Here’s a post, part 1 of 2, catching you surfers up on Ian’s exploits in Southern New South Wales:
Me mates Pancho , South mission expat and our host, 80s Northern Beaches pro legend Matt Jones took a few “sickies” off to show me down the coast.
The tightly wound “onion” spinning between Tazzie and SA had just the millibars and distance to throw us a solid south swell. The weather seemed to be cooperating so it was off we went. After a few “flat whites” we began to see the size difference between the Sydney “beachies” and the more exposed Coal Coast, aptly named for the abundance of black stuff breaking off from its primordial slabs. Every point and reef was exploding with raw power with few takers to give us any size reference. After mind surfing several of the area’s standouts, we made our way south and discovered a few spots that we could paddle into. The swell was juicy and super consistent but it wasn’t all that clean being so close to the source. There was a lot of water moving about which made it an intense paddle and take off situation. When I did finally decide to “take one in” I simply stopped paddling as hard as I could and got swept down the point by the raging rapid-like current until getting hammered by the ten foot + shorebreak at the beachie a 1/4 mile in.
When we all returned to dry land I likened the experience more to white water rapids than an epic day the point. In the end we got to see some of the area’s reefs and points come to life. After all the driving and energy spent chasing waves we realized that a surgical 1 hr flight up the coast to Angourie or points north would’ve been more fruitful to let the swell even itself out . When I logged onto Swellnet afterwards I realized we had made the wrong choice. Everyone up that way calling the same swell “the best winter swell yet! “
Well, we have been woefully out of airport range for a while now and it’s hard to upload pix while renting time at an internet cafe and the like. Therefore, we have a few pix from the trip to Melbourne as well as Ian’s latest surf adventures that will have to wait for later. For now, I just thought I’d catch you all up, lest you think we forgot you (far from it, as homesickness comes in waves now:).
First my mom, or the Mirster, or Wa-wa(as Ginger calls her) was here for a week of whirlwind travel. We spent a few days in Sydney that were nice, but somewhat marred by broken-down cars, broken- down weather, and broken-down bodies: my flu, G’s cold, Mirster’s hip( although she did remarkably well coming all that way, we all agree), etc. Then we flew down to Melbounre and rather than head into another big city, drove down to lovely little Philip Island where we gazed upon finally sunny pastures of lime green and more sweeping ocean vistas the likes of which we never tire. Highlights included a trip to a great Koala Conservation Center as well as the very touristy and very worth it homing of the penguins. Picture you and 300 of your closest non-English-speaking friends all huddled up on half a little league’s worth of bleachers set up on the beach at night, flood lights on the water and you hoping no one you know will see you. Then, these adorable little Fairy Penguins come waddling up the beach, taking time to play in the surf beforehand (I call it getting their land-legs under them) and making their way to burrows in the bush under and behind you. As you walk back up to the main center, you encounter these little guys all along the trail making their beds and squawking away and they are really enough to make you forget your embarassment at having sunk so low among the masses. Too funny!
We drove back to Melbounre via the Mornington Peninsula and got to drive onto a ferry boat, which G loved. Then we spent a couple of days finding out that Melbounre is every bit as charming and diverse and cultural as everyone had said it was. I won’t go into the pathetic tactic of describing pix you’d really rather just see, but trust me when I say they also really know how to light that city up at night!
Now that Wa-wa is back Stateside (so sad to say goodbye) the 3 of us have gotten back to Sydney and promptly taken a trip down the coast to the lovely town of Ulladulla. The National Park is incredible here and, of course the beaches are stunning. Ian’s friend from home who lives here now, Pauncho, has come to stay with us for a couple of days, which has been very fun for them because the surf has been awesome ( I know, you want pix- be patient!) I have really enjoyed the hiking trails around our holiday park and have started to think of walking in this country like talking a walk on Earth’s Sister Planet (or chould I say, California’s?) It’s like everything is very familiar and reminds you of somewhere you’ve been before but, just slightly different. Very sublime. The woods have a simliar feel to them to many hikes you’ve taken before(of course, they’re so nice, if they were at home there’d be many more RV’s and oversized families coming through) but if you look closely, the trees are ones you hardly ever see, like gums and banksia. The animals, too, are like cousins-once-removed to the ones you know– very familiar, but somehow not quite right. Like their kookaburras, cockatiels and stunning rainbow lorakeets, they all seem like such novelties to us, but are clearly very run of the mill to people here, perhaps like our jays and hawks back Stateside. Then there’s the ocean which is just a slightly different hueof blue like you’ve never seen before and never the temperature you’d think it would be.
We are all loving the new experiences. I have finally realized that when Ginger asks to go “Back home, Mama” she is really just saying that she’s tired of the car and wants to go back to wherever her toys are. Since Grandma came and we then went straight off to the new holiday park down here, when we check into a new place to stay, she walks in and says, “Nice room!” Lika Australia, Ginger never fails to delight.
Here’s a catch-up post because I’ve been so down and out with the dreaded “Aussie Flu.” Better now and in Melbourne with the my mom and the fam. More on that in a future post. For now, here’s some pix from Ginger and Ian’s first day of my flu (the day before his solo surf adventure which will be the next post). They had a fun outing to the town of Avalon with Jenna and the girls and friends. Seems the girls learn to skate good and early around here and have fun doing it. Also note a craze I’m sure would spread like wildfire back home among the under 3 set: Babycinos (that’s baby chinos), which are little bitty cups of steamed milk (soy or cow) with a dash of cocoa on top and a little spoon and saucer to boot. G LOVED this and I know your kids will too. Too much!
1. I brought the stroller with me when I drove G Rain in the Getz to get her to sleep cause I was “too sick to walk.”
2. All I did was pop a couple of tires and didn’t actually get in a head on collision on the wrong side of the road or anything
3. My body was strong enough to walk the hour back to Matt and Jenna’s even with the aches and fever
4. Ian did hold it over me that he’d been right that I shouldn’t drive in this country and I didn’t hold it over him that he took off on an all day surf adventure with me so sick
5. We got the rental car company to pay for the 2 new tires because they were bald and unsafe and never should have popped just because I BRIEFLY went up on the curb with one of them (the curb which everyone here says sticks out way too far anyhow)
ps- on a totally unrelated note, PLEASE please please check out the video to our new favorite song, heard on the fabulous local “Triple J” radio station here, you won’t be sorry: Mika’s “Big Girl You Are Beautiful” (and we couldn’t agree more)
Yesterday was a 2 boat day in more ways than one. In the morning, Jenna walked us down to her friends Guy and Pita’s place on the water where they keep their kayak. It was the Cadillac of ocean kayaks, with room enough for their whole family of 5 on it so there was plenty of room for me in the front, Ian in back and G (in life-vest, Grandmas) in the middle. Of course the first thing I did was accidentally splash her with the paddle so she started to cry and say she wanted to “get down.” Well we were in the middle of the bay by then and there was no “getting down”. But we started to sing the “Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe” song and she cheered right up. Soon, she was leaning back against Ian’s legs and almost asleep from the gentle lolling of the boat by the time we got back. She loved it.
That aft we took a ferry/fairy ride from Palm Beach to Kuring-gai National Park’s Basin campgrounds. G’s been really into boats lately and she sure did get her fill cause the first boat we got on turned out to be the wrong one. I went and asked the driver and his first mate if we could just stay on and then get on the right one without paying extra, which they agreed to, but not without some good ol’ Aussie ribbing first: “Excuse me, I think we’re on the wrong boat.” “Where are you going?” “The Basin.” “You’re on the wrong boat! How’d you manage that one? Congratulations Darling, you’re on the wrong boat.” etc. When we boarded the next boat is was much of the same: “Umm do we need new tickets, we’re the ones who got on the wrong boat.” “Ooooh, so you’re the ones. CONGRATULATIONS!” “Yes, thank you.”
Anyhow, the whole 2 for the price of 1 thing was quite a good scam, as we’d covered the entire bay by the time we were done and it was really lovely. I recommend trying it if you’re ever in the area. The Basin was gorgeous, with emerald waters being fished by lazy campers on it’s sandy banks and a ranging grassy meadow dotted with grazing wallabies (like Kangaroos but smaller and don’t confuse them or else you’ll be teased in the above manner). G needed a nap by then so we once again put the McClaren to the test by walking her up a very steep trail to some Aboriginal carvings. She was still snoozing by the time we got back and so we got a quiet bite to eat together at the fabulous Swelter Cafe by the boat dock. I am pleased to report that the food here is SO much better than up north and actually worth the outrageous prices. Either that, or the sticker shock is just wearing off…
Northern Beaches Sydney has been small but fun. Offshore, 2-4 foot every day. No complaints. In lieu of any quality surf shotz here’s an ode to the making of two of my all-rounder boards that get me through the “everyday”waves such as these. Had fun in the weeks and days before departing SD with Steve on the Pendoflex asymmetrical and Jeff Mcallum 6-2 pintail quad. Both these guys are a pleasure to work with,Coltrane on the speakers makes it go down all the better; spazz jazz, catylist -supreme.
Over the last few days we’ve made our way down to Sydney (or rather Palm Beach just outside of Sydney) to visit our friends Matt and Jenna and their 3 lovely girls. It was a good adventure on the way down, if a bit challenging to keep the Little Bear happy in the car for longish spells over 3 days time. She did really well, all things considered actually.
Just before we left, we stopped in Lennox and G got to watch the girl’s paddle club practicing on a tea tree saturated lake. Those girls could really move across that burnt umbre water. What an inspiration they were to G Rain! Along the way south, we took a side trip to Dorrigo National Park’s skywalk and rainforest trails (yes, the surf got flat and I got my way– hurray!). It was lovely and G Rain did the whole walk by herself while we marveled from behind at what a big girl she’s become. At night, we stayed in one of Australia’s best kept secrets (at least as far as I was concerned), their Holiday Parks. There, we “camped” in incredible wooded settings on both a mossy creek as well as another gorgeous beach in cabins with kitchens, tvs, etc. The whole place was like a kiddie heaven, with playgrounds, a jumpy mat, merry-go-rounds and a campfire. They even give you marshmallows to roast when you check in! All in that incredible natural setting to boot. Too terrific!
Glad to finally have arrived at Matt and Jenna’s tree house. They are great old friends who we hardly ever get to see anymore and for Ginger, it means the playmate drought has finally come to an end. When we go here, the girls had their pet guinea pig out on the pool deck and I thought G would faint from pleasure. Palm Beach and its environs like Avalon and Mona Vale is one of the loveliest places I can ever imagine settling in. From the tree house, we look out onto a Meditteranean-like harbor with endless surfing beaches surrounded by gorgeous homes nestled into the woodlands. Sydney is just a short ferry ride (yes Ginger, Fairies!) away so we’ll have lots more to report back soon. Until then, we really are missing you all at home and are thrilled to hear you’re reading along.
5 Reasons this is the Good Land of Oz
1. People make a living wage without overworking one bit, they have healthcare and pensions and the dole for the dry spells and there is abundance everywhere you look.
2. The air is so clean you can almost choke on it (in a good way) and the water is glass-bottom-boat clear all the time, so far as I can tell.
3. The radio is exceptional, with news that actually informs you and many stations playing bands you’d want to go downtown to see every night if you could.
4. They have gobs of National Parks and set aside reserves for surfing with golden green points and rainbow lorakeet filled gums.
5. Did I mention how cute the koalas look on the yield sings?
Kinda nice to stay and play local today because we’re getting ready to hit the road again tomorrow for Sydney (a few days drive the way we’ll do it). Seems that most days we’ve had our hair on fire in the morning to get out and see and do before G Rain needs her nap. Often, of course, she ends up sleepign on the bumpy road or in the little Getz and for that, we often pay the rest of the day. But, such is life as a gypsy. Naptime is just one of the many things that make this trip different than those we took before becoming parents. We work it out though, and often that means that each of us does our thing while the other stays with G (not that there’s much staying in G – land). I like to hike and write and Ian, well, Ian surfs of course, and since we got here that’s been the thing to do around here, lucky boy!
So this morning we headed down a trail on Lennox Head, he to surf and me and G to walk the 2kms or so to the playground in Lennox Shire. It was a bumpy but lovely ride through the grasses with a sea eagle keeping pace below us on the beach (a big shout-out to Maclaren stroller for handling off-roading in the bush just as well as being pushed down the sidewalk one-handed with a veggie roll and chai latte fresh from the bakery.)
Almost to the beachside park for G to get her play on, we crossed a bridge over some tidepools with some big girls. They had a bucket that they kept exclaiming smelled bad and so of course, G wanted to follow them to the beach. I sat back and let her approach the girls at the shore and they included her in throwing crab shells to gigantic pelicans whose torsos were bigger than our little bear, never mind their fat necks and menacing beaks. She loved it! The park had a birthday party for a little guy we’ve come to know as Spidey cause he runs around Ballina in a Spiderman costume complete with fake pecs. There was, of course, a Spiderman cake with sparklers on it, something I’ve never seen before . Having seen the way the little tykes pulled back when the sparks started to fly, I don’t see the trend catching on anytime soon.
…now to pack….
The grom armies descended upon the three rivers area just before dawn. (See Rusty Gromfest –biggest grom contest in this hemisphere). They first seized the beachie at Lennox and quickly mobilized and spread to all surrounding points, reefs, slabs and crags. Their presense would not have been as warmly accepted had the fairy gods not smiled kindly upon the land and blessed us all with absolutely perfect waves and weather. If you cant beat em’-join em.
But after several mind blowing surfs with the “little people”, we decided to seek out Shires south not yet affected by the grom invasion. When we rolled up to the lookout at Angourie the scene was idyllic. Six guys out, perfect conditions and swell wrapping all the way down the point. It only got better when I paddled out and everyone decided it was time to go in. I surfed my trusty 6-2 Mc Callum pintail quad with pedigree to boot (tail of a Brewer/nose of a Frye) which Jeff and I had made just before departing. At one point after kicking out of yet another down the line screamer I looked up the little green hill on the tip of the point to see Abi and Ginger walking hand in hand and waving. It doesn’t get much better than this I thought. I’m a lucky guy in a lucky country. As we make way to leave tomorrow for Sydney I can honestly say we got a very good sampling of this coastline every single day.