Sometimes the stars align and you get an assignment to write about something close to your heart. This happened recently when the editor of Jetstar's inflight magazine asked me to write about why I love surfing in northern NSW, my new home.
|Yours truly & friend|
All pics by Nat McComas
North Coast love affair
by Louise Southerden
The sand is warm under your feet as you pad along a short track flanked by banksia bushes and spinifex, surfboard under your arm. At the water’s edge, you keep going, paddling toward the just-risen sun. A wave washes over you, smoothing your bed-hair, waking you up and calming you at the same time, and after it passes the light sparkles through your wet eyelashes.
When you reach the lineup, a jagged line of surfers waiting for waves, you sit up on your board. It’s the best kind of peaceful out there. Exchanging good mornings with another surfer, you take in the beginnings of the day – big sky, ripples of sand below, gannets and terns wheeling overhead – and wait.
|One of my favourite drives up here|
|A glorious late autumn day|
|Morning sun, surfboards |
and car park conversation
It’s not uncommon to surf with local legends up here too. Names like Bob McTavish and George Greenough and lesser known professors of the sea, all happy to reminisce about what it was like to surf the north coast in the uncrowded glory days, before there was even a sealed road between Byron and Lennox and everyone rode longboards (shortboards didn’t become popular until the late 1960s).
|Me and my 9'4"|
If you squint a little to block out the beachfront holiday apartments, you can cross-step back in time, particularly because a lot of surfers around here, girls as well as guys, ride single-fin longboards (my board of choice is a 9’4” Gordon & Smith) or drive classic cars – or both; my friend Chris rides a 10-footer and drives a beautiful 1979 Kingswood stationwagon.
|Byron's legendary Pass|
|No Impact Surfer Girl|
And when the ride ends, you paddle back toward the sun feeling refreshed and recalibrated, somehow, and smiling inside and out. This is what surfing is, a never-ending love affair with the sea.
[Big thanks to Nat McComas for the fun photo shoot and wonderful pics.]