Grabbing a longboard and taking to the waves for an early morning surf is what Sel Sullivan describes as the perfect way to start a new day.
The GemLife Pacific Paradise homeowner cites nearby Mudjimba Beach, Coolum, and Noosa beaches as his top surfing spots on the Sunshine Coast and can be found riding the waves at one of them nearly every day of the year.
“I probably surf at nearby Mudjimba Beach 80 percent of the time but places like Noosa, which is one of the few beaches that faces north and is sheltered from the wind, is pretty good too especially if you surf early in the morning like I do,” said the fit 70-year-old.
Surfing, he says, is an activity enjoyed by all ages.
“I regularly surf with a few other guys who range in age from 64 to 77. I started in the sport when I was a youngster living two hours north of Auckland in New Zealand and just half an hour from the closest beaches.”
After leaving school Sel spent 12 months living in the United Kingdom’s Newquay in Cornwall, where he continued his love for surfing.
“There are some great surfing beaches off the UK’s west coast that borders the Atlantic Ocean. It can be a bit cold in the surf until you get acclimatised but the waves were great,” he said.
Newquay was also the place he met the love of his life Judy whom he married 40 years ago in March.
The couple moved to Australia from New Zealand in 1991, arriving on Australia Day and despite having access to some of the world’s greatest surfing beaches, Sel took a 20-year break from surfing.
“I’m not really sure why I took the break. I just found my time was spent on other sports like tennis and golf and while I didn’t surf, I still went to the beach regularly,” he said.
Then, in 2001 Sel was gifted a longboard for his 50th birthday from his wife, son and daughter who were keen to see him riding the waves once again.
“It took a few months for me to get back on the board but following lots of prodding by my wife I finally took the plunge and haven’t stopped since.”
Sel says he is now just as dedicated to the sport as he was before giving it up and surfs solely for his own benefit and enjoyment.
“Surfing keeps you active and in good shape. An hour on the surfboard is a remedy to fix anything,” he said.
He particularly enjoys riding the longboard which, he says at nine or ten feet long, provides a lot more buoyancy and makes it easy to catch waves and to paddle.
When asked what attracts him to surfing, Sel said that just being out on the ocean is a magic experience.
“It’s a fabulous atmosphere, so serene, and you often see dolphins and turtles bobbing up beside you in places like Noosa. If I’ve had a hard day, I would head down to the beach for a surf and instantly feel relaxed and ready to go again. It’s amazing!” he said.
Although not into competitive surfing himself, Sel says he loves to watch major surfing competitions such as the Noosa Festival of Surfing which is held in March and attracts thousands of surfers and spectators each year.
“I’ve never competed but I love watching all the action on the main beach at Noosa. It brings back memories of the surfing heyday of the sixties and seventies, and every year there seems to be more people competing on longboards which I love to see.”
Celebrate the joy of surfing at the Noosa Festival of Surfing 2022, 5-13 March.
Proudly sponsored by GemLife, some of the festival’s major highlights will include:
- World-class surfing action
- The popular Dog Surfing Championships
- A Surf Art Show staged by local artist Owen Cavanagh
- A presentation from big wave surfer and motivational speaker Mark Matthews
- Screening of a remake of classic 1971 surf film Morning of the Earth with Q & A with Albie Falzon
- Beach bar, live music, and much more!
For event details, visit