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Surf's up!

Australians are prone to be drawn to the shores one way or another because their country is surrounded on all sides by water. Roughly eighty percent of Australians live within 80 miles of the sea and 50 percent of the country’s houses sit less than 8 miles from a beach {source}, so you will certainly find beach culture in the land of Oz, and the choice of which beach to visit is simple — In the Sydney-area alone, there are over 50 beaches {click here to see a list of them all}. Aussies enjoy the beach in many ways and one such way is surfing.

Do I surf?
Not really, but I will try to take advantage of it this summer.

Do all Aussies surf?
No, but I’m personally surrounded by the surfing culture here Down Under, so I’m surprised I didn’t add this to the list much sooner. It’s always on my mind — Even as I drove recently through Narrabeen, the Beach Boys song “Surfing U.S.A.” came to mind:

You’d catch ’em surfin’ at Del Mar
Ventura County line
Santa Cruz and Trestle
Australia’s Narrabeen
All over Manhattan
And down Doheny Way
Everybody’s gone surfin’
Surfin’ U.S.A.

Do Aussie surfers have a slang?
Yes. Along with the Shaka sign they might sign at each other, you also might hear them say some of these international terms, but Aussies have a few of their own terms as well:
· Aggro = Aggression  {“A lot of aggro in the water today…”}.
· Boardies = Boardshorts.
· Blow in = Out of town surfer.
· Leggie = The urethane band (or rope) that attaches your board to your ankle.
· Rashie = Rash guard.
· Rippin’ = Surfing really well.
· Steamer = A full wetsuit with long arms and long legs.
You can find a complete list here.

How can I learn to surf?
Some beaches offer surfing lessons.  In Manly, in the Sydney-area, there is one that I know of for kids and adults {click here}.  Otherwise, you can learn all around the world.  Click here for more info.

I’ve heard about fake reefs — What are those?
Yes, artificial reefs have been created for surfing.  Click here to learn more about this.

Which beaches are the most famous to surf in Australia?
There are so many, such as Bells Beach in Victoria.  I found a good website with more information about the best surfing locations here.

Who are the most famous Aussie surfers today?
There are many.  Here are a few —
Mick Fanning.
Taj Burrow.
Stephanie Gilmore.
Sally Fitzgibbons.
More here.

What time of day is the best time to surf?
It depends.  In Australia, there is a handy website set up for surfers on Coastalwatch  — There are even iPhone apps available for surfers to check the swell forecast while on the go.

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Surfers at Burleigh Heads in Queensland

What about surf gear?
Shortboards, longboards, wet suits, rash guards, surf wax… The list goes on and on!  Click here to learn more.

Do Aussie surfers ever become hostile?
They can. Sometimes locals can be territorial about where they surf, so this is something to keep in mind. If you’ve come in from out of town and they know it, you might come across some hostility, aka surf rage. Best to know the surf etiquette! This should also apply to boogie/body boarders {who surfers here call “boogers” and “spongers”}. Share the water.

Are there surf-gangs in Australia?
Yes. One famous surf-gang in Australia is from Maroubra, and they are the Bra Boys. Click here to learn more about them. I suggest you also watch Bra Boys: Blood is Thicker than Water, a documentary written and directed by members of the gang, narrated by actor Russell Crowe {he’s originally from New Zealand, by the way}.

Last but not least — Wear sunblock!
As I learned just a week ago… I was on Whale Beach in the sun for less than 40 minutes {without sunblock — doh! Never again!}, the Australian sun is not very forgiving. The highest skin cancer rate in the world? Australia. Check out this link for more info.

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Thongs

No, not thong underwear. We’re talking about flip-flops or jandals.

Aussies love to wear thongs and have for over 50 years. According to Wikipedia:

“Thongs became popular in Australia after being worn by the Australian Olympic swimming team at the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956.”

Even during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games closing ceremony, Kylie Minogue rode to the stage on a giant thong

When they aren’t going barefoot, I’ve seen Aussies wearing thongs everywhere Down Under, and this is possibly because roughly 80% of the population lives within 50 km {approximately 30 miles} of the beach. And keep in mind that you can get away with wearing thongs almost anywhere down here.

Single or double pluggers?
According to Urban Dictionary:

“The highest standard of thongs, these have two plugs though the sole on each side.  If the pair has only one plug through the sole, then they’re only good for showers.  With two plugs you can wear them out to dinner, to the pub, a wedding, a funeral…”

Seasonal attire?
Some Aussies would probably wear them all year, if they could. Even on one cold winter day in Sydney, which was about 10°C {that’s 50°F}, I saw a woman on the train who was wearing a pair of thongs. However you’ll more likely to see thongs worn in the Sydney-area from September through April at the beach and around town.

The brands:
· Havaianas
· TEVA
· Cobian
· Quiksilver/Roxy
· Crocs

There are more, but the most popular brand of thongs seem to be Havaianas.

Aussie Flag Thong

Aussie Thong Inflatable Pool Floaty-thingy

What do I think?
At first, it was tough for me to say “thongs.” I kept thinking of the “Thong Song” by Sisqo… I’m over that now.

I now own 3 pairs of thongs, which is also the total amount of pairs I’d owned in my entire life before coming to Australia, plus I have 2 pairs of terry cloth terry towelling thongs for around the house. I don’t like to wear thongs everyday because it’s bad for the feet, but I certainly have adopted them into my wardrobe. The pairs I own range from laid-back, just plain black or brown, to dressy, bedazzled with embellishments.

I believe I’m starting to fit in Down Under…

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Throw another prawn on the barbie...

Barbie, barby, bbq, barbecue, grill or whatever you want to call it, just like Steve Irwin and Vegemite, the barbie is an Australian cultural icon. Everyone I have met in Australia so far owns a grill {or two}, with it being at least a portable grill to take camping or to the beach.

A few things Aussies normally cook on their gas or charcoal barbie:

· Prawns
· Snags or bangers {sausages}
· Chicken {skewers, etc.}
· Steak
· Kangaroo {seriously}

Different types of fish and seafood can be added to that list, and it seem there are always onions and other veggies cooking on the grill as well.  I’ve even seen Australia-shaped hamburger patties {as seen below}…

Bring your own plate: 

At some barbecues, they’ll ask that you bring your own plate. This means you should bring a prepared dish of food to share with the host and guests.  Bring your own meat, unless asked not to.  Also ask what you should bring otherwise as well, like if you should bring a picnic blanket or camping chairs for yourself and your family.

Drinks:

BYO means bring your own drink.  It’s OK to just bring your own drinks anyway, so load up your Esky {Aussie for “ice cooler”} with your favorite favourite drinks.

· If it’s beer you’re bringing, bring at least a 6-pack.
· If you bring your own beer, it’s OK to go home with your leftover beers.

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Australia-shaped hamburger patties...

What to wear:

The chances of a family spending Christmas in their cozzies {Aussie for “swimming suits”} by the grill at the pool or at the beach is highly likely in Australia, so barbecues are not always meant to be formal.   Unless it’s supposed to be a formal event, wear whatever the weather seems to permit. Of course, you can add a little bit of some Aussie humor humour by wearing a terry towelling {Aussies say this instead of “terry cloth”} hat and some zinc on your nose à la Super Dag

Here is what you should plan otherwise:

· Bring your cozzie {swimming suit} and a beach towel along, just in case there is a pool or if you’ll be at the beach.
· Be “SunSmart.” If you’re planning on being in the sun, be sure to wear a sun hat and bring enough sunscreen for you and your family to use.
· Wear your sunnies {Aussie for “sunglasses”}.
· Feel free to rock up {Aussie for “show up”} to the party in your thongs {Aussie for “flip-flops“} too.
· Or you could just show up barefoot

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