Bells Beach history
Bells Beach is in Wadawurrung country. The Wadawurrung people lived inland areas such as Lake Modewarre and Lake Colac and the coast which provided resources like shellfish, ochre and Yam Daisy tubers.
Permanent European settlement in Wadawurrung country started in the 1830s and Bells Beach and 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, 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.
Future plans and works at Bells
Scheduled works include changes to the pathway leading down to the old timber lookout at Winki, and the updating of fencing and bollards within the main parking areas.
The Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Coastal Management Plan(PDF, 3MB) guides management of the reserve. Council created this plan, with the help of the community that loves the reserve, with a vision to respect and protect the natural environment, indigenous heritage and surfing culture of Bells Beach.
The Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Implementation Plan 2015-2018(PDF, 7MB) outlines works and actions through 2018. The plan also contains useful documents such as the Events Policy, Sign Style Guide and Park Furniture Style Guide.
Australian National Surfing Museum
Rip Curl Planet Day
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)
If you'd like a response from us, please give us your email address (we won't use it for anything else)