Don't believe in Fairytales

6 Apr 2011 0 Share

Notes from the Lineup
Episode 9
April 7, 2011
Words by Tim Baker

I know you want me to get waves, dear reader. I can feel it – your good will, your positive vibes, the helpful tips and advice some of you have been kind enough to send my way. And Tassie surfers want me to get waves more than any other group of locals surfers I’ve ever met in my life, anywhere in the world.

Their kindness and generosity knows no bounds. They freely offer up the names of their favourite waves, complete with directions. They are happy for you to name their spots in print, no qualms. They share local knowledge hard-won over a lifetime of chasing waves in the most confounding environment on earth. 

The reasoning seems to be, it is so hard to score waves here, the elements are so fickle, and crowds are generally so mellow, there is no harm in offering your fellow surfer a helping hand. It is a wonderfully refreshing attitude.

And, so, a friend of a friend, a man I’d never met, happily takes a couple of days off work to show me around one of his favourite little corners of the state. Can I name it, I ask? No worries, says Ryan. There are only about six surfers who live here and you are usually looking for someone to surf with, he says. Still, I find it hard to commit the name to print. It will become obvious to those who know the place, but let’s just say it involves a short ferry ride, is somewhere in the most southerly reaches of the island, with an array of startling setups that work in a dizzying variety of conditions.

Ryan’s an ex-Sunny Coast boy, lured south by his career in marine science. I know only a handful of people in Tasmania yet over half of them seem to be marine scientists. There are more of these salty boffins per head of population here than anywhere else on earth, drawn by the abundant, pristine marine environment, and its proximity to research stations in the frigid Antarctic.

“I’m better suited to this climate anyay,” says Ryan, referring to his pale skin and red hair. “I used to fry at home.”

We have a mutual friend in surfer/shaper Neal Purchase Jnr and Ryan is an avid fan of Neal’s eclectic shapes, full outlines and unusual fin configurations. Ryan turns up out of the shadows one night at a remote bush camping ground in his old school Landcruiser all decked out for serious surf exploration.

Over the next couple of days he gives me a comprehensive tour of the place – a long rivermouth right, a wedgey beachbreak peak, a rare Padang style left that only breaks on mammoth swells, a variety of beachbreaks. It is astounding. Swell is coming and the winds look favourable, but it is going to make us wait. We study swell charts and the horizon in turn, wondering why they don’t reconcile.  How does a predicted seven metre swell just go missing?

He takes me to a little swell magnet tucked in a corner of a crescent beach flanked by towering cliffs. It reminds me of Whale Beach Wedge in Sydney. The odd set is just starting to show. I have the script already in my head. As we paddle out the sets grow more consistent, the sun comes out, the wind drops, and we score lurching stand up pits by ourselves. Except the ocean has other ideas, only revealing a teasing glimpse of its potential.

It’s a similar story at the rivermouth right the next day. The set up here is truly staggering – a long right point set against a boulder-lined headland and virgin forest. This really is a cold water Noosa.

The swell is starting to show, but the wind’s still a bit funky. There are some drainers that show what the place can do but they are hard to find. The occasional sets break wide and catch us inside. I’m paddling between peaks, missing everything, finding the odd peeler but wearing more on the head than I’m riding. Again, I anticipate the ocean’s next move – the dropping wind, the swell kicking with the incoming tide, the dredgers stacking up mechanically along the length of the Point. Again, it doesn’t really happen like that.

I’m not complaining, it’s fun enough, and there’s no quibbling with the crowd. Does it ever get busy here, I ask Ryan? He reckons he’s seen as many as six surfers in the water at a time here. Six! Poor blighters. The ground on the track to the beach is littered with literally thousands of years of discarded oysters and mussels, as deep as you want to dig.  You can almost picture the dark figures lolling under gum trees gorging on fresh seafood.

Between sessions we huddle around a fire in an idyllic camp ground, preparing simple meals, brewing mugs of tea, sharing a few beers. Ryan charms the entire family and they in turn bless our prolonged surf expeditions. He goes diving and scores us a few of the biggest abalone I’ve ever seen (purely for scientific purposes of course, just like the Japanese whalers), and we feast on them, not a fisheries officer in sight.

We have to leave without ever really seeing the place light up, and I can live with that. I know where it is. Ryan heads back down a couple of days later for a Bucks weekend and scores it firing on all cylinders while I’m at a wedding on the other side of the island. Fate is still toying with me.

But, fear not, dear reader. I sense my luck is about to turn. 

- Tim Baker


Follow the Surfari Highway at website blog or on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and You Tube.

Big thanks to Toyota for the use of the mighty V6 3.5L RAV4 and Jayco for the comfy yet compact Expanda caravan.

Mobile broadband powered by Telstra and the Next G Network.

Follow Surfari Highway at www.bytimbaker.com/blog and on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and You Tube.



Had your fill of perfect surf at home? Feel like throwing out a cookie trail for waves-starved travellers? No? Maybe you just feel like inviting Tim round for dinner? Whatever...here's the spot:

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