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Treat It Like It's Not a Rental
Use a plane only to arrive, and then rent a van.This is your new home. Give your van a name -- "Robert" will do -- and treat it like it's not a rental. Wherever you are (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne or Perth), look up. Look down. Look left and right and then decide where you want to go. Sign the rental papers (decline the insurance), load up your boards, roh-sham-boh for who's driving and get on the road. "Stay left" is your mantra.
Australia -- the continent, the country, the island -- has 16,000 miles of coastline and most of that is traced by Highway 1. Your van is your abode and this coastal road is the property on which it sits. Just look at that view! Through the eucalyptus tunnels, below green hills and above white sand beaches littered with A-frames, this is how to see Australia.
This isn't Africa or Europe or Asia. The people are mostly white and speak English. They eat burgers and fries. It is so close to being the United States that you'll be lulled into thinking you're home, and that's when the subtle differences in language and culture will slap you in the face. Pies for lunch and not dessert. Drive-thru liquor stores. Pin or sign? McDonalds is Maccas and Burger King is Hungry Jack's, and for some reason both seem more appealing Down Under. If you want ketchup, ask for "sauce." Learning the Aussie idiosyncrasies and assessing stereotypes firsthand is part of the fun. Drink it in. (And if you're looking for more insight, ask Parko on Pg. 90.)
The biggest threat you face while surfing in Australia is not the sharks, locals or the shallow reefs, but yourself. Your indecision. Because to surf in Australia is to experience the paradox of choice. With a beachbreak here, a pointbreak there and a couple of reefs up the road, you've got options. It is the Target of surf destinations. So you will be tempted to see what's around the corner. Or to drive back to that first wave you saw -- don't. Paddle out. Hesitation is a mighty foe and saltwater is its only kryptonite.
But yes, you'll probably see sharks. Ozzie and Mitch did on their roadie around South Oz (Pg. 78). But like kangaroos, crocs and Kirra, sharks are part of the Australian rite of passage. Strange creatures that accent this strange land perfectly. All this adventure, it's why you came. To surf early and surf often. To eat junk food and drink expensive beers. To travel with a friend and to make new ones. Kerouac woulda loved this place -- a country designed for road trips. You sit by your campfire and breathe in the salty ocean air. Exhale...You take a sip of your beer and stare at the Southern Cross, wetsuits hanging over the mirrors of your van. There will be waves again tomorrow. --Taylor Paul
Inside this Issue
066 ADVANCE AUSTRALIA FAIR
Chas Smith recounts a conflicted romance with life Down Under. An essay.
078 OZZIE'S JOURNAL
Ride shotgun in Ozzie Wright's mind while he mucks around the Great Australian Bite with co-pilot Mitch Coleborn. Airs, tubes and drawings of sharks.
090 YOUR MATE, PARKO
Ever wonder what The Champ makes of meat pies and dropping in on people? Joel Parkinson on Aussie stereotypes.
096 OTHER BROTHER
If opposites didn't attract, Mason Ho and Kolohe Andino would never be friends. The two rekindle their quirky, second-generation connection during a trip to West Oz.
096 THE KIRRA CULT
Australian and former SURFING editor Nick Carroll sets the record straight about Kirra's past, present and future. But when it comes time to separate fact from fiction, he finds that there might not be a difference.