Moving north from Byron Bay to live and work and study in Brisbane for the past few years has meant a big shift in my access to surfing. In the past I would surf at least once every day and had an ongoing and real relationship to conditions, banks and spots that were working. I could walk over from my house or jump in the car and drive into town in ten minutes if I wanted. Surfing was easy, accessible and cheap, and a major, everyday part of my life. From Brisbane the nearest break is about an hour away, which is not so dramatic in the scheme of things. However, in terms of my own realities, it feels much further.

My life in Brisbane and the commitments I have here mean that I lack the resources to surf - namely time and money. The hours and costs involved in driving to and from the coast limit my opportunities, and the work I moved here to do has also taken up much more of the time and energy I have available for other things.

Sometimes, I get really bummed about it. Especially when, like this past weekend, there is decent swell. At these times I get texts and calls and invitations from home,

Come home! There's swell! Why aren't you coming down?

Or much worse (and meaner) is,

Haha! Did you see how much swell there is? And you're missing it! Haha!

One friend put it like this,

You are writing about surfers and this is what surfers do. You go when the waves tell you, not when your schedule allows. Now that's a blog topic for you, haha.

My friend is right, and I know that and feel terrible about it, but I still find it hard to explain to friends, crew and loved ones why I'm not there, and why I can't find the resources to get there, let alone reconciling all of that for myself!

But it has made me think about the ways that surfing is available and accessible to different people, and the ways they negotiate and get through that. If I had the resources, I would love to explore the area around here more and learn what it's like to surf from Brisbane. But to do that involves a combination of a car, petrol, ferries, food, accommodation etc etc. The bottom line is that I don't live next to the beach anymore, so I can't afford the time and money to go for a surf whenever I would like. Even when there is swell.

I think it's a good lesson for me though - about the realities of access, costs and time - and in a funny way, it makes it even more precious. When I get to the coast I always enjoy myself - whether the waves are lovely or small or massive or blown out or busy or cold or few and far between. None of that bothers me anymore. I go surfing when and how I can, and I am always stoked for that.


  1. Stuart Nettle4:18 PM


    Exploring accessibility is one thing but, for me, the real value of moving away from the coast was perspective. Looking at your town, your culture, your identity from afar. Painters paint their subjects from a distance, writers should do the same.

    I probably should've ended on that note but I can't help myself, and I'm gonna hate myself for doing this. You see, I REALLY hate it when people quote song lyrics and inject profundity into otherwise bland words.

    However! I've always dug the line by James in the song 'Space' "You've gotta get over yourself/ You've gotta get out of the frame/ Gotta learn to see yourself a total stranger"

    And on that note I'll say goodbye...

  2. That is some beautiful stolen profundity, Mr Nettle.

  3. Dear Bec,
    Hang in there, dear. We understand. Sometimes when I cannot surf, I think back to memories of fun days and a special wave. Your school is a worthy endeavor and you will be back home and surfing soon. If we get to surf today, I'll make sure to catch a nice wave for you, friend! Take care.
    Warmest Aloha, Cher

  4. Actually I find very narrow minded to not understand that surfing is a luxury only few people have, and even less people, very less, just a bunch, have every day.
    I find it almost offensive, even more, when as a learner I'm in the water and I'm doing my best to catch some and not be in somebody else way, and the others don't have respect for the effort I and many other put in it, given the sacrifices that who lives in the city goes through, as you said, just to be there.
    It's a form of blindness.


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