When people think of Australia they tend to think of the bronzed Aussie surfer with the golden hair strutting his stuff on the beach. This stereotype is popular for marketing and imagery even in Australia. The vast majority of Australians live within an hour or two of the coastline, as the interior of the country tends towards desert-like conditions quite rapidly.
Australians have always been fascinated with the ocean. The surf, the life savers, the Coppertone sunscreen. The coconut oil we all wore as teenagers to get brown faster. Even now, all those years later, the smell of coconut transports me back to those happy years on the beach as a teenager. The beach just has a magnetic draw. Australians often live in one coastal destination and then go to another beach side location for their vacation.
Those of us who do not live near the coast will happily spend hours in their vehicles or on public transport every weekend or holiday to get to the beach. There are many famous surfing beaches in Australia: Bondi, Noosa, Torquay, Bells, Margaret River, Byron Bay, the list is endless. In fact, Kelly Slater used to own a unit at Avalon in Sydney’s famous Northern Beaches. Every surfer has a local beach that is referred to as their “break”.
How Dating a Surfer has Changed Through the Times
When I was a child growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, surfers had long hair. These longhaired surfers hated being referred to as hippies. They saw themselves as being totally different. Additionally, they wore no jewelry and had no tattoos.
Australian surfers drove around in panel vans which were vehicles a bit like a station wagon. They had windows along the sides and room in the back for a mattress. Surfers thought these vans were fantastically practical as they could go away for the weekend and sleep themselves and their surfboard in safety, and for free, in the back of the car.
These cars quickly gained the title “sin bins” as others saw that the mattresses could be used for ulterior purposes. No father in his right mind would let his daughter date a guy who drove a sin bin. These vehicles came in colors like purple and green and often had waves or palm trees painted on the sides.
Surfers were seen as totally cool guys and these fellows never wanted for dates. The long hair, the perpetual tan, the toned muscular bodies, what’s not to like about that?
In the 1960’s and 1970’s in Australia, the surfer’s girlfriend spent a lot of time working on her suntan on the beach. During these decades, surfing was generally a sport for the boys. The girls donned deliberately mismatching bikinis and spent their time on the sand chatting to the other girls. Once the surfing was over for the day, it was often down to the local hotel for a quick cold drink to decide how to spend the evening. Drinking alcohol in Australia is legal for everyone over the age of 18.
A quick shower and wash of the long hair was all that was required before donning a pretty sundress or jeans for the night time party. Younger surfers would often hang around on the beach after dark, building bonfires and entertaining themselves that way.
Dating a surfer back then required a few necessities. Firstly, a great figure. Secondly, a great tan. Thirdly, a love of all things on the ocean. Fourthly, great patience as the destination for the best surfing conditions for the day were discussed and a location chosen.
Having said this, younger surfers tend to be more loyal to their local break. This can be due to many social and logistical things including proximity to home, your traveling options, and where your mates go, etc. When my husband was too young for a driver’s license, he and his mates would often sleep under a boardwalk for the night to save on traveling. They would tell their mothers they were sleeping over at a mate’s place.
It wasn’t really until the 1980’s that surfing became a mainstream sport for the girls in Australia as well.
When I met my husband he had surfed his way around the globe. Africa, Europe, America, the Pacific. If there was a surf spot, he had been there. Parts of each weekend were dedicated to surfing wherever the breaks would be best. Surfboards jostled for prominence alongside the car in the garage. In fact, surfboards were often considered more important than the car.
Most of my family’s holiday destinations have been based on locations where there will be surf. We have been to Bali, California, Mexico, Hawaii, Fiji and many other surfing destinations around the vast coastline of Australia. Luckily, I love the ocean. My idea of bliss is a good book in the sunshine.
Our daughter has lived by the ocean her whole life. She was enrolled in the “Nippers” program at the age of 8. This is a program run by the lifesaving organization of Australia to teach the little Aussies ocean safety. My daughter has been featured on television in Australia in a class for girls called “Surf-dancing”. This is where the girls wear flouro colored tutus over their swimmers and perform dancing maneuvers while up riding their surfboards.
Like many Australian girls my daughter favors the surfing girl look. There are surfing shops all through the country selling the latest looks for surfers. Ripcurl and Billabong are classic favourite brands. Even Australians who live inland and nowhere near the ocean wear these clothing lines.
Interestingly enough, as my daughter starts to notice the boys, it is the tanned blond surfer types who catch her attention.
As I write this article my husband is off surfing at Noosa. I would much prefer to be a surfing widow than a golfing widow. Surfing is a fantastically healthy sport. Unlike some other sporting hobbies, surfing should only be undertaken when stony cold sober. A fair degree of fitness is also required. Our family loves the ocean and everything it represents. Even our Labrador can body surf when retrieving the tennis ball!