• Indigenous surfer Russell Molony wins Wandiyali ATSI Indigenous Classic at Surfest (Surfest)Source: Surfest
They say three times a charm, but for Central coast surfer and Guringai man from Darkinjung country, Russell Molony begs to differ. He’s scored the top spot at Surfest, winning Australia’s richest surfing contest for Indigenous surfers for the 11th time.
Laura Morelli

21 Feb 2017 - 12:24 PM  UPDATED 21 Feb 2017 - 2:06 PM

If you thought $6000 was all Molony surfed away with, you thought wrong. This year, Wandiyali CEO, Steve Kilroy, wanted to celebrate Molony’s smooth success by naming the Surfest open division trophy in his honour, and who better to be the first champ to snatch the Russell Molony perpetual trophy that Russell Molony himself.

“I was speechless, what do you say to something like that – it’s such a great hour to have a trophy named after you, I can’t even explain it,” Russ said.

“Kilroy said to me he thinks no one will be able to win a trophy that many times, but to be honest, after seeing all the talent out there, I believe there are kids that will snap it up for sure.”

And speaking of new up and coming talent, the 40-year-old’s son, Zane, decided to hit the Indigenous surf comp classic for his very first time.

Like father, like son – the 11-year-old stole the show as he competed in the junior competition against the likes of several other soon to be pro surfers. Despite not winning gold, he sure did secure a spot in the surfing world and says he can’t wait to do it again.

“This was my first competition, I was pretty excited, I came 4th and 3rd and I was happy seeing I was only 11, and I was versing 18 year olds," Zane said.

For Russ, it was never about winning, it was always about getting together with the saltwater mob, but now it’s about inspiring the young ones.

"Life’s good, but surfing makes it better."

“People don’t understand how many Aboriginal surfers there are, and there’s a big mob that get out there and do it really well … people need to know about it because this is a great avenue for our kids to be able to take if they want,” Russ said.

Russ says surfing has been a great way to boost his son’s confidence levels.

“For Zane this was a great learning experience, and an even better way to build his confidence… this time around when he caught a wave he didn’t need me. He did it by himself and that’s a big step for him,” Russ said. 

The defending champion said events like these are a great way to bring together saltwater mobs, not only for a surf but to catch up and share some yarns.

“We’re here to support each other, that’s what this competition is about, just getting together and cheering your mates on to get good waves.”

Over the course of Molony’s successful surf career, a total of 22 years, he’s seen a huge wave of Indigenous surfer’s swipe top spot. From Joey Haddon, to Otis Carey Newcastle beach has seen some of the finest wave riders compete.

“This year we saw record numbers, we had 40 open surfers which is a big field, and then there was heaps of juniors, basically every group was full,” Russ said.

“Another great thing to see was that we had heaps of elders come from Newcastle to watch and it’s pretty inspiring to see them travel around.

For the last 10 years, Russ, his brother and other surf legends, like Justin Allport, who’s one of the biggest names in wave riding in the world,  have run ‘The Deadly Young Aboriginal Surf program’ which aims to encourage Aboriginal youth how to surf, water safety and encourage them to swim.

“We just want to give the children something to strive for; if they put their mind to anything, then they can achieve anything."

“You should see the kids’ faces… we had a girl from the Kimberly and a boy three hours west of Alice Springs… they got up first go, hadn’t ever seen the beach before, but these kids, far out they pick it up so quick. All you need is one smile on the face and you know… it’s just great to give back to youth.”

Russ says ‘life’s good, but surfing makes it better.’

“We just want to give them something to strive for; if they put their mind to anything they can achieve anything. Even if it’s the one thing we can help them with and give them a good go, we just want to let them know that anything’s possible if they put their mind to it.”

2017 marks Surfest festival’s 32nd year and with over 800 national and international competitors, in the largest festival of surfing in the southern hemisphere. Surfers come from far and wide to compete in the event, with one young man travelling thousands of kilometres, all the way from Cape York.

Open to men, women and juniors, this year they’ve introduced the longboard competition, Indigenous surfers from all over Australia travel to Newcastle for this two-day cultural and sporting celebration

The event has been labelled as one of the most unique of its kind worldwide, kicked off with a welcome to country with Aboriginal elder Unlce Kevin, who was followed by Indigenous performer Jacob Ridgeway. One of Surfest’s longest patrons, who has competed every year without fail, Stan Moylan put the surfboard down to instead play the didgeridoo. 

They say practice makes perfect and former pro surfer, Robbie Page, happened to prove just that by surfing his way to first place. The 50-year-old from Verges Creek already has two NSW state longboard titles and now can add another one to his books.

Page says despite his age, competing on a longboard has helped keep him in the water, with new tricks and new styles.

The women’s event saw 15-year-old Port Kembla’s Summer Simon surf her way to the top spot, catching an impressive $1500 reward. The Illawarra Sports High Year 10 student has been busy hitting the waves, surfing in both the Dalton Lawyers Cadet Cup presented by Arcbuild and the Maitland and Port Stephens Toyota High School Team Challenge.

In the junior division it was none other than 14-year-old Avoca Finn Hill who rode the waves to first spot as well as also scoring $1000 prize money.

Results Wandiyali ATSI Indigenous Classic:


1. Russell Molony (North Shelly, NSW) $6000
2. Joe Haddon (Forster, NSW) $4000
3. Noah Munro ( NoraVille, NSW) $1500
4. Billy Bain (Avalon, NSW) $1000


1. Simon Summer (Port Kembla, NSW) $1500
2. Lily Smith (Kincumber, NSW) $750
3. Jasmine McCorquodale (Bateau Bay, NSW) $500
4. Phoebe King (Mudjimba, Qld) $250


1. Finn Hill (Avoca Beach, NSW) $1000
2. Noah Munro (Noraville, NSW) $500
3. Rohnin Henry-Micale (Bellambi, NSW) $300
4. Taj Simon (Port Kembla, NSW) $200


1. Robert Page (Verges Creek, NSW) $1000
2. Tom Avery (Lismore, NSW) $500
3. Jamie Archibald (Port Macquarie) $300
4. Matt Molony (Killarney Vale, NSW) $200

Wandiyali means porcupine in Wiradjuri

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