Warrnambool's early history unearthed as archaeologist surveys former Beaurepaires site

The DEPI’s Peter Beston (left), archaeological consultant Jarrod MacCulloch, BDH director Michael Hawkes and Premier Denis Napthine with the historical foundations uncovered on a Warrnambool construction site.

The DEPI’s Peter Beston (left), archaeological consultant Jarrod MacCulloch, BDH director Michael Hawkes and Premier Denis Napthine with the historical foundations uncovered on a Warrnambool construction site.

REMNANTS of colonial Warrnambool have been uncovered as development of a new government building gets under way along Raglan Parade.

The foundations of an 1870s household, elements of the town saleyards and a surprisingly deep Victorian-era well have been uncovered by construction workers during the past few months.

It follows south-west company BDH Constructions being chosen to build the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) complex on the old Beaurepaires site.

Premier Denis Napthine met with BDH director Mick Hawkes to discuss the $8.25 million development, which is due to start construction by the end of the month.

Mr Hawkes said the archaeological process was likely to take a few more weeks before building works took place.

“It’s a prominent site, so people will be able to see it progress day-by-day,” he said.

Work on the new Raglan Parade complex is expected to wrap up by June 2015, with 65 staff members from DEPI and Parks Victoria moving from their existing Henna Street offices. 

Dr Napthine, who is also South West Coast MP, worked as a vet for the DEPI antecedent Department of Agriculture in the 1970s and ’80s.

“I was based in Hamilton but would often work at the Henna Street offices in the 1980s,” the Premier said. “Even then, it was a bit cramped so this development will provide a lot more room to move.”

Archaeologists have uncovered layers of old dwellings under the former Beaurepaires site, which was established next to the Catholic Church hall in the mid 1950s.

Terra Culture project archaeologist Jarrod MacCulloch was commissioned to undertake a detailed survey of the site and his research will ensure some elements will be preserved.

“There’s been some unexpected surprises, including what we believe to be the foundations of an old stables,” Mr MacCulloch said. “The base of a domestic building has also been found. It could date back to the 1880s, possibly even the 1870s when Warrnambool was quite a new town.”

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