Surfing is a wonderful activity which connects your health and fitness with the ebb and flow of nature.
Many Australians enjoy this ocean past time all year round, catching waves, and hanging ten off the boards. There is an association in Australia which helps those with disabilities enjoy this great Australian past time called The Disabled Surfers Association of Australia Inc. They have branches all across our great nation, including Ocean Grove, just down the road from the Lonsdale Palms.
The DSAA was established by Gary Blaschke in Sydney back in 1986, after he suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident. He was a keen surfer and discovered a gap in the market for those who loved to surf, or wanted to surf, and were unable to due to either a physical or mental disability.
The DSAA is a volunteer organisation whose mission is to ‘Put Smiles On Dials’.
The Ocean Grove branch of DSAA was started back in 2011. People were gathered on the beaches as bushfires ravaged the countryside. It was a conversation about surfing which lead to 6 or 7 people forming a committee, discovering the DSAA and joining up. They celebrated their 10th anniversary in 2019, with a big beach party, of course.
What’s The Surf Like?
The waves at Ocean Grove are perfect for disabled surfing. The President of the Ocean Grove Branch, Phil Christie, says that it is a rolling wave with a slow gradient. The sand beneath the waves rolls away very slowly so you can get right out in the water and have a nice long ride into shore.
What can a disabled person expect from a day of surfing?
You can pretty much expect to catch a wave on your first day. More if you’re lucky. Every person will experience the thrill of catching their first wave, on a surf board, in the ocean. This is a once in a life time experience, which the DSAA helps you with.
There is wheelchair access to the beach, plus the DSAA has special beach wheel chairs so everyone can get on the sand and into the water. Change rooms and wetsuits are provided, and then it is out onto the waves.
The DSAA operates through their volunteers, of which there are many. Phil says that on their event days they have over 250 volunteers helping kids with needs have a great time.
A ‘corridor’ of helpers is create in the water and the surfers make their way through the corridor. Therefore, if the surfer falls off, help is right at hand. It also means that when they do catch a wave, they surf through a corridor of cheering and very supportive, excited people.
When can we surf?
The Ocean Grove Branch has only 2 days of disabled surfing per year, being the 1st Sunday in February and the 1st Sunday in March. This is due to the enormous effort and logistics involved in having a great day.
At each event you could easily have over a hundred kids and adults with disabilities. Phil says that they cater for anyone who wants to surf. This includes people on the Autism Spectrum, anyone with a mental illness and all the way up to ventilated quads.
Everyone can surf.
For each event, they have more than 250 volunteers. Then you add in carers, families and friends of the disabled grommets and soon you have more than 500 people on the beach for an event. While DSSA would love to make this happen every weekend, at this stage it isn’t possible. It’s a lot of people on the beach to coordinate!
How can I get to Ocean Grove Surf Beach from Lonsdale Palms?
It is just a short drive down the coast to get to Ocean Grove.
Bookings are essential, both for the surfing and with use at Lonsdale Palms, for those two weekends.
To book with the DSAA, follow this link to their website and go from there: http://disabledsurfers.org/vic/ocean-grove-branch/
You are in the perfect place to surf down here on the Peninsula. Get your feet wet, catch a wave and own that title of grommet! There is nothing stopping you!
- Cost: Refer to DSSA website
- Address: Ocean Grove Main Beach, Ocean Grove
Driving Distance from Lonsdale Palms: Approximately 15 minutes
Google Map directions: click here