Torquay | Jan Juc | Bells Beach - The Home of Surfing

History

Before white settlement in the Torquay area the Wathaurong aborigines lived in the area. From as early as 1860 picnickers were visiting the area around Torquay from Geelong and Melbourne. In 1871 the area was finally settled and was known as Spring Creek, after the nearby creek. By 1880 more people had come to live in the area and in 1892, Spring Creek became Torquay. It was called after a town on the seaside in England and a post office was opened in 1894.

The coastline here proved a disaster to ships due to the reefs and rocks hidden by the water. A ship was wrecked here in 1891, Joseph H Scammell a sailing ship, whose anchors can be seen at the beach and the boat ramps.

A bridge was built in 1903 that allowed travel to Anglesea, which is now the closest city.

In the 1970's houses developed at Jan Juc the next beach around Rocky Point. The area was initially part of a farming grant.

There has long been a conflict over housing developments in the area as many locals don't want to see any more apartment blocks.

Bells Beach

Since 1939 surfers have made the once hazardous trip to bells Beach from Torquay riding along the cliff tops on motorbikes. It was mostly abandoned until the late 1950's due to accessibility. In 1960 a keen local surfer and a former Olympic wrestler named Joe Sweeney cleared the way for a road by hiring a bulldozer to make a track that is now part of the Anglesea to Torquay walking track.

Early Victorians to surf here included Joe Sweeney, Peter Troy and George Smith, known as Ming, who in 1961 won the first surfing contest held here. By 1963 surfers were coming to Bells from all over the country to contest and fight the surf.

Bells Beach is Australia's only surfing reserve recognised by the government.

Jan Juc

The surf life saving club was started in 1963 and recues approximately 30 people each year. Housing developments began here in the 1970's and now connect with housing at Torquay.

Torquay

A lot of the township of Torquay is built on what was farming and grazing land. Zeally Point to the east of the town centre was named after a local grazier who lived in the area from 1851.

The surf life saving club here was begun in 1945 and has been in continuous operation since guarding the beach and saving swimmers and surfers. The club was burnt down in 1971 and has been in the current building since then. The club has been the host for many national, state and international surf club competitions since its inception. The beach at Torquay saw the first demonstration of a Malibu board in Australia in 1956.

The surf life saving club here is the oldest club in Victoria and at one stage there were over 140 bathing huts on the beach for swimmers. It has been a very popular spot with families for a very long time.