Hold on tight, world: Tahlija Redgard is coming straight at you. This Aussie surfer has one of the most vibrant spirits we've ever encountered, and we don't mean that just because Tahl, as her pals call her, has decided to check out life on the road, packing up her house and setting out in her decked-out four-wheel-drive truck to follow the best waves on Australia's East Coast. Redgard's nature-loving free-spirit was nurtured during her childhood—she basically grew up on the beach with her musician/fisherman dad and family. What the rising surf star carries with her today as she adventures along is a love for music, waves, and an inherent warmth that has us wishing we lived on the same continent.
Redgard chatted with Bikini about life on the road, writing songs, and how much she loves fishing—if only you could hear her wicked Aussie accent in her answers.
BIKINI: Wanderlust seems to drive you--where are some of the best waves you've surfed?
TAHLIJA REDGARD: I've surfed up and down the East Coast of Australia and overseas. But nothing can compare to surfing all the hidden gems around home with my best mates.
BIKINI: How does it feel to be utterly free and on the road?
TR: To be utterly free? Is the best feeling in the world. To be able to wake up look straight at the ocean every day, make a coffee on the gas stove out of the back of my truck and hit the water.... I suppose it's the simplest things that can truly bring us great joy. I think the thing I love the most about being on the road, living out of the back of my four-wheel-drive is you can pull up anywhere and feel like home is with you—your boards, fishing rod, speargun and something to surf in, haha. That's all I really need to be happy.
BIKINI: Do you have a favorite surfing story?
TR: One day I was up at Bargara surfing with my dad, I would have been about 12 or 13 years old. We were getting ready at our car and this indigenous man pulled up next to us and said "G' day mate, what are are you doing?" My dad said we're going surfing, and he replied, "This is the first time me and my family have seen the ocean." They were from a mission in the middle of the desert in Northern Queensland. Well—we got them in the water, surfing and swimming. I don't think I've seen a kid since with a bigger smile. Seeing that has left a imprint in my mind forever, I feel like I'm so lucky to have surfing and to be apart of a life with the ocean.
BIKINI: Do you find that creatively, surfing or singing offers something that the other doesn't?
TR: Music and surfing are two things my dad engraved into my life at a young age, him being a musician and surfer himself. So they are two special pieces of my life. I think playing the guitar and writing songs is a great way to realize what is on your mind, and let go. When I'm surfing I'm not thinking — all I'm thinking about is getting a wave. Hours can go by in the water and you wouldn't even think once about life or anything, you're just there in the moment enjoying every bit of it. It's pure joy. I guess they do both offer something different — music is more a release for me and surfing just makes me unbelievably happy.
Tahlija's kitted-out truck is her surf home on wheels.
BIKINI: What's on your playlist right now?
TR: I love all music ... But yeah, I definitely love listening to Aussie hiphop like Hilltop Hoods, Bliss n Eso. I love the poetry in rap music. And there's always classics like David Bowie and The Eagles getting around on there, too.
BIKINI: If you're not surfing, where can we find you?
TR: If I'm not surfing, I'm fishing! Climbing headlands land-based fishing—I have the same love for fishing as I do surfing. Getting a big fish off the rocks is one of the best feelings in the world. I live my life around the tides and moon.
BIKINI: How would you describe your childhood?
TR: In my eyes I've had the best childhood a kid could ever be gifted. My dad was a spear fisherman and a sugarcane farmer in Bargara Beach, Queensland, where I was born. He sold fish out of our shed to feed our family—we all pretty much lived out of the shed during the daytime, fishing, surfing, spear fishing and just running amuck as kids do. My mum was based on the Sunshine Coast in southern Queensland, so I was always back and forth between the two places—I had the best of both worlds. Fishing, surfing, and the best family I could ever wish for.
BIKINI: What inspires you?
TR: People that never give up and push through all of life's struggles. One man and woman in particular really inspire me—Barney Miller and his wife Kate. Barney is truly inspirational! He was a gun surfer who had a major car accident and became a paraplegic, but miraculously has gotten back to surfing. For the past 18 years, Barney and his wife Kate have run an amazing surf fundraiser contest at Sawtell (Coffs Harbour) every year to raise money for people with spinal cord injuries and to help them on their road to recovery. To follow Barnes and Kate's journey and to see the progress he's making is so truly inspirational. Much respect!
BIKINI: What's on the horizon for 2017?
TR: 2017 will be my first year competing on the Women's Qualifying Series, which I am super amped for! Meeting new people, seeing new places and enjoying every little bit of it. And giving life 110% 'cause I'm only going to live once!