Touring Newcastle with a Pro Surfer

By Anna May
15th Feb 2016

Sally Fitzgibbons Newcastle NSW

Who doesn’t love to get an insider’s guide to an area before heading there to explore? It’s like getting passed a torch of food and fun. 

We caught up with pro surfer, entrepreneur and sport-lover, Sally Fitzgibbons to chat about her epic role with Surfest 2016, her favourite beaches in NSW, and everything she loves about Newcastle—hint: food and beaches. We like her already. 

We hear you’re involved in Newcastle’s epic Surfest this year. You must be excited?

I am so excited to be returning to Newcastle to compete in Surfest this year. It is such a beautiful location to host the event. I love the community and have really fond memories of competing on Newcastle shores as a grom and in my World Qualifying Series campaign. Newcastle has some world-class breaks and I can’t wait to return.

Apart from the surfing, of course, what are you looking forward to at Surfest?

Newcastle region has an awesome variety of waves to explore and I have an adventure finding them. I really enjoy my time free surfing and training before the event at some of the beautiful beaches. I love connecting the dots from town to town by foot. Some of my favourite coastal runs are along the Bathers Way which spans all the way from Nobbys to Merewether Beach. Afterwards, I like to cool down with a few laps at Merewether Ocean Baths.  

Have you spent much time in Newcastle before? If so, what are some of your favourite things about it?

I have spent a lot of time in Newcastle over the years, through representative duties in a number of sports, I’ve managed to stay in different spots all over the city and feel really at home. I've made lifelong friends in and around the beaches and really enjoy being connected to the community. I love Darby Street, in Cooks Hill with its quirky cafes and eclectic boutiques. There's also amazing food, entertainment, and stunning views from all the headlands across the Pacific Ocean. 

Where’s your favourite spot for breakfast in Newcastle? Or lunch? Or dinner…

I love grabbing a stool and sitting at The Honeysuckle Hotel with some friends and watching the footy on the big screen and enjoying the awesome view of the harbour. All the Raw Organic cafes in the Newcastle region offer amazing food for breakfast and lunch, the area has great local produce. 

We imagine you’ve seen your fair share of beaches *pause for canned laughter* can you share your top five favourite beaches in NSW?

  1. Seven Mile Beach, Shoalhaven will always be my number one beach. This is where I caught my very first wave and where I developed my affinity with the ocean.
  2. ‘Mystics’ Minnamurra Beach, Shellharbour. It has peaks to surf up and down the beach and has such a beautiful river and bushwalk track surrounding it—super spectacular. 
  3. Blueys Beach, Forster. I have had some awesome trips up to Forster. There's no shortage of waves and beauty on that stretch of coast.
  4. Broken Head Beach, Broken Head. When all the sand is in place and the point is firing, I love surfing here in front of the stunning cliffs as the backdrop.
  5. Rennies Beach, Ulladulla. This area is a swell magnet, always picking up the most waves on the coast. It is so much fun adventuring south from my house. Surfing, hiking and exploring the day away. 

What does your perfect day look like?

I travel a lot but no matter where I am, I wake up before the sun comes up and run around the streets until light breaks. Surfing is what links everything together for me so finding super fun waves to surf with just my friends out would be incredible and then going home to cook up and amazing healthy feed with local produce. Watching an epic sporting event in the evening, with everyone going crazy for their team, would top the day off. 

…..And what does your actual day look like?

Pretty similar to my perfect day but a little more hectic with weight training in the gym and working for my business, Fitzgibbons International, between training sessions. My friends would also be at work during the week. Still an awesome day.

How do you balance your creative, personal, and professional life?

It’s always tough finding the perfect balance, with everything moving at such a fast pace and juggling life on the Surf Tour, business life in at Fitzgibbons International and my personal life with my fiancée, family and friends. It’s just all super exciting to me, I’m so passionate in everything I am doing that it is a really rewarding feeling to be learning and growing with every experience.

Most of us sit behind a desk all day and still find it hard to get our five a day. How do you keep healthy with such a busy schedule?

It takes a little more organisation to make sure you are continuously getting healthy fuel and all your nutrients but it’s about setting your values about how you want to treat yourself and then staying true to those values. Make those healthier choices everyday so they end up being the natural choices, your body will love you for it. 

Do you have any rituals or healthy habits you use to keep health-focused?

I always have a little snack pack in my car when I'm out training, working or on the move all day. This allows me to top up with maybe some fruit or vegie salads, water and some electrolytes to keep me functioning at my best and sustain energy levels.

Surfest 2016 runs until February 28, get the lowdown on all awesome events, surfers, and happenings here.

Image credit: Steve Bacon

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