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Eight Incredible Ways to Experience Victoria's Surf Coast on Your Next Coastal Road Trip

Don't let the name fool you — there are plenty of ways to experience the Surf Coast that go beyond the world-class beaches.
By Hudson Brown
March 21, 2022
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By Hudson Brown
March 21, 2022
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in partnership with

The Great Ocean Road existing on Melbourne's doorstep means exploring the Surf Coast's endless supply of natural wonders is incredibly easy. Stretching from Torquay to Lorne and into lush inland valleys, this coastal region, and the start of the Great Ocean Road, is home to an array of world-class activities that makes a road trip there a hugely rewarding experience.

Whether you prefer surfing some of the world's best breaks, sampling locally produced gin or appreciating the region's booming creative scene, you may find it difficult to know where to begin in this part of the world. We've teamed up with our Victorian road trip partner RACV to bring you a selection of incredible ways to experience the Surf Coast.

And don't forget — if you're planning on having a drink, make sure there's a designated driver to keep you safe on your travels.

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Visit Victoria

EXPLORE THE RAINFOREST

Surrounded by the Great Otway National Park, the Surf Coast is easily within reach of some of Australia's most lush rainforest. There are several waterfalls tucked deep within the ferns and gullies, with perhaps the most impressive being Erskine Falls. Rising 30 metres above the rainforest floor, this towering landmark is one of the highest and most dramatic natural features in the region. If you're up for a challenge, the 7.5-kilometre Erskine River Track leads back to Lorne along the river, and passes Straw Falls and Splitter Falls along the way.

In a hurry? A 90-minute drive along the winding roads presents an even more exhilarating destination. Otway Fly Treetop Adventures is Victoria's premier ziplining experience, and sees thrill-seekers soar through the canopy of the Otway Ranges. For a slightly less heart-pounding adventure, wander the 600-metre-long elevated walkway wedged right between the tree branches.

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Visit Victoria

CATCH A WAVE AT BELLS BEACH — OR SEE IT FROM ABOVE

Bells Beach is the most internationally recognisable shoreline in Victoria, having hosted the world-famous Rip Curl Pro surfing event continuously since 1961. However, you don't have to join the pro circuit to take part in the action, with the beach's famous breaks easily accessible between the towns of Torquay and Jan Juc.

Once you've finished carving up the waves, you can roam along the soaring clifftops to soak up the views. Consider tackling a section of the 44-kilometre Surf Coast Walk — the 3.2-kilometre Bells Track from Bird Rock to Bells Beach offers striking coastal views and close encounters with native wildlife.

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Hand picking strawberry from vine

Duyet Le (Unsplash)

GO STRAWBERRY PICKING

Nibble on a freshly picked punnet of strawberries while you explore Victoria's most stunning stretch of coastline. Situated on 90 acres of picturesque farmland along the road from Geelong to Torquay, the family-owned Surf Coast Strawberry Fields allows families and friends to hunt for the tastiest berries available.

The warmer months of the year are the ideal time to get involved, too, with the main picking season running from November to April. After you've finished searching the fields for these natural sweet treats, head to the on-site ice cream bar or stock up on farm-fresh goods, including strawberry preserves, honey and rhubarb.

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Supplied

SAMPLE LOCAL GIN

Robust landscapes can be seen along the Surf Coast in every direction, but you can experience how this floral vegetation tastes when it's distilled down by the experts at Great Ocean Road Gin. Taking inspiration from its idyllic surroundings, the distillery's range of tipples showcases a host of local ingredients, from coastal tea tree and river mint to kelp and lemon gum.

With the distillery offering a tasting room, a gin garden, and a sit-down eatery serving South East Asian mains and share plates, this is a must-visit spot for both gin-ophiles and the gin-curious.

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ENJOY LIVE MUSIC AND PUB GRUB

Housed in a renovated beach shack opposite the Anglesea River, Last One Inn offers an irresistible combination of live tunes and pub grub with a South American twist. Here you'll find live acts and DJs lighting up the place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, with a rotating soundtrack of house, techno, funk and disco.

Accompanying this musical odyssey is a rousing menu of small plates like fried baby calamari with curry leaf and burnt lemon aioli, and spiced quince-glazed pork pincho skewers with a zingy slaw and seeded mustard dressing. Bigger options include a beautifully messy cheeseburger and pan-seared local snapper with a cashew and dill ajo blanco, burnt butter and baby zucchini. With daily happy hours from 3–5pm, Last One Inn should be your first (and maybe last) stop for a drink and a boogie against the fading light.

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Merinda Kelly – Citizen Archaeologies, 2017-18. Tinted recycled perspex and reclaimed objects, LED lights

DISCOVER THE LOCAL ART SCENE

The art scene is thriving along the coastline, with an array of independent art galleries highlighting the top creative talent in their respective communities. On the outskirts of Lorne, Qdos Fine Arts is one of the most significant creative spaces in the region, featuring a striking gallery, a laidback cafe and an enchanting sculpture park.

If you're planning on exploring the Surf Coast in the coming months, time your visit with the upcoming Lorne Sculpture Biennale. Running from March 12 to April 3, the outdoor exhibition will showcase the work of 16 artists across 16 distinct spaces, with works responding to themes exploring the diverse history of the area as well as the beauty of its natural environment.

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Somi Jaiswal (Unsplash)

PERUSE THE TORQUAY COWRIE MARKET

Community markets are the ideal place to find the pulse of a small town. Held on the third Sunday of the month from September to April, Torquay Cowrie Market is outstanding for road trippers who love art, craft, fashion and vintage goods that come with a sustainable edge.

As you wander the stalls overlooking Zeally Bay, you'll be tempted by a diverse mix of tantalising flavours. There's also a load of delicious paddock-to-table produce and preserves waiting to be sampled. Hang around for local musical talent and live performers that take to the stage throughout the day.

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UNWIND IN STYLE AT RACV TORQUAY RESORT

Every unforgettable road trip needs a great place to rest your head. During your tour of the Surf Coast, RACV Torquay Resort offers your adventuring spirit the perfect spot to recuperate. Whether you join a tranquil yoga class, unwind with a rejuvenating sauna session or treat yourself to a trip to the luxurious day spa, there are plenty of ways to unwind at this beautiful property.

Featuring sweeping views of the coast, the RACV Torquay Resort also has a range of family-friendly activities that'll keep any little ones entertained, including playgrounds and games rooms. Plus, there's an 18-hole golf course should you want to tackle the links. Book your stay, dine in style and place yourself within touching distance of the region's top destinations.

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Planning a road trip? Get RACV Emergency Roadside Assistance before you head off.

Top image: Mark Chew, Visit Victoria

Published on March 21, 2022 by Hudson Brown
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