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Torquay - Gateway To Great Ocean Road
 
torquay vicTorquay is often regarded as the surfing capital of Victoria and this title is undisputable, Australia wide. It is an ideal destination for anyone who loves the beach and who loves to surf, and its ideal position just 95 Kilometres south-west of the State's capital, Melbourne means that it is an easy place to escape to.

Torquay marks the official beginning of the Great Ocean Road and can be easily be reached by travelling by car along the Surf Coast Highway. This spectacular sightseeing adventure marks only the beginning of what is to come further along. Nestled in a bush setting, Torquay is also home to several world famous beaches, some of which host world-acclaimed surfing events and competitions.

The beaches are undoubtedly the highlight of Torquay. The area serves tourists well in that there are several protected family beaches,which are ideal for a fun and safe day spent with the kids. These beaches are easily accessible by car and close to all the local shops and cafes. However is you want something a little wilder, and more famous head to Jan Juc and Bells Beach. Jan Juc is a somewhat wild beach, offering fantastic surfing opportunities for those who like to ride the big waves. Bells Beach also has huge swells, but is only recommended for only the most experienced of surfers. Bells Beach is also the home of the Rip Curl Pro Surf and Music Festival, which is held annually around Easter time. This event attracts pro surfers from across the world, making the Bells one of the most famous and talked about beaches, world-wide.

Beautiful beaches can also be discovered along the Surf Coast Walk, a 35 kilometre stretch, beginning at Jan Juc and ending at Moggs Creek, which is past Anglesea. The scenic views of the coastline that this walk offers are truly spectacular and are contrasted nicely with the thick forest that is home to a wild mix of native birds and kangaroos. If you don't particularly feel like walking too far, you can also drive the track. Follow the Great Ocean Road all the way to Anglesea and you will be taken past some breathtaking sights of the scenic characteristics that have made this stretch so famous.

Journey back to the centre of Torquay, and you can begin to explore the seaside potteries, galleries and craft shops while at the same time, gaining an understanding of the local way of life. Torquay is also a base to several of Australia's biggest surf brand names. This can be discovered by visiting the Surfworld Museum, which is known as Australia's largest surfing museum. The museum features interesting displays and exhibits and allows visitors to learn more about the popular water sport. Surfworld also offers surfing lessons, for adults, kids or anyone keen to have a go.

For a break from the coast, pay a visit to the Southern Rose. These beautiful rose gardens are nestled on 8 acres of landscaped grounds, and encompass a courtyard, arbours, gazebos and a bird aviary. A restaurant on site offers some wonderful food, allowing you to sit back, relax and soak up the beautiful colours and scents.

A short drive up the road you will find the Bellbrae Carriages, a museum of early Australian horse-drawn carriages. See how the early Australian settlers used to make their way around, while gaining a true appreciation of modern travel.

If you have brought the kids up for a holiday, be sure to take them to Tiger Moth World and Adventure Park. This theme park revolves around the 1930's, with a large focus on the Tiger Moth Biplane. The park is home to a museum, mini-golf, a flying fox, paddleboats and a volcano maze, among many other fun activities. For those a little more daring, the park offers scenic flights along the coast to the 12 Apostles, as well as sky diving adventures. From the young to the young at heart, the park is sure to offer something fun for all.

For food and wine lovers out there, Torquay is sure to please. Home to several local wineries, including Minya Winery and Mount Duneed Winery, the quality of the red, white and fortified wines, is world class. Torquay is also home to several fantastic restaurants, popular places include the Bellbrae Harvest and the Great Ocean Rose. These restaurants allow you to enjoy not only fantastic food, but also to soak up the atmosphere and fresh sea air.

When it comes to places to stay in Torquay, the best bet is the Torquay Caravan Park. The park is set on a picturesque landscape of gardens and is within walking distance to most beaches, shops and restaurants. Sit back and relax in your choice of accommodation, ranging from campervan, camping and caravan sites, to quality cabins with impeccable facilities.

Torquay marks the beginning of an extraordinary drive. The sights and scenes of this seaside town make it a welcoming and intriguing place to visit and a great place to embark on the Great Ocean Road. The beaches are the true highlight, while the local history and heritage will delight and intrigue those who aren't big beach goers. Torquay is most definitely worth the visit and is a great escape for the entire family.

Christine Barton




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