Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tasmania Trippin'

I just got back from a 'Strike Mission' to Tasmania, for a week of waves and exploring the island.

I must say that I've never flown into a country with the idea of surfing one swell and leaving again, in the past its been more the case of base myself there for a few months and wait for the sessions to happen naturally instead of trying to over plan and analyse everything.
I also thought that the interaction between me and the locals would be more in depth if I was immersing myself in the culture and the place over a period of time.
This past week has proved me wrong and I now have a bigger appreciation for those surfers lucky enough to have the time and money to execute strike missions to their favourite surf spots.

Myself and Eliz flew into Hobart around the same time that a big long range swell was hitting the island, and I was pumped to tow Shipstern Bluff, a wave I've dreamed of riding for a long time.
I had images of big ledges and huge barrels flying around my head as I waited for my boards to arrive off the carousel, and as the images began to fade so did my hope of seeing my boards. After numerous phone calls and lots of pacing around I was told the boards had been forgotten in Melbourne and I would have to wait until midday to collect them.
I was fuming but could do nothing, I sat and waited.

Once collected, I strapped the boards onto the rental and drove like a man possessed for the south of the island and the dirt carpark that I got to know very well over the coming week.

The 1 1/2 hour hike was done in record time and as I got my first view of the bluff and its dwarfed surfers I realised I was too late, the wind had swung cross shore and the skis were leaving the bay after a morning of epic surf. Absolutely gutted and sleep deprived I trudged back to the car and drove to the slipway to meet the guys and hear all about what I had missed.

I found them all eating in a local fish and chip shop and introduced myself to Marti Paradisis and the rest of the down to earth group. These guys are legends, just a bunch of friends who have a common love for this special part of the world, and who all have an affinity with Shippies that only years of dedication will foster.

We all hiked in the next day again as it was smaller, and I finally got to see what the wave looks like from up close. Intimidating.
After watching it for a while I skirted the cliff base and jumped in off the ledge, the boys were super cool and welcoming and I waited my turn watching the guys paddle big drops and cavernous barrels with ease.

Myself and a crazy Peruvian ... You want this one bru?!
It was a tame day by their standards, but for a Stern virgin like me I definitely had some butterflies. The bigger ones were the ones you wanted, but to sit under a 8-10ft ledge and just let go took some mental effort, the drop was pretty intense and then it just steam trains into the bay passed a boulder field that would happily swallow a surfer who can't negotiate the drop, and pull in over the ledges.

Me, feeling my way into the section, pre beat down.

It was a great first go out, and a humbling day for me in this powerful bay at the bottom of the world.

Tasmania is big, bigger than I thought. The locals are extremely proud of their island existence and are quite happy to be detached from the rest of Oz, and seem to revel in their heaving slabs and long lonely bushwalks. 

Most of the guys we met were fishermen, farmers, surfers, skaters or divers or a combination of all these.
It was so refreshing to meet people who know how good they have got it in life, and don't get jaded by their luck. 

Marti 'Para' Paradisis, no shit paddle attack.
Much of the week was taken up by walking in the bush or exploring down dirt roads. The dangling carrot was another tow size swell at the end of the week. Flights were rescheduled and the hire car secured for 2 more precious days.

Once more we started the hike in the freezing pre dawn light and the adrenaline was flowing, good times.

Word on the walk was that Tim Bonython had flown in to shoot the swell, and this raised my hopes of seeing some proper juice down at the end of the track.
Upon getting to the bay we were disappointed to see the swell hadn't really materialized like predicted and it was yet another paddle day, with a snapped 6'6 and only a tow board left, I sat on the rocks for 6 hours willing the swell to climb, but each set seemed to fade in energy and girth and by 14:00 it was time to pull the plug and get back to the airport.

After a week of hard missioning and many dollars spent it was a jagged pill to swallow, flying out skunked ... but the people we met, the sights we saw and the times we shared made it so worthwhile. 

Biggest thanks to the Shippies crew for taking us in, and showing us this special place.

Barry and Eliz.

No comments:

Post a Comment