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.

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

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out on the next installment.

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

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!

Daylight Robbery, Little Cove, Noosa

Watch Out Watch Out! There’s a Thief About In Noosa

I’ve been feeling a bit lonesome this week. I’m now six months into my new life in Australia and I think anyone who’s moved overseas will know this feeling: the newness of being in a foreign country has passed and it’s still too early to have made good friends so there’s a gap that needs to be filled.

A surf with my surfer chick buddies-in-the-making was just what the doctor ordered. So when the rain cleared up to reveal sunny blue skies, the famous Noosa surf points were pumping and the surfer chicks were up for it, life looked good.

I have to confess I was a bit out of kilter. For example, I thought it was Wednesday when it was Thursday, but there’s nothing too unusual about that is there? After racing through my work and finding an elusive parking spot close to Little Cove where we’d arranged to meet, I realised I’d forgotten my board shorts. But nothing was going to stop me from surfing. At this point I should clarify that I was wearing a bikini and had my wetsuit top with me but the bikini bottoms are absolutely tiny and normally I wouldn’t be seen out in them unless they were under my board shorts. Basically, they’re completely unsuitable for surfing and the two tiny triangles of material barely covered my ample writer’s bottom.

The Show Must Go On

Still, undeterred, I knotted them on as tightly as possible, grabbed my board and headed out into the surf at Little Cove. There was no sign of my friends but I thought they might already be out in the surf so I left my bag carefully on a rock well above the high tide mark. This is a bag I got free with a magazine. Inside it was a t-shirt, a rash top, a dweeby surf hat that buckles under the chin, a pair of super cheap sunglasses from Costa Rica and my keys. That’s right, my car keys and my house keys which are both those new-fangled remote control keys that are fiendishly expensive to replace, all coupled together with one of my most prized possessions: a gorgeous wooden key ring with a painted toucan and the inscription Costa Rica. A lot of happy memories are tied up in that keyring and I truly love it.

Now, I count myself as being fairly savvy and would never leave any valuables unattended on the beach. As proof of how streetwise I like to think I am I should add that I recently spent 18 months traveling round Central America with 11 bags and not a thing was stolen from me during that time. 11 bags? I know, it sounds ridiculous but it was minimalist traveling for a famly of five and included a complete homeschool kit for three children as well as enough books to keep them all on track with their reading goals for a year.

You Little Ripper

But back to the Noosa surf. Down at Little Cove there was an flood of surfers walking, running and sprinting up the beach to get into the sea further north.

“Gosh.” I thought.
“I wonder where they’re all going.”

But being a complete novice I didn’t study the conditions much, apart from checking that the waves weren’t too big, and I didn’t notice the fierce rip that was pulling surfers south around the rocks to Noosa Main Beach. Until I got waist deep into the sea that is.

Suddenly, the rip was so strong that I was unable to stand in one place so I hopped on my board and caught the first wave that came my way. My pop up was slow and clumsy but hey, I was standing up and surfing, rushing in towards the beach. When the wave petered out I started paddling back towards the breaking waves to try again. At first I noticed I was just paddling on the spot and no sooner had that dawned on me than I realised I was being pulled backwards and quickly towards some rocks where bigger waves were breaking, and then around the corner to First Point where approximately 200 surfers were all milling around. This all happened exceedingly fast and probably less than five minutes had passed since I got into the sea.

“I’m being swept away.” I shouted to a bearded surfer nearby. He just shrugged and ignored me, too busy trying to save his own bacon I suppose.
“I’m trying to get to the shore.” I said to another.
“You’ll be right.” he said. Australians always say this and it’s very reassuring. Sure enough, he was right.

If At First You Don’t Suceed Try, Try, Try Again

Although I thought I was about to die I put on a paddling spurt and got to the shore, overjoyed to be alive. Now I joined the surfers climbing back over the rocks and walking back up the beach for another go. Yes, I’ve been taught that if you fall off your horse the best thing to do is get back on it and have another go.

So I did and I had a few nice rides too despite the dodgy conditions. At some point I noticed I’d forgotten to take my earrings out and one was missing but nothing was going to get me down after my near-death experience. My friends turned up and we had a surf together before heading back to the beach.

It was then that I realised my bag was missing, along with one of my shoes which I’d placed on top of the bag on top of a rock. So annoying. Why would a thief steal one shoe? And, presuming the culprit was male, what would he want with a few well-used pieces of ladies clothing? Perhaps most annoying of all was that I was now stranded at the beach with no car keys and clad only, in the world’s most revealing bikini.

Super Sleuth

Despite this I’m proud to say that I kept my cool and drew on my knowledge gleaned from over 20 years of reading trashy crime thrillers. Yes, thanks to a love of literature of all kinds, I am well-versed in many aspects of criminal profiling and criminal psychology. My expert analysis told me that this was a crime of opportunity committed by a young, and possilby itinerant, person who was hoping to get their grubby mitts on some cash, credit cards, a decent camera, an ipod or at the very least a complete pair of shoes, not just one beaten up sandal that’s been roughed up all over Central America.

In view of the fact that the loot held limited value for the crim (unless s/he was a one-legged tootsie with size ten feet) my guess was that the robber would be feeling pretty annoyed with the pile of crap they’d risked their clean record for and would probably chuck the entire contents of the bag in the nearest rubbish bin or bush.

Another young lady had also had her bag stolen so I left her to look after my surf board and went on a bin trawl. Now, despite being a country bumpkin, I’ve lived in big cities before and I’ve seen people, mainly bearded and ragged men, rifling through bins for sustenance. The middle-class demograhic means there aren’t many people doing it in the Noosa area though, and either my strange behaviour coupled, my scanty attire or a combination of those things attracted a fair bit if attention.

To make things even more pitiful Noosa has these really posh bins with a roof on so in order to see what’s inside you have to poke your head under the roof and over to the middle to even get a peep inside. If you actually wanted to get something out you’d have a hard job. Hmmm, maybe that’s why people don’t bother doing it.

There’s a Moral Here Somewhere

I wish I could say that there was happy ending to this story and that my bag and its contents, or at least my keys, turned up in a bin or under a bush but sadly that’s not the case. I came away feeling slightly nauseaous from the fumes of cigarette butts and fish and chips wrappers but alas empty handed.

So if you ever see a strange semi-clad lady rifling through the bins in an upmarket location don’t avert your eyes and cross the street, take pity and offer her a lift home. It could be me.

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

Good luck with all your travel plans!

A Winters Weekend in Noosa, Queensland

It May Be Winter But It’s Not Wintry

It’s almost mid-winter here in Queensland but we’re still getting out in the water and enjoying our new stand up paddle board. It’s perfect for exploring the canals and rivers of Noosa while getting a bit of exercise and the kids like playing round on it too. The weather was picture perfect all week and I even surfed so I still hold onto the title of crummiest surfer in Noosa, even if I did have to wear a wetsuit top.

On Sunday we went to the River Festival, organised by the Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club. I have to say that the Noosa River is definitely somewhere I’d like to spend more time and well worth celebrating, so celebrate we did. The kids fished, had a go on a bungy trampoline, got their faces painted and ran wild on the bouncy castle.

Then we went to Doonan, about ten minutes inland from Noosa, for the Steiner Children’s Festival. Doonan is a leafy enclave with gorgeous trees and big views from some places. There were heaps of fun things for the kids to do like a gem hunt, carpentry, making a sword, pony rides, a flying fox and a juggling show.

This is our weekend in pictures. Don’t get jealous, get over here. For life would be truly perfect if only we had some friends to enjoy all this with. Enjoy the photos.

Stand Up Paddling in Noosa Waterway

Stand Up Paddling in Noosa Waterway

Handsome man stand up paddling

Handsome male stand up padde surfer, Noosa

Face-painting Frenzy on the Noosa River

Face-painting Frenzy on the Noosa River

Lovely Little Hippy Chicky

Lovely Little Hippy Chicky

Fishing in the Noosa River

Fishing in the Noosa River

Hooked Sting Ray in the Noosa Waterways

Hooked Sting Ray in the Noosa Waterways

Forget Venice, take a gondala trip down the Noosa Canals

Forget Venice, take a gondala trip down the Noosa Canals

Flocking to the Children's Festival at the Steiner School in Doonan

Flocking to the Children's Festival at the Steiner School in Doonan

Juggling Act, kept all the balls in the air and was funny too

Juggling Act, kept all the balls in the air and was funny too

Don’t Give Up the Day Job?

Here are a couple of photos that I couldn’t fit into my article, Sunshine Coast Tourist Guide: Australia Zoo. I could expand on this theme and compile a book called “Why Animals Don’t Need Mascara (Apart from Reptiles)” Enjoy!

Cassowary: strangely attractive but violent horned bird

Cassowary: strangely attractive but violent horned bird

Asian Elephant: mottled and waiting to be fed

Mottled Asian elephant waiting to be fed

Lizard: running wild and free in amongst the zoo animals

Lizard running wild and free in amongst the zoo animals

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

Good luck with all your travel plans!