The Bell: A tale of sufing Triumph and tradition

April 6, 2023 BY

Carissa Moore hoisted the Bell for winning the women's Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in three consecutive years - 2013, 2014 and 2015. Photo: STEVE RYAN PHOTOGRAPHY

This year sees the running of the 60th annual Easter surfing contest at Bells Beach, now known as the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.

Being the longest-running surfing contest in the world, several remarkable traditions have been established, foremost among them the presentation of the iconic Bell trophies to the event winners each year.

In celebration of this significant milestone in the event’s history the Australian National Surfing Museum has launched an epic exhibition celebrating surfing’s most sought-after trophies. It tells the stories behind the history of the Bell, the contest’s inception, where the idea of having a brass bell as a trophy came from and the people who have built these famous awards over the years.

From the initial trophies, built by Rod Brooks and classmates at Prahran Tech in 1968, through Anglesea’s Bill Butterworth, Lorne’s Joe Kirkham and Torquay’s Joe Sweeney, it celebrates the makers of the Bells, bringing things up to date with footage of Jeff Sweeney talking about the history of the bells and making the trophies today.

Of course it wouldn’t be much of a celebration without having some amazing examples of the Bells trophy on display.

The Bell: A Tale of Surfing Triumph and Tradition tells the story of the Bell and the people who designed and built it. Photo: SUPPLIED


Gail Couper has an amazing record of success at Bells Beach winning the women’s division 10 times in 11 years.

Couper’s original Bell from 1968 will be on show, as will Kelly Slater’s Bell from his 2010 win. Victorious at that year’s event, Slater thanked the local indigenous group the Wathaurong for their inspiration and support over the years, and donated the trophy to them.

Imagine that, winning a marquee sporting event and giving away the trophy!

Simon Anderson’s Bell trophy from 1981 – a year that saw huge waves at Bells and the largest contested surf anywhere outside of Hawaii – as well as his 1977 Bell will also be on show.

There will be the Big Brass Bell, featuring a roll call of the event’s champions over the years, as well as other trophies on show from local legends, Australian champions and other surfing heroes.

The Bell: A Tale of Surfing Triumph and Tradition is an epic exhibition that delves into the origins of the iconic Bells trophy, the people who built them and the stories behind the most sought after trophy in the surfing world.

You can catch this and more at the Australian National Surfing Museum in Torquay’s Surf City precinct.

Open 9am-5pm every day from April 6.

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