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Trip: Summertime

Written by DrC123 show DrC123 profile

Friday September 26 2008 09:21:11 PM

Date: from Nov 30, 1965 to Aug 31, 2012

Surf trip description:

"Sum Sum Summertime" 

During the summer months the Gold Coast of Australia is infected with tourists and suffers from strong NE onshore winds. In the late 60's early 70's we would drive an hour south down the coast, past scenic Cabarita Point over the hills and along the back road following the coast, to the small community of Bryon Bay.  (Now Hippieville, OZ).


Unspoiled Cabarita:                             Cabarita Point: 

Under The Sun" by Cyrus Sutton.

Cape Byron is most easterly point on the Australian coastline, complete with a historic lighthouse (including surf wax eating wild goats) which overlooks the headland, from where you can see schools of sharks patrolling, no incidents of attacks as the surfing spots of "The Pass" and "Tallows" as they lie inside. we figured they were not very hungry as there were plenty of fish to munch on LOL. 

CapeBryonA Great White says Yum Yum!ThePass

Cape Byron:                             Yep, that was a shortboarder!            The Pass:

The routine was to surf Tallows on the back side which was protected from the noreaster (not unusual to see Bob MacTavish, Nat Young and crew out there during the late sixties and early seventies). We would spend Saturday night at the local bar where you might get lucky or at least get bombed ... remember driving a Ford wagon off a side road one night down into ditch, opened the door, barfed, fell in it and woke up next morning feeling very seedy to say the least! Lucky some mates came by and got us out. 


The Young Gods:

From left: Peter Breen, Warren Markwell, Cuffy, Bub Markwell, Brad Carter:   

Just south of Byron lies Suffock Park and Broken Heads.  The first time I saw Suffock Park it was little more than a remote beach campground surrounded by scrub at the end of a sandy track off a secondary road.  We had arrived the night before in a blue and white VW bus with the side windows covered by checkered table cloth curtains and a mattress on the floor to sleep on.

BrokenHeadBroken Heads

Broken Head:                                Suffock Park:

Dawn came and crawling out of our sleeping bags rubbing out eyes we walked around the point and checked out the waves. Broken Heads is just that, a broken headland with cliffs falling into the sea with offshore rock islands that looked like they once belonged to the mainland. It was a hot dry day at the end of summer, probably 85F degrees at sunup with a light zephyr blowing from the western desert regions of the outback and bringing with it hundreds of tiny black flies that flew in your eyes, up your nose and into your ears, looking for moisture.   

What wind there was, was slightly cross shore, but the cliffs protected the bay between the bookend rocky outcrops. The ocean was oily glass and sets from shoulder to head high broke in two peaks, one out by the furthest rocks and one inside the bay in front of the cliffs similar to Zeros just north of Malibu in California. Quick breakfast of Kellogg's corflakes with banana (now I cannot eat before I go out, period) someone else had melted chocolate frogs washed down by a warm beer and a raw egg (classic OZ breakfast of champions).

As we knee paddled out the sun was burning the small of our backs. The wax on our boards was already soft by the time we made it to the line up. There were only a half dozen of us out there sliding down the fat peaks and climbing and dropping the glass walls. The bigger clean sets were a little inconstant, so as we sat in the line up the water dried on our baking shoulders, leaving pure white salt crystals. The flies found us all the way out to sea, not only did you have to dive off your board to cool down and get rid of the flies, you had also to turn your board upside down to stop the wax melting right off! 

By midmorning it must have been 95F degrees with 85F water. We had no leashes in this era so were surfing the far point, there is no beach whatsoever, just rocks, rocks, more rocks and undercut cliffs so if you lost your board it was history! The inside peak was better but just too risky, one of our friends Deno Watts (drove a baby blue Volvo and played guitar, good for attracting girls) caught a beauty inside but didn't make it, his board was dinged from top to bottom. it didn't break, two layers of 10oz cloth top and bottom with a knee patch was common. (As a footnote this area is now considered a "secret spot" and is frequented by surfers including Nat Young seeking less crowded conditions.)

Mark Thompson, Surf Mat Turbo Time: 


The Big Prawn:                            Ballina Breakwater:

One weekend as the wind was strong onshore with a huge swell we drove further south past Broken Head by the 'Big Prawn' to the small sea side township of Ballina which lies on the northern bank of the Richmond River and is bordered by North Creek and The Canal, in fact making Ballina an Island.

At Ballina you could surf the protected north or south breakwaters ... shark heavens! Here the wind was cross shore, or if the swell was big enough and the sandbanks and the tide just right, inside the protected Ballina river itself.

This day, across a sandbar in the river where the freshwater met the ocean by the bridge, peeled perfect knee with occasional waist high left handers. A few locals out and a bunch of kids making sandcastles at waters edge. We ripped it up for three hours. 85F degree water 90F air temp, sand and silt bottom with a gentle offshore breeze. Queensland and northern New South Wales is the land of right hand pointbreaks, lefts are hard to find. In fact if you are a goofy you are likely to surf your backhand better than your forehand! 

Nose work ... yesterday.

On my last wave I snapped turned from the top walked up the nose and stayed there, useing my knees to hold position, as the wave broke perfectly all the way from the sandbar to the beach. Wondering if anyone was watching, as I approached dry sand, still on the nose, pulled off a spinner and stepped lightly onto a kiddy sandcastle! 

Sometimes the best sessions are not fleeting moments on giant waves, a do or die adrenaline rush, some times they are just pure fun, dancing on water!



Modified: Saturday September 1 2012 11:45:52 PM
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