For the last week and a half, I’ve been in Western Australia, visiting my friend Shendell, who I actually met in Sri Lanka over a year ago. We spent the weekend her hometown of in Perth, and then set off on a road trip down south to Margaret River to find some waves. As soon as we arrived, we set up our campsite in Yallingup and walked across the road to check the surf. My first reaction was, “wow, how beautiful!” but then I noticed how interesting the waves looked. I’ve seen plenty of photos of WA, and I knew that the waves are heavier than at home, but in person, it’s very obvious how powerful they are. I love the thrill of surfing in bigger waves, but overall, I’m just not used to the slabby, heavy conditions that I was presented with down south.

I suited up and walked a quarter mile out to sea over dry reef, before finally jumping in and paddling over to the peak. There were a handful of guys in the water, but they were all spread out, so it was difficult trying to figure out where to sit, which waves to take off on, who to avoid, etc. Although it can be a bit intimidating to paddle out alone only to realize there were no other women out, I did feel a sense of empowerment as I looked around at this all male lineup, in sizeable surf. By the time I finally figured out the setup, I was exhausted from paddling in circles, taking set after set on the head, so I just caught my first wave in. The swell was meant to pick up the following day, and I decided to rest up for the evening. After a good night’s sleep, I woke up to the sound of the waves... from all the way out to sea, across the road. It had definitely gotten bigger overnight.

We drove around, looking for somewhere I could surf while still feeling safe. Shendell hasn’t been surfing a very long time, and the swell wasn’t really in her realm, so I had to find a spot that I would feel comfortable paddling out alone. Instead of finding anything of the sort, we ended up at main break Margaret River - you know, the one where the hold the WSL comp that was canceled this year because of sharks. It was impressive to check out, but considering the fact that everyone out was on a step-up or a big wave gun, I didn’t think it would be the best idea to try and scramble around on my 5’6. So, after watching for a while, I settled on taking the day off surfing, and we went and found an absolutely beautiful rock pool, with some of the most clear turquoise water I’ve ever seen. The rocks protect the area from the swell and the wind, and there is so much sea life existing in this tiny ecosystem!

The next day, I got another surf in, but the wind and the weather went from average to awful, so we drove back up to Perth. While I didn’t get any epic barrels or see a 15 foot shark, I have gotten to experience the true, untouched beauty of Western Australia’s southern coast. Now that I’m here, I really see why everyone finds this region so special, and I look forward to spending my last week in Australia exploring this coast.