Bell rings on new era of coastal management

Published on 01 July 2024


The Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority is proud to announce that we are managing the world-famous Bells Beach / Djarrak.

The coastal heathland, limestone cliffs and sandy beaches of Australia’s iconic surf capital on Wadawurrung Country came under our management from 1 July.

The Bells Beach Surfing Recreational Reserve is among more than 150,000 hectares of public land in the Great Ocean Road region that is being progressively transferred to us by 1 November 2025.


Image: Our Board Chair Libby Mears, Wadawurrung Traditional Owner Corrina Eccles and Surf Coast Shire Council Mayor Liz Pattison

While we were already responsible for public coast and parks in the wider area, our management now extends to additional bushland and car parks, including:

- The Waves car park (corner of Bells Beach Road)

- Winkipop and Bells Beach

- Bushland up to the east edge of Southside car park; and

- Water 300m out to sea, from Rocky Point in Torquay up to Point Addis Marine Sanctuary.

This 48-hectare reserve, managed by the Surf Coast Shire Council since May 1971, holds the distinction of being declared the world’s first surfing reserve later that same year.

We have been working with Council to ensure a smooth transition that maintains the current level of care and upkeep for Bells Beach.

The Coastal and Marine Management Plan 2015 – 2025 (CMMP) remains in place, upholding its guiding vision to respect and protect the natural environment, Wadawurrung heritage and surfing culture of the reserve.

The community can also expect:

- The automatic transfer of active licence and permits, with existing terms and conditions

- No changes to the Rip Curl Pro and the number of surfing events held at Bells Beach; and

- No impacts to nearby private landowners.

We welcome knowledge and insights from those who love the precinct, to help to ensure the natural, cultural, social and heritage values of the Reserve are protected and enhanced.

Quotes attributable to Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority Board Chair, Libby Mears:

I would like to acknowledge Council’s stewardship and the councillors, mayors and officers who have worked so diligently to improve the environmental values, address the negative impacts of over-tourism, and who have built important partnerships to manage this iconic precinct for over 50 years.

I also recognise many other local groups who have never left Bells / Djarrak to chance – they continue to advocate and commit hundreds of volunteer hours to the conservation and general protection of this land.

We will continue to strengthen our partnerships with Wadawurrung and all who strive to protect this area’s cultural, social and environment values.

We will engage with key interest groups and all those who cherish this precinct, to develop a refreshed long-term vision – to ensure that future generations will inherit a thriving natural environment where the cultural, social, and economic values are well managed and in balance.

Quotes attributable to Surf Coast Shire Council Mayor, Cr Liz Pattison:

“Bells Beach / Djarrak is a special area that we have had the formal honour of looking after, along with many community groups, for the last 53 years.

“However, for 65,000 years this very special place has been cared for and managed by Wadawurrung People, the Traditional Custodians.

“We have been looking through the archives as we prepared for the handover and it has been great to see the progress that has been made at Bells Beach / Djarrak in the last 53 years.

“We know the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority will continue this great work in conjunction with the Wadawurrung and our passionate community.”