Bells Beach is one of the most famous beach locations in Australia located just west of the small coastal town of Torquay in Victoria. It is world famous for surfing and has been made even more well-known thanks to the 1995 movie Point Break, even though it wasn’t actually filmed here.


Camera Gear Used

  • Canon 5DsR
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens
  • Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
  • Hoya Pro1D Polariser
  • Hoya Pro1D ND 4
  • Hitech 100 Filter System ND Grads
  • Manfrotto 190XProB
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Basic Directions

Bells Beach is about 10mins drive from Torquay and 1.5hrs from Melbourne. It is located half way around the Bells Beach Rd which is a loop from the Great Ocean Rd

Sometimes a location is just too big for one article so here are some related articles


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The majority of people will visit Bells Beach as a detour from the Great Ocean Rd on their way to the 12 Apostles. This included myself until recently. There is a large car park and viewing platforms to cater for the huge numbers of tourists that visit. The platforms give a great view looking east and west. You can also easily walk to the beach.

It was however a sunrise shoot that endeared me the most. As soon as I arrived I felt a sense of occasion. Australian occasion. The absolute quintessential surfing stereotypical scene. Combi vans, tanned bodies, bleached hair, no tourists and everyone scrambling to the water in search of the waves at first light. I arrived about 15mins before sunrise but 30mins would have been better. Surfers get up super early. Many doing it before work.

I was lucky enough to capture this amazing sunrise from the main beach. Nothing spectacular composition wise. Just simplicity and colour.

Canon 5DsR 16-35mm F/4L IS USM 5sec at F11 ISO 160
I love this shot for its simple composition and spectacular colours. I was out of time to find a more interesting foreground so went with simple rule of thirds and clean cut horizontal image. The long exposure accentuates the movement of the water and its a favourite technique of mine.

I was lucky enough to capture this amazing sunrise from the main beach. Nothing spectacular composition wise. Just simplicity and colour.

In my head, I wanted a shot of surfers silhouetted against the rising sun running into the water. Ultimately very hard to achieve due to the requirement of perfect positioning. I was however satisfied with my shots…albeit with a desire to return and improve.

As the sun rose I concentrated on just shooting some surfing. I had never done this before but it left me with a desire to shoot a big event with a long lens! The surfers are backlit at sunrise which means very flat images in a wave but with a jump, you can capture an amazing silhouette with the water.

Canon 5DsR 100-400mm F/4-5.6L IS USM 1/800sec at F5.6 ISO 2000
Shooting at max zoom its tough to shoot a back lit fast object such as this. Sharp shutter is the name of the game so I used high ISO. Picking a spot where you can get some side light on the surfer is preferable so that he/she is not a complete silhouette. Freezing the movement of the water against the sunrise is where this shot is at.

Canon 5DsR 100-400mm F/4-5.6L IS USM 1/1000sec at F5.6 ISO 1250
I would simply call this image ‘The Search’ which I am sure is a famous surf company’s slogan. But really it is about a surfer going to find that ultimate wave. Positioning yourself to pick up the beautiful golden sunrise on the person is key.

There are a couple of other lookouts worth investigating. One is at the southern end of the main car park. The other is a short drive south along Bells Beach Rd and signposted as the ‘Surf Coast Walk’. It offers views of the next bay and Southside Beach with vegetation right along the clifftop.

As it happens Bells Beach Rd which passes past the beach is also an intermediate hill climb for the Cadel Evans Road Race which is a popular one day cycling event held in January. I have returned each year to capture the peloton with the dramatic ocean scenery around. If the local council hasn’t got there first, you may see the chalk graffiti remnants leftover. Like a scene from the Tour de France.

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 29: Road graffiti for the 2017 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on January 29 2017

Canon 5D3 24-70mm F/2.8L USM 1/2500sec at F8 ISO 500
I shoot a lot of sport and cycling is a fantastic sport to easily get a shot. Whilst I have media access, you do not need it for 95% of places on a cycling event route. This is shot just after Bells Beach on the steep KOM climb. Capturing the atmosphere of cycling and passion of the fans is a lot of fun. I love the street chalk in this shot willing the riders up the hill.

Location Images

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