In a dusty desert carpark, following a morning of heaving, slabbing tubes, Heath Joske rests on his car and stares back at the lineup in which he has just done battle. “Couple of stand-talls?” I ask. “Na,” he says, his face breaking into a big smile, “Just one.”

With his scraggly, sun-worn hair, bushman’s beard, lumberjack boots, and haggard clothing, he’s fast becoming part of the landscape out here. It’s a lifestyle that couldn’t be further from the squeaky clean, Billabong-sponsored professional surfer of his teens and early twenties and he couldn’t be happier.

“I was just never really that keen on chasing that kind of avenue. I always wanted to do my own thing and coming down here has been really good. No one really gives a shit. They’re all doing their own thing. There’s not that scene going on,” he says.

What makes Heath Joske's world go round? Find out in issue 572. On stands now. Photo: SA Rips.

A raw talent with a commitment to refined style, smooth lines and the tenants of core, Heath grew up like most surf-mad groms, doodling pictures of waves in his school textbooks, dreaming of sponsorship, and the chance to join his heroes travelling the world tour. He accomplished most of it, winning the Billabong Pro Junior Series in 2007 and surfing against one of his heroes, Joel Parkinson, in all-time J Bay conditions at the Billabong Pro World Tour event in 2009. While he has no regrets, it never felt quite right.

“My life was a lot more centred around surfing all the time and chasing the contests was a big part of it. But at the same time, when I was chasing the events, I was always wondering whether I’d be happier just at home working a more common job. I always wanted an acreage where I could set up camp and start from nothing and build my own place and live a lot more self-sufficient lifestyle,” he says, adding, “It felt like I was rorting the system a fair bit and abusing the planet with the lifestyle I was living.”

Read the rest of this feature in Tracks issue 572.

On Stands Now with the Beanie .