Although the Gold Coast might be the heart of the surf industry in Australia, and Sydney the epitome of city surfing life, Bells Beach in Victoria is the spiritual home of the sport. Home of renowned wetsuit brand Rip Curl, as well as one of the longest running professional contests in surfing, this iconic point break located in Torquay is one of the most famous waves in the world—let alone in Australia. But although Bells gets the majority of Victoria’s media coverage, it is only one of many historical and world-class waves in the region. Between the quality and consistency of the surf and the cultural diversity of Melbourne, Victoria is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience surfing Down Under.
The Surf: Victoria is famous for its long righthand points, but also contains beach breaks, reefs, and even a few big wave bombies. For the most part, however, this should be considered an intermediate surf zone.
Five Waves Worth Surfing:
- Bells Beach: A permanent fixture on the world tour and the setting for many pivotal moments in surf history (Simon Anderson unveiled his thruster here in dramatic fashion in 1981), the long, semi-fat walls of Bells Beach will forever be close to our hearts—even if a better point break lies a few short miles away.
- Winkipop: Bells’ less famous but more shapely neighbor, Winki is a rippable righthand point with endless walls and occasional barrel sections.
- Jan Juc: The most accessible quality beach break in Torquay, Jan Juc is a good option when the swell is a bit small for the area’s points.
- Johanna Beach: Best known as a back up venue for the Bells contest, Johanna is another good option when the point breaks in Torquay are lacking swell.
- Mornington Peninsula: A wave-rich region strewn with beach breaks and reefs, Mornington Peninsula is a good option for those looking to surf Victoria but avoid the scene and crowds in Torquay.
The Water: It has been suggested that Victoria is the Northern California of Australia, which means that—outside of major cities—the water is clean, cold, and sharky. Average surface temps in Torquay range from 55–64 F (13–18 C).
The Season: Victoria’s main surf season stretches from March through August.
The Vibe: Torquay is a veritable surf city, and the points in the area can get very crowded. Outside of this region, lineups are typically pretty empty—and the tight-lipped locals want them to remain that way.
Things To Do: Melbourne has a great art scene and is a cultural melting pot (which means lots of great ethnic food). The Great Ocean Road is just begging to be driven, and the Twelve Apostles make for some of the best roadside scenery in the southern hemisphere.
Where To Stay: You’ll have no problem finding hotels, hostels, and other backpacker lodging in major surfing centers such as Torquay, or in the capital city of Melbourne.
What To Bring: A shortboard and a step-up. A 3/2mm wetsuit in summer and a 4/3 with booties in winter. A suitcase full of knit hats and long johns and other warm clothing. A caravan or combi van, as the Great Ocean Road is a classic road trip destination.
Getting There: Melbourne International Airport is the main gateway into Victoria, and is located a short 1.5 hours from Torquay. Australia visas should be obtained online prior to arrival. Airport code: MLB.