A Surfer’s Guide To Living Life To The Full

Chuck Chastain

Chuck Chastain

Just wrote A Surfer’s Guide To Living Life To The Full.

Surfing Makes Me Happy

I took up surfing at 39. I’d wanted to learn to surf for years and when the opportunity presented itself on the island of Bocas del Toro in Panama, I knew it was now or never. Imagine learning to surf in the warm Caribbean sea with a patient, encouraging and stunning teacher. It’s not surprising with those conditions that after three lessons I was hooked.

I’ve only been surfing about 18 months now and I’m not that good, but I can stand up on a wave and I have fun. To me that’s what it’s all about. Surfing holds a few keys to happiness for me because it:

  • Keeps you totally in the moment.
  • Puts you in touch with the elements and nature.
  • Challenges you mentally and physically.
  • Wears you out so you sleep well.

So here’s my take on what lessons surfing can teach us about living life to the full. Check out the link for to see how life development and surfing can help you live your dream.

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Best and Worst Things About Living in Australia

An eastern water dragons posing

An eastern water dragon posing

A quick run down on the advantages and disadvantages of living in Australia. I’d love it if you can help me out and pitch in some of your ideas by leaving a comment.

The Best Things About Living in Australia

  • Great weather
  • Interesting birds and wildlife
  • Good schools
  • Friendly, funny people
  • Safe and politically stable
  • Great and diverse scenery
  • Swimming in warm ocean and excellent public pools
  • Outdoor Lifestyle,  lots of bike and walking tracks
  • Sporting opportunities
  • Camping galore
  • Beaut beaches
  • Surfing all year round
  • $4 clean skin wines from Dan Murphy

The Worst Things About Living in Australia

  • Very suburban
  • Skin cancer rates, highest in the world
  • Complicated tax system and high taxes
  • Dangerous wildlife like snakes and spiders
  • Droughts, water shortages and forest fires
  • Cockroaches, in every Queensland rental house apparently
  • Surf Rage incidents and crowded surf breaks
  • Hideous crows cawing at all hours and raiding bins

Well, the good things far outweigh the drawbacks so that seems to be the right balance for a happy lifestyle.

Good luck with your computer and your Internet dreams!

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Related articles

>> New to Noosa
>> Noosa Festival of Surfing

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Winter School Holidays: Sunshine Coast, Australia

Looking South from the top of Mt Coolum

Looking South from the top of Mount Coolum


The Candy kids are now enjoying their two week Queensland winter holiday. They’ve had fun and enjoyed the opportunity to do stuff that’s usually strictly forbidden, like watch TV and play on their computer games in the mornings. Ahem, they might be doing that right now actually.

But when I’ve got a bit of writing done, I’m always keen to get the kids out of the house and exercise them. We’re all happier with lots of running around and fresh air. Free activities are best, so the last two weeks have been an endless round of walks in national parks and on the beach, scooting, frisbee, football, handball, fishing, tree climbing, playing tiggy, basketball and loitering with intent at various playgrounds. Swimming at the Noosa Acquatic Center isn’t quite free but it’s got to be one of the best deals in town. There have been plenty of play dates and sleepovers too, so we’ve usually had more than three kids to entertain.

Explore the Sunshine Coast More

We’ve had time to visit a couple of new places in the Sunshine Coast too.

Kennilworth

This one horse town in the Hinterland, about a 45 minute drive from the coast, has a brilliant kids playground with a flying fox, a merry-go-round and a lot of unusual equipment. There’s a dairy opposite where you can have a cheese tasting and buy an ice cream. Take a picnic or grab a pie in town. Another great free day out. Next time I’ll combine this with a trip to Maleny which has lovely bush walks.

Mount Coolum

The landscape round the Sunshine Coast is quite flat, but every now and then a mountain rises up out of nowhere. Some are perfect cone-shaped peaks, but Mount Coolum is more of a dome. It’s a steep walk but after half an hour you’ll be rewarded with stunning views all down the coast both north and south, and inland to the hinterland. We even saw some whales spouting out at sea. Free activities don’t get much better than this and just like fellow Kiwi Sir Edmund Hilary, who we were discussing on the way there, the kids loved being fearless mountaineers and conquering the mountain.

Caloundra Rollerdrome

This was a blast from the past. Overcome your fear of shared footwear and ignore the pong of hundreds of sweaty feet. Buckle yourself into some rollerblades or rollerskates and whizz, stumble or fall round the rink, while the DJ plays Michael Jackson, Abba and Beyonce for you. They even organise games, which stops the kids from getting bored and keeps them rolling for the full two hour sesssion. It all comes in at just under $50 for four people but we had a laugh and got a free workout so I’d love to go again.

Enjoy the Photos!

Hinterland views from the top of Mt. Coolum

Hinterland views from the top of Mount Coolum

View north to Noosa from Mount Coolum

View north to Noosa from Mount Coolum

Weekend fun at the Noosa public pool

Weekend fun at the Noosa public pool

Everyone loves the red rocket

Everyone loves the red rocket

Adorable Roller Girl

Adorable Roller Girl

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Good luck with all your plans!

Read More About Queensland’s Sunshine Coast

If you haven’t already read these stories about things to do on the Sunshine Coast check out:

Culture Shock for New Immigrants to Australia

Sunshine Coast Tourist Guide: Family Activities

Sunshine Coast Tourist Guide: Australia Zoo

Racism in Australia

Stereotypical Aussie Koala

Stereotypical Aussie Koala


Cultural Insights on Life in Australia

Before I get to the meaty part I’d like to say a quick gidday to all my lovely Aussie readers. Please don’t take these notes about my perceptions on Australian culture and racism in Australia personally. Just think of me a whinging Pom and a backwards Kiwi reporting on cultural differences that I’ve noticed during the six months I’ve been living here in Australia.

I just want to give people who may be thinking of moving to, or visiting the lucky country a balanced view of what it’s like here, because some of them think life in Australia is all beach time, hunky lifesavers and sunny days. Then they get here and they don’t like it.

Is Australia a Racist Country?

Now for the juicy stuff, the cultural insights which I fear may incite the rage of my new, friendly and often funny Australian hosts. A month or two ago there was a big furore in Australia when the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said “adios” to the news that Sol Trujillo, a Mexican, and a bigwig in a major Australian telecommunications company, had been fired. You could call Rudd racist. Or you could call Trujillo humourless and a bad loser, because he then launched into a diatribe about how racist Australia is, and claimed that living here is “like stepping back in time.”

Some Australians were upset, even shocked, at being accused of racism, but none-the-less, the fact that Aboriginal people have a statistically lower life expectancy and literacy rate just looks bad. Of course, statistics can lie, but somehow the fact that there are loads of Aboriginals living here would have passed me by if I didn’t read about them suffering from alcoholism, child abuse and poor health care in the Australian newspapers. But then again, I live in Noosa, Queensland, a mostly middle-class enclave populated by lucky white folk, and there seem to be a few pre-conceptions about Noosa residents too, namely that we are all rich, stuck up ex-hippies. But I digress.

Racist Pre-conceptions About Australians

I’m sure that all Aussies aren’t racist any more than all Kiwis are sheep shaggers, or all Brits are football hooligans, and many of them may be racist sheep shaggers or hooligans too. However, I should mention that when I moved to Australia one British friend asked how I was liking it here in “the new land of apartheid.” Ouch.

I think I’ve been quite controversial enough now in my bid to expose a little bit about Australian culture, so rather than irritate my generous hosts any more, and risk being deported to the chilly shores I’ve escaped from, I’ll end here. I think I’ll save my thoughts on Queensland anti-hooning measures and street brawling until next time.

Thanks for having me Australia, I love you really, especially the hunky lifesavers, great beaches, sunny days and amazing Aboriginal culture.

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Good luck with all your plans!

What Can You Give Up To Live Your Dream?

What We Can Happily Live Without

Our Wheels in Costa Rica

Our Wheels in Costa Rica: not flash but they went round

Flash Cars
We have an old no-name type car. Who gives a flying fart anyway? However, don’t let your kids use your car as a climbing frame like we did in Costa Rica or the roof rack will fall off one day while you’re driving along. Ooops.

Fancy Clothes
This year I’m attempting to spend 12 months without buying any clothes for myself. I’ve had to get slippers and a dressing gown to cope with the winter here and a wetsuit for surfing in the cooler climes, but apart from that, nothing for myself, just a few odds and ends for the kids. I swear I’m not dressing in rags either and most of the time I even look quite presentable, at least by my standards. Come November I’ll be splashing out on a couple of new dresses and t-shirts for the summer. Roll on summer.

Fine Food
In order to maximise my writing time we rotate our meals more or less according to a fortnightly menu of family favorites which are quick to make and enjoyed by all. I think this is the biggest sacrifice actually as I love food and would enjoy having more time to cook it. But something has to give and when it comes down to it, I’d prefer to be writing, walking, surfing or spending time with the hubby or kids than cooking.

A Home of Our Own
We’re renting a house and will do so for a year of more. It’s comfy but it doesn’t have all the finishing touches and personality we had in our own home. My dream home’s on hold.

Beauty Treats
Expensive face creams, facials, pedicures, massages, spa treatments are now just the subject of the odd fantasy. Cheaper products and diy pedicures seem to be just as good anyway.

I’d love to hear what you could or couldn’t live without.

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Good luck with all your plans!

More Travel Inspiration

How we used our savings to fund a dream trip to Central America: Live your dream in material world.

>> Follow your dream: you only live once.

Wicked Winter on the Sunshine Coast, Australia

Martin Fingland of Geckoes Wildlife with a Shy Snake

Martin Fingland of Geckoes Wildlife with a Shy Snake

I’ve written recently that winter on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia doesn’t really get cold. Sorry, folks, I take it all back. It’s now wickedly chilly and some mornings I’m sitting here with socks, slippers, all my clothes and the pink fluffy dressing gown I couldn’t live without over the top. Hot stuff I know.

My eleven year old son, who’s a great source of Australian news, says winters aren’t usually this cold on the Sunshine Coast. Apparently temperatures have been as low as 5°C (41°F) and oil and fan heaters are selling fast. But when you’re out in the sun it’s fine.

Free Entertainment in Noosa

We had a good day out a couple of weekends ago at a water festival at the Noosa Regional Botanical Gardens on Lake McDonald where fish, ducks and turtles abound. It was another fabulous free Noosa event, this one aimed at teaching us how important our waterways are to the environment and why we need to keep them clean, a message which wasn’t lost on us.

The wildlife presentation by Geckoes Wildlife was a highlight and if you like the idea of someone turning up to your kid’s birthday party with a bat, a toad and a ten foot python they’re the people to call.

How to Kill a Cane Toad Humanely

After living in Costa Rica, my kids did know that cane toads, the amphibian scourge of Australia, were imported here from Central America but how to kill them humanely was news to us. Apparently it’s okay to kill cane toads in Australia because they aren’t native but were brought here to eat beetles that were eating the sugar cane. Cane toads are bad news for the Australian eco-system because they breed fast, eat native fauna and, being naturally toxic, they kill native animals who eat them thinking they’re a frog.

So here’s how to kill a cane toad humanely, because the man from Geckoes Wildlife says it’s just not kind to go at them with a baseball bat. Read carefully now, this could come in useful some day. First catch the cane toads in a plastic bag and pop them in the fridge until they fall into hibernation. Then put them in the deep freezer where they will die painlessly. Now don’t forget to use the dead cane toad to fertilise your garden.

Well, I’m always interested to learn new things and I like to think I’m open to new experiences too, but I can’t imagine trying this out so I probably haven’t lived in Australia long enough yet.

Feeling Sick? Relax, Enjoy the Photos of Lake McDonald and the Festival

Noosa District Concert Band in the Amphitheatre

Noosa District Concert Band in the Amphitheatre

A Geckoes Wildlife Presentation with Martin Fingland and a Cane Toad: Educational and Entertaining

A Geckoes Wildlife Presentation with Martin Fingland and an undesirable cane toad: Educational and Entertaining

View Across Lake MacDonald During a Free Boat Tour

View Across Lake MacDonald During a Free Boat Tour

Martin and a Fruit Bat

Martin and a Fruit Bat: I love bats and apparently humans are more closely related to bats than to monkeys. Look at it's arm and hand with five fingers and its cute furry face. Sweet.

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Good luck with all your plans!

Changing Crappiness Into Happiness

Inspirational People and the Key to Happiness

Kookaburra in Noosa National Park

Kookaburra in Noosa National Park

I recently went to an inspirational talk by cancer survivor, young mum, triathlete and fellow Noosa resident, Sam Naudin. Over the past two years she’s had a tumultuous journey which included being diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently undergoing a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. As if this wasn’t bad enough her long term relationship ended and suddenly she was a solo mum with two children under four years old dependent on her.

Faced with a big helping of crap like that, lesser individuals might have given up and opted to spend the next year or so curled up on the couch watching reruns of dreary sitcoms while consuming vast amounts of chocolate. But not Sam. Despite being left with  lympoma, when her medical treatment was over, she decided to get fit and raise money for charity. Her dream soon escalated into completing a half-marathon, cycling 100 kilometers and finally a triathlon.

I have to say, it sounds exhausting but it certainly is inspirational stuff and makes me wonder what events catalyse people to get off their bums and do something. So often it’s a brush with death, either our own or that of a loved one, that motivates us to live our dream and be the best we can be. Only when faced with the inevitability of our own mortality does life takes on more meaning and vibrancy. Let’s not wait for a stark reminder, let’s live life to the full right now and enjoy what we have today.

Put a positive spin on things.

The other inspirational part of this story is that it really illustrates how much we’re in charge of our own destiny. Fate dealt Sam a rough hand but she was still able to choose how she played it. Either she could go with the flow, become a powerless victim and sit around feeling sorry for herself, or she could give fate the finger and carry on her amazing journey through life.

Like Sam, when something bad happens I’m going to look on the bright side, try to laugh it off, and not dwell on it. We do have control over our feelings and I’m working on choosing to feel happy, valuable, satisfied and involved. Here’s to Sam’s good health and a living life positively.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!