As you may know, Torquay is known for it surfing culture. Because of this, we couldn’t possibly have spent spend the weekend here without having tried to catch some waves ourselves. But before we hopped on our boards, we decided that we wanted to know a little bit more about the sport and why Torquay loves it so much. This lead to us meeting up with Greg in the Surf Museum…
Obviously, Greg was a big surf fan himself. He tries to get in the water every day to catch some waves. Other than volunteering in the surf museum, Greg also fixes old vintage surfboards so they can find a new life.
Back in the days he even worked for Rip Curl where he was paint brushing custom t-shirts. He took us through the history of surfing, where it might have started and How it gained cultural significance along the coast of Australia. We found out why exactly Torquay is the perfect spot for the best waves,and about all the transformations the surfboard went through throughout the years. Greg was a great storyteller and it was fun to learn more about Torquay and the surfing culture.
Some fun facts:
- It’s still unclear when and where people started surfing. The oldest image of a guy lying on a surfboard is from 1890 and was made in Hawaii. The “surfer” wasn’t actually standing up in the image but was just paddling his way through the water.
- Back in the 1860 surfing was not for everyone – the first surfers in Australia were all professional sportsman. The wooden boards that they would used for surfing weighed around 40kg. You can imagine that walking up to the beach with a board that weighs that much isn’t something anyone could do.
- Nowadays, boards weigh around 5kg and some professionals even have boards that don’t weigh much more than 2kg.
- Because the boards are so light they tend to break very easily. Top surfers will take around ten boards to a game and just work through them in one day.
Riding the waves
It was time to go ride some waves and so we headed over to the beach. We signed up for a two-hour lesson and started with learning the basics on the beach. When we got all our moves right we could grab our boards and try it for real.
The first waves wiped me out when I tried to jump up and stand. The next few I had fun just riding them, sitting on my knees, At this point, and our surf teacher Dom, decided to help me out a bit. He held onto the nose of my board and whenever the time was right, he would signal me to start the drill I’d learned on the beach.
Thanks to Dom, I’ve stood up my board a few times and got the confidence to try it without him. Not every attempt resulted into actually catching the wave, but I’ve stood up a few times. I must say that standing up didn’t look as cool as I hoped it would, but we can work on that next time. Riding the few waves that I managed to catch was so much fun that I totally understand why people get into the water for hours, just for the thrill of catching that one perfect wave. To truly understand that feeling, I will definitely need some more practice, but after this weekend in Torquay, I decided that I will definitely come back for some more lessons and surf fun.
Want to experience surfing in Torquay?
- Head over to the surf museum located in the visitor‘s centre of Torquay.
- For lunch, head over to Bar61 just around the corner. It is located above the Quicksilver shop and from there you can have a stroll through the small shopping area where all the surf brands are located. Bar 61 serves great fresh burgers and will get you fuelled up for the surfing day ahead
- Catch a surfing lesson in the afternoon for some surfing-basics or as a quick refresher. We had a two-hour lesson at Go Ride A Wave and paid 69 dollars per person. They also do multiple passes if you would like to come back for another lesson. Alternatively, you can just rent a board and go by yourself.
- Being in the water gets you quite hungry. Head over to Fisho’s that is right on the Esplanade to get some gourmet Fish and Chips. All their fish is freshly caught in the morning and they always have specials, depending on the catch. Don’t forget to try their corn as a side dish. As the sun sets, you can enjoy your dinner right on the beach, overlooking the surfers trying to catch some last waves before the sun sets.
Torquay is a great place to stop at if you’re doing the Great Ocean Road or if you want to escape the Melbourne for the day or even a weekend. I will definitely come back for another attempt at surfing!