Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre is preparing to welcome some of Australia’s top Indigenous surfers, but can also boast a title holder of its own.
On 30 May, the centre will hold an opening event for the eighth Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles, which are to be held over the following three days at Bells Beach.
For Narana’s Aboriginal Cultural Educator, Anthony Hume, 38, the weekend is a chance to defend his masters title, which he was the first Victorian to win last year.
Anthony, was instrumental in founding the Indigenous Surfing Titles in 2012, which he saw as a reinvention of the lapsed Victorian Koori surfing titles he remembered from his childhood.
“I loved it as a kid and missed it that much,” Anthony said.
“I thought it was an opportunity for other people to have it so we rebirthed it.
“This event has more of the modern-day sense of gathering and acknowledgement of culture and it’s in sync with Reconciliation Week.”
The event has open men’s and women’s divisions as well as junior boy’s and girl’s, longboard and masters men (over 35).
Anthony expects about 70 competitors to take part, with ages ranging from 10 to Uncle Lenny, who is 64.
A formidable line-up of past and present professional surfers are ready to take part, including Championship Tour competitor Soli Bailey, former Pipeline Masters champion Robbie Page and previous Indigenous open men’s winners Otis Carey, Russel Molony and Summer Simon.
Open division winners receive entry into professional Australian surfing titles, while first and second placegetters get a spot at Surfing Australia High Performance Centre.
Anthony said older surfers typically hand those prizes to the younger ones “to give them an opportunity”.
He believed surfing was a valuable activity for Indigenous young people
“We use surfing as a driving tool to mentor youth through education, wellbeing and employment,” he said.
“It helps with mental health and being fit. It’s a lifestyle opportunity with employment pathways.”
Anthony said the Indigenous Surfing Titles, which included education and information stalls, was also very valuable in generating media interest and creating wider links.
“The Surf Coast community are so supportive, it creates a connection,” Anthony said.
Having defeated Robbie Page last year in the masters division, Anthony says he feels in good form.
He is not above employing a bit of local advantage by seeking help from the region’s traditional owner Wadawurrung peoples’ water spirit.
“I always call him up when it goes flat,” Anthony said.
The Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles is facilitated by Surfing Victoria and has surfwear and equipment maker Rip Curl as a major sponsor.
The opening ceremony will be held at Narana Centre at 6pm on 30 May.