11 April 2010
On February 28, 2010, Mike Coleman, president of the Swami’s Surfing Association (and my Cardiff surfing buddy) and I boarded a plane in Los Angeles, Ca., headed to Brisbane, Australia. After 14 hours, Mike and I landed and caught a shuttle to Noosa Heads in Queensland on the Sunshine Coast. We met up with Otis, who had already been there for a week. We were there to surf in the Noosa Festival of Surfing, the largest longboard surf contest in the world.
Mike and I stayed in the Ocean Breeze Hotel on Hastings Street, the main street through town and just a half block from the beach. Otis, Smitty, Steve Cleveland and Joel Tudor stayed at the Emerald Noosa across the street from us. Otis, a Noosa regular, was there for 5 weeks and Mike and I were there for 3 weeks, arriving 2 weeks before the contest started, allowing us to surf the 4 point breaks; First Point, Little Cove, Boiling Pot and Tea Tree, before the contest crowd showed up.
They hold the contest during the monsoon season and when we first arrived, it poured rain for 2 straight days, then rained from time to time every other day that we were there. The days were about 80 degrees and the water about 82 degrees. Needless to say, I came home with a new umbrella. Even with the rain, the weather was unbelievable and I will never forget this trip. In our room we had a kitchen, so Mike and I went to the grocery store and bought groceries for several meals. Mike was the cook and I was the dishwasher. Mike made the BADDEST chicken casserole you’ve ever tasted. It was so good that we cooked it when we first got there and again just before we left. His spaghetti was pretty darn good, too. Otis and Smitty invited us to dinner at their place several times and also invited us to have dinner at their friend’s houses.
On March 13, Otis had a huge birthday party that included about 20 people. Otis has his birthday party in Australia every year, where he makes Mexican food and chicken enchiladas for his Australian and American friends. He put on quite a spread and it was very good!When we first arrived, the surf was 3-4 feet and stayed that way during the first week or so. As the contest got closer, typhoons were off the coast that made
the waves get bigger. When the contest started on Sunday, the waves were head high. By the next Saturday, the waves were 2-4 feet overhead and very
powerful, with sections that were hard to get through and closing out. Mike and I had some really good sessions together. We walked to the end point called Tea Tree, a fast-breaking wave that was 2-4 feet overhead. This was about a 1½ mile walk each way carrying a board and a backpack. The short boarders would get on the inside up against the rocks on their take-off and Mike and I sat outside a little further on our long boards waiting for a wider wave or for a short boarder to make a mistake before we took off. It took awhile, but I got some of the best waves of my life and had a smile on my face that wouldn’t quit. Out of 21 days of our trip, I surfed 15 days.
It was amazing how many legends and pros showed up. The city was jammed with people. Mike and I would sit on the ledge at the beach or just walk around and meet amazing people. We met Bing Copeland with his shaper, Matt (and Margaret); Dick Brewer; Bobby Challenger; Mike Hynson; Kathy (Gidget) and pros Joel Tudor; Josh Constable; Tom Wegener, who makes Alaias wood boards; Taylor Jensen; Harley Ingleby; Kassia Meador; Jen Smith; Christian Wach and many more that I can’t remember.
The other part of my trip that I will never forget was going to Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo. The zoo was established in 1970 by Steve Irwin’s family and is still run by his wife and children today. The zoo is in the middle of a rain forest and is by far the best zoo that I have ever been to. Much of the zoo was set up be Steve and you could even tell that the animals loved being there. They have a whole section with trails, grass and rain forest set up for kangaroos, where they lie on the sidewalks and grass and you can walk up and pet them. They have the same thing for koala’s and elephants. They even have a Crocoseum, which is a bleachered show area, where they have a crocodile and bird show. We were told that after Steve’s death, his wife and kids held a memorial there for all the zoo employees. We were also told that a month after Steve’s death, his wife had all the zoo employees in the Crocoseum, where she revealed all of the future plans that Steve had drawn up for expanding the zoo. This would include a new hotel and 500 more acres for the zoo. This was the trip of a lifetime and I really had a great time.
See ya later, mates!