Bells Beach is one of the most iconic surf breaks in the world.
Surfers trek down the Great Ocean Road in Victoria to experience the thrill of riding its waves, and it has also been immortalized in Hollywood blockbuster movies, such as Point Break.
But what isn’t as well known is the Indigenous history of Bells Beach.
The famous coastal stretch is Wada Wurrung land and was once an Aboriginal meeting ground, where the Wathaurong people would gather to trade yarns, tools, skills and supplies.
The reef that runs through Bells offered a consistent food source, with plenty of abalone and crayfish available, and low tide offering up a plentiful supply.
Signs of food preparation still remain with a shell midden lining the famous break.
The cultural significance of Bells Beach ensures it is a perfect location for the year national pilgrimage of surfers, the Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles.
Surfing Victoria’s Indigenous Aquatics Officer, Anthony Hume says Bells provides an important connection to country and a cultural link for Indigenous people.
“We try to protect it. We have a fence around and the good thing is that the local council and community are really supportive of protecting it."
“At the Rip Curl Pro, we actually put a grandstand over the other side of the beach so we don’t get footprints all over the place, because this beach is packed with people at that time."
Hume, who surfs at the shell midden on a regular basis, says he can feel a strong spiritual presence whenever he is surfing Bells.
“It’s really significant, you actually feel it. If sit down on a nice calm day, you kind of feel presence and a hand on your shoulder."
“You can sense the ancestors had their hand prints on the land. It turns back time for you and makes you really connect,” said Hume.