WAKE UP TO THE COLOURS OF SURF COAST: SHOPPING, MARKETS & ARTby RACHEL WAGNER
Here on the Surf Coast, we don’t do things in half measures. The waves are big, the locals are supremely talented and the food is so fresh it practically just walked out of the ocean.
So it's no surprise really, that the creative folk who call the Surf Coast home have created such a vibrant community filled with art, boutique stores and flavours to fall in love with. So take a trip down our spectacular coastline and give your senses a jolt. These are some of our favourite spots to take in the colours of the Surf Coast.
Taste the fresh produce
There must be something in the sea breeze and fertile soils that makes Surf Coast produce taste oh so good. And the best place to sample it is right at the source. If you’re visiting between October and April, you lucky thing you, it’s strawberry season! At Surf Coast Strawberry Fields just outside Torquay, you can stroll through the paddocks of lush green and red and pick your own berries. Don’t forget it’s two for the punnet, one for you.
Once you’ve gorged on all those juicy fresh strawberries, we hope you’ve got some room left, because it’s off to Aireys Inlet Market to do some more tasting. This boutique market showcases the best of the region with not only local produce but also gorgeous handpicked arts and crafts. With a focus on sustainability, everything is homegrown, handmade, recycled or vintage. From ceramics to fig paste and homemade botanical perfumes, you’re bound to find a treasure.
If you’re more of a classic Saturday morning market browser, drop into the Torquay Farmers Market. A proper good-old-fashioned farmers market with friendly local vendors, fill your basket with all the artisan cheeses, jams and fresh fruit and veg you can carry. Be sure to enjoy a flaky pastry and locally-roasted coffee while you browse, the snacks really are the best bit of any market.
Shop the Surf Coast style
Think beach dwellers only wear boardies and thongs? Well sure, that’s definitely part of the uniform, but the Surf Coast style is also effortlessly chic.
The perfect spot to start your shopping pilgrimage is at Surf City Plaza in Torquay. You know how we mentioned those boardies and thongs? This is the place to stock up and get beach-ready. Torquay is the home of Australian surfing and the little town where all those behemoth surf brands including Rip Curl and Quiksilver began. So it’s fitting that they built their flagship stores here.
If you’re in the mood for a bargain (and who isn’t!) pop around the corner to the Baines Crescent outlet stores. This strip is ideal if you’re looking to snap up an affordable wetsuit, summer threads or a cosy winter jacket for you ski bunnies.
While you’re in Torquay, swing by one of our favourite lifestyle stores, Frankie Say Relax. This is where you’ll see that stylish beachy aesthetic shine through. The carefully curated array of clothing, homewares and gifts are bang-on-trend and full of cheerful colours. You can’t help but smile in here. For the best souvenir that isn’t a cheesy fridge magnet, take a bit of the Surf Coast home with you with one of Frankie’s gorgeous homeware pieces.
Looking for something a little different? Red Gum and Iron definitely ticks the quirky box. Inspired by the rural surroundings of Freshwater Creek and its beautiful old river red gums, these artisans design locally made unique rustic furniture and garden sculptures. Invest in one of their stunning wooden tables, warm up your backyard with an iron fire pit or if you’re feeling creative you can choose the perfect slab of Australian hardwood for your own project. These pieces are destined to be family heirlooms.
If you want to make a day out of it, head to Lorne, where the Mountjoy Parade boutiques will keep you ooh-ing and ahh-ing for hours. The main street in town runs along the beachfront and is peppered with cute clothing stores, designer fashion, boho home decor and enough cafes, bars and restaurants to keep you fuelled to shop even longer.
Soak up the arts
We’ve shopped, we’ve eaten and we’ve shopped some more. Now it’s time to take in the uber cool arts scene that is flourishing on the Surf Coast right now.
If you’re a bit retro at heart, go flip through the old records at In the Skies Art & Music. This little gem in Lorne is part music shop, part art gallery, part studio and packs a whole lot of inspiration for the creatively inclined. Stock up on art supplies or simply admire the pieces on display by local artists. Even if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body you’ll be in awe exploring this colourful little space.
While we’re on the art trail, a visit to Eagles Nest Fine Art Gallery in Aireys Inlet is essential. Collecting the most beautiful and thought provoking works from artists along the Great Ocean Road, this gallery is utterly dreamy. Tucked away among the trees, there’s always something intriguing happening within the Nest. We’re not picking favourites but the works showing off the Surf Coast have to be the absolute stars of the show!
Our last stop for now is the Lorne Sculpture Biennale. Intrigued? We don’t blame you, this is a seriously fun event. Held every second year on the sandy shores of Lorne, 2021 will be one of the lucky years, hosting the vibrant festival in November. The free event sees some of the world’s best sculptors come to the Surf Coast into a larger-than-life art installation. Each artist will create a sculpture on the foreshore as part of the sculpture trail. A whimsical day out is guaranteed!
As excited as you might be to discover all the joys of the Surf Coast, remember our region is best explored at a laid-back pace. After all, have you ever seen a surfer in a hurry? So take it easy as you get inspired by the colours of the coast.