Introduce us with your short background story – How have you gotten to where you are today?
Hey! I’m Gee. I’m a Northern Beaches girl living most of my life by the sea. I spent 12 years living in the NSW Snowy Mountains and many countries chasing the dream of being an Olympic snowboarder. After some major injuries in my early 20’s and getting a bit over living out of a suit case, I decided to go back to my grassroots and reconnect with my other passion; the ocean.
After a few years of a surfing lifestyle, surf coaching and all things beach, I decided to take a trip to Bali to really test out my surfing ability. My first trip was for a month surfing the usual south west of the island. When I came home nothing was the same at all. I had to get back. So I did.
I decided to move to a little village up the north west coast. It has a beautiful long wave and I knew I could push my surfing skills as well as really learn about the traditional ways of life in Bali. After spending several years in the village, I met my main man Adi. We share a strong passion for the ocean and all its beauty. Soon after we got married and moved to Australia, to show him what life here at my home is like.
Living between two islands, we were lucky enough to be blessed with our first little munchkin Aliyah. Together, we started a building project; to ultimately build our dream home in Bali. For many different reasons, we were continuously returning back to Sydney. After finishing our dream house and having another little girl, we have recently moved back to Australia to start our new projects.
Adi now has a growing Gardening business and I have started up an all girls surf school and development program. Even though our lives are strongly based in Sydney now, we are still able spend the winters in Bali, which is perfect for us all.
Your an ex-Olympic snowboarder, tell us about your lifestyle as a young elite athlete.
Growing up as a sports person means early mornings and early nights. Keeping your body healthy, strong, pushing your body and mind to it’s extremes. You quickly get used to living out of a suitcase and being away from family and friends, but when you truly love what your doing, nothing else really matters. I was lucky enough to see some amazing places and meet some incredible people. I snowboarded all over the world and was constantly challenged by some very inspirational snowboarders. Life in the mountains had such a beautiful feel to it, being in nature and all its beauty. I feel this is very similar to surfing. A love for what nature has to offer and appreciating it everyday is what my life has always been about that. I love this about my surroundings and my lifestyle. I can use it in a way that allows me to strongly connect with our beautiful earth.
Surfing creates unique lifestyles, job opportunities, health and fitness benefits. How has it impacted on your life?
I was so lucky to grow up with the ocean as my playground. It was no surprise that it would end up back in my life, sooner or later. After having some major surgery to my body and being diagnosed with a heart problem, I was forced to retire. Stopping snowboarding was a tough blow, I didn’t know what else to do with my life and my world was really shaken.
When the doctor said I was able to go back to surfing and that it would be the best thing for my body, as it would keep my body fit, strong and flexible. I felt like I was given a second chance. Once I was able to get on a board again I never turned back. Surfing has changed my life completely. It has such a strong influence on my lifestyle and daily happenings and I could not imagine my life without it. Support for my lifestyle comes from my sponsors which include; Girl Surf Network, Strange bikinis, Weapon Surfboards, Kingsway jewellery and Shimmy Bracelets.
Surfing has given me inspiration to push myself again. It has motivated me to make something of my life and it has allowed me to smile from the inside out. I feel now, that no matter what life throws at me, I’m able to handle it and this is what has created my motivation to start up my own all girls surf school. To give this feeling to other girls who may look at the ocean and other surfers and feel intimidated because of their lack of knowledge or skill. I want to give that confidence, strength and ability to other women.
How does a day in the life of Gee look like?
Most mornings start at about 4am. Indah wakes up looking for a buddy to hang with and then Aliyah is up and ready to have cuddles in bed. We always try and have family cuddles before starting the day. Once the kids are fed, I am able to do surf and weather checks and Aliyah is off to school. Its either surf time, exercise or work, while Indah has a sleep or play. By the afternoon my husband and Aliyah come home and we all head down to the beach for afternoon surfs and swims before dinner. Aliyah loves the ocean and playing on her surfboard, so it’s so nice to have that as our favorite thing to do all together. Once we are all salty and surfed out, we head home for dinner and bed. We don’t really live the most exciting life, but to have my girls love the ocean as much as I do, I wouldn’t want to have it any other way!
How is it like living in a remote, Islamic village within Bali?
Bali life is really different. Where we live compared to the south of the island, (where 95% of the westerners live) feels like another world. Because I am married to a local, I experience a very different side of Bali, a traditional side. We live very simply and we live in a family complex just like everyone else around us. We have loads of kids running around and lots of woman cooking and men either working in the rice paddies or fishing out to sea. All of our houses are somehow connected to each other and there are people walking in and out of each house with no worries. We all share what we have; food, water, plates and almost everything, so it is quite peaceful.
Our village is the only place where Adi and I are able to surf together, which is a very special thing for us. With small villages comes small town mentality. Our kids run off and play with other kids or they will all be playing on the beach and there is always someone keeping an eye on them. It means we are able to surf and our girls don’t even notice we are gone. We are the only mixed couple in our area so it can be tough at times. Mixing the 2 cultures together and raising our kids with the respect and appreciation of both lifestyles can be hard. We always knew that two people marrying from two completely different parts of life was never going to be easy. We just take each challenge as it comes and try and see things from both sides as well as teach our beautiful girls all the things we believe to be of importance and positively influence all of our lives.
Our village is half Muslim and half Hindu and the beautiful thing about it is everyone gets along. Before I married Adi a lady said to me “what religion are you?” I said, “Oh I don’t have a religion, I don’t believe in god” she was really sad, not because I wasn’t Muslim but as she said to me “I’m sad for you not because you are not the same religion as me but because you don’t have a god, any god. You must have a god or you will be alone”. I thought this really explained in the simplest way, their culture and what their life is all about.
What are the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ in traveling as a family?
Okay, this is an easy one. The ‘ups’ when traveling with kids is that you get to board the plane first…. And well, that’s about it really (Gee giggles). No just kidding! The best thing is that you get to show your kids the world and life in so many different ways. To show your kids other kids who are the same as them, but living life so differently is such a great educational experience for them. It naturally teaches them to be more tolerant and accepting of others and displays how every thing can be different and not to judge or discriminate because you don’t understand. It is such a good eye opener for them and I feel very blessed that I have 2 beautiful kids who are lucky enough to be able to do this. The ‘downs’ are the many plane rides, packing heaps of extra things for them, the girls being tired or getting sick… you know, the usual stuff.
What is the hardest part of being away from ‘home’?Well, I have actually spent most of my life away from “home”. My brother and sister live in another country also, so really its not that hard being away, but if there was something I miss the most it would be my mum, dad and my dog Saxon. I am very close to my family and love them to bits. I hate taking their grandchildren away from them but Bali is so close and we are lucky it is a very quick, cheap plane flight to see them. I do miss the northern beaches when I am away, we live in a beautiful part of the world and no matter where I travel, I will always say that the northern beaches is the most beautiful place I have ever been.
5 most amazing places you have been:
Okay, in no order; Bali, Fiji, Australia, Colombia, Canada and some parts of America. Each place has its good and its bad and I wish I got to travel more of the world (as there are so many places I want to go). For different reasons in each country they have all left a little inprint on my heart.
You have just opened a surf school, where do you see it in the next few years?
Yes I have. Chix Surf School. It’s very exciting and we are having some amazing responses from people, which is very positive. Its an all girls/woman’s surf school, which aims at getting more girls out in the water surfing. We are more of an education program really. Our clients we have for weeks, months or sometimes for over a year using surf education and ocean awareness to create a strong, positive, safe environment for girls to learn how to surf and have fun. Using only female surf instructors we do all sorts of programs and lessons. These include; beginner to advanced lessons, father & daughter lessons, mothers group lessons, summer programs, long board style lessons, little girls lessons but really we just want to have a community where like minded girls can come together and share their passion for the ocean and improve their surfing ability. It’s a very exciting time for women’s surfing at the moment and we are excited to be a part of it.
What would be your advice be to anyone who’s just starting out on their journey?
Umm, okay advice. I really don’t think I should be giving out advice but I’ll answer this one as honestly as possible. Follow the path more challenging, listen to your heart and explore the thoughts that are inside you. The path less taken will lead you to where you will be truly happy. For me, being a kid that struggled at school, I always felt like my feet needed to be IN the earth not on top of it. I had to find what was going to make me happy, what made me feel content and I knew it was going to be a road that was very different to others. It can be hard to follow dreams, it can be scary, challenging and can feel like an unsafe journey. If your heart feels free and your mind feels clear, your in the right direction.
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