Consider this situation.
You’re sitting on your highly buoyant foam surfboard ‘out the back’, where the waves softly roll rather than break over your head.
You’re feeling pretty cool. You’ve got your ‘rashie’ on, you’re paddling with your feet, sun on your back and thinking Kelly Slater would have a good job to be as gnarly as you right now.
Only two days ago you had no idea what it meant to be ‘out the back’ and if someone gave you a ‘rashie’ you’d have headed to the chemist for some cream. It’s funny how life can turn so quickly.
Despite my relaxed nature, my brain was not free of slight tingly thoughts of what I once heard described as “Noah’s Arks”, or to the rest of us, sharks. Regardless, nothing could prepare my heart for the beating it was about to get. Paddling next to my fellow traveller, who too was in a blissful state of coolness, we were confronted by one of the most unfriendly shapes on the planet, a fin. A big fin. It didn’t matter that we had seen a pod of about 30 dolphins the day before, the adrenalin surging through our veins was telling us this was a shark and it was going to eat us both whole.
Funnily enough it didn’t, because funnily enough it was indeed a dolphin, a big one no less, but still… a dolphin.
Before I could celebrate that there was one of the ocean’s friendliest creatures frolicking around with us I thought it best to hedge my bets and head to the safety of sand. After all, I’d already stood up once the day before, what more is there to surfing right?
A few mates and I had jumped into a kombi a few days prior to my near-death experience and headed up the NSW coast to catch the sunshine as it was beginning to dwindle somewhat in Sydney.
With tunes to suit the décor and substantial munchies to sustain the appetites of singing (more like howling) travellers, we spent our first night in the quiet seaside village of Pacific Palms. Our patch of grass for the next 24 hours was nestled perfectly between the waters of the South Pacific Ocean and the calmer yet vast view of Wallis Lake, which backs on to clearly the best name of the weekend, the Booti Booti National Park.
We placed our booty booties into a kayak out on the lake and paddled around for a while, working up an appetite for the seafood feast that was awaiting us for dinner. The area is known for its seafood and we weren’t disappointed as we chowed down on oysters, prawns and crab and watched the sun disappear into the lake to end our first day on the coast. We had spent four hours driving up here, had kayaked and sung our lungs out so it was only fair we were treated to a feast.
The next morning we awoke to birds tweeting (singing, not using social media) and opened the kombi door to see a calm lake softly lapping on the bank. I knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Wiping the sleep from our eyes we got into our bathers and drove down to the beach to get our first surf lesson, the one where I stand up, not fill my pants.