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Published: October 26th 2006
The whole gang (minus instructors). From left: Sarah, Hannah, Dave, Jess2, Anthony, William, Roelant, Ciara, Jess1, Derek (the Duke), Mark, Patrick, Lukas
Alright, time for some more Surfaris action. I've got to get going on this because the details are slipping away from memory......
So, now it's Wednesday morning--Day 3. Pat came in to Animal House around... 7am, maybe, to complain that he thought we'd be more keen to get up and surf (he really just wanted to bug us, though). So he teased and harrassed us for a bit until we finally got out of bed. No one was particularly in to going surfing (except Lukas, who was eager!) because the waves sucked again, so we just headed to the cook shelter for some breakfast. Eventually, the posh condo crew emerged from their cushy abode, as well. Pat told us that the northerly wind (which was REALLY strong and had blown down all our wetsuits in the night) was causing problems for us at our current location, so we weren't even going to bother trying to surf this morning. We would just have breakfast, pack up, and hit the road to our next camping spot. So after a tasty breky of Surfaris granola and tasty, tasty Milo (mmmm Milo....) we packed up all the group gear into the bus and trailer.
Yes, I actually photographed a sunrise at 5am. Hey, the waves were calling!
Animal House, being as amazing as we were, had all packed up our personal gear ahead of time so we were ready to help. Everyone was really good at pitching in and we got on the road in no time. It was sad saying goodbye to Animal House, but we each hoped we'd see it and Point Plomer again some day.
We were on the road by probably 9am. Of course, since we were to spend a good part of the day on the bus the sun finally came up and it got really quite hot. Dave found a crossword in some old magazine which was on the bus, so we all started working on it together while William got caught up on his celebrity gossip from March. How do 13 people on a bus do a crossword together, you ask? Well, Dave reads out "Number X, across. 8 letters. First letter "A," third letter "W," Clue __________________" Then we all yell out what we think it is, Dave repeatidly asks for spelling clarification, and then he writes our final answer in. This went on for quite a while, until eventually we decided to take a break and "save
Aerial View Of Our Beach
Pic taken off a sign--not sure how well it will turn out
it for later." Yah.... we sadly never went back to the crossword to finish it. I wonder if Dave ever completed it?
After a couple house we stopped at a Coles (a grocery store chain in Aus) in Coffs Harbour. Pat and Rosco picked up some groceries for the trip, while the rest of us loaded up on lollies and other unnecessary crap. We also each purchased a huge container of water. Our next location didn't have running water, so we wanted to have our own private supply of non-salt water to rinse off with after surfing. We were advised to share between a couple people, but in the end I think we each greedily bought our own. It was only 5 bucks, so what the heck. Gotta be clean! (Yah right.... we were still filthy all the time) . Then we all went to the bottle shop. They call their liquor stores "bottle shops" here, and we've decided we quite like the term . I'm going to keep using it when I get back home. Mark and I each bought a 6 pack of beer, and I cracked one of mine right away because it was so hot
The oooooool'Pat Hehehehe
and the beer was so cool. Mmmm tasty Toohey's New. Jess2 also went for the Toohey's New, while Mark picked up something with Blonde in the name (it seemed to be Pat's beer of choice). The blonde one was calorie reduced. Gotta watch the beer belly!
So sugar and liquored up we hit the road in Captain Good Vibes once again. It wasn't long before we passed a Giant Banana! They have a lot of banana plantations here, and this area seemed to make a tourist destination out of them. The plantations were hit this year with some massive storm, so the price of bananas here is like $15/kg or something insane. Apparantly they're not allowed to import them, either, so Australians are stuck with pricy bananas, at least for this season. At this point Pat and Rosco popped in a surfing movie for our enjoyment called Riding Giants. It was really good, and talked a lot about the history of surfing and the culture surrounding it. It also corroborated with at lot of the info from Act 1. Guess Pat was telling the truth! It even showed a picture of the Duke with Isabell Latham on his shoulders
Pat and Rosco
Our intrepid guides strike a pose for our benefit. They really were awesome, and we miss them!
(that's Derek and I, if I didn't say in my last update).
It was probably about 2 hours from Coffs Harbour before we reached our destination: Shelly Beach in Yuraygir National Park. The park is the longest in Australia (I believe) with something like 52km of coastline. We drove through a clear cut to get to it, but once we were there it was gorgeous! We were anxious to check out the surf but camp had to be set up first. We all helped setting up the Big Blue cook shelter and tables, then Pat showed us the system to be used for erecting the tents we would be sleeping in. No more Animal House--*sniff*. The tents were 2 person canvas tents, and they had obviously seen a lot of Surfaris use. Super easy to put up, though. Just one stake in each of four corners and a single strong pole in the middle, and you're done! Not quite suitable for backpack hiking, but definitely good when you have a trailer to lug your gear in. I'll take my brand new lightweight 1-person with aluminum poles, when I get home. =) Once everyone had partnered up, picked a spot,
set up camp, and had lunch, it was FINALLY time to get the surfboards and go to the beach. Pat had told me earlier that there was a river we float down on our boards at high tide to get to the beach, so after some encouragement from me the whole group opted for the river float. It turned out not to be quite what I envisioned, though. I pictured a Cowichan River style deep water float, when really the river was more of a wide mudflat that was just barely deep enough to keep our boards and us from touching bottom. In many areas we did get stuck on the bottom and had to walk. But it was sooooo fun though (at least I thought so). I was continually incapacitated by laughter the whole way because we looked so silly akwardly pulling/paddling our way through this muddy, salty, warm river. Plus, I appeared to be the only one that was enjoying themselves. Everyone else seemed a bit annoyed at this "adventure." Pat, being pro, was able to stand on his board and leisurely make his way along while the rest of us struggled. Oh, and this was about the
time we discovered that he counted wrong when he loaded the surfboards from Point Plomer so we were one surf board short and Sarah had to walk the whole way down the river. Whoops! There were lots of holes with mounds of sand around them in the river, which appeared to hold some kind of freshwater bivalve. No idea what was actually in them, though. I'll have to ask Maria if I get to see her again. I should mention that a couple days later Mark and Derek walked back up this river, and saw a big stingray in the water!! We didn't see anything like that at during this journey. Rosco filmed this part from high above on a hill, and there's a good shot of it on the DVD.
Finally, after struggling through really shallow water and SUPER strong winds, we made it to the ocean shore. Yahhhhh the waves looked great! Pat gave us another lesson and pointed out a rip that we could use to get out into the bigger waves. Then, we had at 'er. This spot was awesome because it was really shallow, but the waves were powerful. You could walk out, hop
on your board, and catch a great wave without ever having to paddle--perfect for learning to stand up because of the repeatition that was possible. And then... I did it! Third day was the charm! I was finally able to consistantly catch waves and moderately consistantly stand up. Horay! My breakthrough came while using a 9foot board, which quickly became my favourite. Mark was way out far catching the big waves. He caught on really quickly and so shore waves were too Mickey Mouse for him. Dave was out there with him before long, as well.
Although it had been hot on the bus, it got cloudier and cloudier the closer we got to actually surfing, and eventually it was rather overcast. In fact, some seriously foreboding clouds appeared on the horizon, although they looked really neat and swirly. The walk back to the campsite was pretty long, about 10-15 minutes, so Pat let us stash our boards off the path part way up the trail so we didn't have to carry them very far. Anthony helped me carry mine to the stash spot, but I had left my sandles on the beach so I had to go back
to get them. I was by myself on the return trip, so I decided to take my time and really soak in the gorgeous surroundings. The path went through alternating bush and sand dune habitat, and there were lots of interesting birds, insects, and sand crabs to see. (Plus some REALLY annoying flies which follow you the whole way. They're hear in Sydney, too, and they drive us NUTS!) When I reached the middle of a big sand crater area, I stoppe and looked up to the top of the highest dune. There, about 30m away, was a kangaroo!!!!! I watched him for a bit, he watched me, and then he bounded--boing, boing, boing--down the dune and right across the path. Close encounter with a kangaroo!!! How cool is that?! I knew that my time here at this new spot was going to be good with great waves and cool wildlife.
That night we had some hearty pasta for dinner, which everyone gobbled up happily. We talked a bit about the pantimime Act 2, but the cast didn't seem to be as in to it as they were for Act 1. Pat and I were going to need to
do some motivating. That would come the next day.
The evening consisted of drinking a few beers, stealing a lot of Dave's chocolate, and chatting around the campfire. We must have done more but I can't honestly remember anything else. To tell you the truth, the whole time at Yuraygir is kind of running together in my mind and I can't remember exactly what day things happened. I DO remember this, though! Pretty much everyone had turned in for the night, but Jess2, Pat, and I were left up. Jess2 was getting freaked out by the sounds of the forest and wasn't really looking forward to going to the toilet by herself, and she didn't have a flashlight anyway. So, with me for safety (haha) and my headlamp for light, we headed to the bathroom. Let me just say while I'm at it that the outhouses here were GORGEOUS. Like, top 3 all time for outhouses for me, I'm pretty sure. Amazingly clean, smell free, composting. Incredible. Good job, Australia. Anyway, back to the story. So, we'd both finished and were walking back by the light of my headlamp when I saw a huge, weird branch across the path
that hadn't been there before. I kind of mumbled to Jess to stop, but she didn't so I tugged on her arm just as she was about to step on it. Turns out it was a HUGE snake!!!! No less than 5 feet long, and I am NOT over exaggerating! It was awesome!!! We yelled at Pat and banged on the bus (he slept in the bus) until eventually he came out and we showed him our find. Then, he through a rock at it. Hahaha he actually did. He didn't hit it, but it came pretty close. We couldn't tell what kind of snake it was because the light made it impossible to see it's colours properly, but I think it was a python because when it reared up defensively it didn't look like it was in a pose to strike, more to observe. At any rate, it was massive. Jess is going to send me the picture she took, and I'll put it up when I get it.
We'd all made plans to get up at 5am the next day to watch the sunrise and hit the early waves, so to the sleeping bag we went with
Buddha Bar Buddha
This was the namesake for the bar where our final wrap up was held
visions of pythons dancing in our heads.
Ahhh 2 minutes left! OK, well I'll publish this entry and finish the Surfaris saga soon, hopefully. Enjoy the pics!
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