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Surfing in Australia

Off to Australia With Tim Nunn and the Gang.....

By Tim Nunn

Sep 4, 2001, 3:47pm

April in Western Australia, offshore, plenty of swell, low crowd level and heaps of heaving reefs, or so we had been told. The reality was, for British bodyboarders Danny Wall, Damian Prisk, Ryan Phelps, Geoffrey Leonard and Mark Jackman, offshore yes, very little swell and a big crowd problem. In fact the lack of swell was a real problem, just days before Ryan's and Dan's arrival, Prisk and Mark had scored the local big wave spot 'Northpoint' all time with just top locals and a few travelling pros on hand to surf it, but what now confronted the boys was The Margaret River Bombie at an all time low of a foot and everywhere else struggling for any semblance of a rideable wave. With weather charts looking about as exciting as Belgium , fishing and golf were the only option. The Bournemouth boys, Mark and Honest Geoff, were straight to the golf course whilst the tight folk of Plymouth and Portreath were off fishing, with borrowed rods, so they might get a free meal.

High hopes of salmon and lobster were soon dashed when the only living creature in the sea willing to take a bait was a herring, small but edible, and when caught in sufficient numbers enough for a barbie. But these little critters were hardly sport, in fact the only exciting bit was when someone's line broke and they had to swim for a float whilst everyone else sat on the rock humming the Jaws theme. Anyway we weren't going to let that get in the way of our dream surfing holiday in Australia.

After an endless five days the swell finally arrived, albeit in a very small portion. The only rideable reef for the next couple of days was a consistent and very popular righthander known as Cobblestones. Its consistency in times of little swell proved to be its downfall as every booger and his dog was out. Prisky, Mark and Ryan all still choose to wash the dust off themselves and try and snavel a couple of the hollow righthanders on the near dry inside ledge. Wall and Geoff sat it out and watched as local ripper Sean Virtue took the place apart with his new sponsor and No Friends Guru Ross McBride for company. The number and standard of the local boys meant that there was slim pickings for our boys, but over the next couple of days Ryan got his fair share of waves, everyone else got annoyed with Ryan getting his fair share of waves. But as the days dragged Cobbles began to bore even Ryan and the last resort wave almost became a swear word.

Finally Saturday night dawned and the tension was released with a trip to the local pub and one or two quiet pints, this deteriorated into a spend all your money on booze as there won't be any swell ever again style night and whilst everyone became more and more incoherent, Damian, the designateddriver, sat on the sidelines silently chuckling to himself knowing full well that the next morning would dawn with him and him alone up for a surf. 5.30 am Wall and Phelps' cabin stinks of sick, the Bournemouth pair hate early starts anyway and were dead to the world, the wind is lightly wafting offshore and the only taker is Damian.

On arrival at The Box look out there is a new swell but not enough for said death pit, so Damo tears across town in his four litre Ford Falcon and arrives at Gas Point, barely visible in the half light and very empty. Day still manages to faff a fair bit and is beaten to the lineup by local standup and ex booger Gene Hardy, but this does not matter because even as the lineup fills with an assortment of locals and travelling pros, Day is still getting barrelled off his nut in the safe knowledge that the rest of the crew is ill in bed. Four hours later Daimo eventually leaves the water due to a lost fin and a cloudy conscience. On return to the Cabin everyone is up and semi conscious, Damian describes the surf as "OK s'pose" and tucks into breakfast, when the video of the session is replayed and the boys see Damo's deepest barrel, tears of jealousy and cries of "why did I get pissed last night??" echo around the cabin. The hungover contingent now want to surf more than ever and with only an hour before the onshore, speed is the key. The Box is looking okay and everyone bails in but only a couple of waves are caught before the wind swings and the day is wrecked, well not for Damo obviously, there's a moral in there somewhere!

Bored of surfing the predictable righthanders at Cobblestones and having been told by local vid geezer and photographer, Chris Bryan, of a Backdoor-like setup just up the coast we go in search of the secret spot known to us as minibackdoor. Chris and various locals gave us directions but quite frankly we had no idea where we were going. Fortunately our companion, Geoffery Leonard, knew the way to every secret spot in the area. We were told we needed to find Wynup Road , now as anyone knows in aboriginal QU is pronounced as WY so when we found Quinup Road we had scored in record time. What we did not know however was that our aboriginal speaking friend Geoff was in fact talking out of his arse and we wasted several hours crushed into our Ford Falcon searching fruitlessly in the bush.

Eventually we found our way back to the main road and asked directions and found the real Wynup Road spelt WY which in aboriginal is funnily pronounced WY and not QU! Lucky we chose to take some English courses in Australia as we would have had a hard time understanding the hard accent here . We hightailed down the road to Indjinup Point where the spot was meant to be, now we knew it was to the south of the point, but Geoff had other ideas and using a subtle mind control trick convinced us it was to the North and off we went on another fruitless trek. We found loads of waves, none of them looked like Backdoor and all were crowded. An hour later and realising we were miles from the intended break, we gave up and headed back to Cobblestones. It was busy, crowded and as we pulled up it glassed off and went onshore! Geoff was now the butt of all bad feeling. To cut two more long searches short, we listened to Geoff's directions twice more and twice more we ended up lost, often ending with the car stuck on rutted bush roads or hanging precariously off cliffs.

Eventually after a couple of rocky wrong turns and some directions from Jersey standup tube master Ian "Steamy" Battrick, we found the clearing in the bush and started the hike down to the sea. Our first glimpse over the chest high out of control shrubbery was one of corduroy to the horizon, our second was a view over a bush covered cliff and no rideable wave in sight, we couldn't still be wrong could we? Do we go left or right down the track?

Geoff said left, so having overcome the effects of his mind control techniques, we all went right, and two hundred yards away we crested a hill and saw a setup which resembled small Backdoor, offshore, three or four feet and hollow as you lik. Oh yeah did I mention there were already ten people out on a take off zone as big as a doormat? Still we 'd found the wave, what looked like perfection was actually a closer relative to its name sake than we had hoped, in fact just like the real Backdoor if the swell direction was a degree or two off perfect then the hell barrel turned into a hell closeout, and as we watched this was actually 90% of the time.

Once again the star of the show was local ripper Sean Virtue, he was on every single good set wave and didn't blow one of them, huge air forwards the move of the day and he pulled them with ease. Ryan was getting his usual fair share of waves and was busting, Damo was picking off the closeouts, Geoff sat on the beach moaning, Mark's highlight was losing his board and getting washed in over a dry section of reef and Danny don't give a firk was taking snaps, he popped out towards the end of the session for a few freefall drops on the knee. Was it worth the hassle? Well if the swell direction had been good, with only us out and a foot bigger it would have been OK! But at least we didn't get chased out of the water by sharks like the Jersey boys had the night before!