Bells Beach Overrun By Tourists?

New Bells Beach Amenities Opposed By Local Surfers

Bells Beach : photo ASP/Kirstin

Bells Beach : photo ASP/Kirstin

The Beach is struggling to cope with 1 million visitors a year

Once, if you wanted to surf Bells Beach, there were two ways of getting there: paddle from Torquay or bush-bash your way along the coastline on foot, carrying your board.

In 1960, surfer Joe Sweeney organised a grader to clear a track to Bells and the trickle of surfers became a steady flow. Then, in 1962, Peter Troy and Vic Tantau organised the rally that became the world’s longest-running board-riding contest. Fast-forward five decades and the beach is struggling to cope with 1 million visitors a year. Already its lone toilet block cannot cope – it now has to be pumped out every 48 hours.

Surf Coast Shire has commissioned a master plan for Bells Beach, proposing a $5 million remodelling of two existing car parks, fixing the toilet block and adding another, and building a new tour bus, caravan and campervan car park.

Local surfers say their paradise is about to be paved for another parking lot that will draw yet more visitors. ”Bells can’t take any more people, it’s too fragile,” says board maker and former Victorian champion Maurice Cole.

Tourists, he says, ”come in each morning, have a piss, a cigarette, and then continue on their tour to the 12 Apostles, having left behind a stack of their rubbish. We get the sewage and the rubbish, and our car park clogged up, but there’s absolutely nothing in it for us.”

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