A Tale of Two Mums Who Made Waves

Published Thu 21 Sep 2023

In the laid-back coastal haven of Byron Bay back in 2006, two adventurous mums had a radical idea: they were determined to ride the waves of motherhood without sacrificing their beloved passion for surfing. Those two remarkable women were Vanessa Thompson and Julia Carle, and they embarked on a journey that would give birth to an extraordinary movement known today as Surfing Mums.

Their adventure began with what they affectionately termed 'surf babysitting' sessions on the sun-kissed beaches of Byron Bay. While the duo caught waves, they took turns watching each other's little ones. This simple act of camaraderie resonated with other surfing mothers, revealing a shared longing for something they'd been missing out on. A pivotal moment for many occurred during a mothers' gathering in a park, where thoughts of the day's surf conditions overshadowed the conversation at hand. It was here that the need to find their tribe became evident—fellow mothers yearning to be at the beach, riding the waves alongside like-minded souls.

Fueled by this desire, Vanessa decided to take action. She placed a humble advertisement in the local paper, 'The Echo,' within the community group section. Additionally, she enlisted the support of the local radio station, BayFM, to spread the word. When the chosen date arrived, a dozen enthusiastic mums answered the call. They established a weekly meet-up day and set some guidelines on how to efficiently 'swap' surf babysitting duties with their kids. The response was overwhelmingly positive, affirming that this concept needed to extend its reach to other mothers.

Vanessa enlisted the help of a friend to design a website. Surfing Mums started gaining media attention, from morning show segments to magazine features and newspaper articles. Social media became a valuable platform for connecting and expanding the movement. Inspired by their success, mothers from various regions started their own Surfing Mums groups, each gaining local media recognition. The movement was growing rapidly, perhaps even faster than they had anticipated.

To support their expansion, sponsors came on board, and the first Surfing Mums logo was born. The logo was inspired by a photograph of Julia and her daughter Jimmi strolling back from the waves at the Pass in Byron Bay. T-shirts and flags were created to help identify Surfing Mums groups on the beach.

As Surfing Mums continued to flourish, so did the need to address liability concerns. Vanessa, recognizing the need for a legal framework, decided to establish an incorporated association and passed the leadership torch to a president. 

Lizzie, a true pillar of the Surfing Mums community, also played a crucial role in these transformative years. She extended a helping hand to Vanessa during the incorporation process, contributing her expertise to craft the foundational policy documents. Lizzie initiated the creation of membership packs, attracted numerous sponsors, and served as the national President for a remarkable three-year tenure. 

Amidst all the growth and change, one thing remained constant: Vanessa's unwavering love for surfing. She continued to pursue her passion while still running into mothers who would share stories of how Surfing Mums had saved them too. Vanessa's pride in what they had achieved, along with the countless mothers who embraced the cause and nurtured its growth, shines as bright as the sun on a perfect wave. Surfing Mums isn't just a movement; it's a testament to the power of community, perseverance, and the enduring spirit of motherhood.