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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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