You never really know what’s coming. A small wave, or maybe a big one. All you can really do is hope that when it comes, you can surf over it, instead of drown in its monstrosity – Alysha Speer.
I wrote a blog post about surf camp, and then I decided that I didn’t like it. It was kind of a “day in the life of surf camp”, which is a great way to portray the surf camp life but something about it just didn’t encompass or visualise the excitement, friendliness, and freedom of camp life on the coast of Australia.
Let’s start again.
I spent four nights at a camp in Australia. It was a little bit magical: from sitting around campfires in the evening in hoodies and shorts with a plastic cup filled with the Australian delicacy, goon, to getting up at dusk, just in time to see the sun rise from the ocean. Here, camp was a kind of family with roots from across the globe, namely Europe with branches from America and Australia also. We were all there for the same thing: to catch (or try to) a decent wave whilst chorusing “Yewwww”.
I feel like the eating times were genuinely the highlight for me. Every day at noon and six o’clock (I never got up for breakfast), the entire camp would grab our food from the volunteers and workers and sit on picnic benches, usually with different people every time. It was perfect; it was like being at school again. This time though, there were more stories and adventures to be told from a variety of people that you just wouldn’t meet unless you were travelling. I also realised at this point that Europeans think I’m called Fag when I introduce myself. Aren’t dialects and vowel intonations crazy from place to place?
There were two surf lessons per day: one in the morning and one after lunch. The lessons at Spot X in Coff’s Harbour were hilarious, namely because I fell flat on my face every time. Surfing, as much as I hate to admit it, is not my sport. I cannot do sport successfully; it’s a fact. They were fun and a lot of hard work. I have never felt my body ache in so many places all the time. Even 1000 crunches would have nothing on the way my abs felt after a couple of days on the surf board. No wonder surfers are incredibly fit. They have to be so that they’re not in pain every day. The lessons were jam packed with wave after wave, with hardly any lulls, apart from maybe the one day if I remember correctly. Before hitting the waves, there would always be a few pop ups and crazy warm up games that would just result in a hell of a lot of laughter.
After the afternoon lesson, there would be free time or a planned activity. I enjoyed that free time immensely, with a book in a hammock. During one of those afternoons, Erika and I bonded in a couple of hammocks over a lot of boy talk, giggling over surfing, and genuinely forming an amazing friendship. Hannah and I became a trio with Erika which made the trip to MOJO all the more worth it, especially as we went on to Byron Bay together and then Surfers Paradise and Brisbane afterwards.
The first five days of the east coast were a complete success. They were filled with cold nights – there always has to be an imperfection to make it perfect – shower queues (very camp life like), hilarious annecdotes, amazing friendships, the first sign of an Australian tan, plenty of waves, good food and a lot of fun and laughter. We headed off to Byron Bay, the surf and peace-loving town that I couldn’t wait for.
Byron Bay. It’s a dream place for me. I really want to go back before I leave Australia; not even just want to, I have to. Us girls stayed at The Arts Factory, where The Inbetweeners 2 had a scene filmed there apparently. I haven’t seen it so I wouldn’t know. The hostel was a different life. It had teepees (we were supposed to stay in them but it was too cold), many hammocks, its own forest-feel aka a lot of trees, live music in the evenings, many a bird tapping and squawking at 6am and a very laid back, hippy feel. I couldn’t count the amount of dreadlocks. Here I randomly bumped into an old school friend too! It’s a small world after all doesn’t even begin to describe it.
I loved the instructors here, mainly the older guy. He was hilarious and also strict with it. Plus, he didn’t give up at all. He would push you up on that surf board himself if he had to, and he wouldn’t leave you alone until you did it and got that one piece of photographic evidence, which I did!… in the end. The waves here were choppier, and bigger so it was a slight difference to Spot X, which is why they send you there first before heading to Byron.
During the evenings, we had a welcome dinner with our entire group where there were a group of hilarious Australians who were also our hostel neighbours. We had a drink with them afterwards and their friendship knew no boundaries, it was almost refreshing and made me laugh a lot. We also headed out to a surfer bar, Woody’s Surf Shack that became a firm favourite. I loved the fact that flip flops and a baggy t-shirt were the go-to for a night out there. I wore eye makeup once, and I went out makeupless the majority of the time. It was great. We also headed out to Cheeky Monkeys with a couple of the guys we had met at surf camp too. Dancing on tables was not only a given, it was the main dance floor.
In retrospect, surf life was pretty incredible. It was laid back, family and friend-oriented, with some memories that are going to be with me for a lifetime. It was the perfect way to begin my east coast trip, and an amazing second and third week of Australia. I couldn’t have asked for a better start.
Have you tried out surfing in Australia? Been to a camp? I would 100,000% recommend MOJO Surf.
Also, if you get the photos, make sure you download them before the three months after! You’ll just have to take my word for it that I did stand up. Promise!
Love, Faye (or Fag) x