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Best beaches: Bells Beach, Vic

Thursday, May 28, 2009
Jason Dundas and Jules Lund checked out four of Victoria's beaches in Getaway's look at some of the best in Australia.

Bells Beach

Named after the family that took up a pastoral run in the 1840s, Bells Beach is the home of the world's longest running surfing competition: the Rip Curl Pro Surf & Music Festival. It was first held in 1961 and every year since at Easter. If conditions aren't suitable it is transferred to whichever nearby beach offers better breaks.

Located 100km south-west of Melbourne, on the Great Ocean Road, Bells is geared for surfing. Its right-hand waves attract the world's best surfers. They arrive loaded with boards, just as they have since the 1930s. Access was difficult until surfer and Olympic wrestler Joe Sweeney bulldozed a road along the Bells cliff from the old Cobb & Co road. He charged £1 per surfer to recover his expenses.

Surf World in nearby Torquay is recognised by the International Surfing Association as one of the most significant centres of world surfing heritage. It is the world's largest surfing and beach culture museum and houses the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame.

There are many manufacturers and retailers of surfing-related goods lining the main highway through Torquay. The largest concentration is at Surf City Plaza, so between riding the waves you can check out the very latest in surfing gear from all the well-known manufacturers.


In contrast to Bells, which has massive surfing waves and not a lot of swimming, Sorrento is a classic seaside suburb. The sleepy little town is just an hour south of Melbourne and has been a holiday spot for Melburnians since the 1870s.

The Sorrento Pier was built in 1870 and steamships arrived there with holiday-makers until 1942. These days ferries to and from Queenscliff use the pier and it's the starting point for sight-seeing tours.

Most of the town's attractions are within walking distance and there are many fine local limestone buildings with great character. There are hotels, sidewalk cafes, restaurants, galleries, boutiques and specialist shops. The gentle front beach is perfect for a picnic, strolling, swimming or dolphin-watching. The back beach on the Bass Strait side of the peninsula offers surf-pounding action. Other Sorrento amusements include golfing, bushwalking, sailing, diving, fishing and boating.

Beautiful and colourful little beach huts line the bay, and despite their size, one will cost almost as much as a house!

Sorrento Beach Motel has 19 brightly coloured units just 400m from the village. It suits all budgets with standard, deluxe and spa rooms. There is a barbecue area, room to park your boat and a unit with disabled access.

The Continental Hotel is a grand old limestone building. Built in 1875, it once boasted being the only place in town with hot and cold water and refrigeration. The four-storey building has been a key player in Sorrento's history and has kept up with the times. It has a restaurant, bars and nightclubs, enormous windows and art, culture and music play a big part in daily activities.

Their backpacker accommodation is comfortable and affordable.

St Kilda

St Kilda Beach is a 10-minute tram ride from Melbourne's CBD. Even locals admit it's not the best looking beach around, but it has loads of personality.

St Kilda is a trendy area with cafes and restaurants lining Fitzroy and Acland streets and Luna Park for a bit of fun. Running the loop around the bay is popular with locals — in fact Jules often sees James Brayshaw, former cricketer and host of the AFL Footy Show, when pounding the pavement.

They occasionally meet for a chat and cold beer at Riva St Kilda which Jules reckons is the best restaurant in Melbourne. It has big round tables perfect for groups of friends, excellent food and overlooks the St Kilda Marina on one side and the beach on the other.

Phillip Island

Apart from being a huge drawcard for its race track, Phillip Island has wonderful natural beauty. Just two hours from Melbourne, Woolamai Beach is on the island's south-eastern tip and has one of the top surf breaks in the country. The sandy beach is the longest and most exposed on the island.

Cape Woolamai frames the eastern end of the beach and is the island's highest point. The granite rock looms from the ocean and is criss-crossed with walking tracks. Viewing platforms give fantastic views of the Pinnacles rock formations.

There are masses of wildlife and if you see a ranger you will learn what to keep a look out for. For five months of the year there is a high density of wildlife, and on some days it will be just you and them.

The Big4 at Newhaven is the closest caravan park to Woolamai and has everything you need, from camping areas to deluxe three-bedroom villas.


A selection of Victoria's beaches.


Surf World Torquay entry is $7 for adults and $4.70 for children. Programs are conducted every day between 10am and 3pm. They are closed on Christmas Day.

Sorrento Beach Motel midweek rates are $132 for a standard unit, $152 for deluxe and $175 for a spa unit.

Phillip Island Big4 Caravan Park has unpowered camp sites from $24, powered sites from $29, park cabins from $67, ensuite cabins from $85 and two-bedroom cabins from $107. Prices based on two adults.

Prices correct at May 28, 2009.

For further information

Surf World
Beach Road
Torquay 3228
Ph: (03) 5261 4606
Fax: (03) 5261 4756

Sorrento Beach Motel
780 Melbourne Road
Sorrento 3943
Ph: (03) 5984 1356

Continental Hotel
1-21 Ocean Beach Road
Sorrento 3943
Ph: (03) 5984 2201

Riva St Kilda
St Kilda Marina
42b Marina Parade
Elwood 3184
Ph: (03) 9537 2224

Phillip Island BIG4 Caravan Park
24 Old Bridge Road
Newhaven 3925
Ph: (03) 5956 7227

User comments
I cant believe you missed the beaches of Wilsons Prom - Arguably one of the most popular holiday spots for Victorians and boasting beautiful clean, clear beaches with perfect white sand and amazing scenery. Wilsons Promontory National Park has a wide range of beaches to everyone from suit small children to surfers to sun-bathers! Hopefully The Prom will get a mention in future top beach spots!
Guys, When you were already in Torquay and filming at Bell's, I can't believe you missed the opportunity to visit Point impossible, the best legal clothing optional beach in Victoria, and a regular on the list of best Nude Beaches in Oz (Lonely Planet Blue List). Not only is it a great beach, backed by an environmentally and culturally significant dune system, but unusually for clothing-optional beaches, it is also easily accessible from a car-park just behind the dunes.

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