‘Everyone has some relationship with the ocean’


I moved to the Surf Coast (Torquay to Lorne along the Great Ocean Road) in 2013. It is the traditional home of the Wadawurrung, Gulidjan and Gadubanud nations. Being Victorian and close to Melbourne (Torquay is 100km south west of the city) we’re all a bit snobby about food and coffee but it’s incredible how much it’s improved. There would not have been much to praise 10 years ago!

Two spots in Torquay making sandwiches to the next level. Mortadeli makes a meatball sandwich that you could easily share. Gooleys makes a shredded chicken breast roll with lettuce, chips and aioli. They are both near the Esplanade so you can walk down to look at the ocean with your delicious sandwich.

Torquay has two exceptional contemporary Australian restaurants. The Kyn makes great cocktails and the tasting menu is around $70. They have takeout containers if you can’t get through. Try not to go crazy on the fresh focaccia as a starter so you can enjoy the Turkish “beef ravioli” (manti) and preserved ocean trout. He is always busy; hustle-bustle vibe but they can keep you out in a booth for a date.

Samesyn is moody and intimate; more of a food-centric experience. It’s focused on low waste and the tasting menu is under $100.

Green spaces

The Surf Coast walk is 44km and starts at Point Impossible and ends at Fairhaven beach. I love walking back 6.5km from Jan Juc to Bells beach. There are many views, interesting vegetation and bright orange clay cliffs. I also love going from Urquhart Bluff to Split Point Lighthouse. It’s about 12km back but I’ll divert to the Lighthouse Tea Rooms in the morning or Aireys pub in the evening. Dogs are allowed on leads on the Surf Coast walk – my dog ​​loves it! Bring your swimmers for a dip in the ocean along the way.

Cozy Corner in Torquay is where my seven year old son goes surfing because it is protected from big swells. If you follow the track further around, in less than a kilometer you are on the crashing surfing side.

Point Addis is very popular between Torquay and Anglesea. Pack your icebox and take the boards or just splash around and swim. It is a surf beach but usually not too wild. It has a special presence because it feels isolated even though it is close to home.


The Torquay hotel is a live music venue with bands and DJs – the full gamut. They get teenagers to people in their 50s enjoying the lineups. There is also the Sound Doctor in the Anglesea Memorial Hall which was started by a local doctor and hosts low country music, mellow stuff and a bit of rock. Some of the concerts sell out in minutes!

Bird Rock in Jan Juc is a small bar with DJs and super local vibes. The food is delicious so it’s a nice place to park yourself for the night. In Anglesea there is an old house turned venue called Last One In with live music and the occasional DJ. It is on the Great Ocean Road overlooking a beautiful lake and bushland. They also have good hours with $10 margaritas.

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The old Lorraine theater has been in operation since 1937, which is quite impressive, and has film screenings. They bought the staff of the Golden Age to register the cinema, which is a coup for a small town. They make great school holiday programs like The Goonies. I took my son to see it (and he probably enjoyed it more than he did). Every time they show a surf documentary, they sell out the 550 seat theater.

Lorraine theater was recently bought by the people who opened The Clam restaurant next door. People worry about the horror but, on the other hand, there wasn’t much of a night life in Lorne before. The Clam serves fresh seafood and hosts live music including Japanese psych, country, folk, punk and First Nations gigs. On Monday nights there is a community market with more music and usually dancing too.

The Clam and Lorne Theaters are closed for the winter and will reopen in the spring.


Surfing is embedded in the culture here; everyone has some relationship with the ocean. Bells beach is one of Australia’s most famous surfing spots and the Bells Beach Pro has been held every Easter since the early 1960s. Surfers call May the “Magic of May” as the winter swell kicks in and the waves are usually good until October.

For a glimpse of it all, head down to the Bells for some eavesdropping and pick up some new surf natives. It is a beautiful place to watch the surf as the cliffs form a huge amphitheater. If it’s a big wave day, everyone goes; it’s a peanut gallery of people watching people surf. Vans and utegos are parked with surfers talking to each other in the parking lot while peeling off their wetsuits.


Torquay has seen a lot of new development in recent years but Anglesea is surrounded by national parks and has a lovely village feel; as are Aireys Inlet and Lorne. Le Comptoir is a small all day restaurant in Aireys Inlet. It’s like entering somewhere in France. The employees are so friendly and there is delicious charcuterie and cheese. I like to go alone with a book.

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Thorquay’s Saturday farmers market has excellent produce and is the heart of the Torquay community. It’s a real cross section of people and everyone hangs out, chats and sits on the grass with coffee or gozleme. There is great bread, huge spring rolls – bigger than a Chiko roll! – delicious, preserved chilli oil and the venison man. But food items though…you can’t buy tea cosies or anything.

Indie bookshops are dying so we are lucky to have three of them on the thriving Surf Coast: Torquay Books, Great Escape Books in Aireys Inlet and Lorne Books. They cater to everyone from newborns to grandparents and travelers who come in for the Great Ocean Road map.


The Sunnymead hotel in Aireys Inlet (from $120 in low season) has mid-century design. They’ve spruced up the decor and there’s also a new spa, with a glass-ceilinged bathroom and four-piece bath tubs, so you can hire them and sip champagne while you sip and chat with friends. They do cocktails by the pool on weekends in the summer.

Anglesea Family Caravan Park has cute cabins on the beach (campsites from $58 and cabins from $161). Wood paneling inside; real 70s vibe.

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