I’m a proud Australian that loves the beach but sadly never learned to surf.
But I’m trying to rectify the situation – first with a lesson in Hawaii earlier this year, followed by a quick trip up the Queensland coast for the Easter long weekend.
I found the best value surfing lesson I’ve ever heard of in a place you would probably never think to look.
The unassuming beach side town of Agnes Water doesn’t look that special from the outset. It’s quaint and homely but looks like any other coastal town, and is a backpacker stop to break up the trip between Fraser Island and the Whitsundays. But it’s definitely worth a look and I was pretty enamoured with the place by the time I left.
Agnes Waters is a six hour drive from Brisbane but it’s pretty much highway driving all the way – and Gympie and Bundaberg proved to be good pit stops on the road trip.
On arriving into Agnes Waters, my friend and I headed over to the Discover 1770 shopfront to check out the tours on offer. Kevin and Lisa were especially helpful (tell them I sent you!). As soon as we found out it was only a mere $17 for a two hour session surfing lessons we’d put our names down for the next day’s tour. We couldn’t believe the price – I paid $100 for a 45 minute lesson in Hawaii.
Of course, at $17 it’s not going to be a private lesson but that was fine. I joined about 20 other people of various ages and abilities for the lesson offered by Reef2beach Surf School on Agnes Waters Beach.
And the question you’re all asking – did this lesson get me standing up on a surfboard. It certainly did!
The Reef2Beach crew lead you through the basics first – determining which foot will lead, how to stand up, how to fall so you don’t hurt yourself and carrying your board. All equipment is provided, including a sunshirt – but you’ll need to bring sunscreen and a towel.
After the instruction session, we’re split into groups of two for 15 minutes in the water, then 15 minutes rest while the other group had their go. For a beginner, surfing can be tiring – combined with being out in the sun for a couple of hours.
As part of the first group, I headed out into the water lining up with about a dozen others. Three coaches were in the water – and once it’s your turn, you head over to a coach who then tells you when to start paddling for an upcoming wave. You paddle your heart out, hear the coach yell stand and attempt to balance on the surfboard and ride the wave.
The first couple of times I didn’t get up – but then suddenly it all came together and there I was standing up on a surfboard – surfing! Proud moment.
Each 15 minute slot has you doing a handful of surfing attempts. Sometimes I fell and faceplanted – and sometimes I made it back to shore on the surfboard.
As the day wore on, the surf got a little bigger and I found it hard to paddle fast enough for the waves but I still got a good amount of standing time – and so did many others.
After the two hour session, my friend and I were buggered for the rest of the day and all thoughts of going for a hike later that afternoon were dismissed.
Instead we headed to Chinaman’s Beach – next door to Agnes Waters Beach but with only a handful of people.
This beach offers a long stretch of sand just like Agnes Water – so take a water and get your feet wet. It’s a great place to enjoy the sunshine, or relax with a book.
If you want to take a relaxing dip, head to 1770, the sister town of Agnes Waters only five kilometres down the road.
Here you’ll find warm water lapping over mud flats and near mangroves. 1770 is both a great place for sunrise and sunset – and my friend and I headed to the left side of the headland for a spectacular sunset on our first day in town – taking in the sunset while knee deep in the water. It was pretty relaxing.
If you want to extend the experience, you can camp right on the edge of 1770 beach. If you’re at 1770 on a Sunday morning, check out the markets in the SES grounds on the road between Agnes Waters and 1770. You’ll be able to grab fresh and cheap produce or some souvenirs. Look for the macadamia honey and avocadoes at the markets – both are delicious.
Another must do spot is the Paperback Forest Boardwalk, located on the right hand side of Springs Road when you’re heading from the Agnes Waters town centre. It’s only a short walk in and out of the forest, and is worth the stop to take a look at the towering paperbarks and walk along the stepping blocks.
I stayed at the Cool Bananas Backpackers on Springs Road on my stay. It’s pretty typical of Australian hostels with large outdoor common areas and shower block. Rooms are basic but clean.
Each night the hostel offers up a meal for $7 a head. The first night we had fish and chips and then kangaroo burgers on the following evening.
The hostel is in a great location within walking distance to the supermarket and Agnes Waters Beach. There’s also hammocks – and they’re super comfortable.