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Dean and Jodie Fergus are the couple behind Secret Sumatra, a dream started by Dean and his mate back in the early two thousands. It has now evolved into a 12 person surf resort on the beach with a lounge bar and infinity pool overlooking a perfect wave out front. It is also is home for these two and their 3 little ones, River 4, Lion 2 and two month old daughter Solei. We caught up with Dean and Jodie to chat about raising their kids in an Indonesian surf camp and what it’s like to split their time between life in the jungle and Australia.
Describe a typical day in the life of a child living in a surf camp?
Dean: Wake up, have a banana pancake looking over the waves, I take River go and see where the guests want to go surfing next. River gets ready to go to his little school in the local village while Lion plays with his best mate, who's a local boy that lives in a small wooden shack next door. River comes home from school around 11 am and checks the surf then he’s taking out for a surf and cheered on from the beach. Afternoons are spent with the kids running around the beach bar, in and out of the pool, kicking balls around with the guests, drinking coconuts & watching the sun set out front.
What do you love most about living in Sumatra?
Jodie: It’s an active lifestyle where the kids spend their days surfing, running around and living a different culture, River, our eldest son, speaks English, Bahasa Indonesian & also the local dialect so it’s an opportunity for the kids’ minds to develop in a different way. We get to surf, in between making sure the guests are looked after, and we get to escape the winter year in year out.
What do you love most about coming home to Australia?
We live a cool life over in Sumatra and don’t take it for granted, however it’s also very isolated so flying into Sydney and seeing the harbor and in the moment when the plane touches down, we feel like ‘ahh we’re home’.
We love seeing our family and our oldest friends, the kinds of friends you have a real connection with. There’s nothing like enjoying a Sunday arvo bbq or bumping into old friends down at the coffee shop, and we love taking our kids to the parks with jungle gyms & skateboard ramps. It’s awesome coming home a few times each year and it helps us to stay in touch with our roots.
You’ve travelled a lot, where is your happy place?
It’s a hard question to answer as we’re quite nomadic but we have a strong connection to Australia & Indonesia so it’s somewhere in between the two.
What is one thing you hope your kids take away from their very special upbringing?
A different way of thinking, an open mindedness & a sense of everyone being equal. River has everything at his preschool down in Sydney, but completely accepts coming back to his little preschool here without the toys or play equipment.
In Sumatra he sits in a small classroom of 30 kids with one teacher, each child has one pencil and one piece of paper and most would sleep on mud floored huts with limited resources available to them and their families. Most don’t have power, they light their wooden huts by oil lantern, they get their water from a well and still cook with fire. River is on the same level as everyone else and equality is what we hope our children can experience living between two cultures.
For more information on Secret Sumatra visit: secretsumatra.com
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