Australia's Surfing Life

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Surfing Life Formerly Australia’s Surfing Life, the magazine was founded in 1985 by Peter Morrison[1] and is the flagship publication of Morrison Media’s Fresh Air Division. The magazine is based in Burleigh Heads, QLD and forms part of the larger publishing company, which also publishes such other magazine titles as Frankie, The Smith Journal, White Horses and Slow. The first issue of Surfing Life appeared in August 1985.


The concept for Surfing Life stemmed from Peter Morrison’s desire, in the mid-80s, to find a balance between the glossy, high-quality publications that took months to come out, and the newspaper print, low-quality publications that came out more regularly. The result was a colourful, high-quality print product with high-production values, and healthy editorial to advertising ratio and a unique, witty, colourful tone, endemic to the title, one that continues to this very day.

The magazine's frequency began as quarterly, before becoming bi-monthly early in 1987. The title’s monthly frequency began in August 1992 and it has remained a monthly title ever since.[1]

Fittingly, for a parochially Gold Coast-based magazine, the first issue of Surfing Life featured local surfer Todd Lee getting barrelled at Kirra. Over the years, however, numerous surfing legends, as well as current and future stars, from around the world, have graced Page 1, including: Shane Herring, Mark Occhilupo, Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, Taj Burrow, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Ozzie Wright, Jordy Smith, Julian Wilson, Craig Anderson, John John Florence and more. They celebrated 300th issue with a cover consisting of Joel Parkinson, surfing Duranbah at night, doing a large aerial with bright, green LED lights on the bottom of his board, spelling out the number 300.

Throughout the magazine’s 30 year + history, it has been the workplace and breeding ground for many of Australia’s great surf-writing and photography stars.

Talented writing personalities such as Mike Perry, Tim Baker, Derek Reilly, Andrew Farrell, Jon Jenkins, Nick Carroll, Jimmy O’Keefe, Tim Fisher, Chris Binns and Wade Davis have all called the Surfing Life Editorial department home.

Photographers such as Ted Grambeau, John Callahan, Art Brewer, Jason Childs, Jeff Flindt, Jeff Divine, Dick Hoole, Jeff Hornbaker, Brian Bielmann, Peter Boscovich and current staff-photographer, Andrew Shield, amongst many more, have either called their Surfing Life office their own, or been a valued senior contributor. Creative Director, Gra Murdoch, who has been with the title since the late 80s - and who now designs and edits White Horses magazine - single-handedly thrust the entire Australian surf-publishing industry forward in terms of design–aesthetic and editorial tone and content.

Throughout the late 1990s and into the 2000s, a boom period for the Australian, and global, Surf Industry, Surfing Life differentiated themselves by focussing on the core pillars that each and every surfer needs to enjoy their surfing life; Boards, Wetsuits, Travel and Boardshorts. The Surfing Life Bibles – encompassing each of these pillars – cemented Surfing Life as the go-to magazine for hardcore, respected and reputable knowledge on the most important of surfing elements.

In the current publishing environment, populated by digital-natives and characterised by ever-changing media consumption habits, Surfing Life’s focus is on delivering content across multiple, targeted media channels – including, but not limited to; print, website, app, digital magazine, mobile, social, eNewsletters and events.

Surfing Life were ahead of their time developing their Peer Poll event, which was run and won at the Rip Curl Pro Bells each year. The years prior to Rabbit Bartholomew’s Dream Tour, when the waves on tour were often subpar and the competition wasn’t in an even canvass, Surfing Life gave the surfers themselves the opportunity to vote for the surfer they felt was the standout of the year, and awarded them justly. The Peer Poll concluded in 2011 when it was finally felt that the waves on tour matched both the surfers and the results.

The Surfing Life Big Wave Awards began in 2003 and continue to be awarded in March of each year. It is the only event of its kind in Australia and celebrates the underground chargers and mind-blowing big-waves that populate the Australian coastline. The Big Wave Awards focusses on the Biggest Wave, the Biggest Paddle-In and the Biggest Slab. A 12-year partnership with Oakley has seen over $250,000 be awarded to both the surfers and photogaphers/filmers of these waves.

Surfing Life is made from surfing. They focus on the core passion that drives surfers in all that they do - surfing - the only constant that unites their diverse tribe. Surfing Life represents what is NOW in surfing – whether it’s equipment, contests, travel or surfers, Surfing Life is on the front line reporting the latest news in its own youthful, witty and irreverent tone.

With a focus on the Core and Youth, with content driven by Passion not Fashion, Surfing Life is the surfing magazine for surfers.


  1. ^ a b Matt Warshaw (2005). The Encyclopedia of Surfing. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 28. ISBN 0-15-603251-1. Retrieved 19 May 2016. 

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