Bells Beach is the world's first "Surfing Recreation Reserve" and enjoys global iconic status due to the majestic coastal beauty, ancient indigenous resonance and world class waves.
On 3 November 1971 Bells was officially named "Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve" to clearly define "recreational surfing" as the priority activity in the Reserve. Recreational surfing continues to be the primary activity at Bells, with recreational surfers by far the most frequent human users of the Reserve. The environmental values and indigenous heritage also continue to illuminate the heart and soul of Bells Beach and surrounds.
Unfortunately Bells Beach is on the endangered waves list due to serious threat from:
Inappropriate forms of commercial tourism that is costly and fails to capture trade for local business
Further development of infrastructure to accommodate commercial tourism and unsustainable levels of visitation within Bells Reserve
Growing pressure for larger and more frequent events, along with permanent event infrastructure and clearing of natural vegetation to accommodate events within Bells Reserve
Clearing of natural vegetation and installation of permanent infrastructure for irregular user groups
“Rural Conservation Zone” amendments that now allow significant commercial development throughout the hinterland immediately surrounding Bells Reserve
Massive local population growth without clear vision or management strategies in place
In addition, natural environmental processes exacerbated by climate change are already having a significant impact on Bells Beach.
Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast Branch, Surfers Appreciating Natural Environment (SANE – the core environmental stewards of Bells Reserve since the 1980s – www.sanesurfers.org), Bells Beach Preservation Society (BBPS – www.savebellsbeach.com), and a number of concerned locals have been collaborating on a vision to create the Bells Beach Surf Sanctuary. The vision is being formed in consultation with the recognised Traditional Owners of Bells and in essence aims to:
Respect, protect and cultivate the environmental values, indigenous heritage
and recreational surfing experience of Bells Beach now and for all future generations
Achieving our vision will also serve to optimise the environmental, cultural, social, recreational and economic values of Bells and surrounds.
Together the local and global surfing community can achieve the Bells Beach Surf Sanctuary vision.
Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast Branch volunteers are supporting local community group Plastic Bag Free Torquay to tackle the issue of plastic pollution in Torquay through their assistance with the implementation of a bag share initiative called Boomerang Bags.
The initiative involves the installation of bag-share, or Boomerang Bag Boxes throughout a target business district. Each box is stocked with re-useable Boomerang Bags for customers to borrow if they have forgotten their own and return on subsequent visits.
The availability of free, reusable bags reduces the need for single-use plastic bags, and the encouragement to ‘Borrow and Bring Back’ works to foster the sustainable mentality of re-use, thereby reducing plastic bag consumption in the long term. Each Boomerang Bag is hand-made by volunteers from the local community using donated second-hand materials, keeping the initiative local and sustainable. For more information on how the Boomerang Bags initiative works or how to get Boomerang Bags started in your local community, click here.