The first European settlers to the Torquay district were squatters who took up land after the town of Geelong was established. The first licences were issued from July 1838 by Captain Foster Fyans the Police magistrate and Crown Lands Commissioner for the Portland Bay area. During the 1840s Gundry and Tait families held pastures licences around Jan Juc. Early squatters of the region include:

John StokesSport HallPueblaConnewarre
Elias & Silas HardingSouth BeachSalt Water CreakConnewarre
Elias HardingMount PleasantGrantJan Juc
William NeilSouth BeachPoint AddisPoint Addis
Henry TaitSpring Station or Tooyoung-a-warreSpring CreekJan Juc
Joseph GundryIron Bark Ranges or Forest Station or, Bark StationJan Juc
Robert ZeallySouth Beach or Burt-buc-quar-yupTorquay

These men set out with a horse and some stock to find suitable land near fresh water where they cleared the land and built fences to contain the stock. They arrived with their wives and children or with other family members to help establish the properties and work the land. It was an isolated and lonely existence; many prospered, others did not.

The district was proclaimed the County of Grant in 1853 with an area of 1,834 square miles. Names used prior to this date varied. When Crown Land was made available for sale squatters purchased land under pre-emptive right.

The map of Elias Harding’s Mt Pleasant 640 acres pre-emptive right property shows a hut and a woolshed on the west side with a garden area beside the Jan Juc Creek and a large dam across it nearer the entrance. The map indicates the sand hummocks along the coastline. A report which accompanied Harding’s claim described his buildings and improvements as a three-roomed cottage and wool shed and a dam across the creek. Two paddocks of ten acres had post and rail fences and a further paddock was enclosed with a brushwood fence.

Hand drawn map showing pre-emptive rights land of Stokes on Thompsons Creek and Zealley on south beach
PROV Pastoral Runs
Land granted to Elias Harding under pre-emptive right at Jan Juc
PROV Pastoral Runs

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