A surfing year in Australia
Amazing surf trip of Ben from Destination Surf Team who spent nearly a year in Australia, bodyboarding, surfing and enjoying this surf country...
Native from the South West of France, Ben decided to hit eight months on the road in Australia, exploring the country, waves and soak up this fascinating destination for a surfer, more accurately a bodyboarder !
To help you to discover Australia, its thousands of spots and roots lifestyle, he delivers us a few pages of his Trip logbook.
February 6, 2014 19h23
The SQ322 Singapore Airlines flight landed on time in Brisbane. Time to recover my boardbag and find a collective taxi towards the Gold Coast. I arrive at 10pm in Coolangatta, where tmy wo friends from the Bassin of Arcachon, Cyril and Romain are waiting for me. The guys are already there since a few months. The apartment, located 100m from Kirra wave, is spacious and we have a large bedroom each.
It's hot and humid and the sound of the waves at night makes me already forget the gloom of the French winter. A tour of the property and a piece of meat pie later, I feel inside. The guys told me they had no real waves for two months, the first swell of the season is on its way.
11:30 p.m. Too tired, I go to bed...
7th February 2014 4.30AM
Far from the shrill song of the French cockerel, the exotic shouts of the parrots get me out of my sleep.
It is 5:00AM and the sun already shine brightly. We swallows a fruit juice then we are rolling down the street, the boards under our arms towards the beach. Five minutes later, we check waves at Snapper Rocks. Not great, and already many people in the water.
Continue towards Duranbah, and there... bowls air in every direction in a clear water !
The wave better known under the name of Dbah is located in a small bay further south close to Snapper.
This wedge offers waves of exceptional quality. The best bodyboarders of the moment (Joe Clarke, Dave Winchester, Nick Gornall, Mitch Rawlins ...) are water regularly on this spot, and it motivates us !
Throughout the month, we link the sessions two to three times a day under the sun and in 26 °C water.
At the same pace, I also taste the joy of BBQ evenings that turn into real debrief performance, with a bunch of French, Portuguese, Australians surf friends.
1st March 2014
The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast has started. Surfing's elite gather in the world capital of the discipline. The line up of Snapper and its 70 daily surfers is gradually transformed into a human tide of more than 300 hungry surfers from around the world. The opportunity for me to exchange my bodyboard for a surfboard during a few sessions with Kelly and John John among others !
My patience is then put to the test. I take a maximum of 2 waves per hour... Enough to discourage some, but the wave is so amazing that it is worth it. Two other French pro girls arrived for the competition, Pauline (Ado) and Justine (Dupont) and the bodyboarder Anne Cécile Lacoste (back from the Cook Islands).
Meanwhile, the days pass and boards are crammed into our roommate which has become a true local surf shop annex. We sleep on the floor, and from two, we moved to nine surfers. Competition during the day, surfing the evening and night at Cooly Hotel. I finally start to taste the Goldy way of life !
15th March 2014
The excitement of recent days has passed, Coolangatta little by little emptied from the crowd, while at the same time a perfect swell is heading towards us...
All Gold Coast spots are on fire, from Burleigh Heads to Tweed River ; For more than 10 days, the sessions with offshore winds are coming at full swing.
I then discovered Straddie. This famous beach break to be the most perfect in the world is located in South Stradbroke Island north of the Gold Coast. The channel separating the island from the coast is renowned for its inhospitable underwater fauna, but my curiosity and excitement quickly outweigh the fear. We get ready on the parking lot and then began THE crossing...
Rail against rail, we finally reach the shore safely, greeted by a horde of kangaroos that came for a family picnic. Seconds later the spot is revealed, true to his reputation. Perfect tubes, ramps in all directions, and few people in the water. It was worth almost losing an arm...
We spended the whole day without water or food, but we got so many barrels instead !
The return crossing at sunset is just as worrying, but the pleasure of having been able to satisfy our hunger of waves makes me forget the hostile nature of these troubled waters, and sunburn on my skin.
31th March 2014
Straddie, Snapper, Dbah and fishing spot from the pier in Kirra now have no secrets for me. Time passes quickly as the waves and the roommate empties, on their way back to France for some of them and continuation of the World Tour for others.
We finally are only two, Cyril and I, and it is also time for us to see something else. Australia is great, and we decide to buy a van to hit the road. One hundred clicks on the net and a few phone calls later, we become the proud owners of a Ford Econovan Maxi 1999. The few rust and blemishes of its body suggest wer're on the way of a great adventure...
$ 200 spend in boards, screws and supply of all kinds, and we are finally ready to go.
12th April 2014 - On the road
We leave Coolangatta around noon towards North, and in the afternoon we arrive in Noosa.
This beautiful resort is located on the outskirts of a national park in which we find three long quality waves, including the famous right named Tea Tree, great longboard spot, where we were able to enjoy and surf in boardshorts and t-shirt untill the night.
We like so much the place that we will stay there a whole week, spending our time fishing, fish BBQ, jogging on the seafront, longboard and evenings in trendy bars.
The next day we take the road south along the Sunshine Coast. The waves are not there and the rain starts for the first time since arriving in Australia.
We still hit the road, way back to Coolangatta, to surf the wave of DBah and watch the Bodyboard Pro.
Despite poor conditions, I still have the opportunity to meet all the pros on the tour and share some waves with them.
The young Lachlan Cramsie will prevail in the final with his crazy backflip, facing Joe Clarke, the local of the event. The day ends with the guys and a few beers at sunset, just to regain strength before the road the next day.
After ten nights in the van, each of us begins to get used to this nomad life, nights with surfboards suspended 5 cm of our nose when sleeping are only a detail, as cold showers in public toilets !
Departure for Mount Warning. Located just inland a few miles from the coast, this mountain offers an extraordinary view. The walk of ten kilometers to the summit begins early, very early, at night around 3 am in the morning to arrive on time and enjoy the show. This is indeed the first place that sees the sun rise across Australia. A rather strenuous hike but worth the detour.
A final surfing and farewell at Snapper, our adopted city, here we go again to the south towards the famous place of Byron Bay where we decided to spend a few nights at our buddy's place, Living, who has settled there for a while for his studies.
It is the capital of the world for Hipsters, single fins and gluten free. Its beaches will offer us cool waves in turquoise water amongst dolphins, away from the crowds in a small cove just for us.
A green smoothie spirulina and a small dish vegan later, we find ourselves around the pool to think about what we could do in the evening.
Everyone knows it will end at Cheeky Monkey, a famous Byron club known for its nights of debauchery and its clubbers who do not hesitate to finish half naked in the pool when temparature is growing. I won't say a word about these inglorious facts undeserving such a story...
The next day, waking up late, last hot shower before returning on the road.
Next stop Lennox Head, a long straight World Class close to the rocks, that will give us greats walls almost two meters high, but with the return of the rain this time.
Continuing the road, stop at Ballina, renowned for its quality beachbreaks. We'll also only find rain and gusty onshore wind.
Time to relax and to watch tons of movies downloaded over wifi at Hungry Jack's next door. Then we take the road south and reach Yamba, beautiful little village that offers variety and quality waves.
About twenty kilometers of coastline, one can surf perfect wedge waves, ideal for bodyboarding, as Iluka, fierce reefs as Razors that bears his name, or freigh train waves such as Angourie Point, Green Point and Spooky, breaking on reefs in a scenic point inside a national park.
"WANTED" : A Churchill Makapuu size ML lost during a wipe out with a very gnarly wave.
Despite the multitude of spots, surf shops are scarce and it will be impossible for me to find a pair of fins in my size. I must be content with a surfboard and, coincidentally, earn my best surfing session (in Stand Up Paddle).
We got the first failure of our magnificent Econovan, and understand we'll have to use cunning tricks and tips of all kinds to restart it throughout the journey.
The evening ends on the lawns of Yamba, contemplating the eclipse red moon, rare and impressive phenomenon, in the company of local families who came for the occasion.
To Be Continued ...
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