Emma first heard about Victoria's top surf spot Torquay as a student in Norway. She had learnt to surf on icy Scandi shores but swapped her homeland Sweden, and its passion for winter sports, for study in Melbourne and trips to the Surf Coast with the uni surf group. One glimpse of Barwon Heads' Thirteenth Beach and, you guessed it, Emma's never looked back.

Nearby Torquay is now Emma's home, happy place, and host to her sustainable swimwear company U&I Label, which she co-founded seven years ago. As a business-owner, partner to Felix and busy Mum to son Hendrix, she still finds time to fit in a cheeky surf or catch-up with the girls out on the water or at a local cafe.

Here Emma shares six special places to visit, in and around Torquay.

1. Torquay Foreshore and Front Beach

Emma loves this family hangout by the sea with open spaces, play areas and beachfront camping. It's a nice, safe spot for kids to play and her top tip is to bring the skateboard down. There are heaps of good restaurants and cafes on offer too – anything from fish tacos to tapas – she reckons there's something for everyone.

2. Fisho's

One of those restaurants is Fisho's, where you can grab fish and chips, poke bowls, share plates and more. Before Fisho's came to town, dining out on great fresh fish by the sea wasn't so easy, Emma remembers. Now the locals are pretty happy that they can get a fish taco or fish burrito, on their doorstep – wild caught and locally sourced, thanks to Fisho's.

3. The Salty Dog Cafe

Perfect for a beachside brekkie or lazy lunch on Torquay Beach. Bring your fur babies and treat them to their own canine-friendly menu, while you all lap up the sea views. It's an ideal morning stop off for your coffee fix before a leg stretch along the beach or esplanade with your pet pooch. Not a bad spot to check emails overlooking the ocean either, suggests Emma.

4. Bells Beach Brewing

If you need to curb a post-surf thirst or just sink some Torquay-based award-winning brews, then Emma recommends Bells Beach Brewing. Canny car engineers Adam and Jono, with fellow founder Jeff, have come a long way from making home brew to serving surf-inspired craft beer from their own brewery and taproom (there's one in nearby Geelong too). Well worth a Great Ocean Road pitstop to knock back a prize-winning Hells Bells XPA or Birdrock Brown.

5. Bells Beach

Emma heads to Bells Beach on the Great Ocean Road all the time, she says, and when you can hit a legendary point break surf beach right in your 'backyard' why wouldn't you? For Emma, it's a top surf spot but also an important creative source. The stories of U&I Label and the company's swimwear designs are inspired by the surf coast and have a strong connection to the sea. 'The coastline of the surf coast and down the Great Ocean Road is really raw, I find. It's a very powerful ocean and, to me at least, it's extremely inviting – that rawness and cold, rugged coastline,' Emma explains.

6. Rip Curl Pro

Well, it is the surf coast after all! And as Emma reminds us, Torquay is the pinnacle of the Australian surfing industry – 'Quiksilver and Rip Curl were both founded here'. The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach started in the '60s and is competitive surfing's longest running event. 'It's a really fun time of the year… you get to watch your fave surfers in action. It's pretty special,' she says.

7. Soul surfers

Surf is Torquay's identity, and it just wouldn't be the same if it wasn't for the coast's world-class waves, according to Emma. It's also a lifestyle and she is most proud of building on women's surf culture along the Surf Coast: 'We've been doing quite a few women's-only surf catchups. Getting girls driving down from Melbourne to join us, who might not have any surf mates. Then they make friends within this group, and we see them flourish. It's really cool.'


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