Deans Marsh

Deans Marsh is a rural village 4 km north of the Otway State Forest and 27 km east of Colac. It is at the junction of the roads from Colac and Winchelsea where they converge southwards to Lorne, on the coastal side of the Otways range. Deans Marsh was probably named after Charles Dean, who held a grazing licence in the area from about 1846.

Surveyed farms were taken up during the early 1860s, and a school was opened in 1865. A store was built in 1868. In the late 1870s Lorne became a popular resort, Erskine House and Lorne Hotel were opened in 1878 and the Deans Marsh hotel was a coach stop on the journey. Within the next 10 years Deans Marsh gained an Anglican church (1884), a public hall and the extension of the railway line from Birregurra (1889). In 1903 it was described in the Australian handbook:

(The coal mine mentioned was a short lived enterprise at Benwirren). During the next 40 years Deans Marsh experienced a mixture of closures and new institutions. The butter factory and the hotel were closed by 1924, but a sports pavilion, Methodist church and motor garage were opened. The railway line closed in 1957.

Deans Marsh has a general store, a hall, a primary school (54 pupils, 2014), an Anglican church and a cafe. There is a commemorative plaque at the cottage where the operatic singer Marjorie Lawrence (1907-79) was born. Deans Marsh is mentioned in Lawrence’s autobiography.

Deans Marsh’s census populations have been:

area census date population
Deans Marsh 1901 111
  1921 273
  1933 296
  1947 309
  1954 351
  1961 335
Deans Marsh and environs 2011 373

Further Reading

E.B. Gregory et al, Coast to country: Winchelsea, a history of the shire, Shire of Winchelsea and Hargreen Publishing Company, 1985

Ron Millard, The history of Deans Marsh, Deans Marsh School Committee, 1975

Ron Millard, Deans Marsh, more about the past, the author, 1989

Ron Millard, The Deans Marsh story: Deans Marsh, Bambra, Boonah, the author, 1985