Archive for July, 2013

WP_20130730_023After getting cut so badly at Lennox Head there is no way I am going back in on that day so I drive all the way south to another point Neil and I had looked at on our way north towards Brisbane.

The caravan site at Crescent Head is yards from the beach, and after asking for a good spot at reception I am lucky enough to be able to view the waves breaking on the point from my pillow.

DCIM100GOPROMy first order of business here is to repair all the dings in my board from the Lennox Head session. It is beginning to look like a patchwork quilt!

I am undeterred however and making sure to put my booties on to protect my existing cuts and hopefully prevent any more I launch myself off the rocks here just after the sun comes up.

DCIM101GOPROApart from one bloke who has clearly got out of bed the wrong side today, everybody is really cool in the lineup and there is the full spectrum of surfers out on their boards.

There is everything from five year old groms wearing helmets to protect them from the rocks who are being pushed into waves by their dad (and I have to say then tearing it up!) to a host of guys in their sixties on their longboards.

DCIM101GOPROThe waves were at least shoulder high and probably bigger on the sets. the water was so clear you could see each of the rocks you were surfing over which was a little unnerving but I didn’t let it put me off.

It was an epic session and I caught loads of rides to remember with this being the best shot of the day.

I love this picture but I assure you that I could justifiably have chosen many, many others.

DCIM103GOPROThe only downside here was when my leash gets ripped off my leg in one wipeout sending the board careering towards the shore which is only made up of rocks once more.

However a bit of turbo swimming followed by a nervous paddle back out with the leash in my teeth means that thankfully I don’t add any scars to the collection that I have amassed on me or my board to date.

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The Point 1Sadly it is time to move off on my own again but after saying my goodbyes I can’t resist back tracking to Lennox Head to see if the point there is working. I am delighted to see some great waves peeling along the headland when I get there.

It is still early in the morning when I arrive and there was only a dozen out in the water so I cant wait to get my wetsuit on and join them.

DCIM100GOPROMy surf guide tells me that “If the locals don’t kill you here, the rocks will” so I am a little hesitant as I walk down the cliff towards one of Australia’s classic point breaks.

I take my time getting into the water and you can see how pleased I am to have got out past the waves with dry hair after launching myself off the rocks on my way into the water.

DCIM102GOPROAfter a slow start I had a brilliant session here and caught a load of the head high waves, charging down the point skirting in front of the rocky shore. The locals were actually friendly too!

I got some great waves and this is the second best shot of the day. Sadly the best one of the day was epic but in my haste to distil the thousands of snaps that my Gopro had taken I deleted it in error. Doh!

DCIM102GOPROAfter a few hours I felt like I had caught enough and decided to get out, and at this point I will refer you back to what the guidebook said about the rocks here.

The current is sweeping down the headland and despite being as careful as I could on the way in I managed to make a right hash of this.

As you can see here I am about to be washed into the rocks.

War Wounds 1I got absolutely hammered here. The rocks and the barnacles on them shredded my feet and shins and also put a ton of scratches on my board on way back in. After limping back to the van board I also discover that I have snapped one of my fins off and have put another two holes in my board!

You can’t see the soles of my feet in this picture which were cut worse than anywhere else and I felt like I had been attacked with a cheese grater. Not at all pleasant even walking for a day or so after this!

There was however some solace to see a pod of dolphins chasing and corralling a shoal of fish as I patched up at the top of the headland.

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Koala 5After spending a few more hours cruising around New South Wales unsuccessfully trying to find a decent wave to surf we decide to head back to Lismore. Although Kathleen takes me to a Koala sanctuary on the way back and we spend half an hour spotting them in the eucalyptus trees there. Can you see it?

When we get back to the house I spend at least an hour winding up Peppi, because I feel that is obligatory. He loves it though and so much so that I understand that he is now missing me.

Charlotte 1As well as seeing Kathleen’s mother again, who I had met earlier in the week I also get to meet her daughter Charlotte who you see here. She is back at home after spending a week with her father.

We are all treated to a lovely curry by Kathleen’s mum before I am asked to read a bedtime story.

Horton Hears A WhoIt is a long time since I have done any narration but I quite enjoy working my way through ‘Horton Hears a Who’ by Dr Seuss.

I was never a book that I had come across myself.

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Shark BayI am well aware that there are angry fish all around Australia’s coast.

However I knew that I would certainly be playing with fire if I got in at this beach near Evans Head.

Thankfully the waves were rubbish and we had a BBQ there instead. Result!

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Angourie Beach 2We wake up early at the caravan park in Yamba and head the short way down the road to Angourie Point.

It is one of the surfing reserves that have been established here in Australia. The waves are breaking along the rock shelf under the water and there is quite a crowd competing for each waves that rolls through.

HumpbacksMore impressive than any of the waves are the mother and calf humpback whales that were swimming past in the sea just beyond the point.

There is a small crowd at the top of the cliffs watching the whales and it is surprising just how close to the surfers they are. Nothing more than a twenty second paddle.

Surfing FundamentalsThe break here is home to Nat Young who is a legend in the surfing world, and wrote the Surfing Fundamentals book which enabled me to progress from useless to not very good many years ago.

I regret this later but don’t feel like going in to the waves here. It looked too crowded for what was on offer and given the rock shelf I would have been surfing over I wasn’t tempted enough at the time.

I wasn’t feeling too good either after a rough night in which the seafood at Gorman’s disagreed with me but should really have taken my tally of waves into the nineties though. Must try harder!

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Gorman's 1After our Turners Beach session we decide to stay in Yamba at the caravan park right in the middle of town.

The owners recommend an eccentric restaurant right alongside the towns harbour. It is called Gorman’s and specialises in seafood.

LesThe decor is styled on Tarzan’s house and the operation seems to be run by one lady who greets and serves all the customers.

Throughout the meal we are also serenaded by Les who sings along to his electric organ playing. It is the first time I have listened to an eighty six year old sing ‘Bad Moon Rising’ whilst eating seafood chowder and I suspect it might also be the last!

Dinner for Two

The two of us have a lovely evening there though and the eccentricity just adds to what was a great meal.

Our sparkling conversation is compounded by the fireworks served with our desserts that dropped bits of incendiaries onto the plates, making the cheesecake I ordered a tad crunchier than I had expected.

They got us to pose for a photo before we left and returned to curl up in the campervan.

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Turner's Beach 5We have driven north to Yamba in search of more waves and Kathleen is keen to have another surf session, so after a bit of wetsuit shopping we head for Turners beach at the tip of the headland.

It is a lovely spot for learning because the waves break over the top of the sandy bay and you can watch the surf from the car park.

Yamba LighthouseThe sponge board she had used at Clarkes Beach had been a bit cumbersome so Kathleen tried my Modern Blackbird surfboard out. As usual I had attached the camera to the nose to see what pictures we could get.

On the way out we got this snap of us both with the lighthouse overlooking the bay from the headland in the background.

Want it!Unlike Clarkes Beach the waves were relentlessly hitting the shore here and as such they are much easier for a learner to get in front of.

Apart from selecting the waves I thought she should go for, Kathleen was largely on her own here. Catching waves when others are out is very competitive and you have to want it. Here is Kathleen claiming one for herself.

Look DolphinsHowever the waves out back were very tempting and once Kathleen had exhausted herself in the shore break I couldn’t wait to get out and into them before the sun went down.

There was only a handful of people in the water by this stage and I was delighted to once more be joined by dolphins in the water. Still no pictures of them to share with you I’m afraid, but you can see how excited I was.

Charging TurnersThey hung around for a while swimming around me and the others in the water. It is a great experience but I have to admit at times a little unnerving having such big animals moving around me.

The waves were great fun whilst I was out there though, and I quickly bagged a hat-trick of great rides before getting out myself.

 

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Surfer Girl 4After the hectic nature of Byron Bay we fancy something quieter so drive south for a few hours arriving in the middle of the night at the Yuraygir National Park. You can hear the waves at the basic campsite where we pull up, which is at the end of a 5km dirt road

After snuggling up and keeping each other warm overnight, my surfer girl suggests that I should go surfing the following morning. It’s a tough choice but I think that at least a surf check is in order.

Kangaroo Dawn 1I stroll down the short path to the beach where the very first thing I encounter is an adult Kangaroo having breakfast! (His mate is in the trees on the left too.)

He couldn’t have been less affected by me though. I actually had to step over his tail to get past him.

After getting past them I have a look at the break where there are already two guys in the water and you can see a pod of dolphins swimming around them from the shore.

DCIM102GOPROI race back to the van and paddle out with my camera keen to bag some pictures of the dolphins. I was also hoping that I might be able to ride some waves with them too.

However I don’t get more than 10 shots on the way out including this one before the battery dies. I hadn’t charged it properly. Doh!

As soon as I paddle out the other two guys have had enough and go in so I am in the water on my own in this very remote spot.

WP_20130727_030Whilst that ordinarily would make me very twitchy because I am so far from any help, there are so many dolphins that are jumping out of the water around me and swimming underneath me in the crystal clear sea that I know there is unlikely to be anything else with sharper teeth knocking about.

I’m gutted that I can’t show you this experience but in some ways I think some of my travels should be just for me. However by now Kathleen is watching it all from the cliffs and I catch a stack of great rides breaking off the point in the early morning sun. The waves are clean, about shoulder high and the sun is shining.

Wild Kangaroos 3I am in the water for about an hour and a half  before getting out with a big grin on my face. When we get back to the van I make us a brew and cook up some bacon and eggs for our own breakfast.

Afterwards we go for a stroll in the national park where Kathleen gets this picture of me hanging out with the locals. As far as Australian surf sessions go this one had everything. Perfection. 

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Wategos Map

I had already had two sessions by the time we drove around the headland to Wategos Beach. There wasn’t all that much swell around today so I didn’t expect there to be enough to tempt me into the water.

However there are some small waves breaking and there is hardly anybody out so I can’t resist the opportunity to bag another break, particularly because it is warm enough to surf in my shorts.

Kathleen isn’t keen so I decide to use the hire board we had scored for her because it has more volume than my own and should suit the conditions better.

Wategos

As a consequence I cant attach the Gropro so don’t have anything to show you of me surfing the break here. I also didn’t take any photos of the beach here either so you will have to make do with this one I found online.

I did bag a handful of waist high waves in quick succession whilst in the water being overlooked by the gorgeous lighthouse up on the headland. I can see why the houses here are home to the great and the good. It was a lovely bay and another one for my scrapbook.

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Clarkes BeachClarkes Beach is the other end of the sand that surfing The Pass will bring you towards.

It is our home break whilst staying in Byron Bay because the holiday park is right next to the water and you can see the park sign here being guarded by a baby Kookabura.

Surf StudentThe sun has finally come out to play in Byron and the conditions here are perfect for learning to surf so we sort out a board and a wetsuit for Kathleen.

I pass on the little gems of surfing knowledge that I think are the most important and we have a fun session getting Kathleen into a few waves.

DCIM100GOPROInitially I am standing in the warm water and pushing Kathleen’s board to ensure she catches them, but it doesn’t take long for me to go and grab my own stick and join her in the water once more.

There are a plenty of people in the water even though it is a school day and we have to keep an eye on everybody else, but unfortunately Kathleen get run over by a local species known as Grumpius Longboardicus. Thankfully there is no harm done and she isn’t put off.

DCIM100GOPROI haven’t surfed this end of the beach so cannot resist getting a few waves of my own. This was the pick of the bunch.

I’m loving the new boardshorts I had treated myself to in the Quicksilver shop the day before and bag a load of fun little waves breaking  over the sand.

DCIM100GOPROWe were both out there for hours and you can see how much fun we had in the sunshine.

A great session. You can’t beat surfing with your friends.

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