History of Surfing
It’s hard to envisage a time before surfing was popular in Australia, but believe it or not, this popular pastime hasn’t always been a part of Australian culture. In fact, surfing (as we know it) originated in the Polynesian islands and has only been practised in Australia since the last century.
Surfing, otherwise known as wave sliding, was not just a recreational sport in the Polynesian islands. Instead, it was a very spiritual and cultural activity that, when performed well, gained its surfers status, power, and romantic conquests. Surfing was such an important part of their culture that Polynesians made offerings to the trees from which they made their boards, chanted to the waves, followed spiritual board carving rituals, and prayed to the gods after surviving powerful swells.
Despite being known as an activity for the elite (the best surf breaks were reserved for the rich and powerful), men, women, and children from all levels of society participated in wave sliding. However, once the Christian missionaries colonised Hawaii and the surrounding islands, surfing was discouraged and its influence wasn’t revived until the rise of tourism in the 19th century.
Surfing in Australia
Although there were already various rudimentary methods in which Australians rode the waves, modern surfing was first brought to our giant island when Duke Kahanamoku debuted the sport at Freshwater Beach in 1914.
Thanks to the incredibly beautiful beaches, 34,000 kilometres of coastline (excluding all the small offshore islands), 200-300 days of sunshine we receive on average every year, and Australians’ love of the ocean, surfing quickly rose to popularity in Australia during the 20th century. It is now one of the most popular surfing destinations in the world, not least because it receives swells suitable for surfers with all levels of ability, from beginner to advanced.
Why is Surfing Important in Australia?
Surfing is part of the very fabric of life in many Australian coastal communities. Many of us know how to catch and ride a wave, so many in fact, that we have 2.5-3.5 million active surfers in Australia! The dramatic growth of surfing culture can be attributed to its association with a mindful and relaxed lifestyle, the challenge of progressing and improving one’s performance, and promoting overall strength, fitness and well-being.
Have you read our article on Surf Zinc: the Best Sunscreen for Surfers?
The love of surfing has driven numerous innovations within the industry and Australians have led the way in surfboard design and production from the 1960s onwards. For example, in the 1970s, Australian-born Simon Anderson invented the 3-fin system that we can find on today’s shortboards.
Furthermore, growing up surrounded by such stunning oceans has enabled many Australians to harbour an awareness and appreciation of our environment, which is currently reflected in a number of locally-produced sustainable and reef-friendly surf products. Here are a couple of our favourites:
Native Dog Surf Wax
Having a good-quality board wax is essential for every surfer, but did you know that, much like sunscreen, most surf waxes contain harmful chemicals? Eventually, the residue from products like these can build up in our oceans and have toxic side-effects on these beautiful ecosystems. That’s why the team at SunButter use Native Dog Surf Wax.
A natural alternative to those chemical nasties, Native Dog Surf Wax is made using sustainable and cruelty-free beeswax, coconut oil, and tree sap. The petroleum-free, reef-safe surf wax has been carbon- and clay-filtered to ensure that your surfboard doesn’t stain yellow.
Depending on whether you surf in warm or cold climates, there are two types of Native Dog Surf Wax:
- Native Dog Warm Water Surf Wax (formulated for warmer climate surfing)
- Native Dog Cold Water Surf Wax (formulated for temperate climate surfing)
You can purchase and/or find out more information about both variants from our online surf wax shop!
SunButter’s Long-Lasting Surf Zinc
We can all empathise with the internal conflict of having to leave the water before we’re ready. Therefore, we’ve created long-lasting surf zincs to at least stop you from having to get out to reapply sunscreen. To achieve the best sunscreen for surfers, we created a thick, tinted zinc paste that creates a physical barrier on your skin that remains clearly visible and effective for hours.
Unlike our everyday-use sunscreen, our SunButter Surf Zincs need to be scrubbed off, so you can rest assured that it won’t be easily washed away whilst you’re out catching waves. Enriched with natural oils, our surf zinc sunscreens are free from chemicals and parabens and tinted using earthy minerals. That means they are cruelty-free, natural, reef-safe, and 100% safe for your skin!
These surf zinc sunscreens even come in 3 different colours, so you can paint yourself like a rainbow sun warrior and set out to surf!