THE BEST OF ANGLESEA: SURF, SPLASH + PLAYby KATELYN MICHAUD
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most iconic and scenic coastal drives.
Stretching 243 kilometers from Torquay to Allansford, the highway is home to the famed 12 Apostles, koalas, lighthouses, waterfalls, and kilometer upon kilometer of sandy beaches perfect for swimming and surfing.
Anglesea, a small surf town nestled on the banks of the Anglesea River, is often just a pitstop along the Great Ocean Road for many as they furiously try to make it all the way to the 12 Apostles in one day. But, this enchanting little beach town is entirely worth the stopover, especially if you love to surf.
It has an abundance of sandy beaches, incredible flora, and native wildlife. From surfing to wineries to mountain biking, Anglesea has a wide variety of activities to keep you busy for a couple of days.
I recently spent three days in Anglesea discovering the best surfing spots, mountain bike trails, and places to eat.
Anglesea is a mecca for mountain bikers, with its single-track and purpose-built trails and bike park. Rent a bike or take a tour with Great Ocean Road Adventure Tours (GORATS). If off-road isn’t your cup of tea, GORATS also rents road bikes for those who prefer to stick to the town's roads and trails.
Hiring a bike for a half-day or full day is an excellent way to discover the natural beauty of Anglesea’s bush. Ride along the ocean for stunning views of the beaches and seaside cliffs and then head inland for views of the former mine and golf course home to hundreds of kangaroos. If you’re feeling brave, hit up the Anglesea Bike Park to practice your tricks.
Stand Up Paddle
The town center is on the banks of the calm and shallow Anglesea River. The river is perfect for canoeing, kayaking, or Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP). Rent a board or take a lesson through Go Ride A Wave located along the beachfront. The two-hour lesson is a great way to introduce you to this ancient Hawaiian sport and learn how to maneuver a SUP board safely.
Anglesea is one of the best places along the Great Ocean Road to surf. With many beaches to choose from, you’ll find some waves. New to surfing? Take a lesson with Go Ride A Wave. Two-hour lessons are available for both kids and adults, and it is the perfect way to learn one of Australia’s favorite past times. Once you’ve mastered the basics in class, hire a board for the day and practice your skills in waist deep, pristine water.
How can you not love kangaroos? I’m obsessed! The Anglesea Golf Club is home to hundreds of wild Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Take a 20-minute tour at the Golf Club and get up close and personal with the kangaroos. The kids will love this!
Just a few minutes down the street from Anglesea is the famous Split Point Lighthouse. The 'White Queen' has been featured in Masterchef and the TV show, 'Round the Twist'. The lighthouse has beautiful views of the sea cliffs below, but the best way to see the lighthouse is through a 45-minute tour that covers the maritime history of the region and allows you a visit to the top.
Anglesea is home to kilometers of walking trails for all abilities. The 44 km Surf Coast Walk goes right through Anglesea. If you’re looking for something a bit shorter, the Anglesea Riverbanks is an easy and beautiful walk along the river and beach. Looking for a two-hour walk? Try Anglesea Heath, a lovely 7.3 km walk from Point Addis to Anglesea.
Where to eat
Bellbrae Estate Wines
Located about five minutes from Bells Beach, Bellbrae Estate Wines has a whole host of award-winning cool climate wines. Dubbed as the “first taste of the Great Ocean Road,” Bellbrae Estate Wines offers wine tasting and a small cafe. The Chardonnay is quite good.
Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie
Who can say no to chocolate? The Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie is the perfect stop for any chocolate lover. With the factory onsite, you can take a class, watch the chocolatiers at work, and taste your way around their store. The Pod Cafe offers a broad range of foods featuring chocolate and produce from their gardens. Trust me, you won’t leave without buying something!
Anglesea Fish Shop
Craving some good old fashion fish and chips? Head down to Anglesea Fish Shop for some classic takeaway and head to the beach for the sunset. Choose your fish and watch them fry it up in front of your eyes.
Aireys Pub is a classic coastal pub serving up traditional pub food and Asian-inspired dishes. The beer is made right next door, and there is always a game on or music playing.
Where to Stay
Anglesea has a wide variety of accommodations available to meet every budget. From luxury holiday rental homes to caravan parks to classic backpacker hostels, you’ll find something to meet your needs.
Great Ocean Road Resort
The Great Ocean Road Resort offers a broad range of rooms from simple hotel rooms all the way up to two-bedroom luxury apartments. With an onsite pool, restaurant, and spa, this hotel is also kid-friendly with a trampoline park.
Are you looking to get the most of your budget along the Great Ocean Road? The Anglesea Backpackers is the perfect place for the budget-minded traveler. The hostel has dorm rooms, family rooms, and a full kitchen. And, it’s just a short walk from the beach and the golf course.
While many people make the mistake of just driving straight through Anglesea, it is definitely worth the stop for a little fun in the sun.
Take a surf lesson or rent a mountain bike and hit the trails. Whatever you do, you’ll be sure to have a great time!