This afternoon, I thought I would go for a drive along the coast and check out the beaches to the south of the city. I took off from Hunter street and headed south, tracing a line along the coast, cliffs and sand. I only made it as far as Bar Beach surf club before I saw a park and thought I’d pull over and check out what the banks were doing along there. I jumped out of my car and walked up to the white fence that lines the top of the dunes. The surf looked, well, whompy. There was swell, but the banks were shit, so it was coming straight in and the lines were closing out in one solid wall of white-wash. I was uninspired.
Two guys were next to me, sat on the fence checking the surf. I couldn’t help but notice their tattoos, hats and all-round general style had a ring of home – not a Billabong or Quiksilver logo to be seen. But they had the skin tones and physicality of surfers. Longboarders? Loggers? I wanted to know. Approaching a couple of guys who are surf checking in the middle of a Thursday afternoon is not a usual thing that I would do. I mean, really. But when you are living for a limited time in an unfamiliar city, well, why not! So I introduced my self to them.
Jay and Nathan were really cool guys and added to the growing list of people I have met who are far from the stereotypical Novocastrian surfer I continue to hear so much about. Turns out they are into riding all sorts of boards and are part of the school of ‘riding the right board for the right wave’, rather than sticking to any particular approach. They were super generous in sharing their knowledge of breaks I might want to check, as well as explaining and pointing out the culture of the city beaches spread out in front of us. They agreed that there is often an unfriendly vibe in the water, and Nathan told me how stoked he was when he surfed at Byron recently and found the crew so smiley and nice. I laughed and explained that despite their front, those surfers often used their friendliness as a tactic to snake you or drop-in, and how one of my more quick-witted friends calls them the ‘smiling assassins’. At least when people are unfriendly, you know where you stand. It’s much less confusing. The guys were amused, but told me that it would be worth paddling out on my longboard at Bar Beach or somewhere else close to see what I think. Just out of interest. The conversation ended with an exchange of phone numbers and the suggestion of a trip north. It was such a great chance encounter and so lovely to meet such cool guys.
Having lived so long in one place, I forget what it is like to be a new girl in town. About the courage and effort it takes to reach out and make connections, to gather information, to understand how things work. I feel lucky to have chanced upon such cool people so far, who have been so generous, kind and warm.