Sunday 1st May
We fly Melbourne-Perth-Carnarvon and pick up our hire car/pop up camper. It’s kinda squeezy with the surfboards and enough supplies for two weeks but it provides shade and an escape from the world of insects. Two and a half hours later we arrive to observe a picturesque Gnaraloo.
Morning, 2-4 foot brisk offshore, tide too full. Afternoon inconsistent 2-4 foot light offshore good fun rides off Tombstones.
Swell dropping so surfed Turtles around one metre with the crew from Mandurah. Bob Hosking’s old mate “Murf” dropped in a few nice fish fillets for tea.
Surfed hopeless 1-2foot Turtles by myself after having our car bogged for half an hour in the sand.
Tombstone locals called today’s swell the smallest they had ever seen. Drove over to Gnaraloo station and The Bay for some sightseeing.
Surfed really good 3-5 foot waves at Turtles including three hairy rides on the right hander. Had three sessions and helped 11 year old Cooper get into a couple while his dad Craig and our chef Andrew surfed a sucky right 200 meters towards the Bluff.
Andrew a successful restauranteur from Mandurah prepared a feast in the desert for eight of us while Craig kept us entertained with stories from his early days working for his father, horse trainer Stan Bates and later the colorful world of the bookies.
A couple of days later Hannah confirmed our mare at home Mandurah Kate was indeed from the boys home town in WA, 90km south west of Perth.
Surfed Tombstones and Centres up to 5 foot. Good fun.
Swells up! 6-8ft. Paddled out early with the Italian gladiator Spartacus (not much skill but plenty of bravado). He was calling it 4 foot from the shore and was trying to ride a ridiculously small fish. Along with two other guys from St Kilda of all places I was really struggling, the takeoffs made difficult by the breeze funneling in from the north. It’s a scary takeoff when over the 6 foot mark and because of the current I came in about 600 meters down the line. Half an hour later I had to jump off the rocks to help a surfer who’s leggie had snapped. He was really disappointed his mates hadn’t rescued his board when it was only 30 meters away and he certainly let them know it. This was the most crowded day I saw with 6-8 out at Centres and close to a bakers dozen as the surf mellowed to 6 foot at Tombstones.
As we planned to head up to Coral Bay we rose early and on a dropping swell I surfed Tombstones a perfectly clean 2-4 foot, solo for the first half hour before the gladiator joined me. Like most sessions it’s too hot in anything other than boardies and a vest. The early bird gets the worm; I had my best rides for the trip and could see the swell fading. Hannah and I watched young Cooper score a couple of great rides at Centres whilst one of the old boys from Margaret River was absolutely shredding on his big yella Mal. A few handshakes later we hit the road for Hannah’s Coral Bay adventure.
For someone with a lifelong fear of Sharks Hannah’s request to dive with the whale sharks was a really unexpected surprise. She had been winged with three fractures in the Scapula and Corratoid Process three weeks earlier at Breckenridge, so was only able to snorkel. After 6 hours searching the spotter planes finally directed us to an 8 metre Whale Shark and we were lucky to have 5 dives with these amazing creatures.
On board our Ningaloo Reef dive boat, tour guide Macca from Shell Harbour, NSW was a keen surfer who knew of a Trigger Bros surfboard that had been fished out of the ocean by the skipper of the Valiant somewhere west of Coral Bay.
We’ve missed our rendezvous with Tony “Tombstones” Ray today but at least Batesy was able to forward action shots of Tony dismantling some solid 8-10 footers. For Hannah and I the sun was setting on Coral Bay as we commenced our journey back to a much colder climate.