Shed responsibility and answer the call of the swell . . . come on a Surfari with Tim Baker.
What if you could defy the slow march of age? Shelve all your worldly pressures, pack up the family and a few trusty surfboards and hit the open road for the Great Australian surfing road trip? Inspired by the dreams of his youth, surf writer Tim Baker embarks on the Big Lap in search of the perfect wave and domestic bliss.
What follows is a story for anyone who has ever dreamed of an alternative to the busy, micro-scheduled existence of work, school, shopping and the daily drudge. It is a story for anyone who wants to know what happens when a family of four live in the confined space of a caravan for six months
The result is a lively, colourful account of trading your life for another variety, and the delights and dangers that lay in wait when you dare to chase your dreams and follow another path.
Tim Baker is the best-selling author of: Bustin' Down The Door, High Surf, Occy and Surf For Your Life (Random House, 2009). He is a former editor of Tracks and Australia's Surfing Life magazines. He has twice won the Surfing Australia Hall of Fame Surf Culture Award and been nominated for the CUB Australian Sports Writing Awards. He is currently a senior contributor to Surfing World, The Surfer's Path (UK), The Surfers Journal and US Surfing and Surfer magazines.
At 45, he has worked in the media and surfing magazines for 25 years and has surfed and traveled throughout Australia, Indonesia, Hawaii, Central and South America, North America, Europe, South Africa, Fiji, Tahiti, and Sri Lanka. He lives in Currumbin, Queensland, with his wife and two children.
Random House Australia
Author: Tim Baker
Interview with Tom Baker
Question: What inspired you to live the dreams of your youth and embark on a surfing road trip and then write Surfari?
Tom Baker: It was the memory of a book I read as a newly surf-stoked teenager "Surfari Highway," about two friends driving around Australia. I was probably 15 when I read it and vowed then and there that as soon as I left school and got a drivers' licence I'd do a similar trip. Somehow, I never got around to it so at 46 I figured it was now or wait until I was a Grey Nomad, and I was keen to do it while I could still surf at a reasonable level. Also, our kids were a good age to pull out of school and take on the road, at 5 and 9. I put the idea to my wife and, God bless her, she loved it.
Question: What should readers expect in Surfari?
Tom Baker: It's an honest account of our journey around Australia, for better and for worse, my own struggles to strike that elusive work/life/family balance juggling writing, driving, surfing and family life on the road. i try and paint a picture of surf culture around the country and the rich cast of characters we encountered. Ultimately, I think it's a bit of a love letter to my country. We live in a paradise and more of us should get out and see it. If I was trying to sum it up I'd say, "Bill Bryson on a surfboard."
Question: Can you talk about the difficulties of a family of four living in a caravan for six months?
Tom Baker: The long drives are testing for everyone. We bought the kids iPod touches for Christmas as onboard entertainment units. Remarkable devices. RIP Steve Jobs. Audio books and music and even movies are great, but we found the games really spun our young boy out a bit after a while. Too much stimulation. The close confines of the van can feel a bit oppressive after a while, but at such times I just reminded myself to step outside. You are usually somewhere beautiful and there is a calming bush setting, a brilliant night sky or stunning seascape too admire. Being around each other 24/7 can be exhausting and a real relationship test. I think we did well overall but we certainly had our moments. Packing healthy snacks for the drives is a good strategy. My wife Kirsten would always have a container of cut up apple, carrot sticks, celery sticks and the like in the car and if there was nothing else to eat the kids would gladly eat them and be way better off than eating greasy roadhouse fare. Working as a team is paramount. There are hundreds of strategic decisions to be made along a journey like this, and I think when Kirst and I learnt to set aside who was right, and just consult we ended up making really good decisions together.
Question: Is this a trip you'd recommended for other families?
Tom Baker: Absolutely. I feel like we have been really bonded by the experience. We are the only four people in the world who really know what that journey was like and we'll treasure the memories. It has been a really formative experience for the kids. They were already quite outgoing but I think it has made them more social, confident and adaptable. So many Australians travel overseas before seeing their own country, but there is something quite profound in really getting to know your own country. So vast and so diverse. The Kimberely and Kakadu were real highlights and provided some intimate insights and encounters with Indigenous culture that we'll never forget. There was a gorge walk we did in Karijini National Park that was like our entire journey in microcosm - having to work together to navigate difficult terrain, help and be patient with each other, encourage the kids to stretch their limits but make sure they were safe. When we got to the end of this hour-long walk through a quite challenging gorge we were all on an incredible high and confronted with the most stunning view imaginable. I think at any difficult moments in the future we can hopefully summon that experience.
Interview by Brooke Hunter