Australia's Surf Capital & the start of the Great Ocean Road

Marking the start of the Surf Coast and the beginning of the Great Ocean Road is Torquay, Australia’s surf capital and the home of Australian surfing.

Rip Curl, Quick Silver and Ugg Boots were all born here. Each year, tens of thousands of people head down to the world-famous Bells Beach on the outskirts of town to watch the best surfers on the planet battle it out in the Rip Curl Pro World Surfing Championships, which is the longest continuously held surfing competition on the planet.

Torquay comes across as a pretty laid back and relaxed place but due to many of the worlds biggest surf companies having their HQ here and being less than 1.5 hours from one of the largest cities in the country, there’s still a huge amount of activity here alongside cash and influence from the big smoke. It’s not just the surfers and backpackers that are attracted to Torquay, but also a popular spot for the rich and famous due to the incredible views and surroundings that includes the pristine beaches, then much different terrain nearby when you head inland to the Great Otway National Park.

Growlers Torquay
Torquay Furphy Sign

Getting to Torquay & the Surf Coast

Torquay is about 1.15 hours directly from Melbourne and around 25kms directly south of Geelong.

Melbourne is right inside Port Phillip Bay at the northern end. Geelong is in the south-west of the bay. Torquay is outside of Port Phillip Bay where the waves are. So rather than being inside the bay, if you were to swim south from here, you’d eventually reach Tasmania (in about 300kms).

It’s an easy free-way drive to get to Torquay or catch a train to Geelong and bus from there, otherwise there are shuttle bus services and surf tours that go to Torquay most days.

Choosing the best beach in Torquay; waves & clothing are optional

Torquay sits right on the ocean with multiple pristine golden sand beaches bordering the entire south and west of the town.

The swell, waves and option of clothing vary dramatically, so it’s best to have an idea about which sort of beach you’re looking for and chose wisely.

Right up in the north-east corner at the very tip of Torquay is Point Impossible, which is a nudist beach. Everywhere in Torquay south of this beach requires some clothing.

Heading south from Point Impossible, the swell is small and there are almost no waves at any of the beaches until you reach the Torquay Surf Beach.
Fishermans Beach and Front Beach which is just next to the Torquay foreshore are all suitable for families and kids due to the ocean being calm here most of the time, there’s also a lot of area to picnic in the shade and plenty of shops/cafes nearby.

Beaches in Torquay

Beaches with bigger swell near Torquay

Best beaches in Torquay for surfing

Torquay Surf Beach is pretty much the only beach in Torquay that has regular and decent waves rolling in for beginner surfers.

All of the other beaches face the east and are protected from the winds and weather that normally come from south-west, where-as the Surf Beach faces south.

If you’re looking for bigger waves, head to Jan Juc Beach which is about a five-ten minute walk or a short drive to the west of the Torquay Surf Beach. Cross Spring Creek (there’s a pedestrian bridge or just walk along the beach and head up to Rocky Point, then just keep heading west. Jan Juc can pretty hectic, but if you’re wanting to step it up even another notch, drive west for a few minutes along the Great Ocean Road and head down to Bells Beach or South Side Beach.

Carrying surfboards at Torquay 637
Surfers on Torquay beach
Surfing at Torquay Beach

Where to rent a surfboard and wetsuit from

You can rent a fibreglass surfboard (hard) or soft board from the Torquay Surf Academy right in the middle of town on the south side, then walk through the caravan and camping park to the Torquay Surf Beach or even Jan Jac.

If you’re a beginner and Torquay is a bit busy for you, head east to Ocean Grove. The surf shop on the hill in the middle of town will get you sorted. Depending on if you have a car, you could also rent a board and drive east or west as there are beaches for miles.

Torquay Surf Academy

Head in either direction from Torquay to find many more pristine beaches

Carrying surfboards at Janjuc Torquay 637

If Point Impossible beach wasn’t private enough, there’s another nudist beach to the south of Torquay, about 5 kilometres past Bells Beach between South Side Beach and Point Addis.

Heading north, once you’re past the nudist beach, there’s Breamlea Beach which is also quite calm, but just past here is 13th Beach, which is super treacherous and rough before it calms down again dramatically at Ocean Grove. 13th Beach is one of the most popular beaches for experienced and pro surfers in the country & Ocean Grove is another great beginers beach.

As soon as you cross Spring Creek on the south-west side of the Torquay Surf Beach to Rocky Point, you’re no longer in Torquay and have entered Jan Juc. Jan Juc Beach is gorgeous beach, although it’s only wise to head into the water here if you’re a strong swimmer or half-decent surfer as it’s much rougher than the beaches in Torquay. Other than Bells and Jan Juc, the surf beaches continue for well over 100 kms to the west.

Don't miss out on the Surf Factory Outlets at Surf City

Due to a lot of surf companies having their head quarters in Torquay, there are dozens of surf factory outlets where you can find some heavily discounted new gear.

You’ll be able to find anything, from cheap wetsuits and surfboards, to snorkeling gear, second hand boards and clothing.

If you’re heading into Torquay on the Surf Coast Highway from Geelong or Melbourne, you can’t miss Surf City as you enter town. Just look for the huge Rip Curl sign.

Rip Curl at Surf City Torquay
Surf City Torquay

A brief history of Torquay, Victoria

On the western side of Torquay is Spring Creek and people have been traveling there and to the beaches that east of Torquay since the 1860’s. It’s been a popular tourist destination for over 150 years.

Originally, the land was occupied by the Wathaurong Aborigines, which were a tribe of indigenous people that lived here for thousands of years. The British arrived in the late 1700’s and killed most indigenous people in the area throughout the early 1800’s.

When gold was found nearby in 1851, huge numbers of people rushed to Melbourne and hiked out to Ballarat to seek their fortune. Torquay and the beaches nearby were quickly known as the most beautiful in the region and people started to travel to the area to take a break from prospecting. A British man called James Follet settled in the area in the early 1870’s. In 1892, just 2 years before the Post Office was opened, the area at the time known as Spring Creek and semi-officially named Puebla in 1882 had the official name given to it which was referring back to James Follett’s home town, Torquay.