Local News

The Fascinating History Of Place Names On Victoria’s Surf Coast

The Surf Coast has long been known as one of Australia’s most popular holiday destinations.

Now, the population of our local areas is swelling as sea and tree changers are drawn to live permanently close to our gorgeous beaches, bushland and towns.

But what’s the story behind the unique names of our towns and localities? We take a look.


View from Point Danger, looking towards the Torquay surf beach — Photo from Wikipedia

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Surf Coast town of Torquay takes its name from the popular seaside town of Torquay in Devon, England. One of our area’s early settlers, James Follett, who originally hailed from the southern county suggested the name some time after his arrival in 1871 and it became official in 1892. Before then, Torquay was known as Spring Creek (after the creek) and was also recorded as being called Puebla (a girl’s name which means “the town” in Spanish) in the 1882 Victorian Municipal Directory.


We wonder if Anglesea would ever have reached its current glamorous heights if it kept its former name of Swampy Creek. Fortunately, it was renamed Anglesea River in 1884, before settling on it’s official name, Anglesea, in 1950. Like Torquay, Anglesea takes its name from the Welsh Island of Anglesey.

Aireys Inlet

Indigenous people called the area known as Aireys Inlet “Managwhawz”. The town’s current name is in honour of John Moore Cole Airey, who was an officer in the Royal Navy and the elected member for Port Phillip in the New South Wales Legislative Council. He was also one of the area’s early European settlers, arriving on the Surf Coast in 1842.

Jan Juc

According to the Torquay Historical Society, Jan Juc comes from the Aboriginal word “jan jook”, referring to the ironbark trees that were originally found in the area.

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“Bell” is a common name in the area. But did you know that Bellbrae was originally known as Jan Juc? In the 1850s, Joseph Gundy and William Bell (who also owned land at Bell’s Beach) were some of the first settlers to buy land in the area. However, the name Bellbrae doesn’t appear to relate to William Bell. Instead, in 1923 a competition was held to rename the village because people mistakenly believed the name of Jan Juc had German origins and in the post-war period this was unpopular. A woman named Emma Bone won the competition, for her suggestion to name it “Bellbrae” in honour of the prominent family of John Calvert Bell of nearby Addiscot.


The town of Lorne was originally known as “Louttit Bay”. It was named after a sea captain, Captain Louittit, who went to the aid of a shipwreck in the bay and helped rescue its cargo. In 1871, the town was renamed Lorne, after Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise, married the Marquess of Lorne. Louttit Bay retains its original name.

Bell’s Beach

The name of this iconic surfing mecca can be traced back to the mid-19th century. William Bell, a councillor and mayor from Geelong, bought a package of land in the area in 1864, which was later acquired by D C Lewis. In 1899, right before the turn of the century, the land was sold to John Calvert Bell (remember him from Bellbrae?). Surprisingly, there’s no relation between the two Bells. Bell’s Beach started to become a surfing hub in the late 1940s and you can read all about it in our article here.

Bells Beach hosting the Rip Curl Pro 2019 — Photo from Wikipedia

Want more?

That’s the story behind some of the interesting names in our local area. If you know more we’d love to hear from you.

Otherwise, if you want your own slice of Surf Coast magic? Call me today.