One of the best things about living in Sydney is the ability to jump in the car, drive up or down the coast, and in a few hours find yourself on a picturesque beach without a soul in sight. A few weekends ago, we escaped the rat race and did just that. But it wasn’t just any old road trip – we headed down the south coast for an epic girls-only surf weekend with Venus Goes Gidget.
Run by Bondi local Claudia Hirschberger, Venus Goes Gidget specialises in surf and yoga escapes for women that are all about connecting with your inner surf goddess. I’ve known Claudia for a while now and what I love about her the most is how much she froths on surfing and the ocean. The girl grew up in the land-locked-lands of Austria and now she’s surfing the south end of Bondi Beach with the big boys. She’s a qualified surf instructor with a really unique approach to teaching that’s not just about getting up on your board, but about respecting and understanding the ocean.
With our weekend away coming off the back of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, we were dying to get out of la la land and back into the ocean. As soon as our week of fashion (overload) came to an end, my awesome photographer Michaela and I ditched the after parties, swapped our fashion week threads for Ugg boots and hoodies, and set off on a mini road trip to get reacquainted with nature.
We couldn’t have picked more dramatic conditions – a huge storm hit Sydney just as we were leaving and followed us down the coast bringing in hectic winds and a massive swell. By the time we made it to our sweet beach house on a sweet street called ‘Sunset Strip’ in Manyana, it was pretty much blowing a gale. I usually love falling asleep to the sound of the waves, but the sound of 8-foot monsters had me on edge.
Morning rolled around and there was still a baby hurricane outside. We stretched out the long drive from the night before with an early morning yoga session while Claudia braved the storm to do a surf check. Part of the Venus Goes Gidget team is Ali Dear – a yoga teacher, nutritionist and chef rolled into one. When she wasn’t taking us through a yoga class specially designed to enhance our surf practice, she was cooking us epic breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I’d forgotten how hungry surfing makes you – but luckily Ali hadn’t and had healthy snacks ready for us after each surf. Make sure you get her awesome recipe for brownies – I was stoked that they were paleo friendly so I could eat them (YAY!).
Claudia found us a protected break about 10-minutes from where we were staying in Manyana that seemed to be on a completely different ecosystem. The drive out to Washerwomans Beach was absolutely beautiful. There were wallabies feeding on nearby patches of grass, long stretches of road and sunlight peaking through the lush Australian bush. With a small group of just five girls, it was inevitable we were going to have a fun surf. I mean we were obviously all BFFs by the time we’d finished breakfast on the first day, but there’s something really special about surfing with your mates – whether they’re new or old.
Over the weekend we fit in three surf lessons, three yoga lessons, numerous party waves, lots of brownies, plenty of laughs and season one of Beverly Hills 90210 where we realised that Dylan was not as cool as we remembered (wait until you see him in a wetsuit).
It doesn’t matter how good you are, how shit you are, if you’re scared of the water, if you always get injured while surfing (that’s me) – these weekends away are designed to get you comfortable on a board whatever your level. I love my guy friends, but they’re not always that great to go surfing with. They’ve all been surfing for about 20 years and don’t want to go out with me when it’s small. One of the best things about going on this weekend away was meeting the awesome girls on the trip. I’m not the greatest surfer so I don’t like surfing on my own and I know a lot of beginners feel the same. Now we have a group of us who are all at the same level, who live in the same area, who are all keen to get good enough to surf the south end at Bondi.
If you want to learn to surf or brush up on your technique, Claudia also does private surf coaching in Sydney. Venus Goes Gidget can also put together bespoke weekend surf trips for you and your lady buddies.
Here’s what’s coming up:
May 30-June 1 | $575 per person for twin share and $625 to have your own room.
This is the weekend away that we did. I can’t recommend it enough – you can rope your buddies in or go along solo. All your gear is included (wetsuits, boards, towels, sunscreen, etc) so you just need to bring yourself.
June 7-16 | $1,725 per person excluding flights.
A girls-only surf trip to Java in Indonesia – this seriously sounds like the sickest trip ever. The cabins are set in the Javanese jungle, 100 meters away from a bunch of legendary breaks. They’ve got another one coming up in September/October that we’re hoping to hit up.
Photography by Michaela Skovranova.