The surf is always up in Australia, where quality waves crash along three coastlines. But the surfing action really heats up between February and April, when Australia hosts the World Qualifying Series. Watch revered surfers ride the endless waves of the Snapper Rocks Superbank at the Quicksilver Pro Gold Coast. At Surfest they demonstrate their skill on the dramatic right-handers of Newcastle’s Mereweather Beach. Margaret River is the de-facto headquarters for professional surfing during the Drug Aware Pro. Surfing’s elite then move to iconic Bells Beach for the Rip Curl Pro. Marvel at the spectacular surfing, then hit the music festivals and parties or take the time to explore some of Australia’s most iconic beach destinations.
Soak up the exuberant atmosphere on the Gold Coast during the fortnight-long Quicksilver Pro, which opens the World Series in late February. Surfers and fans alike love this event, for the air of anticipation as well as the white beaches, world-renowned breaks and energetic party scene. This is where previous world champions are crowned and surfing greats warm up for the coming world title. Watch them hone their moves at Kirra, Broadbeach and the legendary Snapper Rocks Superbank, home to some of the world’s longest waves. This event sets the tone for the series, with Gold Coast winners always strong contenders at the finals in Hawaii.
Head to Newcastle’s Merewether Beach, two hours north of Sydney, for Surfest in early March. Born in 1985 to promote Newcastle’s beautiful surfing beaches, Surfest has grown into Australia’s biggest surfing festival. It embraces two World Qualifying Series Events – the 4-star Burton Toyota Pro for men and the 1-star Newcastle Open for women. You’ll also find lots of other surfing events on offer. Cheer for grommets in the junior and high school competitions or watch talented Aboriginal surfers carve up the waves at the Indigenous Classic. More than 10,000 people line Merewether Beach to see the surfers test their skills on the fabled right-hand breaks and huge southerly swells.
Up to 200 of the world’s top surfers converge on Surfers Point in Margaret River for the ‘prime-rated’ Drug Aware Pro in mid-March. It’s a fierce fight for the titles here, which carry around AU$100,000 prize money as well as valuable rating points for the World Qualifying Series. In between this exciting, high-stakes surfing, you can enjoy music, art and fashion events. Listen to great Australian acts at the music festival and reflect on art installations while taste-testing your way around the picturesque Margaret River. As well as waves, the region is famous for its world-class wine, magical underground caves and towering karri forests.
Each Easter the international surfing community decamps to Victoria’s Surf Coast for the Rip Curl Pro, the world’s longest-running surfing contest. World champions Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning and Mark Richards have all claimed victory here, on waves as big as 5 metres. Bells Beach is known for its A-grade right-hand reef break with two distinct sections. See the surfing superstars tackle the steep, drawn-out waves produced by ‘The Bowl’ or the smaller, quality surf of ‘Rincon’. You’ll be one of thousands lining the dramatic cliff grandstands. As well as elite surfing, the event showcases some of Australia’s hottest musical talent, at a music festival held over the Easter long weekend.