A dramatic start to the Great Ocean Road, the Surf Coast stretches across the lands of the Wadawurrung and Eastern Maar peoples from Torquay through Anglesea and Aireys Inlet to Lorne. As the name suggests, surfing rules here, and there’s no better place in Victoria to catch a wave. But you don’t have to be a thrill-seeker or an expert with a wetsuit to make the most of the stunning scenery and foodie pleasures.
Surf with the pros
Torquay is the national home of surfing, host to the world-class Rip Curl Pro surfing competition each year. Bells Beach and Jan Juc are the real deal for experienced surfers, and towering cliffs provide perfect outlooks for enthusiasts to catch the action. Buff up on your surfing knowledge at the National Surfing Museum, or sign up for a learn-to-surf class.
The waves can get big down here but the coast is dotted with protected sandy beaches that are safe for family swimming. Kick off your shoes on a beach walk, head for a snorkel, dip in for a paddle or clamber across rock pools with the kids. Grab your fishing rod and see what bites from the pier at Lorne.
Walk or cycle the 44-kilometre stretch of the Surf Coast Walk between Torquay and Lorne. Break this sweeping trail up into smaller parts or do it in reverse. Get moving high above the beach on rocky cliffs and through coastal heathland, and look out for the Split Point Lighthouse at Aireys Inlet.
Inland from Lorne the Great Otway National park rises up above the coast. Tackle short or long, easy or challenging walks through rainforest canopy and giant ferns. The undulating trails are worth it to discover cascading waterfalls and spectacular rocky viewpoints out to the Southern Ocean.
Local tastes and tipples
Taste what’s local with expert Spanish tapas at MoVida in Lorne and small-batch craft gin at Great Ocean Road Gin in Aireys Inlet. Refresh with a pint of craft beer from Bells Beach Brewing. Add an inland jaunt to Birregurra for exquisite regional dining at award-winning Brae. Wherever you are, be sure to unwrap a beachside parcel of fish and chips as the sun goes down.