Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve


Always was.

Always will be.


Wadawurrung Country

Bells History

Acknowledgement in Wadawurrung mother tongue

Nyatne bengadak baa bengordigek Kilik munya Wadawurrung  maewan baa guli bagurrk
Murrup Maewan   bengordinganak Wadawurrung dja-yu
Baa Koomerringiny   beek  ngubitj   yaluk  baa warri  baa narroo
Nyatne bengadak karringalabil murroop Bunjil karringalabil Wadawurrung dja
Nyatne bengadak mundigurrk baa wurring-wurring mirriyu Kilinyn  baa munyaKuling wada-ngal 

Written by Corrina Eccles - Wadawurrung woman

We Acknowledge and Thank the Wadawurrung Ancestors and people
Our connection to Wadawurrung Country and continuing care of land waters, rivers and sea
We thank creator spirit Bunjil for creation of Wadawurrung country
We Thank Elders men and women past, today and future
Let us walk together  

Bells Beach is in Wadawurrung country. Wadawurrung country covers over 10,000 square kilometres and includes coastal areas between Aireys Inlet and Werribee and extends inland to cover the towns of Geelong and Ballarat and the surrounding districts. The coastal areas provided Wadawurrung with resources such as shellfish, ochre and Yam Daisy tubers.

Learn more about the Wadawurrung and Bells Beach in this short video featuring Corrina Eccles (and Anthony Hume playing didgeridoo), or at the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation .

Permanent European settlement in Wadawurrung country started in the 1830s and Bells Beach and the surrounding land became part of the Mount Pleasant pastoral run.

The reserve is named after the family of John Calvert Bell, who purchased the property in 1905. The Bell family licensed the reserve for grazing until 1940-41.

Surfing came to Bells Beach in the 1940s, but surfers were few until the access track was widened in 1960. The first formal competition was held over Easter in 1962 and continues, now known as the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, as a part of the World Surfing League Tour.

Bells Beach Events

To find out when events are being held in the reserve, please check the calendar. Note that surfing events may be subject to change depending on swell factors. Surfers’ note: during surfing events, surfers who are no competing in the event can still surf the breaks not being used by the competition.

Bells Beach Management

Council is the state government’s delegated manager of the Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve. Council manages the reserve to the high tide mark, with most of the offshore waters included in the Point Addis Marine National Park (managed by Parks Victoria). The offshore waters in the northern part of the reserve are managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

The Bells Beach Committee advises Council on management of the reserve. The committee is made up of an impartial Chair, representatives of the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and Surfing Victoria, and six community nominees. The Chair and community nominee positions are filled after a publically advertised process every four years.

Management and maintenance of the reserve is guided by the Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Coastal and Marine Management 2015 - 2025(PDF, 14MB) .


Events at Bells

Events at Bells Beach are restricted and are managed and allocated in accordance with Council’s Events Policy(PDF, 134KB)

Licensed Tour Operators

Commercial tour buses must be licensed to visit Bells Beach and the number of licences is restricted to 8. The buses must seat no more than 24 people. View this link for the current licence operators 


Bells Beach resource information

Want to know more about the Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve? You might find what you are looking for amongst these resources.

Management resources

The recently updated Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Coastal and Marine Management Plan 2015-2020(PDF, 14MB). Don’t have time to read the entire updated plan? View the Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Coastal and Marine Management Plan 2019 - 2025 summary version(PDF, 2MB).

The Bells Beach 2019 Engagement Report (PDF, 3MB) provides the background consultation undertaken when updating the plan.

A survey was also undertaken in 2018 to find out more about reserve users and inform management. Don’t have time to read the entire survey? View the summary survey(PDF, 914KB)

Background information on the proposal to change the concrete pathway to the Winki Pop lookout to raised timber can be found in this Surf Coast Shire submission(PDF, 3MB) the Great Ocean Road Region Standing Advisory Committee.

Natural resources

Council has detailed information on the natural values of the reserve including flora and fauna information and the impacts on the intertidal zone of users accessing the surf breaks.

Bells Beach Recreation Reserve Flora and Fauna report 2007(PDF, 3MB)

Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Integrated Vegetation Management Plan(PDF, 4MB)

Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Flora Species List(PDF, 168KB)

Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Fauna Survey Results 2015(PDF, 212KB)

Rocky Shores of Marine National Parks including Bells Beach values, uses and impacts(PDF, 5MB)

Historical documents

A selection of historical documents is available here.

Government Gazettes showing reservation of the land, naming and regulations(PDF, 20MB)

Letters from 1964 to 1971 regarding early management of the Reserve(PDF, 3MB)

Bells Beach Task Force Report to Council October 2015(PDF, 3MB)