I Live, I Breathe,
I Surf

Being a freshwater fulla, going to Bells Beach to record a documentary about the 2015 Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles was a particularly emotional journey for me.

A freshwater fulla is from inland - where the rivers are. On this trip, I met my saltwater brothers and sisters.

Torquay was a gathering place. It was a meeting place for us to come together. Whoever made it was meant to be there.

I'm grateful for my upbringing and that I've never changed my way - my Mungindi way. But going to this surfing event was about the appreciation of meeting other brothers and where they're from.
- Steve Ellis


'This place must be a spiritual, powerful land because we're all here.'

Robbie Page, surfing legend, speaks to Steve Ellis about the spiritual side of surfing

Pro Surfer Otis Carey at the 2015 Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles

'Here at this comp I feel like myself. I feel like I belong here.'

Surfing Champ Russ Molony talks surfing and the sea

'You can have bad things going through your head, and as soon as you get in the water and you're sitting out the back, it all just disappears.'

Simon Zuvich talks about how surfing is in his blood

'I'm the number one ranked surfer from the Pilbara. And there's only two of us.'


'For the girls, just come and have a go. It's not as scary as what you think it is.'

Surfer Amber Mercy Hamer, competing with Summer Simon in the women's comp at the 2015 Australian Indigenous Surfing

The Expression Session is where ... 'anything goes.'

Steve Ellis on the crazy antics of the event's Expression Session

'The Wadawurrung the traditional owners of this area and like most of the surfers I'm just a visitor here.'

Steve Ellis

When I go onto another mob's country I speak to their ancestors. I let them know that I respect the land I'm on, and I hope they accept me into their country, and I come here with respect. I don't say that verbally or out loud. I say it in spirit. I ask them to guide me through their country.

In this particular trip, I felt that the spirits were guiding me on that journey. Guiding me to learn about this land, about this country, and these brothers.


The highlights from the finals

'This is what I came to experience: the National Indigenous Titles in full flight.'

Steve Ellis

Watch the full documentary I Life, I Breathe, I Surf On Demand.

EXTRA FEATURE: Go deeper and watch Froth for stunning visuals with a banging soundtrack.

Editor: James Falconer Marshall
Documentary Cinematographer: Paul Warren
Grade: Matt Edmond
Surf Coverage: Sports Film (Multi cam), Wes Greene (Water cam), Russ Molony (Go-Pro cam)

Documentary and website produced by NITV

Lead image (visible on some devices): Jack Atley/Getty Images