A surfing year in Australia - Episode 2
Second episode of the amazing surf trip of Ben from Destination Surf Team who spent nearly a year in Australia, bodyboarding, surfing and enjoying this surf country...
Second part of Ben's adventures in Australia. From discovery to discovery, miles of beaches through the bush and the southern desert, the road is long from the East Coast to the West.
1st of May, 2014
Coffs Harbour will be the next stage of our journey. The capital of the banana welcomes us with a perfect swell and solid 10-12 feet, and the spot of Sawtell did his best to look like its Mexican cousin Puerto Escondido, without much difficulty !
Thus, deep green caves alternate with gluttony meals at Sea Salt, best fish and chips in Australia (in my opinion) not to be missed in the main street in Sawtell.
Our belly and eyes full of images, we leave Coffs towards the long-awaited Port Macquarie.
Elected Australian Capital of bodyboarding in 2013, its waves are renowned for producing the world's best bodyboarders for decades, as Michael "Eppo" Eppletsun (creator of the ARS and Backflip), Damian King (triple world champion including one victory in DropKnee) or youths from Breakwall as Sam Bennett and Chase O'Leary who are trusting the video scene in recent years.
The city itself is a classic Australian city without real charm, a little redneck... (BBQ-Beer atmosphere).
The swell has gone, we simply can ride small bowls of 1 to 2 ft at Breakwall and Northwall. One can imagine the potential, but unfortunately we do not have the hoped waves. A little disappointed, we took the opportunity to take a tour at the nearby National Park, where we will meet giant iguanas, cross breed with the famous Komodo dragon in neighboring Indonesia. Those fellows tried to rob us our lunch, by the way.
The road separating us from Sydney is now short and we move to Newcastle (second largest city in Australia), on the peninsula of Port Stephen Nelson Bay.
A haven of peace, the big rocks out of the water make me think at the Rio de Janeiro Sugarloaf and guess what, right there, behind this beautiful national park where live pelicans, dolphins and species of all kinds, is hiden a perfect left wedge.
Box Beach is a beach paradise where one does not even suspect the presence of waves, because the sea is so quiet, beautiful, and the water is so clear. But on closer inspection, a first set of wave licks the face of the cliff and come back to sea, mingling with the next wave to form a beautiful ramp.
We get ready as fast as possible on the mini 10 places car park, run through the small path lined with bushes and jump in the water !
We are ten bodyboarders at the peak, but especially some local kids (grommets). The wave is incredibly easy and everyone gives a field day. Airs & airs like mads, with special mention for the young Hawaiian prodigy Tanner McDaniel (on holiday in the area) for his enormous Invert.
The ritual is well established and of course we enjoy the last light of the day with a beautiful sunset, sharing beers, eating fresh caught grilled fish and jump off the dock in the harbor. That's all we need folks !
Sydney, May 5th 2014
Sydney ...Hot showers...The first in a long time. Not that my multiple cold ( freezing) showers in nature displeased me, but it's nice to find a little comfort. It is decided, Tamarama is my stronghold, during a few evenings at the Ivy Club, wandering in the city center as a real tourist. I find a small job (unspeakable) in an Australian breakfast Cafe, so called multicultural and held by Vietnamese. The opportunity to discover that the dirt has a face. Never seen such a dirty and disgusting place !
The days keep rolling between crappy surf and shoping in Bondi. The heat of the Gold Coast gives way to cold, forcing me to barter my sequined boardshorts and my Monoi sun oil against my super 3/2 wetsuit, and it is at this moment also that starts for me the time of loneliness.
Bye Cyril, asshole, you will gorge you with great food made in France.
A month later, Eva, the one I was separated from 10 000 km, points the tip of her nose, and it's not to unplease myself... Starts then a new cohabitation. I had been warned : surf trip with chicks are to avoid.
Yet this wild duo will due to preconceptions !
15th June 2014
Next stop Cronulla, southern suburbs of Sydney, Shark Island. The Island as it is called here.
Big south swell and great waves with size and large tubes at Surge (its last bowl is real hollow and works crazy on big days). Wave quite daunting at first but amazing at the end. Flat take off, then it wraps on a bowl on the slab and creates a deep tube of rare perfection.
Jervis Bay. The scenic beauty and diversity of animal species are beginning to show vastness of the place. In this spectacular calm, accompanied by red sunsets while eating grilled meat, feet in the sand, we find ourselves facing with this majestic and breathtaking perfect wave. Aussie Pipe tip the tip of his nose.
To sublimate this definition of a perfect life, comes a bunch of whales and their glory ballet.
At three meters in front of us, stands what nature has best to offer, and you can hear the sound of their breathing while contemplating their dance. Luckily, it is said to be the best time to observe, and they came to offer us a spectacle just for us.
Time flies and we can only imagine all beauties we have to still discover, such as this place. Once again on the road (boosted by the awakening more than aggressive from an aboriginal, who has made us understand that we were not welcome on his land).
Direction South Coast and Ulladula with a wave program : Nuggan Treanos, Supers, Guillotine, Mills, Blacks and Co...
On the road, we met a guy named Benny and its Troopy. This guy deserves a special mention in my article. Met in France in Cap Ferret in 2013, this degenerate australian amateur painter, loves thrills and is an unconditional fan of VB (local beer). He guided us to the best spots in the South Coast with great campfires at the bottom of the bush. Eating raw Chinese noodles as an appetizer, and taking a shower a week, he put us very quickly in the Australian root atmospher !
First surf at Treanos, short and intense right wave, giving a first section with barrels, then an air bowl, the perfect wave for body boarding. Then we go for Nuggan, often seen in videos. This great unique rocky point that goes far into the sea, produces a perfect wedge for all conceivable bodyboarding acrobatics.
It is only accessible after a long walk along the beach, and it is still better to check it with binoculars before starting this journey. In fact, the only thing Nuggan kindly offer me that day, it's a head to head with a seal.
The adventure continue in Bawley Point. This long ten kilometers strip of land is full of quantity and quality waves, in a prolific nature, green landscapes of rare beauty. At the turning of a path lined with eucalyptus, we store our bags for a few days waiting for the next swell.
Saturday, June 28th ( My Bday ! )
6 AM, the sky seems to have agreed with Mother Nature to offer me the most beautiful sunrise I've never seen. So I blow my 25 candles facing this huge scenery that stands before me, mixed shades of red, orange and purple.
In this beautiful setting, I enjoy my breakfast made in France, concocted by my sweetheart for the occasion. Breakfast makes me confirm that the australian "gastronomy" has definitely nothing to compare with France...
Then the phone rings. This is Benny, and apparently a reef in the South East is on fire ! Thirty minutes later, we find ourselves in the car parking at Mills. A slender, hollow right at the peak just roll up on the rocky edge, leaving me realize the extent of its perfection. It offer me an intense session, ranked among my favorites ones on the island.
Session is over, it's time to say goodbye to Benny and the South Coast, to join the Victoria state and the city of Melbourne. 10 hours drive later, and 5 degrees cooler, the southern metropolis, a true melting pot of culture and architecture, warmly welcome us. Just enough time to stroll through the multitude of weird shops. Here, everything seems to be permitted and nothing shocks, while leaving everyone express his hidden talents (very hidden sometimes).
Typical party at Naked for Satan, where one is seduced by the view over the city from the roof top. Pinxos for 1 dollar, good red wine and breaded camembert, we almost forget the canned spaghetti and sandwich bread eaten on the road in our crisis period ! Special mention to the pastries of St Kilda street, and incredible chocolate Kouglof from Monarch Cakes (103 Acland St.). More than mandatory for fans.
After two days of shopping and comfort, we are again left in search of waves on the Great Ocean Road. The road is long and winding, but the scenery is breathtaking. The 12 Apostles, this huge rock dominating the whole ocean is certainly very touristic, but still worth a look.
Adelaide is the last major city before the 3000 km that separate us from Western Australia. The adventure takes on a whole new dimension to this level of the trip.
The straight line then sinks slowly into nothingness, and the greenery gives way to barren and hostile nature. Solitude and quiet are straining our social life. Very soon we find ourselves faced with the bush, with a petrol station every 250 km and fuel price changing from single to double, which does not allow us to play with that... Better worth not to miss yourself on this road of all challenges !
The days pass, and the mind is forged. Gradually the vastness is now part of our daily life, and we even feel good. Campfires, nights under the stars, absolut quiet. We hear our voices echoing for miles.
Regarding the quest of the waves, it tooks its meaning in the desert, and it is clear that here you have to search a lot for surfing. In fact, although knowing the spots is absolutely essential because you might go crazy, regarding the vastness of the area. Like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Despite the hours spent on cards, dozens of GPS combinations inputs and thorough searches on websites of all kinds, I did not find all the expected waves. But it is also part of the game and raises the excitement and adrenaline at its maximum.
Despite this disappointment, i feel beter when, after days of vain searching, I finally falls on Monument wave.
In the middle of nowhere, and in the middle of the ocean and huge cliffs, this perfect wave is waiting for me, and stands before me as a call to jump into the depth, in a sea full of white sharks.
This argument cannot stop my ardor, and after some reflection, I find myself, intimidated, faced with this beauty that gives me an incredible, spiritual surf session. This memory, I will keep forever, and the difficulty of finding and taming the waves is such that it is what makes me want to come back quickly to confront myself to the Australian desert, more armed and warned.
The road goes on, and seems endless. 700 km a day and nearly as many dead kangaroos. We are close to reach the West. Gradually, the wilderness becomes civilized, and landscapes are transformed, indicating our grand arrival in Margaret River.
This city climate is similar to Bordeaux our home town. It makes us feel good and we find here a peaceful life, with a population of good living in a country atmosphere. Whether high-quality vineyards or master class waves, fusion is perfect between the world of wine and surf culture.
At this stage of the journey, the money is no longer here and things start to get complicated. But Margaret is a friendly town with its many crafts, ice cream, chocolates, cheeses, olive oils shops. We does not miss the opportunity to do all the free tours and tastings. We spend a week of no cost, what definitely classify Margaret River as our favorite gastronomy city !
Offshore winds and sunshine does not seem to be part of the end of the trip, and the long-awaited Gas Bay, The Box, North Point and Rabbits surf spots definitely draw the face.
It is finally time for us to say goodbye to the great Australia continent country for which I took great pleasure in discovering from east to west, without never being disappointed with its beautiful scenery and great waves. It rocked me for 8 months in a healthy and spiritual world, where I could learn to evolve, arm my mind in search of waves that were not always perfect, face the ocean and its dangers with more hindsight and open my mind to new places.
Perth, 4th August 2014.
Since the sun does not want us in Australia, it will certainly expect us on the Island of the Gods...
Next Step Bali !
To complete the story, the video of our Australian trip
Working for several years in tourism in France and abroad, Jean-Hervé Cristol (aka Jean Révé) also has a large number of kilometer mark traveling around Planet Surf in search of endless summer waves.
In 2004 he created Destination Surf, the first agency specialized in Surf Travel , then Endless Summer a blog with tips, info and travel stories, in order to enjoy and share this rewarding experience with all surf travelers. → Learn more