Iconic Australian surf town where the Great Ocean Road really begins
Although Torquay and Bells have been popular coastal towns since the 1860’s, Anglesea (formally known as Swampy Creek) was a bit too tricky to get too and separated from the rest of society by the Anglesea River. The town is named after Anglesey in Wales, but being clever Australians, the word finishes with ‘sea’ as it’s on the coast.
It’s not known if Anglesea itself had a traditional name from the original people of the area. It’s said that some of the Wadawurrung and Eastern Maar people that had occupied the area for tens of thousands of years until European colonisation use to call the Anglesea River ‘Kuarkadorla’, which refers to a fishing spot for catching Mullet.
The Great Ocean Road connects Anglesea with Torquay with quite a direct route, so it’s not that great and there’s not a lot of ocean until you cross the Anglesea River and see Bass Strait up close for the first time.
Only several thousand people live in Anglesea permanently, although the capacity is in the tens of thousands. The population massively grows during summer and of course on the Easter long weekend when the Rip Curl World Championship surfing competition is held at Bells Beach, which is with-in walking distance of the town along the Surf Coast Walk.
Anglesea Surf Beach
Anglesea River Mouth
Swimming & surfing at Anglesea
Anglesea is right in the middle of the Surf Coast, which is Australia’s surfing capital. Almost all of the time, the big waves and swell roll in from the south or west, being pushed in by the Roaring Forties across the Southern Ocean. A lot of the coast in the area faces south and there are loads of coves and bays, generally with the western facing or totally unprotected southern facing parts of the coast that have a reef, rocks or a sand bed off the shore, will get the biggest waves.
Anglesea Surf Beach is ideal for beginner surfers
The town sits on the stunning sandy Anglesea Beach which is usually perfect for beginner surfers with relatively small and gentle waves consistently rolling in. Surfboards and wet suits can be hired (or bought) from the centre of Anglesea, just next to the river, then it’s a short walk to the Anglesea surf beach.
Beginner Surfers can take lessons in Anglesea or head one town over to the east and have a go at the Torquay Surf Beach.
Surfers that have some experience can head just to the south of the Anglesea surf beach, before Point Roadknight to Soapy Rock. On either side of the 700 metre Soapy Rock beach are decent waves for surfing.
If you have young kids and are after a family friendly beach with almost no swell or waves, take a short walk or drive to Point Roadknight which is to the south of Anglesea beach. Point Roadknight creates a barrier that protects the beach just to the north of the point from the harsh weather that comes from the south and west.
Experienced surfers head north of south of Anglesea for big swell
Just to the north of Anglesea, the waves can get humongous. Southside Beach, Bells Beach and Jan Juc Beach are all between Anglesea and Torquay. These three parts of the coast regularly experience waves between 1.5-3 metres with some parts of the coast line occasionally seeing barrelling waves up to 15 metres tall.
Most of the rest of the coastline to the north and east of Torquay, all the way to Port Phillip Bay is somewhat protected and shields the bigger waves other than along 13th Beach in Barwon Heads, which is another place to find world-class waves and surfers.
On the south side of Anglesea is Guvvos Beach, a pristine 4.5km stretch of sand running from east to west with waves along the whole beach. Right up the western end of Guvvos Beach is Urquhart Bluff which is a super popular surfing spot for semi to really experienced surfers.
If you don’t find the waves that you desire at any of these places, just keep driving west along the Great Ocean Road as there are hundreds of surfing spots for the next several hundred kilometres, although some parts of the coast can be a bit too difficult to enter the ocean, especially once you get to places like the 12 Apostles on the Shipwreck Coast.
Fishing at Anglesea
Anglesea is teaming with sea life. The Anglesea River is full of Bream and Mullets, then you’ll find a huge variety of fish and other sea creatures living in the ocean.
Just off the coast of Anglesea and the surrounding coastline is packed with reefs, submerged rocks, caves, tunnels and other ideal underwater habitats for marine life. Plenty of animals call Anglesea home and this then also attracts predators.
If you walk down to the Anglesea beach and walk either direction, you’ll soon find some good places to throw in a line. Here, you’ll find anything from Sharks and Squids to Snapper, Whiting, Salmon, Garfish, Leather Jackets and other creatures that make for some decent fishing.
Surf Fishing is popular on the southern part of town at Point Roadknight, this is also a popular spot for those with smaller rods and there’s easy access to the ocean without touching the beach.
If you’ve got a 4X4 and the conditions are right, there’s a boat ramp on the Point Roadknight beach. From here, head around to Guvvos Beach and drop a line for an abundance of fish. You’ll see the occasional person Surf Fishing at Guvvos.
Heading to Anglesea direct or along the Great Ocean Road via Torquay & Bells
The Great Ocean Road does start in Torquay, but it’s really not that scenic until you reach the coast at Anglesea. If you want the full Great Ocean Road experience, then head to Torquay and Bells Beach before Anglesea, otherwise you can save 15 minutes or so by heading directly for Anglesea from Geelong or Melbourne.
Anglesea is about 1.5 hours direct from the Melbourne city centre, 30 minutes from Geelong or 15 minutes from Torquay.