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With a coastline that stretches approximately 30,000km (19,000mi) and more than 10,000 beaches, including Bells Beach, Crescent Head and the Superbank at Snapper Rocks, Australia is a surfing paradise, and its surfing culture is enough to make anyone say, “Cowabunga, dude!”
Local salty surfers and international waxheads agree that Australia has had a significant impact on surf culture, and in no place does that ring truer than Bells Beach, Torquay. Not only is it home to the world’s longest-running surfing competition, the Rip Curl Pro, it’s also the location of the Australian National Surfing Museum (ANSM), which celebrates the country’s surfing heritage.
Dreamt up by surfers Peter Troy, Vic Tantau and Alan Reid, the museum opened in December 1993 with the support of Surfing Australia, the Torquay surf industry and the Geelong Regional Commission. From the beginning, it’s been a place to commemorate Australian surfers and their achievements, as well as showcasing the country’s deeply ingrained surf culture through exhibitions and memorabilia.
The ANSM, appropriately on Beach Road, has been recognised by the International Surfing Association “as one of the most significant centres of surfing heritage in the world”, and with five exhibition spaces, it’s easy to see why it’s so impressive.
The ANSM is home to the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame, which includes a display of surfboards ridden by surfing legends, complete with facts about their careers and surfing milestones. See how surfboards are made as you peek into the Live Surfboard Shaping bay, where international shaper Eiji Shiomoto sculpts a range of boards, from Malibu-style to high-performance shortboards.
Once you’ve seen how a board is created, take a stroll through the Board Room and discover how board design and its materials – from historic solid timber to hollow plywood, balsa and fibreglass – have developed over the years.
Next, dive into the Surf Culture gallery to browse through artefacts and memorabilia, including Kombi vans, wetsuits, vintage photographs, trophies, artwork and more. The ANSM also has a theatre where you can relax in blue director’s chairs surrounded by historic surfboards while watching a classic surf flick.
School groups from prep to year 12 can take part in the ANSM Education Program, while the public can participate in group tours, as well as education-based or casual walking tours of Bells Beach – one of the best surfing destinations in the world. This weekend, take a break and discover just why “life’s a beach” at the Australian National Surfing Museum.