Heywood, after Heywood in Lancashire, England, was established as a rural settlement on the Fitzroy River, or second river north of Portland, the Surry being the first river, in the south-west corner of Victoria, Australia.

The first European to traverse the area appears to have been Major Thomas MITCHELL who when he left the Glenelg River in August 1836, headed east and looked out from the top of a hill which he named Mt. Eckersley overlooking the site of the current township of Heywood.

James Bonwick recorded in 1857...
A hotel was established here by Mr. EVANS as early as 1839, but for many years it had been conducted by Mr. BILSTON, who succeeded Mr. Edgar. The township was formed some four years later, at the time of Township Mania. It is situated on the usual uninteresting flat of the region round, and ingenious Dutch contrivances are adopted to prevent swamping of the area. Two hotels, a fair store, and a few huts formed the city of Heywood. At the time no school existed there, and no religious services were being held in the township.

On Black Thursday, in 1851, a fire reached this inland resting place, and a few moments were sufficient to consume everything. Some articles of clothing were rescued and thrown into the waterhole of the creek; but even there the raging flames reached them, and burnt all that appeared above the edge of the water. A dray was consumed in the road. The poor, terrified children were placed for safety beneath the bridge. But even from this refuge they were driven, by the fire reaching and burning it. The neighbouring forests were filled with smoke and flames, the shifting wind occasionally showing huge columns of the roaring element, or bringing down a perfect tempest of fire.

Mount Eckersley is three miles north of Heywood. The base is of more compact basalt than the top. A half circle of hills seems to bound an ancient crater, in the centre of which a cone arises. The red earth in the immediate neighbourhood is very rich; beyond it is covered by the sterile clay and gravel. About three miles to the south-west of Heywood the limestone crops out, and gives a beautiful patch of land to the farmer. There are caves with alabaster stalactites, and some really very choice and valuable marbles.

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