The Little Bell

In 1922 the Jan Juc community decided to change the name of their township. Wynd (1992) notes it is unclear on why there was a need but there are suggestions that “drunken brawls at local wine cellars had given the area a bad name and lowered land values. Harry Rose, who was trying to sell property, is said to be the instigator of the petition to change the name.” A competition for a new name was held, a final six were chosen. Joseph Gundry chaired a meeting of residents in March 1922 where a ballot was held and the name “Bellbrae” was declared the winner by a large majority. The ratepayer’s petition went to Barrabool Shire Council and the new town Gazetted in September that same year.

The name Bellbrae was chosen in honour of John Calvert Bell, of “Addiscot” where he had lived for many years and ‘brae’ meaning “hill or hillside; slope”. The new name was the suggestion of Mrs Emma Bone (nee Rau).

In appreciation for the new name, John Calvert Bell who died in 1937, had a brooch custom made for Emma and her two sisters. This brooch has been handed down from Sophia Hunt (nee Rau), sister of Emma to Lorraine Jeffery.

The little bell has the word “Brae” engraved on it.


Celebrating Florence Rosser

Its international Women’s day and we remember and celebrate Florence Rosser…..that’s her in the middle with her children…Florence, who was married to local fisherman Felix Rosser,  was one of the earliest settlers in Torquay and was active in community affairs. In 1896 she joined the lobby for a school to be built in town by sending petitions to the Education Department. In 1900 the first school was opened in the T.I.A Hall and Alice, Myrtle and Arthur Rosser were among the first pupils.  Florence Rosser served on the early Torquay School Boards.  Her 4th son Harold  who was born in Torquay and a pupil of the new school  was killed in France in 1918 shortly before the end of the war. Florence grieved this loss all her life. She is a woman in our history worth celebrating today


The launch of the Geelong Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience was held this morning for invited guests. It was a wonderful experience being immersed in Australia’s First World War story.  contributed in a small way to the local information exhibited.

This travelling exhibition which is now in Geelong brings to life an infant Australia still finding its feet on the eve of war. It follows in the footsteps of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses throughout the campaign, including a commemoration of Australia’s century of service in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

Driven by more than 200 artefacts from the Australian War Memorial, the Experience also integrates interactive environments and special effects to tell Australia’s story in new and engaging ways. Well worth a visit, entry is free but tickets must be booked online.

When:             Daily from 21 February 2017 to 27 February 2017   09:00 AM – 06:00 PM

Where:           Geelong Arena, 110 Victoria St, North Geelong VIC 3215

Costs:              Free





100 Year Price Family Album found

A Christmas present was a piece of gold for Torquay/Geelong. It contained photos of Col. John Longville Price. We are currently working through the album to identify who the people photographed are. Here are some of the eighty one photos from the album.

Coffee Anyone?

We came across this photo recently which the owner tells us was a house called “Loch Lomond “circa 1930’s in Torquay . It was built by Geelong Architect Iliffe Gordon Anderson. The owner of the picture knew nothing more other than it was just “off the  Esplanade”

We did some digging around, looking at some old maps and title documents, and rate books  and found that it was actually built in Gilbert Street and sat just where Tapas Cafe is now.

It is great to be able to piece together the  story of our main street, photos like this are real gems.

You will notice among the trees and behind the fence Mr Anderson seems to be looking as us wondering what we are up to!

Now to ascertain if Anderson Street is named after him.

I wonder if he was a member of the T.I.A?Gilbert Street, Torquay, House, Anderson .

Torquay 130 Years

History Week, Torquay

History 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.

Torquay History, Exhibition, History Week


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 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, Hawaii, 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 Tokyo 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 .

Torquay Olympics, Surfing, History

It was 40 years ago!

Torquay Pub Burns Down

On 4th July 1976, Torquay residents 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.

Torquay Pub Fire, Torquay HistoryTorquay Pub, Fire, Torquay HistoryTorquay Pub, Fire, Torquay HistoryTorquay Pub Fire, Torquay History


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