In the wake of the WSL’s shark drama, this surfer enjoys a day of unadulterated bliss.
For a baby boomer born in Sydney and raised in the northern beaches, surfing and smoking pot was a way of life. Also the right of passage in those heady early days was for a pile of mates to regularly drive up the coast looking for the best surf.
We drove a well travelled path up the Pacific Highway hunting down waves and depending on the size, direction of the swell and conditions, would see us either at Seal Rocks/Treachery Beach, Crescent Heads, Angourie, Byron Bay or the Gold Coast. Occasionally we ventured down the South Coast but we rarely travelled anywhere else to surf.
The prerequisite then were big waves and little boards where as now, many years later, it’s little waves and big boards.
Of course we knew there were classic waves all over Australia, especially Margaret River, but driving across the Nullarbor seemed too far away and was really never an option.
And for the majority of us pot smoking, beer swilling and girl chasing young dudes of the day, jumping on a plane to go surfing wasn’t something you did every day.
But the years have charged on by and recently an opportunity to go to Margaret River was hatched; a chance to conquer the tyranny of distance and see how the other half lives.
After a five-hour flight to Perth we were soon loading up a hire car before heading down for the casual four-hour drive to Margaret River and our home for the next few days, the perfectly located Margaret’s Beach Resort.
This resort is moments away from some of the best local breaks and is the favoured haunt for many of the world’s best surfers and officials when the Margaret River Pro rolls into town.
This year’s WSL event coincided with my trip and I was hoping to catch the last couple of days of the contest, but unfortunately the event was cancelled prematurely due to a pack of uninvited great whites that caused carnage by attacking two surfers less than 6 kms away from the contest zone. A decision to cancel the event was made by the WSL, much to the dismay of many, including myself.
My first impressions of Margaret River with its rugged coastline of contrasting colours; sparkling turquoise ocean, blue skies, white sand and rustic coastal vegetation left me in awe. On top of all this the temperature was a balmy and sunny 23 degrees Celsius.
Arriving in the early afternoon there was some swell of up to 1-2 metres, but the wind had come up so my borrowed 9’ 6” mal stayed on the car and instead we ventured down town to the popular local haunt,The Brewhouse, to sample the locally brewed beers and in my case a burger with the lot!
The next day I did an early morning surf check from our balcony and conditions were superb as we headed straight to Surfers Point, which is only a five minute drive away. Hardly any people out, the sun shining and a 1-2 metre swell aided by a gentle off shore breeze made for a perfect session. Thankfully (for me) the predicted larger swell never appeared until later in the day and there were no signs of the men in grey suits.
Before I hit the water I took a moment to give thought to the contest that was only just cancelled and the heartbreak it must’ve caused for the local businesses, competing surfers, the grommets and everybody else involved in organising and supporting such a monumental event. Seeing the empty stands that had yet to be dismantled and the vacant contest official area just sitting there dormant was a very poignant moment indeed.
But the young grommet in an ageing yet perfectly cut body (well, used to be) was frothing and I couldn’t get out there quick enough, after some stretching and anti-inflammatory medication of course!
The surf was going off and breaking exactly where the last heat of the contest had been held. Being on a mal enabled me to steal a heap of waves and if it wasn’t for my current state of fitness, I would’ve stayed out for hours.
After that memorable and epic session we made our way down the beach to the very popular beachside, Elephant Cafe for a late breakfast and to ingest my drug of choice these days; caffeine.
Next stop and part two of the day’s amazing trilogy adventure was to head to the award winning Cape Mentelle Winery. Included in our tour was a walk through the vineyard as our wine expert took us through the entire process; from picking the prized fruit, crushing of the grapes the barreling of the wine, to the tasting and drinking of the finished product. The food pairing and wine tasting finished off a very informative and interesting day.
After one of the best surfs I’ve had for years, then a tour sampling some of the world’s best squashed grapes, the perfect day continued to a café in Dunsborough at Bunker Bay, appropriately named Occy’s where I devoured one of the best prawn pizzas I’ve ever eaten.
In the wake of the world tour’s shark-inspired cancellation, this ageing surfer enjoyed a day of unadulterated bliss: surf, wine and food. Margaret River has now been stamped on my CV and a day of a lifetime has now been imbedded in my memory bank forever.
All photos Danny Resnik.