After a year and a half of being in Australia and getting sick of the appalled look on Australian faces when asked the question, “have you surfed yet, man?” to which I would reply, “no, I prefer the ocean from a safe distance away from the ferocious scary waves and even scarier sharks’’, I decided if I really was going to take the plunge (pun intended) and become a true Aussie I was going to have to learn to surf. Not content with a one-hour lesson (it’s going to take at least two to coax me into the water), I booked a surfing weekend away with my fave girlie mates up to Crescent Heads, up the New South Wales coast from Sydney.
We all trundled onto the big green coach and got comfy for our four-hour ride, where our host for the weekend (and ladies I’m not kidding, he really couldn’t have looked any more like a surfer dude if he tried) introduced himself on the mic and then proceeded to pass it round for everyone to do the same. Cue the sniggering when one little hottie trumps up, ‘‘I like Californian guys’’, and then a few rows back, ‘‘hi, I’m Brad from California, how you doing?’’. Now I’m no Cilla Black but you can bet your bottom dollar those two will be downing goon like there’s no tomorrow and sharing a bunk made for one, much to the dissatisfaction of their fellow roomies.
The next morning we got into two groups and were given times for our first briefing. As another extremely cute surf instructor (do they grow on trees?) proceeded to show us drawings of waves and rips and techniques. We all started to get excited and nervous (well maybe that was just me) at the prospect that in a few hours we were going to be in the sea (except they don’t call it the sea here, it’s the ocean, maaaaaan) on a piece of foam attempting to stand on top, look cool and ultimately not drown.
After our theory lesson in the surf shack, next step was to don our sexy wetsuits and head to the beach, where we formed a circle and practiced our standing stances. Yeah like we are going to be able to recreate this on water. We’re not Jesus! Luckily, there were lovely small learner waves on which to practice. Small? Are you sure? Looks like a bloody tsumani to me…
As the first group wearily and happily returned from the ocean, looking bedraggled but content we got ready. Next step was to wade in. Now I don’t know how much you know about surfing but when you’re learning they don’t give you one of those cute tiny boards that you see Cameron Diaz riding on in her teeny white bikini with perfect make up and hair in Heat Magazine.
Oh no (and there’s a very good reason for this), instead you’re given what I can only describe as a small boat which you attach to your leg and then put under your (if only it was a giant) arm and proceed to wade into the ocean against the pounding waves to a suitable spot on which you can then launch yourself onto the next wave. Sounds easy right?
After several attempts, followed by tantrums and tears, one of the amazingly-attentive instructors came over and said, “hop on”. I happily and dutifully did what I was told and clung on for dear life (while holding my nose) as he held the board and pushed over the gigantic waves to a suitable spot. Oh how manly he was. Sorry, concentrate woman. Then he turned me round and told me to get ready. ‘‘Okay, this is it’’, he shouts, ‘‘the perfect wave dude’’. ‘’Get ready… now go!”Go where? Oh, you meant GOOOOOO! Not prepared for what was happening, I clung to my board all the way until I reached the sand – hey, that was fun! I looked back at my guru for praise and was confused when he frantically motioned the standing up signal from behind the waves. Oh yeah I forgot the point was to stand up – that’s surfing right. Not body boarding.
Okay, take two. Again clutch, back through the waves, turn around and wait, now GOOOOOOO! As the wave propelled me forward at an alarmingly-fast pace I remembered our careful instructions from earlier and first pushed my arms up, then one knee, then two knees on the board, then finally up to a standing position. Oh my God I’m surfing – this is bloody awesome! What a rush, why don’t more people know about this, why didn’t anyone tell me it was so much fun? Oh yeah. Of course. They did.
‘’More, more, more,’’ I cry. Why struggle out by yourself when there’s a cute ripped guy who will help you? That’s what I say! Now where’s he gone? This time I remembered to adopt a suitably cool surfer pose as I got up and even managed a blue steel at the camera guy pointing his lens my way.
After a few hours of this we were completely exhausted, but not without huge smiles on our faces and could only manage to collapse on the beautiful deserted beach until it was time to head back to the camp for a fantastic lunch. I could get used to this.
After more surfing it was time for the night time activities – well you didn’t think the story was all going to be about surfing did you? Okay, fact. We’re at a ridiculously cool beach shack in the middle of nowhere. Fact. There are loads of backpackers and cheap alcohol and a campfire on the beach. Whats going to happen? If you haven’t guessed already I’ll tell you. Everyone plays drinking games, suddenly becomes a whole lot more friendly with each other and has am awesome, truly memorable beach party (which is half-forgotten by morning). Hang on, I do remember being on the tour bus at about midnight and doing a Tina Turner number karaoke-style with the bus microphone. Hmmm. Day two. Unfortunately for us, everyone feels completely hungover in the morning. Fortunately for us, the best thing for a hangover as everyone knows is to get in the water. Good job we’re on a surf camp huh?
One more day of surfing/chilling/eating/chatting/sunbathi/swimming (sounds absolutely RUBBISH doesn’t it?) and I was beginning to regret not booking the longer surf package. In a week I’m sure I could perfect moves like Kelly Slater, or at the very least stay up on my board for longer than four seconds…Oh well, it’s back to the real life for this surfer chick… Hmmm. Maybe I’ll just head down to Bondi for a little practice.
The damage & the details: Surf camps with MojoSurf (Freephone: 1800 113 044,www.mojosurf.com) cost from $265.