About NSR


Formed in Sydney Australia in 2005 National Surfing Reserves is a voluntary collaboration dedicated to recognising iconic surfing sites in Australia and assisting NSR sites globally. Self funded and nonpolitical, the National Reference Group (NRG) comprises experienced individuals from across Australia to facilitate NSR nominations and management processes.



Founder and Patron

Brad Farmer A third generation surfer, Brad has explored many coastlines and is globally recognised as a pioneer advocate for the conservation of oceans, waves and beaches and the salty communities who share them. His activism spans 30 years and as many countries. A former Senate advisor and a Greenpeace oceans and anti-nuclear campaigner, he was imprisoned by the KGB in the Soviet Arctic in 1990.

Brad has created a number of key not-for-profit initiatives - Surfrider Foundation Australia, National and World Surfing Reserves, Ocean Care Day and most recently, the development of Surf Councils, to represent the interests of local surfing communities and surf cities globally. He is also developing a model for UNESCO to recognise significant coastal sites with NSR Ambassador Kelly Slater.

As the founding National President and CEO, Surfrider Australia went on to become the nation’s peak coastal protection body, comprising over 40 branches in every state and region. Brad pioneered the model of a ‘national’ Surfing Reserve in 1993. He was also instrumental in forming Coastcare, sitting on the Federal Marine & Coastal Community Network’s first National Reference Group. Continuing his passion for community engagement, he formalised NSR Australia with Prof. Andrew Short OAM in 2004, to recognise and preserve iconic surfing sites.

Appointed to the WSR founding Executive Committee, he drives WSR and global NSR development. He is also a seasoned contributor to tRACKS since 1984 and various other surfing journals. He was honoured with the 'Power of One' Award by Surfrider International in 1993 in California.

His best-selling books on beaches include the first Surfing Guide to Australia in 1985, co-authored by Nat Young. His latest book (2012) Australia Best 101 Beaches, co-authored with Andy Short, between them visiting all 11,761 Australian beaches. His hard hitting reports on coastal issues over the years have resulted in new policy thinking around coastal resources and community capacity.

Brad is the Immediate past Chair of NSR since its inception and in 2013 was appointed an Australia Day Ambassador by the NSW Government.


Co-Founder and Chair

Andrew Short Andrew Short is a surfer and marine scientist specializing in coastal processes and beach dynamics. He has degrees from the University of Sydney, University of Hawaii and Louisiana State University and has worked on the coasts of North and South America, including north Alaska and Hawaii, Europe, New Zealand and the entire Australian coast. He is presently Honorary Professor in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney; Adjunct Professor in the Griffith (University) Centre for Coastal Management; Senior Coastal Scientist (part-time) with CoastalCOMS.com; Scientific Adviser to Surf Life Saving Australia; Deputy Chair of National Surfing Reserves (Australia); and on the Executive Committee of World Surfing Reserves. He also runs his own consultancy called Coastal Studies and serves on the NSW Coastal Panel and the Eurobodalla Coastal Management Advisory Committee. He has written 12 books and over 200 scientific publications.

He lives on 17 acres at Moruya Heads and more importantly enjoys the long rides at the Moruya River mouth and other usually empty breaks around the area. His extensive contribution to both coastal science and beach safety was recognised on Australia Day 2010 with an Order of Australia Medal.

Andrew has investigated all 10,685 mainland beaches (including Tasmania) plus another 1500 on 30 major islands. This information is available on line at www.beachsafe.org.au and as an iPhone app, and has been written up in eight books, one for each state and territory, with his most recent books "the Coast of Australia" (2009) and "101 Best Australian Beaches" (2012) with Brad Farmer.


Chris Tola Chris Tola was born in Terrigal in New South Wales, and now resides in Newcastle with his Wife Kristen and three magical Daughters, Isobelle, Sophia and Luisa. Chris has travelled extensively and has been surfing for most of his life. His passion for surfing and the coastal environment has always kept him involved in everything from University Surfing, Coastcare, to being a Life Member, former Chair and current Hunter Branch President for Surfrider Foundation Australia.

Recently leaving the role of Business Development Manager for Coastalwatch and CoastalCOMS initiative, and after commuting from Newcastle to Sydney for many years, Chris had a year as a stay at home Dad before taking on the role of Sponsorship and Business Investment Officer with the City of Newcastle.

Chris was President of the Australian University Alumni Council, a Founding Member of the Australian Coastal Society, National Judge and supporter for Keep Australia Beautiful’s Australian Clean Beach Awards, along with being an Assessment Panellist for the Australian Government Community Coastcare and Biodiversity Fund initiatives and former Archivist for the Department of Environment and Climate Change, and Community Representative for the Nuclear Safety Committee of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.

Chris has a long and valued association with NSR in Australia.


Jess Ponting Dr Jess Ponting was raised on the (then) secluded beach breaks of mid north coast New South Wales. He studied science at Sydney University, resource and environmental management at the Australian National University and received the world’s first PhD to investigate sustainable surf tourism research management from the University of Technology Sydney. He has lived, worked, and consulted in natural resource research and management in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Fiji (where he wrote the Fiji Surf Tourism Development Plan) Mexico, Jamaica, and the United States, where he currently resides with his beautiful wife Dr Sandra Ponting. Jess is Professor in sustainable tourism and Director of the world's first Center for Surf Research at San Diego State University.

Jess was a part of National Surf Reserves founding Reference Group in 2005 and in addition sits on the boards of Walu International and the Surf Resource Network, California based non-profit organisations working with surf destination communities to protect their environments, health, and socio-economic development through tourism.


Naomi Edwards Naomi Edwards was raised along the foreshores of north Queensland, though a family summer vacation to the Gold Coast stole her clan’s heart and headed south a year later. Her passion for the sun, sand and sea (particularly dunes) started early on at high school and then university, studying Environmental Science at Griffith University. On completion of her Bachelor, she was offered a job at the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management to coordinate the Coastal Community Engagement Program. Her enthusiasm for coastal community engagement has carved up an awarding winning storm, and now with a Masters of International Community Development, she is the founding coordinator of the younger Australian Coastal Society.

Naomi has been part of the National Surfing Reserves extended family since 2011, where she provided the beam of energy for the Gold Coast Point Breaks National Surfing Reserve. Being part of the National Reference Group since 2012, she also sits in the other board/committees including the Australian Coastal Society, Gold Coast Point Breaks NSR, SEQ Catchments MAB, Gold Coast Catchment Association and advisory position for Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast Tweed Chapter.


Ex-officio NRG Member

Norman Farmer Norm has had significant involvement with water safety and lifesaving over many years; including at club, State, National and International levels and with safety at swimming pools, beaches and inland waterways. Norm has been active in a broad range of innovative and best practice aquatic (pool and coastal) safety guidelines, lifesaving training and program initiatives, and aquatic facility design, management and operation across Australia.

Norm is currently the General Manager Strategic Development at Surf Life Saving Australia and member of the Lifesaving Commission of International Life Saving Federation. Victorian based, Norm is a valued member of the National Reference Group, and incidentally, is not related to NSR Chairman Brad Farmer.


David McPhersonMr David McPherson was born and bred at Angourie on the North Coast of New South Wales. Dave grew up surfing the waves of Angourie and still lives and surfs there. He has travelled and surfed around Australia and overseas. After 16 years of coastal management, vegetation and water management with State Government, Dave spends his time co-ordinating the planning, assessment and management of almost 4000 North Coast Crown reserves with Crown Lands Division of the NSW Land and Property Management Authority.

David has been instrumental in grass roots NSR development in NSW and provides invaluable support and advice to NSR.


Ex officio NRG Member

Graham Harding Graham took his first ride on a malibu at just 12 years old in the early 60s and has loved surfing ever since. Recently retiring from his role as General Manager Crown Lands with the Land and Property Management Authority NSW, Graham has been a strong supporter of the National Surfing Reserve initiative, driving legislative change to dedicate reserves under the Crown Lands Act.

Graham also chaired the Interstate Committee for the Tweed River Estuary Sand By-Pass, was General Manager of the Festival Development Corporation, and a Board Member of the Hunter Development Corporation.

Newcastle-based, Graham has been involved with NSR since in 2006 and has been invaluable in facilitating both community and government relations, attending all NSR dedications in NSW and WA.