National Indigenous Surf Champion, Artist, Builder, Father, Learner
National Indigenous Surf Champion and proud Guringai man, Russ Molony, grew up surfing the waves of the NSW Central Coast. When he’s not painting some of the Coast’s iconic murals with his brother, local artist Grant Molony, you’ll find him at the beach with his kids.
We chat to Russ about all things surfing.
Where did you first learn to surf?
I was young, probably three or four, when I first jumped on board. So the first beach that our families used to hang out was Bateau Bay, at a little spot called 'The Cove'. And it was a really nice protected little area to learn to surf that’s good for kids.
What is your local beach?
North Shelly - that's like our main go-to. You've always got the chance of getting some good waves. So that's the local.
What is your favourite place to surf?
That's a hard one, because it kind of depends on conditions. If the winds are blowing northeast you'll go to a protected corner, if the wind is southerly, you’re sort of at the other end. But our kind of main go-to surf-wise would probably be Pelos, which is Pelican Beach at the other end of the North Entrance. Where I like to surf is really crowd dependent as well. If it's really busy somewhere, I'm gonna kind of sneak away and go somewhere else (laughs). Most surfers want to go somewhere where there are not many people.
What do you love most about living on the Central Coast?
"Apart from being on Country, I'd say just the variety of everything we have. We've just kind of got everything we need: we’ve got all the surf breaks, we’ve got the food, we've got the culture, we've got the coffee, we've got pretty much everything covered. I've done a lot of traveling around the world and coming home- there's nothing better.
We've got pretty much the most beautiful place in the world right on our doorstep, and I don't think many people appreciate how beautiful it is."
For beginners who've never surfed, where is a good spot to give it a go?
For beginners, Toowoon Bay would have to be the go-to. It's always got a little roller, and even when it's bigger everywhere else, it's kind of nice and protected. It's pretty much the go-to spot for all our kids. There's a little kiddies corner section which has beautiful little rollers and it's not too hard to get out. You can kind of stand there and just push kids into a little wash.
Where do you recommend surfers from out of town paddle out?
Shelly Beach is always nice to check, because you kind of have a good lookout; you can stand on the hill and you can see the whole beach. So Shelly, and then obviously Avoca Beach for anyone coming to the Coast. Avoca is really nice to check out and there's always a wave there. And even Soldiers Beach and Catherine Hill Bay up the north end of the Central Coast is nice.
And if the swell is big?
Depends how big you're talking. If it's really big, probably Terrigal Haven or Forresters Beach. They're kind of the main two big wave spots...there are some like hidden ones, but I can’t tell you - you have to save a few!
What’s a typical day on the Coast for you?
Pretty much everything revolves around the ocean and surfing with our family. If I'm not working, a typical day would be waking up with my beautiful wife and kids and grab a coffee at Bateau Beach Cafe, and then head down to the beach, play with the kids on the sand. And then me and my wife will usually tag-team surf. So she'll go out and have a surf, and then come in and we’ll swap over- which is amazing-having a wife that surfs as well! And then just relax at home with the dogs, and that's pretty much our day.
What’s your favourite secret spot to visit on the Central Coast?
I'll probably stray away from the beach and say Somersby Falls. It might not be hidden, but you get an amazing feeling culture wise when you go down there. It almost puts you back in time. It’s one of the spots where you can go and just relax and just take in nature. You feel like you're a million miles away, especially after you get like a big rainfall.
What’s your cultural connection to the coast?
We’re Guringai mob. We’re pretty much based on the south end of the Central Coast. It’s good to be living on Country; that’s why a lot of our mural work and art is always based on the coast.
How important is your bond with Country, and the ocean?
It's everything- it’s in our family blood. Just being connected to the ocean, being a saltwater mob, connecting to Country, that's pretty much my world. Connection to the ocean- that’s what I’m all about. Just the whole feeling you get being connected with nature: all our generations of family have had a connection to the ocean and the saltwater and it’s pretty much the world to me.
This article was originally authored by Shaney Hudson, with photography by Liam Jon, as part of a Love Central Coast grant project brought to you by Destination Central Coast, jointly funded by the Australian and NSW governments under the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund. To maintain accuracy, some editorial changes may have been made since publication.
Destination Central Coast understand it’s vital that we work collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to portray an accurate, inclusive and authentic representation of Indigenous Australia, informed by best practice cultural guidelines provided by Tourism Australia. Due to any sensitive cultural content, we wish to acknowledge this as a 'living article' created in ongoing, open consultation with the Indigenous peoples it aims to represent
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A glimpse of the Central Coast with Russ...