Addiscot Homestead at Bells Beach originally the site of a small cottage belonging to Edward Brown Addis the commissioner of crown lands, was the home for 40 years of John Calvert Bell and his family. It is situated on rural sloping land dominated by Ironbark trees and with a view of the ocean to the east.

The Parish plan of 1864 shows that William Bell purchased allotment 19, 349 acres of the coastal allotment. Bell acquired adjoining allotments 21C and D and then allotments 22, 26 and 27 in 1870 and 1872 totaling some 3000 acres.

William Bell had arrived in Geelong in 1843 and was a storekeeper before becoming Mayor in 1860 and 1862.

The estate had several early owners and was expanded and divided several times, by 1889 Bell had sold some of the land to Joseph H Grey who is noted to have had some 3000 acres including the homestead. That same year, Joseph Grey, a partner in the legal firm of Taylor, Buckland and Gates was also Mayor of Geelong.

Bell family on beach
Photo: Chris Barr

In 1899 Grey sold 1800 acres to D. Cyril. Lewis and a portion of this was leased to J. Gardner Mack. By 1903 this combination of Lewis, with Mack as the lessee had increased the land holdings considerably. In addition to allotment 19 with the homestead and they acquired neighbouring allotment 21. Is it interesting to note that Mack is listed in the rate books as lessee of 700 acres of coastal land including the stretch of beach we now know as Bells Beach. This private reservation of the coastal land appears to be contradictory to the government policy that all foreshore land between Point Roadknight and Point Lonsdale be set aside as Ocean park reserves.

Early in the new century, John Calvert Bell purchased from D.Cyril Lewis 5000 acres including the lease of the 700 acres of the coastal reserve. He moved his family and second wife there and began considerable renovations and extensions to the cottage undertaken by Architectural firm Laird and Buchan from Geelong.

In 1914 Australia was in the grip of the great drought, the most severe ever experienced, and times were very tough for farmers. In that year JC Bell offered his property for auction. The homestead and surrounding farmland were described in the auction notice as “Outside of its intrinsic value as a grazing and farming property, a purchaser should take into consideration that in years to come these Ocean frontages must have a big residential value.”

Addiscot 2
Photo: Chris Barr

The homestead of the property was on 2300 acres divided into paddocks and well fenced. The homestead was described as being protected by a belt of eucalypts having 6 rooms as well as a kitchen and bathrooms etc, and buildings included a ten stall stable, a buggy house and a chaff house as well as a manager’s cottage close by. It appears that the auction did not go ahead as J.C. Bell continued to reside there until he died in 1937. Since the death of JC Bell, there have been five owners of the homestead – they were Murphy, McNaughton, Parker and Barr.

The Coastal reserve land once owned by William Bell and by John Calvert Bell for almost 40 years was purchased from the crown in 1926. It was bequeathed to Mary Kathleen Alexander Bell on the death of her father and in 1966 the Shire of Barrabool established a committee of management for the Bells reserve. It acquired 42 acres from the Addiscot Pastoral company to construct a road from Bones road to Jarosite road and thus provide access to Bells Beach. This road replaced the track to Bells built by early surfers.