slater2Bells Beach is a coastal area of Victoria (Australia) renowned for it's surf. 

The Bells Beach Surf Classic is a surfing compettion that began in 1961. It has now become a major international surfing event that is held annually. It is held on the traditional lands of the Wathaurong people. 

In 2006 the Wathaurong people were involved for the first time in the presentation ceremony as part of the tournament organisers recognition that are and had been the custodians of the Bells Beach coastline for thousands of years. Now winners of the competition are face-painted by the Wathaurong as part of the ceremony. 

Competition winners (who win a Bell trophy) have responded positively to the involvement of the Wathaurong people in the ceremony.


In 2010 Kelly Slater gave the 2010 Rip Curl pro trophy he won at the tournament (his fourth win) to the Wathaurong Co-operative as a gesture of acknowledgement of their traditional ownership of the coastal area. He said:

“I’m really excited because I remembered that before this contest I promised myself that if I won, I would give to trophy to the Wathaurong (local aboriginal tribe) people, I didn’t remember that until I was out in the water and right when I did, those waves came. So before I give it to them, I want to pass the trophy around for everyone to give a ring because that’s never been done before."
(Source: http://www.theextremescene.com/blog/kelly-slater-wins-rip-curl-pro-bells-beach)

In 2010 when Stephanie Gilmore won her third Bell in 2010 said that  when she had her face painted for the presentation  "I just had this incredibly warm, fuzzy feeling. The ceremony is really cool because it makes you appreciate, and want to educate everyone to appreciate, what we're here to enjoy." 
(Source:The Sydney Morning Herald, The Bells Curve, Micheal Gordon, 16/04/2011)

In 2011 Sally Fitzgibbons who was face painted by the Wathaurong Community said the moment was 'surreal'.