Known as Parko, he was born in Nambour, Queensland and grew up on Queensland’s Gold Coast with fellow surfer Mick Fanning. He started surfing as a child, with his father’s board, then he started competing with his friends Dean Morrison and, especially, Mick Fanning. He and Fanning both attended Palm Beach Currumbin State High School together. Parkinson, Fanning and Morrison became known as “The Coolangatta Kids” and it was in these formative years that he developed his own style while also winning the ASP World Junior Championship.
He became the youngest surfer to win a Billabong Contest, a world event.
Today, Parko remains for many the most naturally gifted surfer on the planet. The Gold Coaster possesses a smooth, hypnotic style that almost disguises just how seismic his surfing really is. His act is the product of some good surfing DNA, and a childhood spent surfing some of the finest pointbreaks on the planet. But in recent years however Joel has also become one of professional surfing’s fittest, most dedicated athletes.