9 Famous Australian Surfers (Icons Of Surfing)

Australia produces some of the best waves the planet has to offer so it’s no wonder it’s a hotbed of surfing talent.

With Mick Fanning and Stephanie Gilmore holding numerous world championships and countless accolades between them, Australia is a force in global surfing.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the new and old faces of Australian surfing and how they’ve cemented themselves as some of our sport’s greatest.


Famous Australian Surfers  

Mick Fanning

Mick Fanning aka White Lighting or Eugene is a three-time ASP world title holder and an all-around wizard on a piece of fibreglass.

Mick was born in Penrith, New South Wales, Australia on June 13, 1981, but it wasn’t until his family up and moved to Tweed Heads that Mick began surfing virtually every day.

Here he formed close relationships with fellow Coolie kids Joel Parkinson and Dean Morrison, creating a tight-knit group that helped push their surfing to the next level.

Mick Fanning joined the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) World Tour in 2002. He won his first World Championship in 2007 and then won it again in 2009 and 2013. 

Mick was nothing short of a competitive force on tour, his lightning-fast surfing and razor-sharp carves made him lethal, particularly on his forehand.

Mick rose far beyond just surfing fame when he was attacked by a shark in South Africa during the 2015 J-Bay Open final against fellow surfer and friend Julian Wilson.

Thankfully Mick was unharmed in the incident but it sent shockwaves globally and appeared on many of the largest news shows in the world.

Fanning retired from competitive surfing in 2018, after competing in his final event at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach coming in a very close second to Italo Fereira’s deadly backhand attack.

Since leaving the WSL world tour Mick’s focused on his entrepreneurial side, turning his talents into becoming a global surfboard manufacturer producing high-quality foam boards for surfers of all abilities.

Steph Gilmore

Stephanie Gilmore is the most successful surfer in the entire history of our sport with what can only be described as an incredibly busy trophy cabinet.

Steph was born on January 29, 1988, in Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Australia where she began surfing at the ripe age of 10, quickly showing a natural talent and finesse for the sport.

In 2005, at the age of 17, she was given the coveted wildcard slot for the 2005 Roxy Pro Gold Coast which lead her to level the whole field and win her first event on a global scale.

From there Gilmore joined the ASP Women’s World Tour full-time, going on to win the World Championship in her rookie year!

Steph then went on to win the World Championship another 7 times making her the most successful female surfer ever.

Throughout her illustrious career, Gilmore has won a total of 32 Championship Tour events with wins at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, Roxy Pro Gold Coast and the Maui Pro.

Joel Parkinson

Joel Parkinson is a now retired Australian professional surfer who had a long and successful career on the ASP World Tour.

Joel was born on April 10, 1981, in Nambour, Queensland, Australia. He began surfing at a young age and quickly honed his powerful fluid style on the many quality right-hand point breaks that litter the area.

Parkinson went on to join the ASP World Tour in 2001 and quickly established himself as one of the best surfers on the circuit.

Throughout his career, Joel won a total of 12 Championship Tour events, including the prestigious Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast event in 2002, 2004, 2009, and 2011.

Parkinson’s greatest achievement came in 2012 when he won his first World Championship at the age of 31.

He came close to winning the title on several occasions before, but in 2012 he finally achieved his lifelong goal and held the trophy high after the final event of the year at Pipe.

He nurtured long-standing relationships with brands such as Billabong and Dragon, and in 2014 he signed a sponsorship deal with the Australian bank, Commonwealth Bank.

Now Joel spreads his time between family, surfing and his business at the Blater Brewing Company which he co-owns with lifelong friends Bede Durbridge, Mick Fanning and Josh Kerr.

Ethan Ewing

Ethan Ewing is an up-and-coming professional surfer who has quickly risen through the ranks of the sport and now stands as a serious threat for the WSL world title.

His style is truly something to behold, mixing the sheer power of surfing powerhouse Andy Irons with the perfect technique of Mick Fanning’s frontside carves, snaps and wraps.

Ethan was born on November 13, 1998, in the surf haven of North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, known for its fast punchy beach breaks.

He shot into the surfing eye In 2016 when he won the World Junior Championship in a tightly contended final against fellow super grom at the time Griffin Colapinto.

He qualified for the 2017 tour but suffered a run of lacklustre results that led to him falling off the tour and having to fight his way back up on the Qualifying Series.

Ethan requalified in 2021 and despite a surfing injury stopping him from attending some of the stops that year he still managed a 5th at the Rip Curl Narabeen Classic and the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro.

But 2022 was a completely different story, Ethan secured a 3rd at the Hurley Pro Sunset, Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach and the Margaret River Pro before going on to win the whole event at J-Bay.

Ethan’s one of my favourite surfers to watch and with the 2023 world tour already in full effect I can’t wait to see if he can manage to win a world title.

Layne Collette Beachley 

Layne holds the title of second the most successful female surfer of all time with a whopping 7x world titles.

Layne was born on May 24, 1972, in Sydney, Australia. In 1988, at the age of 16, she competed in her first professional surfing event, which signalled the beginning of her professional surfing career.

She regularly defeated boys in her age bracket and the competitive side of surfing in Manly really brought out the best in Layne’s surfing.

She made it onto the ASP Women’s World Tour in 1990 and won her first event in 1993 and went on to win a total of 7 World Championships, making her the most successful female surfer of all time until her record was surpassed by Stephanie Gilmore.

Layne’s success was recognised in 2004 when she received the Laureus World Alternative Sportsperson of the Year Award and again in 2006 when she was inducted into the Surfers Hall of Fame.

Beachley now works as a keynote speaker alongside running her Awake Academy aimed at personal development.

She was also the first woman to paddle out at Ours, a slabbing reef break widely regarded as one of the most dangerous waves in the world.

Sally Fitzgibbons

Sally Fitzgibbons is an Aussie pro surfer born on December 19, 1990, in Gerroa, New South Wales.

Fitzgibbons has had a successful career with numerous event wins to her name including the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in 2019, the Margaret River Pro in 2017 and 2019, and the Rio Women’s Pro in 2012 and 2014.

She had the prestigious honour of joining a select few other Australian surfers to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where she finished an impressive 5th.

Sally’s surf career has sadly never led to a world title but she’s secured the runner-up position in the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour four times.

Sally is one of the hardest workers on the circuit. Her dedication to the sport and her dedication to training in and out of the water really is something to behold. 

You can find out exactly what Sally’s been up to over at her official website detailing all of her professional career and achievements.

Damien Hardman 

Damien Hardman (nickname The Iceman) isn’t the most famous surfer on this list but his mark on surfing in Australia is undeniable.

Hardman grew up in the bustling city of Sydney in the suburb of Narrabeen right next to the beach. This quickly transferred to a love for surfing that led Damien to pursue a full-time career as a pro surfer.

He managed to win the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach and eventually acted as the director of the competition in later years.

Throughout his career, he had an impressive 19 event wins and his legacy was forever cemented in surfing history when he was inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall Of Fame in 1999.

Peter Townend

Peter Townend often referred to as PT is a retired pro surfer hailing from Coolangatta in Queensland. 

Pete won his first surfing competition way back in 1967 before going on to become one of the best humans on a surfboard through the 70s and 80s.

Townend became the first IPS/ASP world champion in 1976 securing his position in the competitive surfing circuit.

He was heavily involved with the smash surfing hit Big Wednesday where he held a position as William Kat’s stunt double.

Pete jumped into the role of coach for America’s National Team with full force, up and relocating to Huntington Beach to pursue the role.

In the mid 80’s he started working at Surfing Magazine and quickly worked his way up the ranks to become an advertising director before moving to a role at Rusty as their marketing director.

Wayne Lynch

Wayne spent his early years in Lorne positioned in South Australia not far from the surfing mecca of Torquay and the legendary right-hand point break Bells Beach.

He started competing early at the age of 10 where he would show a once-in-a-generation talent winning six Victorian Junior titles and four Australian Junior titles.

Despite global fame, Lynch shunned the limelight and tried his best to avoid the surf media with his laid-back approach to life taking priority over celebrity.

He started his own surfboard brand Evolution in San Diego before going on to act as an Ambassador for Patagonia, a role he maintains to this day.

Wayne’s life has been taken to the screen in the form of the new surfing documentary Uncharted Waters which screened in 2013.

Wayne now spends much of his time exploring the local coast on his sailing kayak and trying to escape the crowds along the Ocean Road.

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