Located 1.2hrs from Melbourne, Torquay has long been an Australian favourite surfing road trip destination. Since the 1950’s surfers and their buddies have packed up their wagons and headed off to find the world class waves the area is famous for. But there’s so much more to Torquay than great beaches, it’s a vibrant seaside town with great shopping, great food, great culture. It’s impossible not to have a great weekend in or out of the water.
Torquay is rich in over 100 years of surfing history. And the best place to discover local stories and surfing personalities is at the world’s largest surfing museum – The Australian National Surfing Museum housing the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame.
I was lucky enough to hear some of these stories from Gary – local surfer and museum owner. His mission is to share over 100 years of surfing history in Australia, one that is growing by the day. The hands-on exhibitions allow you to step back in time to some of Australian surfing’s most significant moments and view for yourself the equipment that they rode. It’s impossible to leave without wanting to give surfing a try for yourself.
Nothing makes local stories flow more easily than a few craft beers – and the immersion continued around the corner with a brewery tour at the Bells Beach Brewing Co. Serving up over 8 signature beers (and a number of special releases) inspired by the landscape of Bells Beach and the surf coast – it’s a surfing safari on tap. Founders Jono and Adam set out to make local beer as sort after as the local waves and co-owner and sports photographer Jeff photographed local beaches for the labels. The beers look as iconic as the landscapes themselves.
After the tour it was time to relax in the brewery’s street art flanked courtyard with a Hell’s Bells XPA in one hand and a burger from local food truck Gypsy Burger in the other.
The Hell’s Bells XPA inspired a sunset stop at Bells Beach – home to the world’s longest continuously running pro surfing competition – the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Surfing legends from all over the globe are drawn here by the world-famous waves. Hopefully some of their surfing magic might rub off on me, just in time for my surfing lesson tomorrow!
What better way to welcome in a Sunday of surfing than with a sunrise over Jan Juc beach, only minutes from where I was staying in a family cabin at Jan Juc Caravan Park.
A speciality coffee from local roasters Ocean Grind woke me up, then it was time to stop talking about waves and find them for myself. As a surfing beginner, a lesson with some of the best surfers on the surf coast was the safest place to start. Torquay Surfing Academy’s motto is ‘Real surfers teaching real surfing’ so whether you’re a beginner like me or an experienced surfer looking for some pro tips they have you covered.
Located a two minute walk from the beach it wasn’t long before we had our wetsuits on (supplied), our foam boards in hand (supplied) and were warming up with an on-sand demo at Cosy Corner before it was time to get in the water.
For two hours the surf coaches are in the surf with you, on hand giving you a little extra push when needed. Even I was on my feet in no time! No chance I’ll ever make the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame but I might just have found a new hobby.
Surfing is hungry work so thankfully a vibrant and tasty lunch at Pholklore was only a few hundred metres down the foreshore. Enjoy a mix of delicious street foods and cocktails at this shipping container style Vietnamese restaurant whilst taking in the sunshine and chilled out sea-side vibes.
Then it was time to hit the shops. Surfing icons Rip Curl and Quiksilver were born in Torquay so if surfing is to be my new hobby, it couldn’t be easier to deck myself out. You can’t miss their flagship stores amongst many other surf shops in the Surf City Plaza, they pretty much welcome you as you drive into town.
The hardest bit is leaving Torquay after such a great weekend. With one last walk on Torquay Surf Beach it was time to head back to Melbourne. Until next weekend!
Follow the Princes Highway (M1) from Melbourne to Geelong, then take the Great Ocean Road to Torquay – the start of the Great Ocean Road.
Standing up on a surfboard for the first time.
The guided, personalised tour of The Australian National Surf Museum, inspiring.
Sipping on local beers in the sun surrounded by local street art.
Sunset at one of Australia’s most iconic beaches.
Shopping up a storm.
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawuurung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Ancestors, past present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.