WATEGO GIRL – JULIE ANDERSON
At 27 years of age, Julie Anderson has distinguished herself as one of Australia’s leading Indigenous surfers. A natural on the waves, Julie was introduced to the surf by her parents at age three, and was surfing with her dad on his malibu by the time she was six.
Julie first came to prominence in 1989 when she came seventh in the Australian Scholastic Titles. In 1991 she placed 15th in the Australian Open Titles. Two years later she won the Aboriginal Surfboard Championships at Fingal, followed by the Billabong Indigenous Invitational at Fingal in 1995, 1996 and 1997.
Born and bred in Byron Bay, an area that is also her ancestral home, Julie’s family clearly have the surf in their veins. Watego’s Beach was named after her great-grandfather; Clark’s Beach after her great-grandmother. And recently her uncle, David ‘Sput’ Keever launched his own surfing label, Watego’s, selling boards and surfwear.
“I am very fortunate to have this background,” says Julie. “Through surfing I have met a lot of people, made many friends and done quite a bit of travelling.
“Surfing is a sport I would recommend to anyone,” she continues. “It takes away all your aggression and gives you a sense of freedom. To sit out there in the ocean and face the sea just gives me goose bumps.”
Although Julie doesn’t compete anymore, she still loves to surf. Accordingly, she switched from shortboard to malibu four years ago, because “it’s more fun than short. Short is aggressive, while the malibu is more casual and social.”
Recently, Julie went to Uluru for the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council Kungka Career Conference, where she took, of all things, a mechanical surfboard! What’s a mechanical surfboard? Well, it’s like those mechanical bulls you can ride, only it’s a board.
“We were joking about doing it at first,” Julie recalls. “But then we made a few calls and realised it was possible to hire one and take it up there. It took the girls a little while to get used to it, because some of them were quite shy. But in the end, about 50 of them got up and had a go and everyone really enjoyed themselves. A couple of them were real naturals!”
Introducing others to the sport is what Julie loves best, and she is proudly carrying on her family’s surfing legacy. We won’t be surprised if one day she has a beach named after her, too – Julie’s Cove or the Anderson Rip, maybe?