Where the past meets the present



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Historical information comes from people like you.

These projects tell – and in many cases gather – the stories of people from the Torquay region.

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Torquay 130 Years

rounded_logoHistory Week is a significant event that engages local communities across Victoria. Each year members of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria collaborate to host events that explore aspects of our local history. From talks to exhibitions, tours to online engagement, there is something for everyone.


In Torquay, Museum Without Walls, through our online exhibition, is looking back over the last 130 years since the first land sales in September 1886 of the Puebla township, now known as Torquay. Reflecting on Torquay’s growth is crucial to our understanding of the past’s impact on the present. The influence of the early day trippers, fishermen and holiday makers on the growth of Torquay to the more modern day pioneers of the surfing industry and the crusading to protect Spring Creek from further development.

Visit our exhibition at


Torquay’s Olympic Connections

The names Garrard and Torquay and Olympics go hand in hand and what an amazing connection it is, spanning over 80 years


Dick Garrard (senior) a founding member of the Torquay Surf Club, had one of the longest careers of any wrestler ever. He qualified for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He also representated Australia in 1948 in London and 1952 in Helsinki. He won a silver medal in the 1948 Olympic welterweight freestyle class. He also won three gold medals (1934, 1938, and 1950) and one bronze medal (1954) at the Empire Games (all four in the lightweight freestyle class) and won a gold medal at the Pan-Pacific Games

He was awarded an MBE in 1970 and an OBE in 1976.

After his competition days were over , He became an international judge and referee as well as chairman of the Olympic Wrestling Technical Committee. He was involved with the every Olympics until the 2000 Sydney Olympics (except for the 1980 Moscow Games which he boycotted) as either a judge, referee, section manager, mat chairman, a delegate to the Congrees or simply as a VIP. He was manager of the Australian wrestling team at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

He was and still is the only Australian wrestler to ever contest an Olympic final

Dick( Junior) a long time Torquay local , and member of the TSLC, made his Olympic mark as a rower . He represented  Australia in 1960 in Rome and 1964 in Tokyo. Has had a long connection with the Olympics as a coach. In recent times his expertise has been sought by rowers from around the world . In Sydney  in 2000 he coached a pair of US girls to a silver medals in the double sculls.


The full story of the Garrard’s and the Olympics will be in our next “History Matters “ Magazine


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Photo shows Dick Garrard (snr) 2nd from left  in Berlin 1936 showing visiting German army officers   the Australian Kangaroo mascot at the Olympic Village .


Dick Garrard (jnr)  in the 3 seat second from right  in Tokyo 1964

Torquay’s Olympic Connection

Torquay is the home of Surfing in Australia and has a special Olympic connection. As part of the Melbourne Olympics, an International Surf Carnival was staged at Torquay Surf Beach in early December 1956. Local lifesavers were joined by visitors from California, Hawaiii, Ceylon South Africa and New Zealand for a demonstration events


Special trains left from Flinders Street and entry to the carnival was 5/-. There was high excitement as the famed Duke Kahanamoku had arrived in Melbourne for the Opening ceremony.

The life savers showed their rescue methods and there were boat races but the real show-stopper was provided by a group of American lifeguards who actually stood up on their boards.   One evening as the events were winding down, American Greg Noll is said to have paddled out to the point with a group of his mates on with their shorter lighter boards people came rushing back to the beach saying “ the yanks are surfing ,you oughta see the yanks”   …..Surfing had reached Australia.

Those yanks left most of their equipment for the locals when the carnival was over….and the rest is local surfing history.

Today we hear Surfing will feature at the 2020 Olympics in Tokoyo maybe some of the descendants of those who were at Torquay beach in 1956 will bring a gold medal back home to Torquay.

It would be a great conclusion to a great story .

olympics at torquay

It was 40 years ago!

Torquay Pub Burns Down

On July4th July 1976, Torquay resident s woke on a wintery Sunday morning to learn their much-loved 85-year-old Torquay Hotel had been gutted by fire.

The blaze was reported at 3.30 AM and an eyewitness said that Fire fighters arrived in the early hours of the morning to find the fire well alight. Their work was hampered by the fact that the hotel was locked from the inside    It is believed the fire started in the ladies lounge. Three bars, guest rooms and the managers flat were destroyed


As police picked through the smouldering ruins the following day the town was a buzz with rumours. The Geelong Advertiser reported that there had been a bomb scare at the hotel only days earlier, and also that only hours before the blaze an anonymous caller allegedly threatening to set fire to the premises.

The police refused to be drawn on the cause of the blaze but the CIB and forensic science and arson squads had been called in.

Joe Sweeny, the Captain of the Torquay fire Brigade, was reported as saying that the fire was well alight when his team arrived   and he was not prepared to hazard a guess as to the cause of the blaze. Fire crews from Torquay Anglesea Geelong City and Geelong West attended.

One fireman Ted Duvall from Bellbrae was taken to hospital after a brick wall fell on him.

All that remained after the fire was an overflow guest room wing and the recently built bottle shop. The damage was estimated at almost $2.million


The irony of the fact the old Palace hotel had been saved from the 1940 fires by locals and members of the light horse was not lost on locals. The old Palace Hotel was one of the few building to have survived that terrible fire

It was a sad night for the little town and many long time residents lamented the loss old the old pub, and felt that the new hotel that rose from the ashes never recaptured the charm.

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June Magazine

Published quarterly our magazine ‘HISTORY MATTERS’ is packed full of local history and stories from the district. History Matters is distributed to all members of Torquay Museum Without Walls.

S2016 02 TMWW Magazine Junetep inside our current issue of the magazine featuring stories the Joseph H Scammell shipwreck at Pt. Danger, Pioneers – streets of Torquay, Maie’s Amazing Memorabilia, Mt. Duneed Reserve, Spotlight on Corangamite. Get issue two here:

June Magazine





Sign up and become a member to get a copy of our first issue which focused on our launch in March, Sea View Villa and the Smith family, Torquay Pioneers pt 1, Interrupted lives, and Mt Duneed history. You will also receive automatically future issues of this wonderful magazine.

To become a member of Torquay Museum Without Walls and receive the quarterly magazines simply sign up on line








The wait is almost over….


Corangamite swung back to Labor in 2007 when Darren Cheeseman claimed it with a 6.6% swing. He became only the third Labor candidate to win and the first for over 70 years. When Cheeseman won a second term in 2010 he became the first labor member to win a second term -albeit with the narrowest of margins.

Sarah Henderson, a lawyer, and former television journalist won the seat back for the Liberal party in 2013 with a 4.6 % swing. She has served out her term and will contest the seat again today.

In just hours we will learn what the future hold for Corangamite.

When James Chester Manifold became the very first member for Corangamite the total voters equaled 5415.

When Gratton Wilson, for the free trade party first wrenched it away from the Manifold Protectionist party in 1903 it was with a massive 35.2% swing. James Scullion first won the seat for labor in 1910 with a 29.4 % swing

There were 40,000 voters in the electorate when the Liberal party took hold with Geoffrey Street in 1936.

Corangamite is a big electorate , covering 7000 square kilometres and with the growth in the coastal regions, the areas south of the Barwon and redistribution of boundaries there will 100,000 people casting votes today. By days end we will see who will have the honour of serving the people of Corangamite for the next three years.

No matter who is elected they should remember there is history of dedicated and impressive members over the past 115 years… I wish them luck.



Long serving members

In 1966 Anthony Austin Street began his 18 year career as the member for Corangamite .The son of Geoffrey Street, in the first Fraser ministry he became the Minister for Labour and in Malcolm Fraser’s second term he was Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and he went on to hold a cabinet post as the Minister for Foreign Affairs .

Tony Street was followed by the longest serving member for Corangamite, Stewart McArthur a sheep farmer from Camperdown who held the post for 23 years and served over 10 years as government whip.  He was unseated when, after more than 60 years Corangamite swung back to Labour under Kevin Rudd in 2007.

Photos:  Anthony Austin Street with  young John Howard  at the swearing of of Malcolm Fraser’s  Forth Cabinet

Fergus Stewart McArthur


Tragedy strikes Corangamite

Geoffrey Austin Street won the seat of Corangamite in 1934 for the United Australia Party  and later the liberal party and would serve for the next 6 years.

Street was a war hero,  having been wounded at Gallipoli and going on to serve in Belgium and France .He was awarded the Military Cross. Returning from war he bought a farm in the Western District and took to farming with gusto, becoming a champion sheep breeder and serving on the local council. Somewhat reluctantly recruited to politics by Robert Menzies he was hardworking and intelligent and in 1938 became Minister for Defence and later for the Army and repatriation.

In August Geoffrey Street and 10 other including three members of the Australian Cabinet and the chief of staff were aboard a plane that crashed near Canberra and were killed instantly. This was a severe blow to the government and robbed Corangamite of a popular, mature and loved political leader.


geoffrey Austin Street                                                             Geoffrey Austin Street

Spotlight on Corangamite-a swing back to Labour

Corangamite swung back to the Labour party for the second time when Richard Armstrong Crouch was elected in 1929. Crouch a lawyer and the son of a miner from Ballarat had first served the Parliament in 1901 when at just 32 he was the member for Corio -the youngest member in the house at the time.

Couch had commanded a battalion at Gallipoli and was a wit and a radical who opposed conscription. His political career was short lived and after one term he was defeated and decided to forsake politics for philanthropy travel writing and, as member of the Royal Victorian Historical Society he encouraged Australians to take a greater interest their history.

He is perhaps most remembered for initiating the avenue of busts of Australian Prime Ministers in the gardens at Ballarat and bequeathing funds for maintaining the collection. I wonder how many of the many tourists who visit the beautiful Botanical Gardens in March each year for the Begonia Festival would know that the instigator of the “Prime Ministers walk” was indeed once the member for Corangamite.


Richard Armstrong Crouch  Member for Corangamite 1929-1931


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