The Beaumaris Aboriginal Well – a forgotten place of history
In 2006 a group of secondary students from Beaumaris, on an excursion with Melbourne Walks, re-discovered the historic Beaumaris Aboriginal Well.
This research activity paid tribute to the Boonwurrung traditional owners and also to the memory of naturalist Wally Goodbody, an elderly local resident and naturalist who had regularly cleaned and protected the well for half a century, until his death by drowning in a boat accident.
Since 1997 when the colour photos below were taken, the sands have shifted and this rare well, which formerly was exposed since settlement for 150 years, has largely disappeared under sand movements.
The well is located about 50 metres north of the Beaumaris Yacht club in a flat rock slab that projects from the edge of the sand dune cliff towards the sea.
The secondary school students dug for an hour to locate the well and excavate it. It was a significant physical effort with groups of students taking turns to dig with their hands. There was a feeling of pride as the students brought into the present view an ancient artefact famous in both settler and Indigenous history. This may even be one of the wells that Joseph Gellibrand (architect of the Melbourne treaty) reported using for water when he crossed overland in 1836 to join Batman’s party at Melbourne.
The well was measured and is approximately 55cm wide at the top, 97cm deep and 25cm wide at the base. The well is one of seven well sites on the foreshore recorded in the 1950s by Aldo Massola of Melbourne Museum between Rickets Point and Black Rock.
Only one of these freshwater well sites at Red Bluff is now easily accessible. We visit it often to check on its health just like Wally used to check on the Beaumaris well. Like First Nations people, all of us are custodians of country, even if we don’t acknowledge it.
Beaumaris well image 1958 with Melbourne walks measurements from 2006.
Beaumaris well 1958 with Wally Goodbody
Beaumaris well 1997
Beaumaris well 1997