Noted for its breathtaking beaches and known locally as the ‘Surf Coast’ due to the crashing surf that strikes its shores in the autumn, the Great Ocean Road attracts people from all over the world. While there are better known beaches in Sydney and on the Gold Coast, this is serious surf domain, hosting major events at world famous Bells Beach.
This stretch of coast runs for 250kms roughly between Torquay and Allansford, near Warrnambool, and includes numerous stunning beaches. These shores are much less touristed than those of the big Aussie cities, typically attracting tourers of the Great Ocean Road and also hardened surfers.
For Great Ocean Road surfing, the top spot is Bells Beach, playing host to the Rip Curl Pro event. It is just on the outskirts of Torquay, the main gateway and is easily accessible from Melbourne and Geelong. There are many good hotels here and several other beaches, such as Jan Juc and Bancoora Beach. Torquay is also noted for its big name surf stores like Quiksilver and Rip Curl at Surf City Plaza.
The Beaches go all the way down towards Otway National Park from Torquay, with Anglesea, Lorne and Apollo Bay all major stop-offs. Point Roadknight is a must do at Anglesea, along with the Split Point Lightstation farther south at Fairhaven. Great Ocean Road beaches and surfing is more remote between Apollo Bay and Port Campbell, with the road darting inland in places—Johanna Beach is worth the detour.
People come from all over to see the Twelve Apostles along the Port Campbell coast and the road hugs the shore here before going inland towards Warrnambool. There are many sheltered coves with easier waves in between the main surf beaches and good accommodation at Torquay, Warrnambool and Port Fairy.
The best surfing in Victoria is in the autumn, between early March and late May, or around Easter time (especially at Bells). Bear in mind that the water cools significantly after summer in Victoria when beaches are patrolled. All towns have surf schools, lessons and equipment hire.