We returned to Australia by way of Melbourne to get to know the country a bit more and headed out to the Great Ocean Road, the long, scenic, coastal highway on the southern tip of the continent. A spot famous with surfers, beachgoers and backpack explorers, we were a bit late for the season. It was cold, windy and rainy.
But true surfers are rarely deterred and we saw some top level guys out on huge waves along the coast road. We checked out the Surf World Museum in Torquay, original home of Rip Curl and Quicksilver companies and long time host of the Rip Curl Pro Tour competition held for many years at nearby Bells Beach. The museum is one of the best surf museums anywhere and it was awesome.
This surfer artist paints a fictional letter from a kid who ran away to surf on one side and the response from his surfer Dad on the other side of the board. Hilarious. The museum also holds the Surf Hall of Fame, historic moments in surfing, original trophies and old boards and an actual board shaping studio.
They had a great display on the legendary Greg Knoll, one of the original big wave surfers. Dwight did a paper on him many years ago so I had to capture some of the display for him to see. Original signed boards, large action photos–very cool.
Then we visited the legendary Bells Beach where the tournament is held every Easter weekend. We had missed it by about two weeks but the viewing stands were still up on the cliff overlooking the surf break.
We wound along the twisty coast road and found intrepid surfers in the cold, stormy water at Cathedral Rock. Impressive with huge triple overhead waves—very cool to see but Dave wasn’t getting in the water there. A little too big, too cold and too stormy for his liking.
We stayed in an old hotel in Lorne on the cliff overlooking the ocean. When the surfed dropped to nothing the next day, we took a hike up the mountain to the pretty Erskine Falls and creek through a gully of ferns.
The next day, surf still flat, we checked out Australia’s wildlife, seeing parrots, koala bears and kangaroos up close at various spots on our way back to Melbourne. (Thanks to Dave for helping me get some kangaroo action shots–he is taller and could reach over the fence!)