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Originally, my plan for this post was to write about how I spent the last week roadtripping Australia’s east coast, surfing amazing waves along the way. As we know, things don’t always go as planned, and this road trip has been no exception. First, my drive from Wollongong to Newcastle took five hours, instead of the predicted three and a half. That’s not so bad... It’s not like I have anything else to do anyways. I figured that would be the biggest issue I faced during this quest, so I wasn’t upset. But then, once I arrived in Newcastle, I was trying to get out to the coastal area of town, and hit the most abominable traffic. Before I got there, my friend Jack warned me, describing the scene as “sort of like East Germany before the wall came down,” and I didn’t realize what he meant until I saw it for myself.
Apparently, much to the dismay of many Newcastle citizens, the city is hosting its first ever ‘supercar street race’ next weekend, running through residential neighborhoods and disrupting all normal life. The set up for this has taken months, involving setting up concrete barriers everywhere, building giant grandstands, and causing general mayhem. Unfortunately, all of the detours and confusion made seeing the city of Newcastle almost impossible, so I left within less than 24 hours. The surf also was relatively minimal, which influenced my decision to continue northbound.
After Newcastle, I knew I wouldn’t be seeing anyone I know (unless by coincidence) for several days. I wasn’t worried about getting lonely though, because surfing is always so social! I figured I’d meet people in the water and have enough human interaction to get me through the day. I drove up to Seal Rocks, which is supposedly one of the most beautiful beaches along the east coast. Really, every beach here is ridiculously gorgeous, so I’m not sure how they make these decisions. Also, Seal Rocks is a well known longboard spot, with a campground adjacent. I was looking forward to camping out and walking out to the surf in the morning, but when I woke up, it was already totally blown out! Feeling discouraged, I rambled down the bumpy dirt path (sorry van!), hoping to get a phone signal somewhere soon. When I finally made it back to the main road, I was able to check out a map and I decided to go surf the world famous Boomerang Beach. I knew there wouldn’t be much swell, but the sun was out and I knew getting wet would improve my mood.
Boomerang was stunning, open, and empty. I paddled out and caught five lumpy-bumpy waves, then settled on the beach with my book for a little sunbathing (yes, mom, I wore sunscreen). Oh, but no, a pleasant afternoon was not in the cards for Steph that day. The wind battered me, throwing buckets of sand all over myself, my stuff, and tragically, my delicious apple that I was enjoying. I took this as a sign to get the heck off the beach to avoid any other horrors, such as sunburn or Magpie attack - they really do attack, Google it.
I drove into the city of Forster, had a walkabout, and was very bored of Forster within an hour, so I continued on to Crescent Head, which I had been told by several longboarder friends is one of the best log waves in Australia, maybe even the world. I couldn’t wait. There hadn’t been much swell lately, and apparently, “there is always a wave at Crescent,” Well, guess what, there is NOT always a wave at Crescent. I cruised into the tiny 1800 person town, and looked around for the surf spot. I was confused, because I saw a point, but there were no breaking waves, so I assumed that couldn’t be the amazing spot all my friends raved about. When I asked a local where the pointbreak was, he chuckled and said, “you’re looking at it mate!” Oh. Well. That sure was disappointing. Determined to wait for waves, I ate dinner at one of the five restaurants in town, and camped out overnight, praying for surf. Don’t worry everyone, plenty of water showed up….falling from the sky. The forecast changed to be raining for the next several days. And the surf was still flat! I drove out onto some more dirt roads, to my van’s dismay, hoping to find some sort of surfable waves on the back beaches of the area. Yeah, still nothing. I backtracked an hour south to the town of Port Macquarie, because that was the nearest place with anything to do, and treated myself to seeing a movie. Murder on the Orient Express was great, by the way.
I then trekked back to Crescent Head, and woke up at the crack of dawn with a glimmer of hope for some waves... Ha. It's currently still pretty flat as I write this, but it is also high tide, so maybe, just maybe, there will be surfable waves later today. I refuse to give up! But the moral of this tale is not just to whine to you about my misfortunes. Mostly, I just want to share that this whole ‘free-spirit van life’ thing is not all sunshine and rainbows. Without surfing, I have had almost no social activity for over two days except for my conversation with the barista at the coffee shop who’s wifi I am using at the moment. Although I don’t mind traveling alone, eating alone, etc., I have found myself talking to the giant spider that has made itself at home in my van. On the bright side, he’s a great listener, so that has helped me get over my spider phobia, just a little bit.
Well everyone, its now Tuesday, and things have certainly turned around! The weather improved in Crescent Head, and I experienced the famous point break in all its glory!!! I got two days of pumping surf, total noodle arms, and a huge smile on my face. I ran into an old friend and met people in the water, and haven’t seen the spider in a while. Goes to show, sometimes it’s worth holding out for good waves! I’m now in Byron Bay, where I am strongly considering settling in for the next several months. It’s amazing here!