a freelance journal

Shark Island

Shark Island, Australia

The picture is shot after the session from the cliff above Cronulla point in New South Wales, Australia.  “the notes” has been fortunate enough to fly to the other side of the world twice.  The first time was in middle school with the whole family.  It started in Sydney and ended in Melbourne.  Actually, it started in Melbourne as a result of trouble with the landing gear, then to Sydney where Papa “notes” loaded us all into the Australian Family Truckster (“you think it looks terrible, but just wait till you drive it” or try to sleep as it bounces along the outback).  The drive took all the notes inland as well as along the coast to see New Waterfront Falls, the Great Barrier Reef, Surfer’s Paradise, a beach drive along Noosa Heads, the Sydney Zoo and as much adventure as the family could stand and as many miles as the RV could take.

The second time was a bonus as GE sent my wife for work and we needed only the additional ticket.  We stayed in Cronulla right along the beach and within walking distance of this wave and a few others.  So while Mrs. “the notes” had to go off to work each day (a relative term since most days ended at 2ish), “the notes” was left to revisit old spots in Sydney and ride the rails to spots north and south.  No Truckster but after 18 hours wedged in the middle seat between one large woman and one crabby older lady who owned the elbow rest, all three of us seated in the aisle right by the bathrooms (a pleasant wafting each time the door opened) while Mrs. “the notes” had a full lay down seat with champagne and strawberries in business class, “the notes” was ready for surf.  For most of the trip there was little swell to speak of though more than enough to keep this east coaster frothing and wet.  In fact, the hotel front desk began leaving a towel in the lobby so that “the notes” might mop off some of the dripping wetsuit before crossing the marble floor.  One day New Zealand was kind enough to not block all the energy headed towards Sydney’s southern beaches and this arrived.

A true heaving “slab”, the wave has almost no back before jacking up on the reef and slapping over.  It is mainly the domain of bodyboards as the bottom of the wave has “green patches” (Australian bravado for dry reef) and the exit point of the right usually pinches shut on 8 out of 10 waves.  The left is slightly more accessible (at least this day), but is not really Shark Island.  Kinda like going to climb Everest and only going to base camp 1.  The line-up is small and the sets were about 4 or 5 minutes apart.  Enough time to calculate the odds of picking one of the closed out 8 waves as well as the name of the place (the reef is 300 yards or so from shore and requires a paddle across a deep well with plenty of bait fish).  An hour passed before “the notes” worked up enough gumption to swing around and take off.  Having scouted the wave via internet, “the notes” had come with plenty of logged barrel time and the right boards but there is no substitute for hucking yourself over the ledge and sticking the drop at the bottom before hitting the gas.  After making the first and paddling back around to wait another turn (though small, the line-up is tight with locals-all nice as long as you are polite, don’t get them hurt and wait your turn), the urge to scream like a school girl was only barely containable.  When I thought that my excitement might just come exploding out in some primal scream, the next guy up turned and looked in “the note’s” direction.

“Nice one, huh?”

“Yea man,” I answered, “but I can’t lie.  I was nervous as shit.”  To which the guy chuckled, saying, “Yea mate, your eyes were as big as saucers.”

Still one of the most critical waves on the wall of fame.  Just looking at the picture brings back the adrenaline.  Even more trying and draining than a coastal trip in the Australian Family Truckster.

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