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The Crescent Head journey

December 26, 2012

The Crescent Head journey
By Mic Smith

A surfing holiday from the Gold Coast to Terrigal ends in a barreling lineup at the legendary Crescent Head

The return leg of my surfing safari started when I left Terrigal about 2pm to buy a Chrissy present; went the five ks to Avoca to the historic cinema there.

Terrigal is this busy little NSW Central Coast holiday town, lots of banks, takeaways, kids and hillside houses.

A bowl shaped beach with a point break that works at 6 foot. Serpentine 50k streets to the south look down on neighbouring Wamberal beach. Stairs wind down to the shops.

The next beach around, Avoca, is smaller and gets more surf. Plaques on the sandstone cliff attest, it’s a dangerous jump-off when the waves are big. People have died there.

Sitting on the point I could feel my leggy catch on rocks. It’s shallow. The point’s been small the last three days, but the beachy has had fun 3-4 foot peaks. The next bay around, the south facing Copa Cabana, wasn’t getting much – a couple of foot. Shame cos the Copa reef break is a legendary left.

At the Avoca cinema I buy a coffee cup with a dog on it for Dad for Xmas, then get moving out past Soldiers Beach, Nora Head, left to Toukley and back onto the Newcastle Express Way.

Nine foot four longboard on soft racks on a Honda Civic Hybrid with tie downs across the top. All the straps twisted and tight to stop the hum. No time or point to take the coast roads – the surf forecast says it’s a mess.

Driving these highways is nothing like hammering along Highway 1 the way it used to be.

It’s either get heavy fines or keep a constant eye on changing speed limit signs, speed cameras, constantly refer to the speedometer.

Adjust. Be vigilant. Concentrate. Crawl through 40k areas whether it’s school times or not. No time to watch the scenery or let the mind wander.

I pass the right turn to Crescent to visit the KFC at Kempsey before 10pm for a feed and charge my camera battery.

A few locals come in while the young staff wash the kitchen down. I linger over the two pieces with special herbs and Pepsi watching Paul McCartney and Wings sing Christmas Carols.

Use up the last of my phone credit calling mates in Vietnam, just hanging round to let my camera battery charge a little longer.

The narrow road is dark winding up and down. On the outskirts an Asian man outside a restaurant says he doesn’t speak English. I roll pass the caravan park to the Crescent Head carpark, park the Civic looking at the ocean.

A couple sits in the light of the surf club.

I don’t relish spending the whole night in the car. I usually just nap for 15 minutes then put it back in gear.

But I want to wake up in Crescent in the morning so I put the seat back, muddle and fuddle with all the stuff in the backseat adjust the headrest to get ‘comfortable’ and fall into a fitful sleep.

It’s dark but a car pulls up. It’s cold, my neck’s sore. Another car pulls up and there’s quiet talk and surfboards.

The three locals wetsuit and wax up on the grass. They aren’t real friendly about sharing info about their break.

Everything is a dark shade of grey except for orderly mid-grey lines of white water moving to shore.

By the time the three walk the path to the legendary point, the light is enough to see the perfect lineup.

More arrive with talk of, “Nobody knows that it’s on, nobody’s here. It was shit yesterday, now look at this.”

I get out there on the point in time to catch two long rides with the original three. Then one of the guys says, “Here they come.”

They come and they come. One after another surfers jump off the keyhole and sit deep inside to pick off the best ones. Soon there’s 60 guys out here.

It gets too hectic except for about a dozen dolphins swimming around chilling.

Cold and in need of coffee I retreat down the line. Finally I get out feeling beaten by the crowd and frustrated.

Two dudes sit on the bench in front of my car. Terry and Pete video the sets. Terry is wearing this mad white hat that is threadbare and torn flapping in the wind.

Pete tells me Terry is the brother of the legendary surfer Bobby Brown, Cronulla’s original hotdogger and the first to do the nose ride. It’s obvious, surfing’s in these guys’ blood if there is such a thing.

Bobby Brown was up there with Midget Farrell and Nat Young in the 60s. Pioneers doing surf safaris up and down Australia’s east coast till he was killed in a glassing attack in 67.

Sitting there talking with these guys and other guys as they run back round to the point I realize that I am actually witness to something really special in surfing.

Crescent Head – “All time”.

Pete says, “It’s like a movie. I’ve never seen it so perfect.”

Another guy running around for the third time says, “I’ve been there 30 times and this is the best I’ve ever seen it.”

Terry says, “It’s going to be all time all day.” He says he’s waiting till 10 past 12 when they all come in for lunch.

It reminds me of something one of the longboarders at Avoca said – “When I walk out on those rocks at Crescent I am walking on the same rocks that legends have walked.”

I think, “Shit here I am frustrated and dissatisfied and I’m hanging out at the legendary Crescent Head when it’s all time.”

So I go out for another surf, one of the most memorable sessions I have ever had. Journeys often work out like that.

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