Surfing at Bells Beach

Surfing at Bells Beach

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 04/22/2016

Reading time: 3 mins

If you find yourself travelling to Phillip Island, stop off at Bells Beach in Torquay along the way.

This quaint town is known for its beautiful surfing beaches, and Bells Beach is the cream of the crop.

Set 80 minutes from Melbourne, this stretch of shoreline is rocky with a collection of reef swells just below the cliffs. Here, you’ll find tonnes of pro surfers and amateurs looking to up their game, as it is considered the “surf capital” of Australia. This is partly because of the great waves, but mainly because it is the location of the Rip Curl Pro, a popular international surfing championship that takes place at Easter time every year.

The beach itself is named after John Cavert Bell, who was a member of the first pastoral family back in the 1840s. Today, the beach and the coastal area surrounding it is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.

Surfing at Bells Beach

The most popular activity by far at Bells Beach is surfing. Whether you’re a pro on the waves or have never touched a surfboard in your life, the atmosphere here is incredible, with numerous surfers to watch and lots of water-based activities going on.

High cliffs surrounding the beach give it an amphitheatre feel, and the large swells that come in from the Southern Ocean are best reserved for the more experienced surfers. That’s not to say you can’t watch and marvel at their skills from the shoreline or the shallows.

In fact, the strong swells make it ideal for experienced surfers to really work their magic on the waves, which is exactly what happens at the Rip Curl Pro competition every year, which sees hundreds of surfers descend on the beach from all over the world.

Surfing has long been a tradition of Bells Beach, and the history of it spans back as far as 1939, when surfers from Torquay made their way there. At the time, however, access was difficult, as the red clay cliffs proved to be a barrier.

But, in 1960, Olympic wrestler Joe Sweeney and a group of Torquay surfers made it their mission to change that. They hired a bulldozer and cleared a road along the cliff that descended right down onto the beach. When it was complete, Sweeney charged surfers one pound to use it, and the track now forms part of the Torquay to Anglesea walking track.

The waves are best enjoyed here between March and October, when they’re guaranteed to be performing at their best.

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.