Melbourne: Sometimes described as "the San Francisco of Australia," Melbourne is a vibrant cultural hub. Less than an hour and a half from Torquay, the city is a foodie's delight, replete with pioneering restaurants, coffee shops and bars. With so much to explore the options are endless, but here are a few to start with:
Brunswick St Fitzroy: For incredible food, and funky bars and underground comedy clubs, Brunswick Street is your go-to. Running north-south through the inner Melbourne suburbs of Fitzroy and Fitzroy North, the area was home to some of Melbourne's earliest immigrants, and later became a magnet for students and artists. Today, it's a hive of activity that's been featured in Australian TV shows.
St. Kilda: This beachfront walk has a great vibe. Stroll in the sun for the view, and stop in to one of the many cafes or bars along the way. Or head to the botanical gardens, local farmer's market or any of the diverse restaurants to taste more of the local flavor.
Town of Torquay
Small and charming, Torquay is home to the original Rip Curl store, and thus the world's first boardshort. The company has a flagship store in town, as well as outlets at Surf City. Outside of surf shop browsing, the Bells Track is a must-see. It's a walk along the cliffs from Torquay or Jan Juc to Bells and part of the Surf Coast Walk, which goes for a long stretch of the coast. All the best ocean views!
Point Addis Beach: The next beach south of Bells, Point Addis is a long stretch of white sand, and secluded due to rocky outcrops and reef flats at low tide. It's also home of the Koori Culture Walk, a one-hour loop that has educational signs and information on the aboriginal (Koori) way of life in the area.
Australian National Surfing Museum: True to its name, the museum is dedicated to the local surf culture, and is a great destination for a rainy day. Among its permanent exhibits, the museum houses the Australian Hall of Fame, a working shaping bay, historical films, and a piece on the evolution of the surfboard.
Where to eat and drink: As one local says, "Can't go too wrong around here, there's lots of good places these days." Still, here are some favorites.
Fisho's: Fancy fish and chips right on the water in Torquay. Grab it to go and eat down on the front beach. Delicious, locally caught fish and fresh cut chips and salads. Don't skip on the sweet potato cake.
Pond: Great spot for a morning coffee and a bite to eat. Also right on the beachfront, good-people watching too!
The Bottle of Milk: The place for burgers, awesome chips and good beers.
A visitor's go-to is the Great Ocean Road which, if you drive for 2-3 hours southwest from Torquay, will take you by a handful of Australian icons.
Angelsea: Just 10 minutes down the road from Torquay is the idyllic town of Angelsea. A hot holiday destination, the town has great beaches, forestry, and plant life and offers impressive ocean views. Plus, it's known for a large kangaroo population.
Apollo Bay: Nestled in the foothills of the nearby Otway Mountains, Apollo is a peaceful village with numerous options to get on, in, or under the water. Fishing is a big part of the local economy, and as such the place is a foodie's delight.
Johanna: Just west of Cape Otway, Johanna is a small beach town known for its powerful waves that can jump in size in short amounts of time. It offers a mix of beach and reefbreaks, and has served as a backup location for the Bells Beach Surf Classic (now the Rip Curl Pro). Johanna is named for the eponymous schooner that crashed there in 1843.
The Twelve Apostles: Possibly the most well known of the sights on the Great Ocean Road, these massive structures were formed by erosion of the cliffs behind them: Harsh winds formed caves in the cliffs, and when the caves were further eroded and collapsed, their pieces formed 12 stacks rising up from the ocean. Over the years, five of the "apostles" have fallen.