Updated: Nov 7
Every traveller you’ve met from Broome to Bonnie Doon has told you it's the place to be. You read about it in all those travel guides and blogs. Heck, you’re even dreaming about it. Torquay is the holy grail of beach towns for backpackers on the south coast.
But what’s it got going for it other than just a nice beach or two? Well nothing really. Unless you love great surf, sickeningly beautiful nature on your doorstep, and cruisy, easy-going beach town vibes.
If that doesn’t sound too unbearable to you, read on to find out how Torquay earns its rep as one of Australia’s best beach towns.
The chilled out surf culture
Torquay is the surfing capital of Australia. I could list all the reasons why, but we’re a little bit more laid back than that around here. All you need to know is that the ability to tell a good yarn is currency, sandy thongs are perfectly acceptable footwear and a smile and a shaka go a long way to making you some new surf buddies. It’s your classic slowed down, friendly beach town but there’s always something going on. Cruise down the Esplanade on your longboard and you’ll see what we mean.
It also helps that the beaches around Torquay are absolutely world class. The town surf beach is perfectly suited to beginners and some surf lessons will get you up and riding that wave in a jiffy. If you’re a pro, you already know about the legendary Bells Beach. Home to the famous Rip Curl Pro competition that brings the best surfers in the world to ride our breaks, it’s Australia’s best surf beach. If you’ve got the skills to hack it, you’ll get serious kudos when you tell people you’ve surfed Bells.
There are cafes, pubs and breweries EVERYWHERE
You will never go hungry or thirsty in Torquay. Whatever you’re looking for, from a cheeky cocktail to a feed of fish and chips, you’ll find it with a side of gorgeous ocean views to boot. But ask a local for their favourite watering hole and you’ll get a different answer every time. You won’t find many of them on the main streets of Torquay either, the best places in town are tucked away in the back streets. You’ve gotta be in the know, ya know? We’ll be sharing all our favourite bars, restaurants and cafes on this blog if you need some pointers (but only if you invite us out for a bevvy!)
Ocean Grind Torquay
One of the best places to while away an arvo in Torquay is at the breweries. Their super cheap happy hours are a godsend for anyone who hasn’t had a paycheck in five months. Plus, those $6 locally brewed pints mean you can save your dollars for surf lessons (or more beers, we’re not judging.)
If it’s a caffeine hit you’re after before you can even think about talking to anyone in the morning, this town bloody loves their coffee. There’s a specialty coffee shop or roastery on just about every corner, and that’s not even counting all the divine cafes that absolutely nail brunch.
Want to see the Great Ocean Road? You’re on its doorstep
It’s one of Australia’s most hyped destinations and for good reason. You can’t come to Victoria and not drive this glorious stretch of jagged coastlines, wild surf and hidden coves. But if you’ll allow us to give you one priceless piece of advice before you embark on this iconic road trip, do not attempt it all in one day from Melbourne. That’s a rookie mistake! Take your time and actually enjoy it. Spend a day or two hiking in the Otways. Stop and sample produce along the 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail. Just don’t do a one day wild pursuit of all the highlights, you’ll miss the really good bits.
Torquay is the gateway to the Great Ocean Road and the perfect place to start your adventure. If you’ve just jumped off a plane from the other side of the world, you can use our humble town as a pitstop to recharge your batteries (we highly recommend vitamin D and salt water) and stock up on all the gear you need for your journey (cough.. booze!) Torquay has the last big supermarket you’ll pass and if you need a new bikini or some summer gear, the surf outlets will not let you down.
When you’re ready to leave, the GOR is right outside your door. But there is one caveat…. You might not even make it there if you fall in love with the surf coast and decide to stay here like the rest of us.
You'll find like-minded backpackers all around you
There’s a comradery in knowing that the people around you also washed their undies in the sink last week. Torquay has a massive backpacking community, partly due to all the international travellers about to head off down the GOR, partly because it is just so damn perfect for the backpacker lifestyle. Being surrounded by travellers means there is always someone up for an escapade, road trip or sunbathing sesh at the local nude beach. When in Torquay, right?
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Oh, and did we mention there’s a cracking backpackers hostel in town that also offers vanpacking? You are guaranteed to meet some new travel buddies, plus a couple of adorable four legged friends.
Are you completely sold on dreamy Torquay life? If you need somewhere to stay while you hit the surf, we’ve got you covered from just $30 a night at Bells Beach Backpackers.
Written by Rachel Wagner
Bells Beach Backpackers Content Writer
Rachel Wagner is a freelance producer who writes about the good things in life - travel, culture, creativity and how to tread lightly on our Earth along the way.
She previously flexed her creative muscles as a Podcast Producer for the Mamamia Women’s Network before she gave up the desk life to travel the world. Over the past three years Rachel has found her home in Melbourne, Scotland, England, Mount Buller and the Bellarine Peninsula. And now? Torquay baby!
Her top travel tip is not to be afraid of exploring a new place alone. You’ll be amazed at how many locals and other travellers you meet along the way, plus you’ll never have to say no to a spur of the moment adventure.