Cocky and Triggs revisit 1974 and the North Coast.

Ian Cochrane was 15 and Triggs 25 when we last surfed together in the warm waters of Qld and Northern N.S.W.

We were representing Victoria at the 1974 Aussie Titles and our lead up week saw brilliant surf in the Greenmount area. Burleigh, Kirra, Currumbin and Duranbah were up and running but we can’t recall ever seeing anything special at Snapper (Rainbow Bay back then). The contest kicked off at Tallos, the back beach at Byron with cut throat elimination heats held in 2ft junky surf. Bad memories best to fast forward.

June 2nd 2014 we arrive at our destination. It’s 5am when we pull into the Lennox car park after 22.5 hours on the road, there’s time for maybe 2hrs shut eye before our 1st session.

Joining us for the drive was Hannah T. who as navigator at the time, could be deemed responsible for a 1 hour sidetrack out to Deniliquin. In fairness Ian believes a detour sign had been tampered with and perhaps some of the road workers were on a kickback from the Deniliquin Bakery, which by the way, has awesome cakes and pies.

Our car of choice for this trip is The VW transporter ,turbo diesel, 4wd and long wheelbase, but when three are sleeping head to toe and there’s 8 surfboards inside it’s kinda squeezy.

First up surf saw some really nice shaped 4 to 5ft waves, but not having slept for almost 24 hrs it’s like having a hangover and 25 locals make the morning session a nightmare for Hannah. Just getting off those volcanic rocks covered in slime is a serious mission (Phil claims Lennox as the most difficult spot he has ever come across for entering the water). Luckily my cousin Tony T is up for the early and paddles over with some advice. We get in easily 150m down the line wearing our low cut booties.

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Lennox Head line up on the 1st morning.

The water temp is a mind blowing 24 degrees! Cocky will end up surfing in boardshorts and a vest for most of the trip whilst I was super comfy in a spring suit. Back on shore H is spitting a thousand dummies, 2 hours in the water without claiming 1 wave and it’s all we can do to stop her jumping on a flight back home.

Moving into our palatial Unit 24 of the Quarterdeck apartments overlooking Lennox Point has a settling effect for all of us.

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Looking North to Cape Byron

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Wall hanger courtesy of Trigger Bros.

There should be some quiet moments when I can read my copy of ‘More Stoked’ by Bob McTavish which gives a detailed account of those early days when Bob and a couple of others were the first to ride Lennox. In fact I am later to discover Bob’s old factory up on the hill suitably called Haybales which has magnificent views of the Point. From the late 70’s to the mid 80’s it must have been very difficult keeping the workers grounded as the swell rolled in around the headland. Bob was probably the first to sneak off. I guess it’s no different at our Pt Leo factory today.

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Hay Bales – Bob McTavish’s factory est. in the 70’s, less the cows.

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Rested and re-energized we spot a set of classic waves reeling down the long line that has given Lennox its well deserved reputation of being one of Australia’s best surf spots and better still only 6 out 1hr after low tide.

It doesn’t take much to convince HT to have another crack, her dreams of riding the frozen wave at the Olympics have been realized, now she wants to become a good surfer and Ian is keen to take on a coaching role.

As a trio we sprint like kids down to those gnarly rocks and leap in. Three hours later we have to literally drag H from the water, she has had over a dozen good rides gaining confidence and improving from one wave to the next. We are all buzzing, what a great day.

Monday night Tony Trigger calls, the report is for 6 to 8ft Tuesday morning. Wax up your guns, see you at dawn.

Big Tuesday lives up to big Wednesday’s reputation, it’s an intimidating session with 30 locals on the peak and Glen the enforcer ruling the roost. I settle for the 6ft scraps, Hannah learns to duck dive and Cocky waits it out in the pack to be rewarded with a couple of 8ft screamers running down the line for 200 meters. Glen, probably a concreter by the look of his solid structure drops a couple of rogue 10 footers but the standout is top pro surfer Adam Melling who surfs at twice the speed of all the other hotties including our own Peninsula bred Kayden Fowler and Georgia Fish .

Once again the afternoon session is way less crowded, most of the locals having to do some form of work for the day while the holiday crew like us make hay.

Wednesday sees the swell dropping fast, we have already been treated to literally dozens of whales breaching the surface in spectacular fashion as they migrate north and as Ian and I wait for HT to catch a last wave in we spot a large flash of black and white completely exiting the water between Hannah and 3 other surfers. My first thoughts were a Killer whale but luckily for those involved it was a giant Manta ray whose flashing tail passed over Hannah’s head by just a few centimetres.

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A 10 year old’s view of getting in at the point

The arvo session is shared with Kayden, Georgia and half a dozen locals at Nth Wall Ballina, a Duranbah type set up with really good running peaks, heaps of fun until 2 local schools drop 50 P Plater’s into the water. Ten minutes later my Boss is sporting 3 fin cuts in the side, unperturbed I surf on until the local redneck loudmouth drops in and then gouges a cut back to take me out .In vehicular terms it’s a head on but luckily there are no broken bones. This time it’s going to require a trip to the ding doctor to replace a fin, plugs and patch a massive hole on the rail plus the three fin cuts from earlier.

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Lennox line up on a small day

Brother Phil is on the gold coast so after an early surf at the wall, Cocky and I take the hour trip via the new freeway. Phil has all the gear hidden away in his underground bunker, so while the resin sets on my favourite surfboard we catch up with our good friends at Burford Blanks.

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L to R: Ian Cochrane, Phil Trigger, Paul Trigger, Don Burford & Darren Burford

Departing from the Goldie we check a flat Snapper superbank and there’s 2 to 3ft peaks at Duranbah with maybe 100 guys spread out. Arriving back at Nth Ballina late afternoon its 2 to 4ft and perhaps a bakers dozen out. No wonder Phil and ST drove down for the next couple of morning sessions.
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Cocky and Hannah North Ballina

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Our trip to date certainly has had some great waves in crystal clear warm water but I have noticed Ian downing a few panadol’s. Luckily cousin Tony (Australia’s no1 dentist) is able to pull one tooth and patch up 4 others over a couple of sittings so we are able to head into week 2 pain free and also with improved paddle fitness.

Byron Bay is only 10 to 15 minutes north of Lennox. It’s a bustling seaside town that boasts a multi cultural mix of backpackers, holiday makers like us and a few interesting locals, descendants of the Nimbin culture. Then there’s the Pass, one of Australia’s very best Mal waves that combines with Currumbin to be absolutely sensational spots for learning to surf. The reason I drove to the North Coast was so I could give my 9ft noserider( it gets sick air) a good workout and neither board nor wave let me down.

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Captain Kool at the Pass

Some of the local’s at the Pass love to paddle inside and take off inches from the rock wall and most of these guys have over inflated ego’s that don’t match their average surfing ability. Ian was a hard nut footballer some years back and he uses his cunning to squeeze a few of the boy’s right up against the rocks. I’m laughing while Ian plays out his games and maintains the look of an innocent schoolboy. Not too many have ever taken down the street wise kid from Chelsea.

During week 2 the swell picks up to provide another 4 good sessions at the point which always seem best on the mid to low tides, while Nth Ballina never lets us down. Offshore every day for 21 surfs in 24 degree water with only two days of cloudy skies just before leaving.

On our final Saturday our Lennox friends put on a street festival in our honour and invite us back same time next year .The return trip via Sydney times out at 18.5 hours straight. THAT’S too many hard yards when you consider Jetstar will fly you into Ballina with your 2 favourite surfboards (> 6ft 3 ) for only $ 130 on the Sunday. The VW is up for sale, slept in only once in 2 years.

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Samba Band – Main St Lennox

Maybe next time we will be even smarter and take the hour drive down to Angourie, just another awesome spot on the NSW North coast.

Triggs on Safari with Surf Rat “Cocky” Cochrane.