Cardinia Shire’s Deputy Mayor Cr Brett Owen unveiled the new replacement interpretation plaque for Bowman’s Track on Friday 31 August 2018 on the corner of Janet Bowman Boulevard and O’Neil Road at the O’Neil Road Oval. This year is the 30th anniversary of the opening of the interpretation plaque and way finding markers for Bowman’s track erected in 1988 as part of Australia’s bi-centenary celebrations. This was very meaningful for Cr. Brett Owen, because as a young boy he attended the opening in 1988 with his father Ted Owen who was a Councillor for this area at the time. Cr Brett Owen has worked with Beaconsfield Progress Association to ensure that the interpretation plaque would be replaced and erected on the corner of O’Neil Road Oval. Thanks also to Janene Vurlow who has worked to ensure the excellent design and accuracy of the interpretation plaque.
JANET BOWMAN Boulevard in Beaconsfield, off O’Neil Road is close to the original Bowmans track. Janet Bowman came to Victoria from Scotland in 1840 with her husband David and then to Beaconsfield in the early 1850’s. In 1855 David took up the lease for the title to 200 acres on the Panty Gurn Gurn lease, covering what is now the township of Beaconsfield. Later in the year he was granted a licence for the “Gippsland Hotel” which was known as “Bowman’s Inn”. David and Janet had 6 children and built a homestead believed to be near where Villa Mar now is on O’Neil road.
After her husband died in 1860, this enterprising woman became the licensee for the Hotel, a remarkable achievement for a woman of her time. Even more remarkable and innovative was her achievement of having a track cut through rugged terrain from Beaconsfield into the Yarra Valley linking to the Jordan goldfields. Her 4 sons and some other men worked on the track in 1862. It started behind the Hotel and then travelled east ward to where O’Neil Road is today and then north. The track now has the present day names of Hughenden Road, Telegraph, Split Rock Road, Downey, Bourke’s Creek Road, Paternoster Road and Mt Burnett to Boyd Road, East Beenak to Basan’s corner.
Over time the signs have fallen into disrepair or gone missing. So, now 30 years from the Bicentenary, Cardinia Shire Council are replacing the signs along the track and have made a new interpretation plaque with a map and story of Janet Bowman and the history of the track. You can view the new interpretation sign by parking in the O’Neil Road oval carpark.
Written and researched by Ann Taylor