One of the best things that Australia has to offer is its astonishing nature, stretching from east to west, north to south; varying, vast and wild. When I first came here in 2009 for a wedding I had the great pleasure of traveling all over the country and experiencing the majestic continent first hand. I saw everything form the lush and intricate rainforest up near Cape Tribulation to the unforgivingly hot desert surrounding Uluru to the wilderness of Western Australia. But when I returned 4 years later to commence my university degree, it was the ocean that became my obsession.
The ocean has always been very close to my heart, having grown up in a house that sits right on the water, so when I settled down here on the Gold Coast one of my first purchases was a surfboard from a local board-maker in Mermaid Beach. Now, I’d surfed back in 2009 while visiting and gone to surf school in north-western Peru but as usual I greatly overestimated my skills. Surfing is incredibly difficult, don’t ever let anybody tell you differently and for the love of Poseidon; don’t ever discount what you see girls and guys doing on their boards. It takes dedication, time and blood to even stand up on white wash but what you get in return is laughter, rejuvenation that only Mother Nature can bestow upon you and a sense that you’re part of something that people have been doing for a really long time. And, of course, the refreshing tons of salt water that go up your nose. It’s a long journey to the day when people on the beach look out at you and wonder who’s throwing the hammer down and in my case I think a few tourists snapped photos of me thinking they were watching the unique phenomena of a walrus in Surfers Paradise.
But whether you’re getting barrelled (surfing inside a wave as it breaks over you) or finding your footing on the white wash, the most essential part is that any time spent in the ocean or near any body of water recharges your body and mind. It’s the great paradox of experiencing a massive adrenaline rush and total serenity simultaneously. And yeah, this is all getting very heady, but I speaketh the truth my friends. I always loved nature but not until Australia did it become important to me to feel in tune with it, and I urge everyone who comes here, whether it is for 6 months or for a whole degree, to buy a cheap board and venture into the liquid blue and let it take you where it may. You don’t even have to leave Queensland to surf some of the best breaks in the world or to snorkel at one of this planet’s most spectacular ecosystems.
I feel so privileged to live in a place where there are waterfalls to jump off of and sunsets to paddle towards. When university is overwhelming and work is stressing me out there’s nothing that relieves the stress better than grabbing my board and walking down to the beach; to sit on it and watch as the sunrise colours the whole world pink. To think of nothing but the beautiful fact that we share the ocean with all these amazing creatures and how fantastic it is that such an ordinary moment can feel so special. It’s a difficult thing to convey but it’s almost like alchemy and the best part? All you need is a board.