Max Solomon at the Victorian Indigenous Surfing Day at Cape Conran last month. Photo by Troy Brown/GEGAC

By Troy Brown

What a day to catch a wave.

Last month Surfing Victoria held a Victorian Indigenous Surfing Day down at East Cape beach, Cape Conran.

The day was full of smiles and pure joy.

It started off with a great smoking ceremony and welcome to country from Uncle Wayne Thorpe.

The event was full of people and other Aboriginal organisations from around the area.

The day was an amazing success, stocked with food trucks and delicious doughnuts to smother our faces with.

After we all had lunch and something to eat, the surfing commenced.

These surfing events have been happening since I was a child, and hopefully they will continue for the next generation.

Growing up as a little kid, all my cousins and family around Gunai Kurnai Country didn’t really associate with surfing at all.

So, when the chance came, through these events, it was a no-brainer that we all rocked up and loved to participate. (That’s me as a young fella in this photo.)

Being so young, I never really knew who ran this program, or why.

The Victorian Indigenous Surfing Program was founded by Surfing Victoria in 1998.

It is one of the longest running Indigenous engagement programs in the country.

This program uses surfing as a way to connect Indigenous Victorians with the ocean while learning skills such as water safety, healthy habits and, of course, surfing.

In 2020/21, the program had more than 650 Indigenous participants.

Over the past two years, the program has expanded from coastal locations to inland, with the inclusion of a Stand-Up Paddleboard program which has been able to reach new regional communities not on the coast.

To everyone who came and surfed the waves at Conran and also showed support for us here at GEGAC, thank you so much.

And to Surfing Victoria, we give our utmost respect for the continuation of this program.

It truly puts a smile on most faces and gives us a fresh breath of air.

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