Memories of Surfing on Sydney’s Northern Beaches

I’ve learned life is a lot like surfing. When you get caught in the impact zone, you need to get right back up, because you never know what’s over the next wave……and if you have faith, anything is possible, anything at all.” 
Soul Surfer

I grew up surfing on Sydney’s Northern Beaches which has some of the best surf spots in Australia. I lived in Avalon which was magical as there were lots of gum trees and when I was young was the last place in Sydney to still have koalas and there were eight.

I did a surf school at Collaroy around the age of 10 and then learnt how to surf at Kiddy’s corner at Palm Beach at the far south end of the beach which mainly had small gentle waves and rode a big single fin that I bought for $80 at a surf shop at North Avalon called Beach Without Sand.

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I mastered surfing and would surf everyday after school at Bilgola Beach with my best friend Nick Cuttell.

When I was around 15, I started skateboarding seriously too which influenced my surfing style, and my favourite skater was American Natas Kaupas from Venice Beach in California, and I had one of his decks and my favourite skate video was Wheels on Fire where Natas famously ollied over a fire hydrant. I started doing skateboard manoeuvres on my surfboard like ollies.

My favourite surfers were Americans Christian Fletcher and Kelly Slater who is my age.

“A lot of times I’ll see guys who are nowhere near the level of the board they’re riding. They might love surfing and love how it looks, but you really have to work your way up. It takes eating a little humble pie at first, and stepping back to equipment that might be a bit slow, but do it. “Kelly Slater

Kelly Slater is my age and I remember seeing a video of him surfing outside the Quiksilver shop in Newport when I was 18 ripping it up doing manoeuvres like 360 aerials.

Me and my best friend Nick were getting ready for me to finish school so we could travel around Australia in a Cortina that he had restored with his father Frank but tragically Nick was killed at work in a boat yard in Sydney and his parents gave me his brand-new surfboard that he never got to use.

I kept it for a few years in storage as it was too precious to me to use but around the age of 22, I took it with me on a camping trip to Byron Bay and it got stolen as I left it outside the tent in a camping ground.

By the time I was 17 I was a rad surfer but didn’t want to compete in competitions apart form representing my school and a not so serious competition at Bilgola beach. I wanted to be a soul surfer.

Last year I got a cheap surfboard at a garage sale and took it out once but it was too narrow for me and I could barely paddle let alone stand up. So, I took it to the local surf shop to sell to hopefully get a more suitable board later.

Christian Fletcher doing an aerial