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Travellers standing on a beach with surfboards

My Gap 360 Surfing Adventure

By Gillian Scholes

Last updated: 12th October 2011

My next adventure is taking me on a 5-day surfing trip from Sydney to Byron Bay. First stop was a place called Crescent Head about 6 hours up the east coast. I jumped on the Greyhound at 7am and at our toilet stop we were warned to contact loved ones as there would be no phone signal where we were heading, which was definitely the case. Upon arrival at camp we were greeted by five long haired, bare footed rustic surfers – every girls surfing dream! Straight away we were shown around the camp, which didn’t take long as there were only three buildings, given a low down on camp rules including: ‘no nudity before 11am’ and ‘Speedos are banned’ – important things like that. We were then given a brief safety talk by a very crazy man called Matty who had obviously had too much sun and then designated our wetsuits; each with their own name that would be ours for the week. Fortunately enough, mine was called Sun but for some it was Long John or even a Lucky Slut, with our new names and surf board (rather a soft foam board for beginners) we set out to surf…

Heading out to the beach, which was only 100 meters from camp through the bush land which emerged out onto a pristine, glittering ocean – we couldn’t feel more remote. As we stood there admiring the view, Ant Man our instructor pointed out a whale jumping out of the ocean in the distance – as everyone was getting excited all I was thinking was that I was going to be in the water with that whale!!!

Waves crashing at a Sydney beach

The first part of our lesson was taken on the beach, I was shown a different technique to stand-up than last time (not that I had mastered the last one very well anyway), which he made sound so easy. With the help of Matty and Ant Man who pushed us along the waves we all managed to stand, even if it was while falling. The time flew by and as everyone’s arms started to ache from all the paddling and countless failed attempts so we headed back to camp, rolling our suits down around a waists, surf board underarm feeling like proper surfers. Looking forward to dinner after our hard day we were not disappointed – The surf staff had prepared a BBQ, with enough food to feed a small army, which was eaten round the campfire, with everyone explaining their surfing stories and comparing injuries… mine was a deep toe graze from getting my fat toe caught in the grab handle and a bruised head from a fellow surfers board smacking down onto me mid wave break!!!

In the evenings we grabbed our beers or goon (which is a 4 litre box of wine that you can’t really call wine and gives you a cracking hangover but is cheap) and headed to a small campfire next to the beach called the ‘humpy’; where the Ant Man brought speakers or a guitar if we were lucky and we all got talking about our travels and where we were heading, finding that most people were also heading north so we had a good group of friends for a while. Come bedtime though you had to be careful that you didn’t take the wrong path back to camp, as the nearest village was 15km away!! Our 7am wake-up calls meant we could get back on the water as early as possible and catch the first few ‘calmer’ waves, it didn’t matter though as soon as you hit the water your hangover disappeared and the exhilaration of finally catching those waves was amazing, and soon I didn’t want to leave the water at all.

It was sad to leave the beach house as everyone was so friendly and the chilled at atmosphere melted all your worries away, however the Greyhound bus was back to collect us and take us 3 hours north to Spot X, our next surf spot.

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