Surfrider Foundation



Surfrider Foundation

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Surfrider Foundation Australia is a registered not for profit sea-roots organisation dedicated to the protection of Australia’s waves and beaches through Conservation, Activism, Research and Education or C.A.R.E.

A little over 30 years ago, three passionate surfers in Malibu, California, found out that their favorite wave was about to be destroyed. Those three people worked with their local community and Government until they were satisfied that their iconic wave would be preserved. This was the genesis of Surfrider Foundation USA, which sparked a global movement of surfers and ocean enthusiast to stand up for their coasts and local marine environments.

Our Purpose is to protect oceans, waves and beaches through C.A.R.E.

Our Mission & Vision is to inspire an engaged surfing and coastal community who are passionate about protecting oceans, waves and beaches.

A little over 30 years ago, three passionate surfers in Malibu, California, found out that their favorite wave was about to be destroyed. Those three people worked with their local community and Government until they were satisfied that their iconic wave would be preserved. This was the genesis of Surfrider Foundation USA, which sparked a global movement of surfers and ocean enthusiasts to stand up for their coasts and local marine environments.

Today, the Surfrider Foundation movement has grown to 18 countries around the world.

Surfrider Foundation Australia (SFA) was founded in 1991, largely in response to poor water quality issues along Australia's east coast. Local surfers, being at the forefront of water quality, began recruiting volunteers for a series of demonstrations and actions to persuade decision makers to take action on this ongoing issue. The group has been working hard to protect Australia’s coastlines ever since.

Since its humble beginnings and as we approach our 29th year of operation, SFA has grown to over 18 volunteer branches and many more volunteer beach representatives tackling local and national coastal environmental issues at a sea-roots level around Australia.

With times of uncertainty, it hasn’t been easy. There’s still a lot of work to be done. Our work is critical. And our long-term success and growth is a tribute to our founders’ vision: that taking on an environmental battle may not be easy, but with constant pressure, endlessly applied, it can, and will, be won. The key to this is what makes our organisation unique.

Managed/contributed to the following campaigns

Type of group


Primary environmental focus

Conservation & Protection

Geographic sphere or activity


Primary location


Known address

707 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Coledale NSW 2515

Website link/s

Founding Year


History of group

Thirty two years ago a group of surfers in Malibu, California decided to take action when environmental risks posed by coastal development threatened the state of their favorite surf spot. Concern became action and the Surfrider Foundation was born.

Since its humble beginnings in 1984, Surfrider Foundation has established itself globally in the U.S., Europe, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Argentina, Japan & Morocco. It has grown into one of the largest sea-roots organizations with a volunteer-activist network committed to the protection and enhancement of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches.

1991: Surfrider Foundation Australia is Born

Surfrider Foundation Australia’s story begins in 1990 when founder, Brad Farmer, witnessed 5,000 surfers demonstrate against the proposed sewerage outfall at South Straddie under the banner of GASP. Inspired by his travels throughout Europe, along with a personal connection with Tom Curren founder of Surfrider Europe, Brad returned home and in July 1991 he founded Surfrider Foundation Australia on the Gold Coast with the help of many other dedicated ocean lovers.

The People

Filled with times of uncertainty, it hasn’t been easy. Surfrider Foundation Australia’s long-term success and growth is a tribute to its founder's vision, that taking on an environmental battle may not be easy, but with constant pressure, endlessly applied, it can be won. And the key to this is what makes the organization unique has always been the people.

A Network of Branch Organisations

Surfrider Australia opened the first branch on the Gold coast due to surfers' concern to protect Australia’s coastal environment. The National office opened in Burleigh Heads, Queensland. Shortly after, a network of branches was established throughout Australia. Branches are made up from active volunteers who campaign on local issues and participate in on-the-ground projects that make a difference through C.A.R.E. Conservation, activism, research and education projects.

On the 6th of December 1991, Surfrider Foundation was incorporated as an Association under Australia’s Old Association Incorporation Act of 1981. At that point, the major aim was to put together an Education package & video for schools in 1992 and decrease pollution by 1995, by creating awareness of problems and alter behaviour and attitudes of people in Australia.


Awareness of Surfrider Foundation Australia picked up when the first issue of our national newsletter ‘coastlines’ was printed and distributed around Australia later that summer. Surfing legends Wayne Lynch and Peter Garrett contributed letters to this first issue.

Surfrider Foundation Australia became the largest representation of any community group on the Commonwealth Government’s Coastal Zone Inquiry.

The first inaugural SURFRIDER FOUNDATION NATIONAL CONFERENCE was held at the Coastal Environment Centre, North Narrabeen, NSW. With guest speaker Glen Henning, one of the founders & president of Surfrider Foundation USA at the time.

Created and coordinated the inaugural National Ocean Care Day during the first Sunday of December with on ground activities in every State and Territory. This event was hugely successful in the early years with events and activities around the country. Subsequently, ocean care day was taken over by the Commonwealth Government.


State of our Surf Report (SOS), a project involving the creation of an environmental database of Australian Beaches completed by Surfrider's Michael Legge Wilkinson.

Launched on the steps of the Parliament House, Sydney, the report attracted nationwide attention.

Hundreds of interviews with print, television and radio from around the country were conducted. Recommendations from the report were screened nationally on ABC National News with various state and local governments forced to respond to issues raised.

Surfrider Foundation gained a position on the national implementation committee who established the Government's Ocean Care Programme.

Active campaigning continued to build around the country against ocean outfalls, oil pollution and other direct threats to marine and coastal environments.
Don't Spoil with Oil

Surfrider Foundation’s Victoria branch led the protests against proposals to restart an oil transfer facility in Westernport Bay at Crib Point.

The rally on the steps of the Parliament House in Melbourne, the first ever by surfers in Victoria, attracted over 200 people along with a paddle out held at Crib Point 3 days later.

Campaign won! Plans for the oil transfer facility were shelved indefinitely as a result of Surfrider’s fight.


State of Our Surf Report resulted in the government allocating $10 million to cleaning up PattaWoolunga river in Adelaide. The report also ended up influencing the NSW government to introduce fishing bag limits on intertidal invertebrates on Sydney's Northern beaches.

Submitted a report that led to South Stradbroke Island being included in Marine Park status.

Surfrider Foundation organized the Dob-in-a-polluter hotline, giving people the opportunity to report coastal pollution.

Surfrider Foundation partnered with the federal ocean rescue 2000 program and secured a seat on the national implementation committee of the Marine and Coastal Community network.

Surfrider Foundation stopped a development at Blue lagoon on the the NSW central coast.

Gold Coast branch launches CoastCare program in partnership with LandCare Australia.


Direct campaigning by National Office and branches leads to NSW and QLD Governments creating legislation that banned the construction of new ocean outfalls in those states.

Surfrider Foundation Victoria branch held the NUCLEAR FREE PACIFIC RALLY, at Geelong, Victoria with 150 people attending against water contamination.

From this a movement was sparked and Surfrider Foundation Australia coordinated No Nukes protests around the country.

Furthermore, Surfrider’s continued fight resulted in a two-year moratorium on offshore drilling in the Great Australian Bight.

The NUCLEAR FREE PACIFIC RALLY continued in Sorrento, Victoria and raised national media attention, giving Surfrider Foundation even more support.

SF Surf Coast - Lorne Rally in 1995. Protesting against ocean pollution.


Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast branch receives $20,000 Water Watch Grant after 3 years of negotiations with federal and state government. Water Watch is a government partnership program dedicated to providing resources to communities in order to foster lifelong learning about waterways, catchments and sustainable living.

Surfrider Foundation holds its Annual General Meeting and National Conference at the Bondi Pavilion, Bondi. Hosted by Eastern Beaches branch.

Surfrider Foundation National office releases LOCAL ENVIROGROUP Manual, a guide for groups wishing to form their own branch or environmental group. Authored and published by WET PAPER.

In March Surfrider Foundation Victoria branch launches the POINT IMPOSSIBLE REVEGETATION project in partnership with the local Aboriginal community and the local foreshore committee. This project is conducted from 1996-1998 and includes extensive Archaeological work and major revegetation work at Point Impossible near Torquay.

After five years of intense government lobbying, Surfrider Foundation Coffs Harbour branch is able to celebrate a huge victory in the proclamation of the Solitary Islands as a Marine Park.

In November, Surfrider’s “Human Impacts on Australian Beaches” report is launched by Peter Garrett (from Midnight Oil) and Project Author Michael Legge-Wilkinson at the Bondi Pavilion, Sydney.

This report is the follow up to the first State of Our Surf report released in 1993, and gains significant national and international media attention nationally and worldwide including feature reports on BBC London and USA Today.

It is estimated that the media coverage reached approximately 120 million people.


Surfrider Foundation holds the National Conference and annual general meeting (AGM) in Jan Juc, Victoria. The aim, to discuss the organization’s future goals. This AGM is attended by over 40 Surfrider representatives from all around Australia and joined by guest speaker Larry Manson from Surfrider Foundation USA.

Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast branch hosts the first NOT SO CLEAN WATER CLASSIC surf contest at Point Impossible, Victoria as a campaign against ocean pollution from the nearby Black Rock Sewage Treatment Plant. Surfrider Foundation Australia moves its Head National Office to Manly.


Surfrider Foundation Australia calls for phasing out Australia’s 160 ocean outfalls over a twenty-year period in their submission to the development of Australia’s Ocean Policy.

The call demands for a national approach to coastal zone management in light of the pollution seen along Australia’s coast as a result of municipal and industry marine discharge.

Surfrider Foundation Victoria Branch launches a Marine Parks poster to support the public campaign for the establishment of a Marine National Park at Bells Beach.

- Early April -

Surfrider holds their National Conference and AGM in Byron Bay, New South Wales. Themed: ‘Spirit Of The Ocean’.


- March -

Surfrider Foundation National Conference and AGM is held in Masonic Bowling Club, King Edward Park in Newcastle. The conference is joined by Larry Manson from SF USA, and Yoko Koji Yasuhara from Surfrider Foundation Japan.

Sydney Water, Australia’s largest water utility, agrees to install a disinfecting system at Warriewood Sewage Treatment Plant after years of intense lobbying by Surfrider Foundation Northern Beaches Branch supported by the surf community.

Greg Howell (National Administrator) and Fairlee Andrew (National Director) travel to the US to address the inaugural International Surfrider Foundation Summit held in California.

- November -

Surfrider’s Gold Coast branch launches the HOLD ONTO YOUR BUTT campaign with the support from David ‘Rasta’ Rastovich and Michael ‘Munga’ Barry.

– November –

NO SO CLEAN WATER CLASSIC surf contest held by SF Surf Coast at Point Impossible near Torquay to highlight local ocean outfall issues.


- March -

Surfrider Foundation National Conference and AGM held on the Gold Coast. Official welcome by Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew.

- June -

Inaugural SPIRIT OF SURFING GATHERING held at Broken Head, New South Wales. Hosted by Peter Cuming with support from Surfrider and Surfing Australia.

Surfrider Foundation Northern Beaches branch launch their own version of the Surfriders Code under guidance of Neil Lazarow.

Surfrider Foundation Mid North Coast branch runs three rounds of the RESPECT THE BEACH junior surf coast funded by CoastCare.

After five years of lobbying from Surfrider Foundation Northern Beaches branch, Sydney Water agree to upgrade Warriewood Sewage Treatment Plant to tertiary level treatment standard.


Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast branch celebrate the proclamation of a Marine National Park at Bells Beach after five years of lobbying and consultation.

Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast partners with Wathaurong Aboriginal Corporation, Surf Coast Shire, Surfing Victoria, SANE and Torquay Boardriders Club to install the SPIRIT OF SURFING stones at Bells Beach.


North Narrabeen:Line in the Sand campaign at Narrabeen prevents the Narrabeen seawall from being constructed.

Surfrider Foundation National Conference in Torquay, organized by Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast branch.


Surfrider Tasmania member Matt Dell wins 2004 Coca-Cola Community Environment award for his Marine Debris Clean Up program in Tasmania.

“Respect the Beach” campaign relaunched in QLD schools.

National “Hold On To Your Butt” campaign supported by National Office.


First International Surfing Day initiated by Surfrider globally, celebrating surfing and coastal conservation on the 20th of June.

Save Bastion Point campaign from dredging and boat ramp development begins supported by Surfrider Foundation branches from around the country.

Unfortunately, this campaign is lost in 2014 when the breakwall was constructed by the local council, a large rocky structure was placed right on the point through the surf zone.

Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast branch campaign to stop the dredging and surf break destruction of Corsair surf break in Victoria.

Surfrider Foundation Australia campaign for an extension to the Marine Park in Ningaloo National Park, Western Australia.

Surfrider Foundation Australia campaign to protect Belmont Wetlands successful when area is declared a State Park.

Surfrider Foundation Australia organises 26 rings of remembrance for the people lost in the 2004 boxing day tsunami. Surfrider establishes partnerships with SurfAid International and Lhoknga Aid Building Project.

The campaign funnels almost $500,000 of aid to these organizations following the tsunami.


Catherine Hill Bay, NSW - A heritage coastal surfing town is saved from developers proposals.

Surfrider Foundation National Conference and AGM held in Coffs Harbour, NSW in November. Hosted by Surfrider Foundation Coffs Harbour branch.

Surfrider Foundation Australia launch ‘I SURF I VOTE’ sticker to raise awareness with local, state and federal politicians about beach issues which have been ignored.


The Gardens, South Narrabeen – temporarily saved from sea wall construction plans by the 'Line in the Sand' campaign.

16th annual Surfrider Foundation Australia National Conference


Sandon Point – saved from excess foreshore encroachment and beachfront housing.

Smoking banned at all beaches along the Surf Coast in Victoria after proposal from Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast branch. First smoking ban on Victoria beaches.

This initiative is a finalist in 2009 Victorian Coastal Awards.
- August
Surfrider Foundation Tasmania opposes boat ramp being constructed at Georgetown.
- Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th November -
Surfrider Foundation National Conference and AGM held in Hobart, Tasmania.
International Rise Above Plastics campaign commences.


At The Farm, Shellharbour – Surfrider Foundation South Coast branch campaign saves this beach from developers. It is now a National Surfing Reserve.

Surfrider Foundation unveils a new international logo.


In January, Surfrider Foundation Australia releases a revised National Environmental Policy, still serving us today.



Saved,Alexandra Bay - In 2011 campaign by Surfrider Foundation Sunshine Coast branch stops a one kilometre seawall proposal.

Surfrider Foundation Margaret River and No Oil for SW Beaches Alliance organizes 20,000+ submissions from community members in opposition to an offshore drilling proposal approved by the government.

Renown for its massive A-frame peaks and formidable local sharks, the Margaret River has been a popular surf break for over 40 years and hosts several annual competitions. With an immense amount of support from No Oil for SW Beaches and the greater whole of WA, Surfrider successfully halts the proposal in its tracks!

Surfrider Foundation National Conference & AGM hosted by Surfrider Foundation Margaret River branch.

First Surfrider Foundation Eco Challenge organised by the Surfrider Foundation Sunshine Coast branch. The event shows coastal communities how to live and breath a zero emissions surf lifestyle. Since 2011, the Eco Challenge becomes an annual event on the Sunshine Coast, and has spread to the Gold Coast since 2015.


South West WA - Surfrider branch campaigning leads to Cape Ngaris State Marine Park promise with 10 special surf zones between Dunsborough and Augusta.


Surfrider Foundation launches national Endangered Waves campaign. Continuing to encourage local and national action to ensure that Australia’s surf breaks and unique coastal environments are protected from threats such as destructive coastal development, erosion, water pollution and impeded access.

At the start of the campaign, Surfrider identified nine waves throughout Australia under imminent threat:

Bastion Point (Mallacoota, Victoria)

The Other Side, TOS (South Stradbroke Island, Qld)

Bells Beach (Vic)

Kirra Point (Gold Coast, Qld)

North Narrabeen (Sydney, NSW)

Capricorn Coast (Qld)

Ball Bay (Norfolk Island)

Westernport Bay (Vic)

Tam O’Shanter Bay (Tas)

In May, Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast branch launches the video, CLIMATE CHANGE AT BELLS BEACH, on Youtube. The sequence illustrates the impact of climate change on oceans, waves and beaches around the world and uses Australia’s popular Bells Beach as an example of the serious issue. Upon release, the video attracted thousands of viewers worldwide.

Following the launch of the video, intense campaigning by Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast branch in partnership with local groups succeeds in stopping overdevelopment of Bells Beach Surfing Reserve for tourism.


Early 2014 kicked off with a gathering of 2,500 surfers and beach lovers from and around the Gold Coast at North Kirra to call on Premier Campbell Newman to provide greater protection for the Gold Coast beaches and public land. This event is supported by a petition signed by over 36,000 people against a proposed cruise-ship terminal and tourist resort on this iconic break.

Surfrider Foundation National and Gold Coast-Tweed branch launch campaign against another proposal in early March aiming to prevent the transformation of the Broadwater at The Spit into a cruise ship terminal.

In media, Surfrider Foundation Australia Chairman Brendan Donahue describes the development as a “zombie threat.. kill it off and it resurfaces 8-10 years later”.

Still, Surfrider Foundation is determined to protect the surf break as development proposals are continuously reoccurring.

Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast branch partners with SANE (Surfers Appreciating Natural Environment) , Torquay Boardriders and Bells Beach Preservation Society in October in order to launch a campaign to stop people from crapping in native vegetation areas at Bell’s and Winki Pop.

A follow up video produced by the Surf Coast Branch featuring Maurice Cole receives hundreds of views and raises a tremendous amount of awareness on the issue.


Surfrider Foundation Australia launches a Vimeo channel with ‘We Love The Waves, we love the beaches!” which showcases surfers talking about why they love the ocean and why being a member of Surfrider Foundation is important to them.

June 20th marks the 10th Anniversary of International Surfing Day, an event SF hosts at 200 branches worldwide. The purpose of the event is to celebrate Surfrider’s successes, trials, and the goals for the future.


In May, over 250 volunteers come together and descend on Double Island Point for an annual Beach Clean Up organised by Surfrider Foundation Sunshine Coast branch. Now, the event takes place twice a year, in fall and spring.

In March, Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast Tweed branch celebrates the launch of the Gold Coast Surf Management Plan. A world’s first in recognizing waves and beaches, surf amenity, as a major contributor to the Gold Coast, as recognized by the council and state government under the Ocean Beaches Strategy.

This plan came forward as a response to use best practice for coastal management and enhance and preserve the city’s surf amenity.

The launch of the Surf Management Plan coincides with the dedication of the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve, from Burleigh Heads to Snapper Rocks.

Bell’s Last Stand.

A local landowner in the hinterland immediately surrounding the globally iconic Bells Beach submits a development proposal for tourist accommodation after community and local shire council opposition. With the online petition a staggering number of people were reached to support Surfrider’s campaign.

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