Bells Beach history
Bells Beach is in Wadawurrung country. The Wadawurrung people lived in inland areas, such as Lake Modewarre and Lake Colac. The coast provided them with resources, such as shellfish, ochre and Yam Daisy tubers.
Permanent European settlement in Wadawurrung country started in the 1830s and Bells Beach and the surrounding land became part of the Mount Pleasant pastoral run.
The reserve is named after the family of John Calvert Bell, who purchased the property in 1905. The Bell family licensed the reserve for grazing until 1940-41.
Surfing came to Bells in the 1940s, but surfers were few until the access track was widened in 1960. The first formal competition was held over Easter in 1962 and continues, now known as the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, as a part of the World Surfing League Tour.
Bells Beach cultural heritage
This short video explores the cultural heritage of the Bells Beach Surfing Recreational Reserve. The video features Corrina Eccles discussing the Wadawurrung history of Bells Beach, and Anthony Hume playing didgeridoo.
The Bells Beach Committee
The Bells Beach Committee helps Council manage the Bells Beach Surfing Reserve and is made up of an impartial chair, representatives of the Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation, representatives of Surfing Victoria, and five community nominees. They meet at least four times each year.
Current works and management
The maintenance and works implementation at Bells is guided by the Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Coastal and Marine Management Plan 2015-2020(PDF, 14MB) . This document sets the management direction for the reserve for the next five years.
Licensed Tour Operators
Commercial tour buses must be licensed to visit Bells and the number of licences is restricted to 8. The buses must seat no more than 24 people. View this link for the current licence operators
Australian National Surfing Museum
Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Integrated Vegetation Management Plan(PDF, 4MB)
Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Flora Species List(PDF, 168KB)
Bells Beach Recreation Reserve Flora and Fauna report 2007(PDF, 3MB)
Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Fauna Survey Results 2015(PDF, 212KB)
Bells Beach Task Force Report to Council October 2015(PDF, 3MB)
Government Gazettes showing reservation of the land, naming and regulations(PDF, 20MB)
Letters from 1964 to 1971 regarding early management of the Reserve(PDF, 3MB)
Map of the management boundaries at Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve(PDF, 3MB)
Rocky Shores of Marine National Parks including Bells values, uses and impacts(PDF, 5MB)
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