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Sydney: Calamity in the surf at Bondi

Sydney’s Bondi Beach is iconic for its shaggy blonde surfers and sun worshippers dotted on the sand. From the air the beach looks like a giant sandy smile with the impossibly blue ocean as the face freckled by surfers and expensive houses and happening cafes lining the cliff tops and water front.

But I’m about to shatter this groovy vibe with my first ever, ungainly surf lesson.

If Bridget Jones was going to learn to surf, my story would make the script…

Bondi beach
Bondi Beach from Icebergs restaurant end

Let’s Go Surfing‘s office is at the kiddie end of the beach and that is where the learners congregate.

We gathered there, our gaggle of 4 bloggers, 2 who had surfed once before and had managed to stand all of 2 seconds (Abi King from Inside the Travel Lab) and 4 seconds (Caz Makepeace from yTravel Blog) and one who grew up in a landlocked State of the US and had never donned a wetsuit (Gary Arndt from Everything Everywhere). Then there was me. I’d never touched a surf board and the last time I went boogie boarding I ended up in a shambles on the ocean floor with my top awry.

But first there was the waiver to my life to sign. Just the usual – I could drown, be hit by a car crossing the road or attacked by a shark.

Then came the hardest part of the morning, putting on my wetsuit. Flippin flip! It was like pulling a balloon skin on and after about 10 minutes I was working up quite a glow. Finally I drew back the curtain and gasped “Good Lord” as that was the moment I discovered that wetsuits don’t make everyone look skinny.

A tight blue lycra rashie completed the look and off we went across the road to hit the waves. I’ll be honest, I looked more like a walking black pudding than Paige Hareb or Sally Fitzgibbons.

Paige Hareb
Meeting Paige Hareb at the Aussie Surf Pro (and a little nod to her Fight For Life fame)

Shelley was our teacher and drew images in the sand to show us how waves work. We lay on our boards on the sand and learned where to put our toes and pressed our hands firmly under our chests for the push up motion.

“Then put your bum in the air,” she said, and there we were – like an upside-down V, figuring out how to step up onto our feet, keeping the weight on the centre of the board as much as possible. Okayyyy.

I waddled to the water with Shelley helping me because I had a board the size of a door. She held it steady as I clambered on, got balanced, then gave me a push as the wave came. I was off!

Push up from the chest, dig toes in and lift your lardy arse, I said to myself. Then stand up. Surrrrre. I got as far as bum in the air and just couldn’t make my feet move! Again and again I made pathetic attempts at being a surf star.

Suffice to say, the more experienced surfers in our group at least doubled their seconds and rode the waves like champs. We even wondered about a wild card entry over at the Australian Open of Surfing at Manly.

But all was not lost!

My defining moment came when I decided to catch my own wave and all I could see was Aidan, who was using Abi King’s waterproof camera to capture our every embarrassing move, look shocked and his eyes suddenly became very round as unbeknown to me, I had apparently chosen the biggest wave of the day and a literal wall of water was about to crash over me.

Indeed it did, but practicing my mantra, push up, bum up (and then run out of mojo with thighs that simply will NOT stand up) I rode that wave right up onto the beach, where some Japanese tourists were crouching with their cameras to capture the black pudding being served on a platter at their feet.

You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that there are more beaches than Bondi in Sydney. Here is a post covering 12 of the best beaches in Sydney.

Surfing waiver form before my surf lesson on Bondi
“You may be stung or bitten by an ocean creature, such as a bluebottle jellyfish, stingray or shark” Gulp.
Learning to surf at Bondi beach
Lesson 1, get on board. Pic courtesy of Abi King
My face on Bondi beach
Riding my first wave! Pic courtesy of Abi King
Aidan from Let’s Go Surfing captured this wave on Abi King’s waterproof camera. Nice work!
Lets Go Surfing
Shelley after our lesson outside Let’s Go Surfing – the cafe next door is great for lunch!

Read my post and pics from the REAL surfers over at the Australian Open of Surfing held at Manly Beach.

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!