Having never surfed in this area of the world when the opportunity came along to do a quick trip to explore a part of The Great Ocean Road I jumped on it. The main draw for me was the chance to surf the famous Bells Beach, the site of the longest running surf contest in the world, a classic right hand point break that we have all been watching videos of since forever. What we found along the road was much more.
Kate and I got a late flight from our home on the Gold Coast down to Melbourne, squeezed the boards into the back of the hire car and headed to The RACV resort in Torquay. We had decided to do the few days we had down here in luxury and this hotel is very comfortable, only about 7km from Bells Beach and has a great view of the ocean making the surf very easy to check in the morning. The Surf forecast was not looking great for our time on The Great Ocean Road with howling onshore winds and about 8ft of wind swell.
To say the least I was very excited to surf Bells, I dragged Kate out of bed before sunrise and I could see from the balcony that the forecast was completely wrong and it was looking very clean with a sweet looking small swell pushing in. I drove perhaps a little fast to the beach that morning.
I always like it when you arrive at a place that you have seen so many times before in videos and films and you finally get to see everything there with your own eyes, you can say things like ‘oh I thought the beach would be bigger’ or ‘no way that wave looks even better in real life.’
Running down the famous steps was pretty cool. The surf was loads of fun, often when I’ve watched Bells in live broadcasts it can often look a little fat and a little uncooperative but I found it to be a playful, long and easy to surf. I didn’t want to get out I was enjoying myself so much eventually however the cold seeped through my very holey wetsuit and the wind began to pick up.
When the surf bums out as the onshore wind picks up and your hands and feet are numb from the cold (I know Australia is supposed to be hot, was a little bit of a surprise how chilly it is in winter in Victoria), we all need to find something to do for the afternoon. The Surf World Torquay is one of the largest surfing museums in the world and I was a little dubious as to how much I would enjoy it but this place has got loads of really interesting artefacts.
The Surf World is as you would expect very much focused on the history of surfing in Australia, we spent a couple of hours exploring the various displays and exhibitions with my personal favourite being the famous thruster that Simon Anderson won The Bells Beach Classic on in 1981 and changing surfing forever.
Interesting as The Surf World was we could feel the pub calling. We hit The Great Ocean Road and began to journey west. Our next stop was just off of the road called Aireys Pub. With a very welcoming open fire, comfy sofas and some tasty food.
Possibly the best thing about Aireys Pub is that they have a microbrewery attached producing some fine ales and stouts. Ask for the tasting paddle so you can sample four different beers and apparently still be below the drink driving limit. The vegetable lasagne did help to soak up some of the beers though.
The drive along The Great Ocean Road is truly breathtaking even on a windy rainy day such as we had, the scenery is stunning and when driving along we could see that there are so many potential surf spots I wish I could have spent a week traveling what we covered in just two days.
That night we stayed at Chris’s Beacon Point located just outside of Apollo Bay, situated high on the hill overlooking the ocean, the views from our balcony was beautiful. We had dinner in Chris’s restaurant, the food was top notch with a huge selection of wine and beer. When traveling in this area its worth coming here just to check out the view.
Unfortunately the weather and surf the following morning was terrible so we decided to go for a drive and venture inland to see if we could find anything entertaining to do before heading back to Melbourne that evening. We decided to check out the Otway Fly Treetop Walk. An impressive metal structure constructed so you can walk along right in the canopy of the rainforest. It is fairly high off of the ground and it scared the crap out of Kate. If you are interested in trees and vegetation and would like to get a bird’s eye view then this is the place for you. After some afternoon tea we decided the best thing to do would be to go to a different pub.
Forest Brewery was where we decided to stop off on our way back to Melbourne. A small pub with a microbrewery attached again we had a tasting paddle sampling a few of the in season beers. This is popular hang out with mountain bikers who after a ride around the local trails pop into the Forest Brewery for a couple of schooners.
A very welcoming place with a good vibe, they have a massive window from the inside of the pub into the brewery so you can watch the next batch of beers being brewed. The owners were very friendly and sat down to have a chat and talk us through the various beers on offer. We had a kangaroo salad which was a first for me and wasn’t without its charms.
It was a little reluctantly that we headed back to Melbourne to catch the flight home. The only bad thing about our visit to The Great Ocean Road was it was nowhere near long enough.
For more information about visitor attractions in the area visit www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au
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