Tahlija Redgard in Black and White

It’s rare to see Tahlija Redgard without her trademark infectious smile – whether it’s beach fishing or pulling into massive Indonesian barrels, she gives 100%.

When footage of Tahlija at the famed Kanduis (in Indonesia) dropped last year, it forced the world to sit up and take notice as she tackled the huge swell with her customary smile and give-all approach. Here now, is the full edit of that swell.

I first met Tahlija years ago when she was a young skate grom, tearing up the local bowl and showing everyone how it was done. We caught up recently and, though it’s been a while, she’s still the up-front, take-no-shit, loving-life girl I remember, and she’s still out there showing everyone how things are done...

Tahlija at home in some small surf. Pic: Ash Murray

SSG: So, tell us a bit about yourself.

TR: I grew up up north, in Bargara Beach (Qld) with my dad. He taught me everything I know: fishing, surfing, playing guitar and pretty much how to survive off eating fish and seafood! 😂😂 He was a fisherman and he used to sell fish from home and spear coral trout to pay for us to go to school…

I had a simple childhood. My big bro and big sister looked after me and always put me under their wing. My brother taught me to skate from age 4 or 5 and we grew up together skating. He always pushed me and made me go big bowls and do crazy shit…. so I can be greatful for that because he’s definitely a big part to who I have become today.

I first jumped on a board when I was probably around age 4. Dad used to take me every arvo and that’s one of my first memories as a kid: the sunset at our local beach at Bargara and dad there me pushing me onto waves. They’re the best memories of my life. I wouldn’t be the person I am with out him because he’s made me who I am and I’m forever greatful for that. My dad’s my hero.

At about age 10, I lost the love for skating completely and I became obsessed with surfing. Its all I did!!

Getting deep at Kandui. Pic: Balin Thambalko

SSG: And you’ve never looked back! What are your plans for the future then?

I wanna be exploring new places and old, finding crazy waves and catching fish! I’m planning on spending the winter this year on the South Coast finding waves and fishing. I just got a new troopy and my best mate, Cambo [ex-WCT surfer Mick Campbell], and I are heading off in a few weeks to go and do just that. It’s our life. It’s what we do.

If there was going to be a crazy swell or heavy day surfing I always feel safe because I know in the back of my head he’s always got my back but drowning has become a fear after seeing my best friend nearly die in my arms. It’s made me have such a deeper respect for the ocean than I already had and to know how powerful she really is. To know she can take your life. It opened my eyes up big time…

I also just want to show the kids out there too that’s it’s not all about image and what they look like or what material possessions you own. Life’s about what comes from within and to let it shine in what we do just purely for the love of it and for the feeling that it gives us. To just have fun, be healthy and live life to the fullest… so that’s my goal.

On yet another road-trip… Pic: Mick Cain

SSG: Can’t think of a better one… any last words? 

Be kind always and treat people around you with respect and love. Stay humble. My mum brought me up that way, so much love and respect. I do what I do because I love it. I live and breath the ocean. It’s all I’ve ever known it’s all I’ve ever done. It’s what makes me happy, it’s what makes me feel free and disconnected, so I’m gunna be doing this till the day I die.

Despite winning numerous comps, charging massive waves in Indonesia and supporting and inspiring a whole new generation of surfers along the way,Tahlija is pretty under-represented in the surf industry and broader surf media. It would be awesome to see this amazing young woman get the sponsorship and support she deserves.