Australia is one of the world’s great surfing nations. Being home to so many incredible surfing spots has caused this sport to knit its way deep into our culture. You would be hard pressed to spend a weekend on the coast without seeing someone in the water chasing the next break.
Surfing in Australia doesn’t get much better than along Victoria’s coastline (despite the cold water). Between Warrnambool and Torquay, the Great Ocean Road winds its way along the “shipwreck coast”, where over 600 ships are known to have sunk. While the rocky shore and large waves were once considered deadly by those sailing supplies into the port of Melbourne, these conditions are now favoured by surfers seeking the perfect wave.
Surfing in Apollo Bay at the start of the Great Ocean Walk
Along this stunning route the small township of Apollo Bay is situated less than an hours drive from Lorne, nestled between the Otway Ranges and the seas of Bass Strait. This is also the starting point for the Great Ocean Walk, which continues 104km, or 6-8 days walk, through ever changing and unique environments, finishing at the world renowned 12 Apostles. There aren’t many trails with a more spectacular array of daily views or epic ending point.
Beginner surfers in Apollo Bay
While surfing at this end of the walk is limited to the very experienced, Apollo Bay happens to be the perfect spot for beginner surfers to learn the art of wave riding. Those with a board and wetsuit can jump in for free, straight off the picturesque golden beach framed by rolling hills. Those who do not have the equipment or skills and book surfing lessons or hire gear through Apollo Bay Surf and Kayak.
The best part about this town is that when your arms are tired of paddling, your legs can carry you along the stunning Great Ocean Walk. The first campsite is located half a day’s hike from the town at Eliot Ridge, nestled in the Great Otway Rainforest where you can fall asleep to the sound of rustling leaves and waves breaking on the rock platforms below. Alternatively, Walk91 offers packages for those wanting to complete all or sections of the walk but don’t want to deal with the often confusing logistics of planning, or would prefer a bed and four walls over a tent on the ground. These can include accommodation, catering and even transport; providing the perfect hassle free getaway.
Surfing near Castle Cove
This distinctively special walk winds its way along the coast, passing some of the locally favoured surf spots. The first of these is Castle Cove. This is an incredibly scenic spot accessible from both the Castle Cove Lookout and Great Ocean Walk. The sandy beach is bordered by cliffs, the continually evolving nature of these cliffs has left a scattering of large rocks on the edges of the beach. Out to sea, the area is dubiously protected by underwater reefs, probably providing a false sense of security more than anything (other than perhaps some epic surfing waves).
Surfing and Camping near Johanna Beach
Not far from here is Johanna Beach. While at first this beach may appear more swimmer-friendly than many of the rocky locations passed earlier, these waters should be left to the more experienced surfer. It very quickly becomes deep, causing Johanna to be renowned for dangerously brutal shore break and ripping currents. Johanna has a great drive-in campsite and Great Ocean Walk hike-in campsite, but you do have to book so make sure you do this well in advance.
Surfing in Port Campbell
Port Campbell is a popular spot for surfers travelling along the Great Ocean Road, and is the first town after the finish of the Great Ocean Walk. The breaks here are located just beyond the pier and sometimes even allow surfers to ride all the way into the bay. This long ride makes Port Campbell especially great for intermediate surfers looking to practice as much as they can on each wave.
While hiking with a surfboard is quite impractical (but not impossible!), perhaps it should be more seriously considered by those visiting the area as neither sport should be missed when making your visit! As another alternative, balance both by taking advantage of the services provided by friendly locals. Surfing lessons allow those new to the sport to learn some tips and tricks for getting to their feet and Great Ocean Walk packages allow you to experience the beauty of the place in comfort (and maybe even an opportunity to scout out the surf spots).
That’s all we have time for today. We hope we’ve helped you add one or two surf spots to your bucket list and we look forward to welcoming you to Victoria’s incredible coastline in the near future. If you’re looking for more than just surfing, check out our range of Great Ocean Walk tours, and please get in touch if you have any questions. Your grand Victoria adventure awaits!