3 - 14 APRIL 2012
It’s where rolling hills meet rocking Antarctic swells from the Southern Ocean. A series of imposing red-cliffed bays with righthand reef/points dot the Torquay area, and when the mercury plummets the surf climbs. (As big as it gets in winter, it’s still half the size of what lies around the corner between Cape Nelson and Cape Otway). The power-pocket lies in the top 1/3 of the wave, thus Bells rarely barrels top-to-bottom: it presents a high-speed offshore wall
In 1946, frozen-limbed locals opened the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club but it wasn’t until Greg Noll and his US friends put on a surfing demonstration out front of the clubhouse, a decade later, when surfing really took off in these parts. Peter Troy and Joe Sweeney caught the disease and spread it around Torquay’s neighbouring bays like a gonorrhoea epidemic. The area boomed, around an annual Easter surfing contest, and the wave became a Station Of The Cross for domestic and foreign wave worshippers.
A new breed of kids like Nic Muscroft, transplant Adam Robertson, Tim Wrench.
Those who’ve attacked the Bells Bowl in completely new ways over the decades have included; Joe Sweeney, Rob Conneeley, Nat Young, Michael Peterson, Maurice Cole, Mark Richards, Tom Carroll, Greg Brown, Cheyne Horan, Nick Wood, Richie Collins, Sunny Garcia, Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson and Taj Burrow..
Rip Curl, it’s their local break. Bells Beach is the very reason this company exists. The event is not only for company founders Doug Warbrick and Brian Singer to pay homage to this fact, but also to show the world the perfect wave down the road. They’ve backed the event for 34 years, the longest-running pro contest on Earth. The sponsors are loved by crowd and competitors for the huge parties and music festivals that coincide.
Head to Johanna, a few eyeball-popping hours down the Great Ocean Road - these crunchy beachbreaks never go flat. Go to Melbourne and ride a tram, or simply dress in Black like the rest of the city’s cosmo inhabitants. Or you can forget all about these things and go directly to the dubious dairy-based theme park called ‘Cheeseworld’. No-one we know has ever been there but everyone’s seen the signs.
Bells is 5km out of Torquay, where the temperature in the windy bay is five-seasons-in-one-day. At dawn you’ll turn up in beanies and ugg-boots (which originated in Torquay), by noon you’ll be sporting a singlet and shorts, by evening you’ll be so confused you’ll be wearing a mink coat and g-string combo. It’s Easter time, celebrate the resurrection of Christ with a chocolate egg and a case of Victoria Bitter and join the happy crowd on the beach.