North Devon’s Stu Campbell was a fixture on the UK scene for a long time, then he went to Australia to go walk about. He’s never returned…
When you went to Australia did you intend to never return?
I have been in Oz for almost three and a half years, when my girlfriend and I packed our bags we told our folks we would be a year tops, we might even be back home in a few months if we didn’t like it. There was a couple of awkward Skype chats when we went to do our farm work to earn another year, when we applied for residency we kept it a secret as long as we could. We always intended to go back to the UK because we didn’t think we would be allowed to stay here. Now we have got a cat so we are firmly tied here, there is no way that little Peach could manage the hassle.
What do you miss about home?
I miss not having to worry about skin cancer everyday. I miss going left. I am coming for a visit in September and have my fingers crossed for some good Lynmouth swells.
What are the best things about living there compared to the UK?
Conversation is easier, my mates here don’t correct my grammer and pronunciation, I can abbreviate everything call sausages ‘snags’ and musicians ‘musos’ and no one blinks. The sunshine and unusual fruit, you guys have got to start importing custard apples. Simon Anderson shapes my boards and they go insane.
What do you do to make ends meet?
I am working as a surf coach, helping Australians to improve their surfing something I didn’t think I was qualified to do.
Seen many sharks?
I have seen a couple of beautiful bronze whalers, stroked a social leopard shark, shared a wave with a reef shark and been in the presence of a white. There had been a huge stingray cruising about so I didn’t stress when I saw another black shape about, I actually borrowed a beginner’s board to paddle to it. The board was 9’6″ big enough to use as a stand up paddle board, standing above a few metres away I could see it was bigger than the board I was on even though it was right on the bottom. They say if it is really black it is a white but it wasn’t scary it was lazily passing by not a care in the world it might as well have been humming. Everyone stayed in the water.
Do you surf more or less there?
I probably surf the same amount. The main thing is I surf different. I ride a mal which I swore I never would I ride. Twins, single fins and no fins. Riding a really different board you almost have to start again but they can teach you loads. Riding finless was huge it helped me so much with my landings on a thruster, even though I never left the surface of the water on a finless board.
Are you now the family hotel in Oz?
Yep! Lucy came and crashed for like three months on the sofa, we had to move house so we had enough room for everyone.
Photos by Joseph Thompson