Because it’s right at the start of Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, about 80 minutes’ drive from Melbourne’s CBD, many people drive right past Torquay in their excitement to get started. But consider getting in your rental car and spending a day checking it out. You can simply loll on its epic arc of sand, but that would be a waste. Here are all the things to do in Torquay.
Torquay is probably best known for Bells Beach, located on the edge of town. Each Easter, it’s where the world’s best surfers come to compete in the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Any other time of year, you’ll still get to witness plenty of wave action off the point. Even if you don’t surf, spend some time sitting on the bluff and watching how it’s done.
No board? No problem. You can go for a swim at Torquay Front Beach, where the water is calmer. Point Impossible, a 10-minute drive away in your rental car, is another lovely spot, but a stretch of it is clothing optional. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
There’s also the chance to give surfing a try. Most people manage to stand up during one of Torquay Surf Academy’s two-hour lessons. It’s also the spot to hire a board if you haven’t brought one on your travels.
Wondering if there’s anywhere nearby to observe marine life? On a calm day, head to Point Danger Marine Sanctuary with your mask and snorkel. The limestone reef and seaweed forests are renowned for their diverse population of sea slugs, but you might also see weedy sea dragons, eagle rays, crayfish, and dolphins.
Be sure to bring along a pair of walking shoes, as well as your swimsuit and boardies. You’ll spot a path near Torquay Front Beach marking the start of the Surf Coast Walk. It goes all the way to Aireys Inlet, 44km away, but initially set out for Jan Juc, about 5km away, and enjoy the bush and ocean setting. During winter (June to October) stop at any of the lookouts and check for migrating southern right whales – they often come to within 100m of the shore.
This is the epicentre of board riding in Victoria (some would say the whole country), so it’s no surprise that Torquay is home to the Australian National Surfing Museum. It holds more than a century of local surfing history, from the evolution of the surfboard to the artefacts and memorabilia that reflect the culture. In the same complex, you’ll also find surf stores from Oakley, Rip Curl, Roxy, and others.
If you’re looking for adventure, book a scenic flight with Tiger Moth World at Torquay Airport. Strap into a vintage World War II open-cockpit biplane and take off along the coast for spectacular views of beaches, cliffs, and lighthouses. Book the one-hour flight, and you’ll go all the way to the 12 Apostles!
It’s not authentic Vietnamese food, but the offerings served at Pholklore, a local favourite, are great. Plus, it’s right on the beach and the views of the ocean, especially as the sun’s going down, are the bomb. Another oceanfront gem is Bomboras Torquay, which serves crowd-pleasers all day and into the night.
A good cafe often isn’t that hard to find, but Pond is a cut above most. Pulled pork tacos are a particular menu favourite, but there are also plenty of options for vegetarians. Oh, and the coffee is from Seven Seeds in Melbourne, so you know it’ll be good.
One of the best ways to enjoy lunch in Torquay though is to get some fish and chips – Fisho’s Torquay also has fancier options like fish tacos, poke bowls and seasonal specials, all sourced locally and sustainably – and take them down to the beach where there’s a swathe of lawn for spreading out, picnic style.
There’s plenty to explore around Torquay, too. Geelong, Victoria’s second-largest city, is only a half-hour drive from Torquay. It has a great art gallery, a waterfront that includes a historical carousel and enclosed sea baths, and a thriving food scene, especially around Little Malop Street.
Also on Torquay’s doorstep is the Bellarine Peninsula. Hit the Bellarine Taste Trail to visit olive groves, cheese makers and lots more. The region is also highly regarded for its cool-climate winemaking. Some wineries have cellar doors while others also have amazing eateries. If you’re short on time, head to Terindah Estate, Scotchmans Hill or Yes, Said the Seal, adjacent to the Flying Brick Cider House. Just remember to nominate a designated driver before going wine tasting.
The Bellarine is also paradise for golfers – there are six courses to play – and has a smattering of seaside villages, like Ocean Grove and Portarlington, to explore.