Tim Baker's Surfari: The Quest for Surf and Family Fun on Australia's Coast

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"Taking your family surfing — I like the sound of that."

— Tim Baker, Surfari

As the end drew near of my wife's pregnancy with our second child last August, I burned off sleepless nights under lamplight reading Surfari by Tim Baker, one hand on her belly as she slept.

Sometimes I'd feel my daughter's little foot or head squishing around inside, and all I did in those final weeks was wait and wonder and hope and wig out, locked in one place with a good book — so what a great juxtaposition to read this chronicle of a long-term adventure as a family of four drives "the big lap" around Australia. More significantly, if not more tenuous, is the concept of a husband and dad finding a way to live out a dream and then spin the yarn of how he took his family on a massive adventure road trip around Australia to see their country and so he could enjoy the waves lavished upon his homeland's coastline.

How I ended up with this book in my paws is simple: I've spent good times, not a minute wasted, reading a handful of Baker's articles in The Surfer's Journal, and it turns out he's one of us — he's damn funny, in his forties, and raising a pair of kids while putting food on the table as one of Australia's most popular surf journalists.

Simple enough?

Surfari is essentially the story of how this mighty Griswolding effort lived up to his expectations, which he succinctly packaged up in this perfect statement:

surfari by tim baker surfer journalist"I have set out on this journey with one very specific fantasy in mind . . . It involves an idyllic coastal camping ground, a quality surf break at the end of a bush track, some convivial felow campers, playmates for the kids, and a contented wife reclining in  a hammock reading a good book. And ample, unhurried, guilt-free surf time for my good self. If I acheive this only handful of times on our journey, I figure I will be doing well."

If you're a dad and you're reading this website, surely you relate, and if nothing else it should set the stage for the kind of book Surfari is; a narrative from a father's perspective as he guides the herd around the coastline of a big country, hopping from beach camp to beach camp, and hopes like mad everyone's happy about it. A tall order for four people trapped in the shoebox that is a Toyota Rav4. How does it work out, does he manage to locate that fantasy? Well, read the book for yourself, but I think you already know.

Spoiler alert, nothing really goes wrong though the adventure is very real. You just get the comedy and reality of family travel, which has no shortage of discomforts and redeeming little joys along the way. However, I was disappointed as the book unravled that Baker's wife and two kids seldom became lively characters we get to know. Perhaps it's by design, that he didn't want to sell out his family for the sake of entertainment; if so, that's admirable.

The book caught my attention and held it only because I kept thinking, "Hey, this dude is just like me." I only mean that in the sense of his general desire for a cool trip with the whole family. Otherwise, Baker is Australian, so his writing may be worth reading if only to tickle your sensibilities with his mind bending Aussie phrases.

Buy the book, paperback or Kindle version: www.amazon.com/Surfari-Tim-Baker/dp/1864712120/

Tim Baker's Website: www.bytimbaker.com

 

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