Brad Farmer chairman and founder of National Surfing Reserves has always had the ocean at heart.
Brad Farmer chairman and founder of National Surfing Reserves has always had the ocean at heart. Nolan Verheij-Full

KGB torture part of Tweed man's path to surfing honour

TWEED surfer Brad Farmer's induction in the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame this week was a world away from the horrors he suffered at the hands of the KGB in Russia.

Brad's award, at a gala ceremony in Manly, recognised his 30 years of advocacy for the conservation of oceans, beaches and surfing responsibly.

Brad's strategies are recognised internationally, as well as locally, and include the founding of the National and World Surfing Reserves.

He's also the founder and national president of Surf Riders Australia.

The NSW Government recently appointed him as an Australian Day Ambassador and so far he's stamped up four passports, lecturing and advising overseas and at home.

"My family arrived here in 1842 settling at the coastal beach areas and we've been surfing and swimming ever since. It's a generational thing," Brad said.

"When I was 11 we were living at what's now Sovereign Islands; the creeks were clear and full of fish, then developers came destroying all the mangroves and the fishes spawning habitat, which is a function of our systems.

"I couldn't understand or forget that wanton destruction on what was so beautiful and it made a lasting impression on me."

The surfer's quest for the perfect waves in exotic and unspoiled areas in the 1960s and 1970s took Brad around the world, where he noticed significant changes over a short period of time on marine life as well as the environment, speaking out where ever he went.

He later joined Greenpeace for two years and was in the Artic Circle as an observer at the time of Russia's secretive planned detonation of the world's largest nuclear test detonation at Novaya Zemla.

He was detained by the Russian secret police, the KGB, who accused him of breaching their borders, and arrested, imprisoned and tortured - a lasting memory.

This unwelcome publicity made worldwide news, and it was only after intervention by the Australian Foreign Minister to Russian President Gorbachev, that Brad was released, which took time, and he then sailed to Iceland, returning home to the Tweed.

Brad's life changed, since then he's devoted his life to the issues of the environment and has become "the modern day canary of the coalmines" before it's too late.

He now writes books, lectures and advises government, both here and internationally.

His current and major project is negotiating with the UNESCO World Heritage Commission in Paris for waves and beaches to have recognition as natural intrinsic wonders of lasting value to mankind, and is working with his Surfing Reserves Ambassador Kelly Slater on the project.

Now aged 54 and highly respected his goal is to continue raising awareness of increasing environmental pressures and started an advisory business United Relationships, which develop programs to assist communities and local government in all aspects of the marine environment.

Brad now lives now in the tranquillity of the Tweed mountain ranges, king parrots, and pheasants are part of his life and backyard.



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