When we arrive at 9:30am on a Tuesday morning, pro skater Aimee Massie is standing on the edge of the ramp at a ghostly Rockdale Skatepark in Sydney’s northern suburbs.
“Usually it’s pretty busy,” she says, “and it’s school holidays but it’s been raining.”
Her friend, seamless on a skateboard, holds an Iphone in their hand as they both descend onto the concrete, no doubt filming a video for Massie’s TikTok account that – to date – has amassed 1.8 million followers.
We’ve agreed to meet here because this is one of Massie’s favourite skateparks in Sydney, a newly-built mecca for skaters old and new – fresh concrete that’s forgiving on the wheels. Aimee’s here to show us around, being a semi-local of the city. She’s also one of the most well known up-and-coming skaters on social media.
Every few days she’ll upload a video of her doing freakish tricks or talking to camera, her most watched sitting at 52 million views on TikTok, where she shoots out of the bowl into something similar to a melon grab.
But her quick ascent into social media stardom was never the intent of her skateboarding career. Originally a bmxer, her first roll on a skateboard had her hooked. She progressed quickly, she said, no doubt because she was a natural.
Since then she’s skated in the X Games, travelled the world crashing from couch to couch, met heroes like Tony Hawk and cultivated a plethora of sponsors who make her hobby a full-time job.
You could argue she’s better than most of the people you’d see skating Sydney’s streets, even though she started in a somewhat intimidatingly male dominated scene.
“The ratio to girls and guys isn’t that big anymore,” she says.
“When I first started skating it was difficult. I had to prove myself to the guys. I had to earn their respect. But I want to be that person that can show girls that you can do it, no matter what, you don’t need to be accepted by guys to do the sport. You can just rock up and skate.”
It’s probably one of the reasons her social media standing is so prominent. Her skate-style is smooth and crisp, and her persona open and friendly. She slides around Rockdale like it’s nothing, grinding the steel bar at the lower park with ease. She’s good. Really good.
After Rockdale has been thoroughly skated, Massie suggests Sydney Skate Park, a beating heart for many of Sydney’s skate community (or so I’ve heard).
“On the weekends, it’s chaotic. If you think today’s bad, weekend’s are horrible, but we make it work.”
The park is filled with a couple of teenagers in the unofficial uniform of skaters in Australia: oversized shirts, baggy jeans and bleach dyed buzz cuts. A bunch of kids rattle around on scooters and bmx bikes, totally ignorant of anything or anyone else around them.
“We try to teach the kids skatepark etiquette but sometimes their parents get upset,” she says.
“You’ll be like, ‘Hey, you probably can’t go right now.’ And their parents will be like, ‘Why are you talking to my kid?!’
A girl on a pink scooter dawdles past, vacant-eyed and staring straight ahead, as Aimee waits on the other side of the ramp to drop in and ride a wall over a cut-out tunnel on the other side. Her boyfriend and a couple of other mates sit on a damp park bench, woo’ing when she lands it.
“When I first moved to Sydney, it was super cliquey, to make skate friends,” she says.
“But everyone that comes here is super friendly. A lot of people perceive skaters to not be that approachable, but it’s the opposite.”
“There were obvious groups everywhere. But I guess over COVID everyone was just leaning on each other, and we created this whole community which was awesome.”
Originally from the Gold Coast, Aimee spent her first year in Sydney close to friendless.. When the pandemic hit, and skateparks became a refuge for many from the loneliness of the indoors, the city's skate culture really opened up. She’d take free merch and bottles of Fireball whiskey from sponsors down to Sydney Park, running shanky skate competitions as people “went ham,” as Aimee puts it – axing themselves on impossible tricks.
“I would say Australia’s skate culture is a bit more wild. A lot of skaters like to drink and skate and they send it a bit harder,” she says.
“But that cheered everyone up a little,” she says.
“Doing stuff like that is super rewarding for me. It feels like I’m giving back a little. I’m someone that came from absolutely nothing. I grew up in a housing commission. I didn’t have much as a kid. So being able to give my resources back to people, it makes me feel really good.”
Aimee delves deeper into the idea as we make our way to her favourite cafe, Blackbird and co, across the road (our final destination) where she orders a simple avocado sandwich on gluten free bread. A conversation around Dubbo’s full pipe – an infamous feature of the town’s skatepark – materialises. We wonder why something so magnificent has been built in, essentially, the middle of nowhere.
“It’s important for those communities,” she says.
A lot of kids in small towns don’t really have anything to do, she continues, it keeps them off the streets, out of trouble and away from mind numbing substances. Aimee relates. It’s an important aspect of community; a place for young people to go when there’s nowhere else.
It’s a reason why, she says, she is where she is today: a pro-skater with an overwhelming social media following.
“I actually never thought I would make this happen,” she says.
“I guess I’d call myself a pro skater now because I get paid by a few different companies. Like, I do it for a living and it was definitely a dream of mine.”
“But I never gave up, either. So I tried and tried. And if you just keep trying, you can do it too. You’ll get through it.”
See the video here: