Jock Serong grew up in the suburbs of Melbourne, and like a poorly-tied dinghy, he’s been drifting away ever since.
As a student and young lawyer he volunteered with the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service on the Bringing Them Home inquiry, and did a stint in the Western Desert building a native title claim with the Martu people.
He drove a ‘73 HQ panel van around the country, spent some time sorting frozen prawns in Carnarvon and changed lightbulbs in Darwin Casino for seven bucks an hour. He fetched up on Victoria’s west coast in the mid-nineties, then left again and became a criminal barrister. He worked with asylum seekers back when detention centres were onshore.
And he never wrote a word of it.
As Senior Grump in a young family he moved back to the coast, and something about the kelp and the storms and the long nights kicked him into gear: writing for Surfing World and other publications, he began trying to tell stories that weren’t sports-writing so much as people and place-writing. Environments, First Australians, mental health, forgotten histories, the tiny miracles of life on a reef. As surfing itself expanded beyond 20th century stereotypes, Jock's writing kept pushing into new corners of the experience.
Alongside Mick Sowry and Mark Willett, Jock edited and published Great Ocean Quarterly for two fraught and wonderful years, and has produced five novels: Quota (2014), The Rules of Backyard Cricket (2016), On the Java Ridge (2017) and the Bass Strait historical novels Preservation (2018) and The Burning Island (2020).
He divides his time between Port Fairy in western Victoria and Flinders Island in Bass Strait’s Furneaux Island group.