Finding our Mojo

Adventure Travel, Australia, Cabins & Camping, Fitness & Workouts, Lost Girls RTW Adventure, Sports & Games — By on June 29, 2007 at 10:47 pm

Even before Jen, Holly and I had set foot on Australian soil, we figured we had a pretty solid grasp on life “Down Under.” Thanks to some quality American television shows, classic 80s movies and even a few cool advertising campaigns, we’d already gleaned several critical bits of information and pop culture knowledge sure to help us fit in with the locals once we reached the land of Oz. For example:

1. When Aussies really want to tie one on, they tap a keg of Fosters (hey, its Australian for beer, right?)
2. When Aussies get hungry, they throw a shrimp on the barbie and fry up a bloomin’ onion.
3. When Aussies want to play with their pets, they head out back and wrestle the family crocodile, Dundee-style.
4. When Aussies need to head to town, they saddle up their pet kangaroo and get hopping (it’s a long way from the Outback into Sydney).
5. When Aussies want to take advantage of the incredible waves crashing right on their doorstep, they slap on a pair of board shorts and go surfing.

Color us sunburned and call us tourists…as we quickly learned from our Sydney-based hostess Simone, these stereotypes are patently untrue! Well, all except for that last one. From Bondi to Byron Bay–and, indeed, along 34,000+ kilometers of Australian coastline–you’ll find no shortage of local surfie chicks and dudes who absolutely live to catch waves. And, as luck would have it, no shortage of instructors willing to explain how to get up on a “stick” and “shoot a curl” all the way back to the beach.

Having watched watched Point Break so many times that we could literally embody the soul and spirit of Johnny Utah (“Can’t I just walk with this board under my arm and look stoned?”) and his guru pal Bodhi (“If you want the ultimate rush, you’ve gotta be willing to pay the ultimate price”), Jen and I were dying hit the surf.

Holly, who’d already learned how to “shred” in Costa Rica the previous year, was just as pumped to continue her education and told us about a school she’d heard of called Mojo Surf, which offered organized surf camps just a few hours north of Sydney. Since Hol’s little sister Kate would be arriving from Syracuse the following week, we figured a little road-trip was in order and booked a three-day, two-night adventure at a secluded coastal area known only as “Secret Spot X.”

Well, in the end, the “short little drive” actually took us about eight hours (stereotype alert: Like Texans, Aussie’s are notoriously bad about estimating distances), and we had to find this top-secret beach in a cloak of darkness. Waking with the sun the next morning (not voluntarily, of course), we realized that our long drive had been well worth the trouble. Secret Spot X lived up to its name–we were perched along the far end of a wide crescent of sand that curved around the rugged coast for miles. Squinting into the distance, I couldn’t spot a single resort, trendy cafe, sandwich shop or souvenir stand. Only sand, sun and perfectly breaking waves.

If there was better place to learn to surf, I couldn’t imagine it.

The first part of our lesson took part on dry land, where we met with our quirky-but-kinda-hot instructor Dan and learned a little terminology (rails = the side of the surfboard), a little theory (waves are caused by squalls that form way out at sea) and a few random rules (if you pee in your wetsuit, you’ll be forced to streak naked through the camp). Mental note: “wettie warmers” are only okay in scuba diving, not surfing!

Working together to lift the heavy, ultra-long beginner boards (made of a sturdy foam rather than hard fiberglass), the five students in our little class marched down to the beach and got a thorough lesson in getting up on the board….a procedure that I noted was a bit different from what Tyler had taught Johnny Utah in Point Break. Trying to keep an open mind, I listened to Dan’s instructions as we repeated the drill over and over again. Finally, he deemed our little group ready to hit the waves.

I’d love to tell you how the other ladies looked when they succeeding in riding their first wave, but I must admit I was totally, completely consumed with catching my own. After paddling out past the break, I turned the board around towards the shore and looked behind me to spot a wave that would be big enough to provide some forward momentum (but not so big that I’d get clobbered!). After several failed attempts to stand up, I managed to get the hang of the momentum. Paddling hard just in front of a two-foot swell, I felt the board rise up beneath me…time to move! I slowly brought my right foot up into a lunge and carefully (don’t fall!) brought brought the othe foot up to meet it, shifting into a bent-kneed, arms-out, crouching-tiger-hidden-dragon kind of position.

Hey, wait…I’m surfing!

I think I was so surprised by this realization that I actually jumped off the board, but something had clicked into place. Catching the next wave was a lot easier, and by the end of day two, I’d figured out how to ride those puppies for five and six seconds at a time. Who’s the surf diva now, Cameron Diaz?!

Turning in our boards for the night (and hanging up our pristine, non-peed-in wetsuits to dry), we got changed and prepared for the other great joy of (surf) camping–beers and a bonfire! Here’s a few more shots from our days at surf camp…

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  • Bitsy Parker says:

    Holy cow! I just found your site. Bizarrely it was listed on my site as part of a blogroll. I will be your very best reader! This is great! Can’t wait to dig through the archives – which is the best?

  • Erik says:

    Wow, I think I’ll have to follow your lead when I finally make it off this frozen continent!

  • Dellie says:

    Australian Surf School-how exotic and physical! You girls have certainly covered your bases. Great job, ADP. Next you’ll be “hangin’ ten” in Malibu! Wise is the woman who never stops learning…

  • kauai surf says:

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