Crossing the wide-open, cactus-strewn range in search of new and exciting adventure is something all surfers should experience. But while places like Baja California, Morocco, and Western Australia offer lots of wave-riding possibilities, there's no hiding the fact that they're barren wastelands, each with its own set of innate challenges to the traveler. While our 21st century luxuries can shelter us from many of the harsh elements, in the desert, even the best-laid plans get dragged through the dirt. On a recent ride through West Oz, 19-year-old Dean Brady, from Australia's much milder Sunshine Coast, discovered both the beauty and the beastly nature of a trip to Gnarloo. When he returned, we asked him what advice he'd be passing on to his friends about how to pull such a mission. He offered the following helpful tips.
Pack Early, Pack Well
You can always bring food, water, and extra beer (if there is such a thing) home, so if there's room in the car, you might as well bring it.
It's always best to shop first. We learned this the hard way. Assuming we'd find a store along the way, we soon found ourselves in the middle of nowhere where finding a grocery store was next to impossible. Once we did find one, we decided not to take any more chances, filling our trolleys with as much canned food, tuna, beans, and any other products we thought would last in the desert as we could. The bill was absurd—the biggest I've ever seen. Luckily, the camping store was much easier to find. We bought tents, chairs, a gas cooker—anything we thought would be useful—and crammed it in the car.
Watch Your Back
Strange things happen in the desert. And West Oz isn't that far removed from, say, Vegas. While you don't want to discount the good Samaritans of the world, be wary of all the weirdoes.
While we were searching the camping store for more useful things, the shopkeeper yelled out, "Watch your car! Some young thugs are trying to steal your groceries!" Our heads all turned at the same time, and at the thought of starving in the desert we grabbed the closet weapons we could find and ran after them. They took off before we could beat their asses. After that, one of us always stood guard by the car while the rest got whatever was needed.
Set the Ground Rules
When it comes to all-night drives, keeping the sound system out of the control of your musically challenged cohorts makes all the difference.
Scott Aichner was on driving duties for the first half of the trip out to Gnarloo and, therefore, had all the music rights. He chose to drive the rest of us completely mad by cranking his beloved Bee Gees and Fleetwood Mac long into the night.
Do the Math
After water, gas is your most precious commodity out in the desert: try not to run out of either.
Around eight hours out of Perth, we pulled into a service station in the middle of nowhere only to discover it was closed. It was early in the morning, and everyone started thinking of other ways to get fuel and get the hell out of there. We wanted to wave down the next car and ask them if they had a spare jerry can, but not a single car came by for the next two hours.