Surf's Up on Phillip Island’s National Surfing Reserves


Local surfing legends unveiled the remaining three plaques at beaches of the Phillip Island National Surfing Reserve  on Saturday, 1 June 2013.


The dedication and passion of the local surfing community was on show when the remaining plaques marking the locations of the Phillip Island National Surfing Reserves were unveiled on Saturday, 1 June 2013.

Phillip Island Nature Parks CEO and Working Group member, Matthew Jackson, was the MC for the ceremonies at Cat Bay, Summerland and Smiths Beach.

Mr Jackson said he was proud to have been a part of making the Phillip Island National Surfing Reserve a reality.

“On Phillip Island, we are lucky to have the natural and cultural values of our coastline protected by Phillip Island Nature Parks and Bass Coast Shire Council. The Surfing Reserve adds a layer of recognition of the importance of surfing to the area and community.

“I would also like to acknowledge the two years of hard work from people in our community that has made this day possible.  The Phillip Island working group has done an incredible job and the NSR National board said that Phillip Island was the most professional and organised group they’ve worked with.”

A small group of local identities gathered to be part of Island surfing history, and witness the unveiling of the plaques by surfing veterans David Fincher, Dogga Luke and Steve Demos at Cat Bay, Summerland and Smiths Beach respectively.

The informal ceremonies were a chance to explain the significance of each location, historically and personally by Working Group members Zena Archibald, Graeme Burgan and Geoff Owens. David, Dogga and Steve then shared memories of waves and surfing trips dating back more than 50 years, as well as stressing the importance of preserving our surfing history.

“This is a good idea, a way to recognise the importance of surfing,” said David Fincher.

“It will help preserve these breaks for future surfing generations.”

Steve Demos compared surfing to a “religion” and stressed the bonds of friendship forged in the waves.

“My memories of Express Point are vast and many and it became a lifestyle. I have surfed Express Point with Kelly Slater, but really, my best memories are of surfing here with my friends.”

One of the Island’s oldest surfers, Dogga Luke, summed up the universal appeal of the Island breaks in verse.

 “And we let it take us
Far from the daily grind
Lifted on a southern swell
To a place called peace of mind”
(Dogga Luke, 2013)

Phillip Island National Surfing Reserve locations

Cat Bay includes Left and Right Point breaks along with Flynns Reef.  Cat Bay was included in the Reserve for its high quality breaks that allow surfing in big swells when the other south-facing beaches on Phillip Island are onshore.

Summerland is the ‘birthplace’ of surfing on Phillip Island dating back to the 1920s and boasts iconic reef breaks that work in the largest of swells.

Smiths Beach includes the ‘hero wave’ Express Point, a barrelling reef break, along with its importance in training the surfers of the future at the sheltered beaches of Smiths and YCW.

Cape Woolamai includes the world famous breaks at ANZACS and the Clubhouse.

The Phillip Island National Surfing Reserve was officially opened by the Hon Ryan Smith at Cape Woolamai in March 2013.

The Phillip Island National Surfing Reserve is the first of its kind in Victoria and one of only 25 across Australia. The philosophy of National Surfing Reserves (NSR) is to ‘care, share and preserve’. National Surfing Reserves is a voluntary collaboration dedicated to recognising iconic surfing sites in Australia and assisting NSR sites globally. Self funded and non-political, the National Reference Group comprises experienced individuals from across Australia to facilitate NSR nominations and management processes. Find out more at www.surfingreserves.org.

The Phillip Island National Surfing Reserve community project continues to be proudly supported by: Bendigo Community Bank San Remo, Cowes and Grantville; Ramada Phillip Island; Phillip Island Nature Parks; Bass Coast Shire Council; Phillip Island Board Riders Club and Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club.

Now that the Reserve is established, the community Working Group will continue to meet and work towards ways of preserving Phillip Island’s surfing history and culture along with projects to protect and promote surfing and Phillip Island’s iconic surfing coast.