Great Queenslanders

Learn to Surf Noosa – A Great Queenslander

With perhaps the most enviable office in the world – Noosa Main Beach – Merrick and Elissa Davis have been operating Learn to Surf in Noosa and teaching people to surf for nearly 30 years.

A 2 x times Australian and World Pro Am Champion while on the World Tour, Merrick first surfed Noosa in a XXXX Eumundi competition way back when, and immediately knew Noosa Beach would be a great place to teach surfing.

Fate and life intervened when he returned to his then home beach of Manly in Sydney where he met Elissa. She was about to move to Noosa to help her parents manage one of the largest resorts at the time in Noosa.

They moved together and 28 years later have taught thousands of people of all ages and from all over the world to surf Noosa’s Main Beach.

Learn to Surf Noosa is the largest surf school with a Council permit operating in Noosa.

Surf school is one of the most embarrassing things you can do in your entire life … I was lucky enough to have an excellent teacher, a bloke called Merrick, whom Nicola and I used to call Mr Enthusiastic – although in my case, Mr Unbelievably Patient would have been more appropriate …

One magical day I stood up – and stayed on. And if you think I was excited you should have seen my mate and mentor Mr Enthusiastic. Despite the fact he had surfed some of the biggest breaks in the world, Merrick stood at the edge of the water screaming, “That’s it Fran, you’re a legend, you’re Pam Burridge …”

From “Oh to be a Marching Girl” by Fran Whiting (2003)

Find out more about Noosa Learn to Surf here.

What makes Queensland a great place to live?

“The weather – Noosa is one of the only surfing schools in the world that can run 7 days a week every week of the year. Where else in the world would you only need wetsuits for a couple of months of the year?”

What makes Queensland a great place for business?

“The opportunities – Queenslanders are willing to give other Queenslanders a go.

Specifically, for us and what we do, it is the north facing aspect of Noosa Main Beach which makes it the safest beach I know to teach beginners to surf.”

How were you impacted by Covid-19?

“We were smashed – overnight our business went to nothing and the recovery has been slow. We are currently operating at about 70% of our pre-Covid capacity but the upcoming school holidays are looking busy and we are looking forward to welcoming visitors from across Australia, as well as the return of overseas tourists and backpackers.

People have been great through this period and, when they could travel to Noosa for holidays during the last couple of years, they have supported us by coming along for lessons or board hire.”

What do you hope for Queensland in the next 10 years?

“The Olympics coming to Queensland is a huge opportunity and we hope to see improved infrastructure, particularly transport to the Sunshine Coast, become a reality before #brisbane2032.

To see Noosa host some of the surfing competition for the Olympics would be a dream come true for me,” said Merrick, “I was part of the Aussie team who surfed in Los Angeles 1984 when surfing was an exhibition sport for the first time. To see surfing as an Olympic sport at Tokyo 2020 where Aussie surfer Owen Wright won an Olympic Gold Medal was amazing but nothing would beat seeing an Aussie win a Gold Medal for surfing at a Queensland beach, particularly if it could be Noosa.”

Where is your favourite place in Queensland?

“Granite Bay in Noosa’s National Park surfing with the community of people I know here in Noosa.

For those looking for something out of the water, Elissa recommends her favourite Noosa spot – Noosa Lookout.”

Can you teach anybody to surf?

“Of course – we’ve been guaranteeing students will stand in their first lesson for 28 years! I developed the 1-2-3 system which gives everyone who comes to us the structure to learn to surf by building the skills needed.

It’s the best job in the world. There is always a moment when somebody stands up on their board for the first time and looks up to see the pristine coastline up to Double Island Point and the look on their face says there is nowhere else in the world they would rather be  – that moment and that look is what makes me love what I do, even after 28 years.”

Our team of elite world class coaches provide students with the skills, drills and style needed, matched with quality soft boards makes it easy for everyone. To be honest, those people who have never surfed before are the easiest to teach but we can teach anybody.

As well as teaching individuals, we also teach corporate groups and schools. We are really proud of our school program which has allowed kids from all different backgrounds and capabilities to experience surfing.

Our school is Accredited by the ASI (Academy of Surfing Instructors) which recognises quality and safe operations to ensure we operate at the highest international industry standards.”

Who do you think of as a Great Queenslander?

“I have been lucky to teach or surf with some amazing people over the years. Someone who stands out for me as a Great Queenslander is Jonathan Thurston. My dad played rugby for Manly so I grew up around rugby and appreciate the brilliance of Jonathan’s sporting skills. But it is his efforts off the field for those who might not have the same advantages that symbolises what being a Queenslander is all about for me.”

Book a surf lesson at Noosa Learn to Surf here.



Noosa Learn to Surf is Noosa’s longest-running and most recognised Australian surf school. Lessons run year-round excluding Christmas Day and New Year Day for participants aged 7 and above.

As well as offering group and individual lessons, school holidays, kids club and safe surfing programs, Noosa Learn to Surf also caters for corporate and team building and school groups.

Are you, or do you know, a Great Queenslander?

Established in 1893, Thynne + Macartney has helped people and businesses to build and grow within Queensland and across Australia, as well as navigate the challenges and issues that sometimes arise. Our firm’s history is intertwined with the development of the State, but we haven’t shouted it from the rooftops. It is just not our style.

However, it is not every day that you get to celebrate 130 years of continuous operation and we thought that was something to shout about, but what to say?

Then we realised there must be other people, businesses and charities out there who get on with what they have to do to make Queensland the great state it is – other Great Queenslanders.

If you are, or if you know, a Great Queenslander, please let us know by completing the short form here.

Receive updates as Great Queenslanders are profiled.