North Narrabeen

The North Narrabeen NSR was declared in Oct 2009 and is a popular hard core surfing beach on Sydney’s northern coastline. The reserve covers 50 hectares of land and water along one kilometre of coastline taking in part of Narrabeen Lagoon which plays a role in the natural processes that make the surf breaks of the beach so unique. Home of the veteran national club champions, North Narrabeen Boardriders.

The Surf Break

Sydney is one of the great capital cities of the world. Situated on a beautiful coastline, it is enclosed on both the north and south by large national parks and on the west by larger, mountainous national parks of over 1,000,000 hectares.

It is a great honour for North Narrabeen to be declared a Surfing Reserve and for the surfers who have spent their lives surfing, and caring, for the local break.

Damien Hardman: 2 x ASP World surfing titles, Australian Surfing hall of Fame.

But it is the northern coast of Sydney – the Northern Beaches – which distinguish Sydney from all others. For over 20 kilometres, 16 great surfing beaches extend north from the Harbour entrance to conclude at Palm Beach at the entrance to Broken Bay. Each of the surfing beaches are enclosed by headlands and boast quality surfing breaks, including beach and point breaks, the most consistent of all being North Narrabeen.

The name Narrabeen is believed to be derived from an Aboriginal name, and the original inhabitants thrived in an area rich in sea life from the Narrabeen Lagoon, its creeks and the ocean. But they would have been unable to appreciate, without today’s surfing equipment, the marvellous waves at the lagoon entrance.

There are five distinctive surfing breaks. A rock platform known as “The Point” with a channel created by the North Narrabeen Lagoon entrance beside it, “The Alley”, a sand covered rock shelf that extends south from The Point and forms a relatively stable sand bank yielding the area’s famous lefts and rights. “The Bombie” is situated a little further offshore to the south, yielding a separate wave in big swells.

Guringai People

The Guringai are the traditional owners of this land and are part of the oldest surviving continuous culture in the world. We pay our respects to the spirits of the Guringai People.

The name ‘Warringah’ was taken from the Aboriginal word for Middle Harbour. ‘Warringah’ also has other meanings in various Aboriginal languages including ‘grey head’ and ‘signs of rain’. ‘Garigal’ is the name of the Aboriginal clan who occupied the Manly Warringah Pittwater area on the coast. The Guringai lived in large groups throughout the region because it was so rich in food supplies such as fruit, nuts, seeds, leaves, roots, bulbs, honey, nectar, insect grubs and fish.

Surfing These Special Waves

North Narrabeen holds a very special place in Australian Surfing and the role it’s surfers have played in surfing evolution. North Narrabeen is both a national and international icon in world surfing, and site of numerous local, state, national and international surfing events. It has everything deserving recognition as a National Surfing Reserve.

As a sand bottom break over rock, Northie has more moods than most, affected by every element including the lake. That’s what makes it so interesting: a new day, a new week, a new swell. From the famous Lefts to Car Park Rights, it is a rare day when there is not something to ride.

Kye Fitzgerald: Pro Surfer.

First it has waves – in abundance, the most consistent break on the east coast and probably in Australia. And what waves – the long classic alley lefts – world class when they are firing; the walled up alley rights; the screaming hollow Carrie right; and when it gets big the Bombie – both rights, then lefts. North Narrabeen has it all, it can handle from less than 1m to 5m plus, out of the northeast and east preferably, and with the Bombie working in the big south swells. North Narrabeen gets a big tick for their first box to be an NSR – consistent, quality waves.

Second, it has the surfers, quality world class surfers. What a breeding ground these waves have provided for three generations of North Narrabeen locals, five generations when you include the surf club. North Narrabeen developed a fierce reputation early on. Needless to say North Narrabeen Boardriders (one of the oldest in Australia) has not only consistently been amongst the most competitive board clubs in Australia, but also produced a constant flow of highly ranked surfers including Australian and World champions, together with some of the greatest innovations in surfboard design.

The waves and its locals fosters fierce competition and competitors and combine to push the limits of both surfing and innovation. North Narrabeen is a small tight knit surf tribe that has taken on the world and won. The dedication of the North Narrabeen NSR recognizes all that is North Narrabeen – a truly great Australian surfing location.

The Thrill of Riding the Wave

In stripping surfing to the core of ‘why’, the answer can be encapsulated in a simple phrase: “for the thrill of riding a wave”! Similar simplicity applies to the North Narrabeen Surfing Reserve in asking: “what does it mean to you?” A whole gamut of responses range from the obvious to personal, from poetic to commercial. There is, however, one irrefutable constant: the waves.

It is those waves that are at the core of what is to be preserved. The long shore drift sand that feeds the banks, the lake that shapes, the constant interaction of swell, wind, tides all working in tandem in creating the waves that make this Reserve possible. Another highlight of events, past and present.

Aboriginal middens were scattered in the lee of the headlands, the lake provided shellfish and easy fishing at it’s mouth. The marshes, birdlife and marsupial tucker. Folklore has it that a young native girl swam the lake neck to save white settlers from a cabin fire. In her honour the area is named: Narrabeen.

The Northern Beaches were the focal point in the 1950s and 60s of an innocent surfing fraternity spread over more than 30 beaches, reefs and points. In the formative years of professionalism through the 70s and 80s, this concentrate of embryonic Modern Surfing included more board-riders clubs, surfboard factories, magazines, film makers, photographers, surfboard shapers, pro surfers and surf journalists than any 30 kilometre stretch on the planet… including the North Shore of Oahu. Too many names, and too many to name. In the 70s, Sydney’s northern beach community was the meeting place for surfing’s multi-faceted men and women of personality, character and conviction. And at the heart: North Narrabeen.

As with all passionate lifestyles, there exists underlying committed strength in those who have built their lives around riding it’s waves. Many, unsung heroes and their mates, on it, the moment it breaks.

North Narrabeen at it’s best is one of the world’s premier waves. The inspiration and canvas for the foundation of modern surfing and the future. As a National Surfing Reserve, the area will continue to launch careers on the world stage, and also be there to provide the vehicle for that most simple of pleasures… that thrill of riding a wave.

Where Champions Are Born

It’s hard to quantify the impact North Narrabeen board riders have had on surfing. The influence is identified as a world-wide phenomenon, integral to the advancement of the natural athletic art of riding surfboards on waves and the progression of modern surfboard design. There has always been a certain recognized panache connected with the style of North Narrabeen boardriders, an element that has produced many champion surfers.

The role North Narrabeen beach has played in the history of surfboard riding cannot be discounted. Since the early 1960s, board riders have been attracted to the consistency of the long winding lefts, and more intense barreling rights, produced via the outpouring of the Narrabeen Lake entrance. Even the faintest of swells mount and traverse the beach’s sandy underwater eastern apex and, without doubt, is the best wave on Sydney’s northern beaches. It is this consistent, quality surf that has perpetually magnetized, challenged, trained and sorted the assembled elite of Australia’s surfing fraternity as they go about their daily wave riding ritual at the North Narrabeen break. There is no doubt that the gathering of such a talented group, men and women, girls and boys, has motivated them to always strive towards the upper peak of surfing performance and beyond.

This level of excellence is displayed in the ability of the youngest grommet to surfers who compete at National and International level. Surfers of senior, legendary status have set a beach benchmark of performance that is unequalled at any other surfing locality. In fact, Australia’s first two World Surfing Champions – Midget Farrelly and Nat Young both honed their skills and competitive abilities at the North Narrabeen break before, during and after they went on to achieve their glory. Other, unchallengeable evidence is the infinite number of North Narrabeen boardriders who have graduated from this surf board riding crucible over the past five decades to become celebrated and famous as champions, legends and/or idolized wizards of the surfing world.

Established in the summer of 1964, North Narrabeen Boardriders Club is the second oldest such organisation in Australia and has held monthly club contests ever since. The club has an enviable, and unequalled, competition record. The reigning National Surf League Champions, the Jim Beam Surf Tag National Open Division finalists 2007 and 2008 and the reigning Womens Division champions. The club’s juniors have won the 2007 and 2008 O’Neill Gromtag event.