It’ s been a long flight, baby legs kicking me into shape, softening me like a pillow, the man behind doing the same. My bum is in recovery, five hours balancing on one cheek. But we made it, blood shot eyes and delirium, 5am, no sleep. I got dropped off at the ferry in Cleveland, a little rainy and grey. Said not so teary goodbyes to my two guys. A little flutter in the belly. Waiting for the ferry. Flutter. On the ferry. Ready to hold the vomit for 20 minutes or so, not that long. I’ve suffered worse. I mistook Sarsaparilla for Ginger Beer once on a rocky two hour boat ride to Green Island and the greenest island was me. Flutter. Flutter.
Five days without the boys, the longest so far. Not sentimental yet. Breathing in the freshness of freedom and battered fish. Never as good as it seems, the fish not the freedom. Five days on an island with five women I’ve never met, waking early for morning yoga and surf lessons, super foods and relaxation. Of course, I’m nervous! A little cautious of the unknown, the sharks in the water, circling the depths of my mind, comparing myself to other writers, other women who can stand up, touch their toes. It always happens in a room with new people, the Grey Nurse bares her teeth to the Tiger, lowers her eyes to the Bull. The ferry is full of locals who know where they’re going, eating nuts and carving stars into bits of wood. Kids and prams take up the aisles. I’d miss Bodhi if it wasn’t for this bumpy ride. Eyes to the horizon, I can’t see anything.
North Stradbroke is an island dream. I took a taxi, plane, car, ferry and bus to get here, to get to the Luv Shack, a blue beach house near Point Lookout, with fresh baby coconuts and frangipani scented towels on arrival. A warm welcome dinner and sharing circle with Raine our surf guru and the four other friendly ladies slowly lets down my guard.
Our first morning lesson. Overcast, cold and grey. Another 5am start. My covers are comforting, but this feels like living. I stood up! Well only slightly, teetering on the tops of toes before smashing into the sea bottom. The board hit me in the head, hip and jaw. The waves smashed, crashed and thrashed me about. My arms are buggered and I could probably sleep for 13 hours but I had so much fun! Exhilarating. Though I don’t like the word, more the feeling, tummy tickles and childish giggles, peaceful still calm.
Sweet pig-tailed girls sell passionfruit, limes and baby pears by the side of the road. The winds picked up, the sea is gunmetal grey. The afternoon brought double rainbows and dolphins two metres away. There was a bushfire on the island recently, 70 per cent of the bush in flames, but from where I’m sitting there’s nothing but sea. Time’s stretched out and all is quiet.
I rode my first wave, it fizzled before I fell, it was a slow and clumsy stand up but I’m taking it as a win. So much butting heads it’s time I won a battle. I realise one wave doesn’t make me a surfer, not nearly close, the next nose dive reassured me of that. But it’s all learning. And this old dog’s still got some in her. It’s addictive! The peace and freedom out in the ocean, the early mornings, fills you up with huge amounts of saltwater and light. Why didn’t I try this before?
By the end of our session this morning my arms were moving but I was going nowhere in the water, it’s even hard to write this. My muscles haven’t worked that hard since… forever. I kept going trying to catch “just one more”.
We have long breaks in the day between our morning and afternoon sessions. I’ve been taking long languid sleeps, reading, eating wholesome food and exploring. I’ve been retreating into myself and enjoying the sound of kookaburras and curlews. We eat communal dinners, vegetarian fare that fills the belly and fuels warm conversation.
Breakfast of Champions
Surf Chix Chia seed Porridge
100ml of Coconut milk
1 tablespoon of Chia Seed
Nuts, seeds, coconut (optional)
Soak the chia in coconut milk for an hour or so, add fresh or thawed mixed berries add additional extras and ENJOY!!
This bad boy is so good you won’t believe it’s healthy!
(No pics, sorry! I couldn’t put the spoon down to pick up the camera, too busy, YUM, YUM, YUM)
Get’s a little hard. I’m missing my boys. The alarm interrupted some crazy dreams, always the case on other peoples pillows, glad to not be in them but not too thrilled to be awake. I trudged down with the group to a Mountain top yoga session. Oh yeah, the sun, you’re beautiful and all but maybe come back later. Raine our leader beaming joy and light, always joy and light, too bright for my eyes at that early hour but after a slow meditation and some stiff stretches the sleep fog cleared from my eyes.
Still missing my boys. It’s the longest I’ve been away from them and I’m already plotting their arrival on the island, seeing their faces in strangers sunbathing on the beach. Daydreaming. But in the water it’s another state of mind, all focus is on the waves, the ebb and flow, white peaks and slow release. We laugh at our failed attempts, rising from the sudsy foam like Himalayan cats thrown in with the washing. But we keep going, and say to ourselves “just one more”. I can feel myself improving, one foot closer to riding them all to shore.
After our morning surf I took a solo trek down to the gorge walk. The day brings sunbursts and patches of rain. I can’t tell if I’m hot or cold, wet or dry. A family of kangaroos remind me of mine and a pod of 20 dolphins at the point remind me to be playful. I’ve never been on a retreat before, such luxurious time on my own to be my own. A wise female truck driver once told me, “Be here, until you’re not.”
By day four we were all standing, hooting and howling at each chick giving it a go. Laughing in the lulls and paddling like maniacs when the sets rolled in. Everyone is so supportive of each other without greed or jealousy of others success. It’s been a soul enriching experience sharing the water and the fire with a group of such different women.
In our break we went to the Brown Lake, a large fresh waterhole, on the other side of the island. The tannins from the bark of surrounding Melaleuca and Tea-trees stain the water leaving you swimming in a giant cup of Nanna’s Ceylon tea.
All the other ladies have gone. One off to Fiji, one to the Quicksilver Pro (as a journo not a surfer, it was an amazing camp but we’re not quite ready to take it pro just yet). One back to study and the other back to driving trucks. We all came to this camp with the intention to write an article, sure we wanted to learn to surf but we didn’t quite realise how much we would be changed by it, how much the water soaks into your skin and effects the way you feel. Perhaps we were there to learn more than just how to surf. Learn how to be open to change, to let go, to not be afraid, to live in the moment. Is this sounding too much like the ending of Breakfast Club? I must be the basket-case! To cut a long outro short. To all you awesome chickies out there who’ve ever wanted to surf and have put it off for whatever reason, don’t delay! Go to Chix Surfin today!