Bells Beach is the home of the world’s longest-running surfing competition – the Rip Curl Pro Surf & Music Festival. The event was formerly known as the Bells Beach Surf Classic. The competition was first held in January 1961 and then at Easter every year since although occasionally, when conditions at Bells aren’t suitable, the competition has been transferred to other breaks such as Johanna.
As early as 1939 surfers from Torquay made their way to Bells but access was a considerable problem until 1960 when Torquay surfers and Olympic wrestler Joe Sweeney hired a bulldozer and cleared a road along the Bells cliff 1 from the Cobb & Co Road, where the concrete wave now stands, down to the beach. He charged one pound per surfer to recover his expenses. This is now part of the Torquay to Anglesea walking track.