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.
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!