1851      Bushfires raged from Apollo Bay to Waurn Ponds

The Zealley brothers’ Mount Pleasant station at South Beach, only recently purchased from the Gundry’s, was destroyed. Robert and his nephew George had cautioned two men about the dangers from the campfire they had lit on the property; their reaction was to scatter the burning embers about in all directions setting fire to the grass and brush. In the prevailing conditions the fire spread “with the rapidity of lightening” and burnt Robert’s newly erected house, huts and hurdles to the ground. They lost furniture, household utensils, clothing and money in the blaze. A change of wind took the fire along the coast thus saving Mrs. Tate’s Iron Bark station from sharing the same fate, but the stations of Neale, Stokes and Bowden were all threatened by the flames.          Geelong Advertiser 8/2/1851

1869      In January a fire in the messmate forest and grass tree plains burnt for two days covering Geelong in thick smoke.

1891      The Geelong Advertiser carried a graphic story of how Henry Bubb of Anglesea saved his family and his home from a bushfire which raged along the coast from Jan Juc to Lorne.

At Mt. Duneed fire that started on Andrew White’s property was driven by hot fierce winds, quickly engulfing Mount Duneed. It demolished fencing, trees at the cemetery and property. Mr. Thomas Preston’s house, stables, hay stacks, sheds, buggy and stock were destroyed as was Mr Purdie’s wine cellar filled with wheat.

1898      Anglesea was threatened with complete extinction – the hotel, Anglican Church and a house were destroyed.

1901     Fires swept across the country on February 7th. Locally, the Jan Juc outbreak caused damage to 650 acres of grass and a large quantity of fencing on William Ham’s property. The neighbours had to work hard to save the sheds containing his farming implements. The fire broke out afresh the next morning and cleared out 100 acres of grass in another paddock and came close to a house. Hundreds of sheep were saved through the foresight of two neighbours.  Geelong Advertiser 11/2/1901

1905      Bushfires in the Geelong District burnt eleven thousand acres of grassland. “The most exciting was at Torquay where at one time Tassell’s hotel was threatened. The residents were up all night fighting the flames.”  The Ballarat Star 13/2/1905  The Age reported that one house was threatened by fire five times.

1907      Five rooms of Melba House were damaged by fire. The accommodation was occupied by Mrs. Datson, the fire destroying that part of the house which had not been occupied for a month and was locked up at the time. Mr. Harcombe’s daughter who lived there was awoken at about 12.30am by the smoke. She woke her father who opened the door to the room where the fire was and he quickly closed the door which appeared to contain the fire and helped prevent its spread throughout the building. Geelong Advertiser 6/05/1907

1912     An extensive bush fire raged yesterday in the Anglesea Forest; at Jan Juc, and traversed a wide area of timbered scrubby country- At midday it bore down towards the coast before a strong northerly wind, and fringed the paddocks of Addiscot. The change of wind to the south drove the fire back on its course, and it had died away considerably in the afternoon. When the fire was at its height Cobb and Co.’s passenger coach from Anglesea to Geelong was endangered. The vehicle, drawn by five horses, was under the charge of Driver Petrasson, and carried five passengers. a northerly gust swept the fire practically around the coach, and there was no option but to take the team through the crackling grass tree stumps.   Geelong Advertiser 17/02/1912

1918      Fire destroyed the building belonging to Mr. E. Molyneux, of Autumn Street, Geelong West. The uninsured six room building was leased as a summer residence and shop for the sale of hot water and soft drinks during the summer season. The cause of the fire was a mystery as the place had not been visited for two weeks and was securely locked up.  Geelong Advertiser 2/11/1918

1926      Ball’s store burnt down when it was about to be opened.  Baines, James (1937) History of Torquay

1936      In April Dr. J Cook’s washhouse caught fire destroying it and some sheds, also damaging his car, surgical instruments and stock of chemicals. A bucket brigade was formed by local residents saving the rest of the house and contents.  The Argus (Melbourne) 4/4/1936

1935      Fire Brigade formed with the reel house near the site of waterhole.  Baines, James (1937) History of Torquay

1939      Friday, January 13 became known as Black Friday as bush fires swept through Victoria resulting in 61 deaths. Seven houses were destroyed at North Lorne and there were fires at Moggs Creek and between Aireys Inlet and Anglesea.

1940      Half the Torquay township was burned out by a fire that started at Moriac. Fire-fighters, residents and men of the 2nd Cavalry Division fought the blaze. However the Torquay blaze killed one man, destroyed 57 houses, 2 stores, a bake house, the public hall and a Sunday School.    The Argus, 14/3/1940

c Facebook Great Ocean Road, then and now
c Facebook Great Ocean Road, then and now
c Facebook Great Ocean Road, then and now
c Facebook Great Ocean Road, then and now
c Facebook Great Ocean Road, then and now
c Facebook Great Ocean Road, then and now

1944      In January, heavy property and stock loss resulted from a fire that swept the Mt Duneed district that had its origins near Waurn Ponds. Destroyed were 14 homesteads, 2 cottages, the State School and St. Wilfred’s Church of England. One man died.  The Argus (Melbourne) 17/1/1944

1966      A bushfire at Anglesea, fanned by 40 mph winds destroyed 14 houses, damaged several others and burnt out 1,000 acres of bushland. Two hundred fire-fighters saved the main town area.

1969      At the time of the devastating Lara bushfires, closer to home approximately 9,000 acres were burnt out at Bellbrae, Gnarwarre, Barrabool, Ceres and Waurn Ponds. Acres of crops, miles of fencing and hundreds of sheep and cattle were destroyed.

1970     In the early hours of 9 July 1970 the Torquay Surf Lifesaving club house was destroyed by fire.

s. Pollard (1995) History of Torquay Surf Life Saving Club
s. Pollard (1995) History of Torquay Surf Life Saving Club

1976      Fire guts Torquay Hotel two days after a bomb scare and only hours after an anonymous telephone caller allegedly threatened to set fire to the premises.  Geelong Advertiser 5/7/1976

Fire Guts Torquay Hotel_web

1982      200 holiday-makers fled as fire burned out 44 sites at the Anglesea camping ground destroying 20 caravans, 22 tents, two cars and six trailers.

1983      With Barrabool Shire being declared a drought area the previous September, the area was vulnerable to the wrong set of circumstances. 16th February, Ash Wednesday, resulted in the loss of 68 lives and 2,000 homes in Victoria and South Australia. The coastal area of the Barrabool Shire as devastated. A fire which started near Deans Marsh, fanned by a strong northerly wind swept down the coast towards Lorne then Anglesea. Aires Inlet was destroyed. Houses were destroyed at Anglesea but the flames stopped short of Torquay. Two lives were lost and 723 houses, one church, the historic Bark Hut at Aireys Inlet and three bridges were destroyed.