The Surf Coast is famous among users of boards and seekers of sun and sand, but it’s also a beacon for hikers and cyclists. The Surf Coast Walk runs 47km from Point Impossible to Fairhaven, through Torquay, Anglesea and Aireys Inlet. It is open to walkers and cyclists and is divided into 12 stages of varying lengths and difficulty, and can be walked in sections or end-to-end in a moderate three days.
For easy access, car shuffling (public buses could also be used) and to facilitate inn-to-inn walking, we do the 23.6km from Torquay to Anglesea in a day.
The starting point is the mosaic sundial above Fisherman’s Beach, on Torquay’s foreshore (just east of Darian Rd). Made with 120,000 glass tiles, the work represents dreaming stories of the Wathaurong people and when we stand on Bunjil (the wedge-tailed eagle) our shadow gives a time within five minutes of our smartphone readings.
We wander west along Torquay’s foreshore and through Norfolk Island pines, attention divided between homes and the surfers and stand-up-paddlers riding the waves.
Point Danger, with a view from Port Phillip Heads to Point Addis, marks the beginning of Torquay surf (back) beach, where the Malibu board was first demonstrated in Australia, in 1956. After walking along the foreshore, we follow a curved boardwalk across Spring Creek.
For the next few kilometres the track undulates along sandstone cliffs. Up among twisted moonahs (melaleucas) and green-flowering correas, where pioneer surfers cut through the scrub to ride Bells Beach right-handers. We follow, too, in the footsteps of convict William Buckley, who lived with the Wathaurong people for more than 30 years from 1803 after escaping Sullivan’s Bay (Sorrento) penal camp.
The scrub spits us out at Winki Pop, arguably the coast’s top surfing spot, from where we go down to the main Bells Beach car park. Steep steps drop us on the beach where the longest running surfing competition of the modern era began in 1961 and continues as the annual Easter Rip Curl Pro. After a few metres of beach we climb to a cliff-top lookout with views of Bells Beach and sea reaching to the horizon.
We veer into Great Otway National Park, down through ironbarks to the processing site for a 1920s jarosite mine. Several lookouts further on we get to Point Addis, which we reach via the Point Addis Koori Cultural Walk.
From there we step down to beach and walk a kilometre along damp waterline, trailing pale sand up another hill to begin the 5km run to Anglesea. We enter Anglesea at the Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park, our walk ending in late afternoon sunshine. Go to visitgreatoceanroad.org.au/surfcoastwalk for a map and more details.
If you want to stay in the area, RACV members who book directly with RACV Torquay Resort save up to 25% on accommodation. See racv.com.au/torquay or book on 5261 1600.
Six stages of the Surf Coast Walk are open to bicycles and you can pedal the first 13.8km, from Point Impossible to Bells Beach. Refuel in Torquay, perhaps on scrumptious salt and pepper squid from Growlers, on the foreshore, before wheeling to Bells Beach.
Motorists are spoiled for choice in this part of Victoria. Drive the Great Ocean Road along the fatally handsome coastline where hundreds of ships foundered or cruise the back roads of the Otway Ranges, visiting tumbling waterfalls in lush, leafy rainforest.
For more walks, cycles and drives, see royalauto.com.au.