THE GIRL FROM GNARALOO

SURF­ING, DIV­ING, FISH­ING… IMO­GEN CALD­WELL WAS BORN A WA­TER BABE; MORE AT HOME IN THE SEA THAN ON LAND. WE CHAT TO IMO ABOUT GROW­ING UP IN A RE­MOTE PART OF AUS­TRALIA AND HOW SHE MADE THE TRAN­SI­TION FROM TOMBOY TO MODEL.

Surf Girl - - Coco & Maud - pho­tos cour­tesy of O’NEILL

Imo­gen Cald­well’s child­hood wasn’t like most. Grow­ing up where the desert meets the ocean in a beau­ti­ful but re­mote part of west­ern Aus­tralia, with only her fam­ily for com­pany, she learnt to surf with her brothers at one of the gnarli­est breaks in Aus­tralia – The Bluff. Now pur­su­ing a ca­reer of free surf­ing and mod­el­ling for brands in­clud­ing O’Neill, we had a chat with the tomboy from ‘Red Bluff’.

Imo, from a young age your fam­ily moved to a very re­mote part of Aus­tralia, hun­dreds of miles from any­where. How was it grow­ing up there? I am who I am to­day be­cause of the child­hood my par­ents gave my sib­lings and I. Ev­ery day was an ad­ven­ture and I am lucky enough to still call The Bluff home, as my par­ents still man­age the camp­ground there.

What kind of boards did you ride back then? Any­thing I could get my hands on re­ally, I’d steal my brothers’ boards and wet­suits then they’d find out and try to drown me… but that didn’t stop me. I even­tu­ally got my own board from a tourist who snapped his, so I fixed it. We saw pho­tos of you rid­ing a gnarly wave back in 2014, taken by Mike Ri­ley. The near­est doc­tors must have been miles away if you ever got hurt. Did that ever hap­pen?

I have lots of scars where I should have had stitches

but noth­ing the docs ma­jor’s were hap­pened. just too far I’ve away been so pretty I never lucky went. so far. But Have you rid­den big waves out­side of NW Aus­tralia? If so where? The big­gest have been in WA, but I’ve surfed Pipe pretty solid and most places in Indo.

Top three surf breaks? Red Bluff Quobba Sta­tion, Green­bush Mentawais… and I’m sure Fiji will make the list this year! Was there ever a time when you thought about go­ing on the women’s world tour? I did State comps when I was un­der 18, but I got over it pretty quickly and then gained spon­sors who didn’t push me to com­pete, so I didn’t. Did it feel weird when you left Red Bluff and first started mod­el­ling?

Not re­ally, I started trav­el­ling at such a young age I was

fa­mil­iar with how it all works. The mod­el­ling in­dus­try is still sur­pris­ing me though – that’s a dif­fer­ent ball game all to­gether and def­i­nitely one that takes some get­ting used to. Some would say that some of your photo shoots are too sexy and don’t rep­re­sent women in a good way. In the cur­rent sen­si­tive cli­mate of #Me­Too what do you say about that? I am com­fort­able with what I put out there and if my mum is happy with it, I am happy. That is the only real opin­ion I value. How do you stay fit and toned? How of­ten do you work­out, is it some­thing you en­joy? I’m al­ways busy out­side do­ing things I love, which in turn keeps me fit. I’ve started do­ing a cou­ple of days a week with a PT, but I’m not a gym per­son.

Do you have a men­tor in the surf­ing com­mu­nity?

My fi­ancé Cort is prob­a­bly my big­gest men­tor. He pushes me to go big­ger and to never back down. You skate, you surf, you snow­board – would you de­scribe your­self as a bit of a tomboy? Ha, ha, sure. I am just com­pet­i­tive and don’t like not be­ing able to do things, I love a chal­lenge. (I don’t skate very well, I’m not afraid to ad­mit that).

Where do you call home these days? Kal­barri, six hours south of Red Bluff. I live with my fi­ancé, Cort­ney Brown and our two Siberian Huskies, Casper and Ghost.

Best ad­vice you’ve ever re­ceived? The fear of not do­ing some­thing is worse than the fear of ac­tu­ally do­ing it… Or at least that’s what I tell my­self!

@imo­gen­cald­well

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