REVIEW: Oceans of Inspiration

14 Dec 2018 1 Share

BY TIM BAKER

Two new books show how an ocean-based life can have far reaching impacts - for their subjects, their communities and future generations.

Beautiful Christmas presents... or just a gift for the new year. 


The do-it-yourself ethos has penetrated deep into the publishing world but how do you find the gems among the deluge of self-published titles flooding online portals? CW came across two beauties in recent weeks that both have powerful, beautiful messages about the virtues of an ocean-based life from radically different perspectives.

One will stoke and inspire the frothing micro-grom in your world while teaching them about our rich Indigenous culture.

The other will lift the hearts of mid-life learners thinking they may have left it too late to enter the waves, particularly women, delicately drawing out the Zen lessons of the surfing dance without ever straying into glib cliché.

JURAKI –THE SALTWATER HERO
Juraki is an illustrated children’s book created by well-known Indigenous surfer Joel Slabb, from Fingal, in northern NSW, Bundjalung country. Joel and his wife Mary run Juraki surf and culture to teach and coach indigenous kids in all aspects of the surfing life while introducing them to a deeper appreciation of their culture.

Juraki is named after a legendary local Indigenous figure, Churaki, who was renowned for carrying out many daring rescues in the surf at Greenmount in the late 1800s and early 1900s before there was a surf club.

He was honoured at the foundation meeting of the Tweed Heads/Coolangatta Surf Club and received a commendation for bravery from the Royal Humane Society, a rarity during the height of the oppressive and discriminatory White Australia policy.

Joel tells this inspiring story in simple prose and captivating images, that transport the young reader to another world, one that operates according to traditional principles of cultural obligation, where a young Indigenous man has a responsibility to keep people safe on his country.

You can buy Juraki – the Saltwater Hero from the Juraki Surf website

Pic: Alison Gowland

Pic: Alison Gowland

Pic: Alison Gowland

Pic: Alison Gowland

SURFING AS A DANCE 
Sally MacKinnon is a calm and gracious presence in the otherwise teeming and frantic lineups of the Gold Coast’s southern point breaks, a late starter who came to the waves mid-life and has dived into a deep and intense oceanic love affair.

She’s turned her soulful view of the wave riding lifestyle into an exquisite book full of her reflective prose and poetry and gorgeous photos by Alison Gowland.

The resulting hard cover memoir, Surfing As A Dance, will give new hope to all those who think they may have left it too late to realise their surfing dreams, and fresh inspiration to even the most jaded wave hog – a love letter to the redemptive powers of the glide.

As Sally writes in an achingly honest introduction: ‘Surfing re-ignited the Wild Inside that had been lost to an adapted life. To anxiety engendered by an early childhood spent in a family that included mental illness and domestic violence as well as extended family love.’

Surfing poetry gets a bad rap sometimes, and with some justification, for all the woeful raves in old Tracks magazines, but Sally is the real deal, combining deft literary chops with a boundless passion for the subject matter and delicate observations on the natural world she so revels in.

You can buy Surfing As A Dance from Sally’s own website or many online book retailers: And view the trailer here.

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