When I told people I was going to Australia, a common stereotype that popped into their head brought up the question: “Will you learn how to surf?”
No judgment on their behalf, because, of course while I was here, I was going to surf. I had to take advantage of the 100 plus beaches located in Sydney, especially coming from a state that has no ocean access. So, I enrolled in Surf Camp and just got back from it this past weekend. It was an adventure to say the least: from a three hour train ride, a friendly spider in the bathroom, and of course, surfing, the weekend went nonstop from Friday to Sunday.
The camp took place about two and a half hours south of Sydney in a town called Gerroa at a beach called “7 mile beach.” The beach is actually 7.8 miles long, so the name is quite literal, yet a little misleading—not sure why the nomenclature (1) rounded down to 7-mile instead of 8, and (2) chose to use the imperial system over the metric system, since everything is measured in kilometers over here.
At camp we were put into hostel-like rooms, bunk beds fitting 8 people, located on a campsite, with shared bathrooms and the like. It was awesome—I love the laid back, communal style that was permeating through this area. We had our first lesson Saturday morning: wetsuits were put on, boards were carried, and we hiked down to the beach. The first lesson went surprisingly well, I was able to stand up on my first try and had a couple more runs that were successful. The second lesson of the day was not as successful. It was not horrible but the wind was much stronger, so the issue was not catching the waves but getting back into the surf without getting absolutely pummeled by an oncoming wave. We were all definitely humbled a few times by mother nature.
I spent the rest of Saturday walking around the small beach town, took a coastal walk which brought forth amazing views of the beach and the greenery in the background, and then the entire camp (all 90 of us) headed up to the only pub in town for a night out.
The last lesson was Sunday morning, and before that, I had to catch the sunrise. To my surprise, while walking to the beach, I ran into a friend who had the same idea. We spent the earlier dawn hours soaking in the new sunlight and reading by the beach.
Overall, the surfing experience was 10/10. I recommend anyone who comes to try it at least once. But personally, my favorite part was the beauty of the environment around us, the people I met and have already continued to hang out with, and—the most important—eating vegemite. I finally tried it at surf camp. And I love it. Not ironically or in a forced way, I truly enjoy it. One of the minorities, but it means there is always more spread available for me than the typical nut butter enthusiasts. I even got myself my own jar the second I got back into Sydney.
A weekend to remember for many reasons. To sum it up in a quick blog is hard, but I am truly grateful for my top bunk, no showers, salt-filled weekend at surf camp.