As far as jobs go, working on Sydney’s Bondi beach would have to be right at the tippity top of the pile, yes? The sun. The surf. The eye candy. And for Australian lifeguard, biker and TV personality, Daniel ‘Beardy’ McLaughlin, it’s not just the place where he punches the clock. It also made him famous. Forget the rest of us calling in sick and spending a sneaky day barefoot on the sand; Beardy gets paid to do just that all year round.
He’s also spent the past decade-and-a-half being filmed for the popular Aussie TV show, ‘Bondi Rescue.’ And just to really make you feel like reassessing your life choices, Beardy works with Royal Enfield Australia, too. Some guys have all the luck, don’t they? We spoke to him recently about what it’s like to spend a day in his sand-filled shoes.
Can you introduce yourself and what you do to the readers?
My name is Daniel McLaughlin. I’m probably more well known by my nickname, ‘Beardy’. I work as a professional lifeguard in Sydney and I am one of the lifeguards who feature in the TV show ‘Bondi Rescue,’ which has been on air for 16 years now. It’s a pretty popular TV show and it’s seen around the world now, apparently.
How long have you been riding motorbikes for?
I have been into bikes my whole life, but it took a while for me to own one. A few of my mates in the neighborhood had Yamaha PeeWees when we were kids and we used to ride them around the street. Me and a mate actually bought a Honda 80 off of another kid for $150. It was missing the front fairing and we had to clutch start it. We stored it at my mate’s house because my parents wouldn’t have been into it. Not at all.
Why do you ride?
As a kid I rode because it was fun and a little bit rebellious; especially riding around the streets dodging the occasional police car. But as I got older and got this job, it was out of convenience as parking at Bondi in summer is a total nightmare. Through riding to work on whatever bike I could afford at the time, I realised how much I enjoyed a bit of my own time, which has led me to the Royal Enfield Himalayan I have now. And on the weekends, I just load it up and go on solo camping trips.
I have a Land Rover that we also go camping with, but when I’m on the bike it’s so different. It’s a great way for me to destress. My job as a lifeguard means we need to be super focused for long periods of time. Afterwards I need to wind down and there is no better way to do it than to jump on the bike, hit some isolated tracks somewhere and set up camp for a night or two.
You’re a professional lifeguard for a living. What’s that like?
It’s a great job that is so rewarding, but working at Australia’s busiest beach definitely has its pros and cons. When it’s busy, it’s really busy. There’s things going on from shutters up to shutters down: rescues, missing kids, accidents in the surf, first aid, near drownings and, sadly, full drownings, too. We are asked to put a little control into an uncontrollable environment. The long hours in a hypervigilant state takes its toll, but the times when you help someone who really needs it and you know you’ve had an impact and made a difference – that makes up for all the downsides that happen.
What bike are you riding now?
I ride a Royal Enfield Himalayan, which is great for what I need a bike for. I need something to get me to work, and something I can hit a few dirt roads on and still feel comfortable. It ticks all the boxes for me. It will never break any land speed records, but that’s OK. Slowing it down a bit suits me just fine, sometimes. I also own a Land Rover Defender 110, which I have restored from what was almost a wreck. It’s a great vehicle for getting away; I can pretty much go anywhere in it, except into car parks with low clearance.
What would be your ultimate bike?
Probably the new Harley Davidson Pan America adventure bike. It looks pretty good and I expect the performance would be spot on, too. I think the Pan America will challenge the BMW GS range, especially for the younger riders who can’t see themselves getting on a GS just yet. Also, who doesn’t want a Harley at some point in their life?
What’s your favourite ride or road in Australia?
My favorite ride would be through the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales heading up the New England Highway. A few years ago I did a ride there and I was camping along the way. Some of the back roads up that way are amazing. I just took my time and enjoyed a few days exploring that part of the country on my own.
Electric bikes. Yes or no?
Not for me. Before I started lifeguarding, I was a motor mechanic. I like combustion engines. I like being able to fix them and everything that goes along with that side of things, so for me i’m not really that into electric bikes or cars. I know it is inevitable that they will be the norm, or where there will be a 50/50 market share in the not so distant future, but let me just be a petrol head for a little bit longer. I think I’ll hold out until I’m rolling around on a mobility scooter.