Jan Juc & Bellbrae
Despite its close proximity to the more famous Torquay name, Jan Juc maintains a very distinctive, and if you ask locals, more exclusive Surf Coast rep; a by-product of its tiny size, bushland outlook and dramatic rugged beauty. Surf is the key drawcard here, closely followed by nature enthusiasts seeking a quieter pace of life.
Once upon a time, behind the soaring cliffs overhanging Jan Juc beach, a scattering of humble beach shacks adorned the bushy scrub to Bells Beach. Land values have sky-rocketed since then, climbing higher with ocean proximity. Knock down rebuilds are replacing much of the original housing stock while renovations bring mod-cons and contemporary coastal facades to existing dwellings.
One of the most incredible walks you can take across the entire Geelong, Bellarine and Surf Coast region is low tide from “Steps” to Jan Juc beach. With an eye to the rising tide as cliff tops tower above and slightly wonky boulders tremble underfoot, it’s a race against the clock adventure. At journey’s end you may juxtapose your insignificance against the imposing and enduring landscape over a coffee or something harder at local institution Swell. This big picture perspective makes for a cruisy lifestyle in Jan Juc.
Adjoining Swell is a rather odd little assortment of businesses and a car park, right near the beach. It’s fair to say the pub lacks atmosphere, but is fun enough when a nail biting AFL match beams in, or you require access to a lucky shop.
Bird Rock caters to the younger demographic, a new local family run pizza place is winning accolades. The milk bar, health and medical practice and pathology collection point are added conveniences. Torquay supermarkets and shops are a short drive away.
There’s still the odd holiday house around here. But overwhelmingly this is a residential neighbourhood dominated by owner-occupiers. Rental accommodation is as rare as hen’s teeth, commanding premium prices relative to the rest of the region.
Most local kids in ‘Juc’ go to Bellbrae Primary School in the rural hamlet of the same name less than a ten-minute drive away. Here you’ll find a collection of hobby farms bordered by more serious rural holdings. Torquay schools are also close by. The Freshwater Creek Steiner School is a twelve minute drive away. For train commuters, toss a coin before heading to either Waurn Ponds or Marshall station. Both are twenty-minutes away with decent parking available, but only during peak hour.
Anglesea Rd with direct access to the Geelong Ring Road is the best bet for drivers. It’s an hour twenty away assuming zero traffic to contend with. Most would depart Jun Juc around 6am or earlier to avoid the most horrendous elements of peak hour traffic. This may not be early enough. If you’re bound for Melbourne’s CBD, the train wins every time.
The beach is a constant source of pleasure and recreation. Extensive walking tracks provide options for runners and mountain bikers alike. The Jan Juc cricket clubrooms and oval is located at Bob Pettit Reserve, also home to great BBQ/ picnic facilities, basketball courts, tennis courts, kids playground and the Jan Juc pre-school offering three and four year old kinder programs. You’ll find various yoga, pilates and group exercise offerings across town once you settle in.
Over the years development has slowly crept west and uphill with large homes on small to average blocks competing for ocean glimpses. To the dismay of locals, future development is set to kick off right across the Great Ocean Road from Jan Juc as part of the Spring Creek Development. Christian College, a popular private secondary option for surf coast locals, will house a campus here along with supermarket shopping and residential housing. It will be interesting to see if this new ‘hood breaks with the Torquay naming convention and adopts a Jan Juc North moniker over time.