Grab your surfboard—this famous surfing spot draws serious riders, but it’s great for families, too.
The suburban nook of Torquay, 22 kilometres from Geelong and 100 kilometres from Melbourne, has a low-key, casual vibe. Australia’s oldest surfing capital, it's the start of the Surf Coast and the gateway to the Great Ocean Road. Torquay's front beach is great for families, while nearby surf beaches, such as Jan Juc and Bells Beach, see big swells. There are a couple of excellent caravan parks in town, many of which include beachfront campsites. Torquay is a convenient gateway to Geelong, the Great Ocean Road, and the Bellarine Peninsula, an area rich in wineries and old-fashioned seaside villages.
Set between Torquay and Bells Beach (of Rip Curl Pro surfing championship fame), Jan Juc fronts onto a fabulous surf beach, though surf and conditions are rougher here. From Jan Juc, you can drive to Bells Beach without reconnecting with the Great Ocean Road and also hit nearby Anglesea and Lorne. Don’t miss the area’s spectacular limestone cliffs and rock formations.
This is a perfect place to spend the day before you head south from Torquay, along the Great Ocean Road. Beach walks, historic lighthouses, wineries, and gourmet eateries are in many of the villages on the circuit: Barwon Heads, Ocean Grove, Point Lonsdale. and Queenscliff.
Given Torquay’s large permanent population, the township is well serviced, and you can visit at any time of year. The Bells Beach surf championship takes place around Easter and brings in big crowds, so it’s best to reserve ahead then and in the summer months. Spring and February are great times to visit, as this is when temperatures start to warm.