It’s after lunch on a late August Monday, when some kind of mad series of connections, frantic social-media messaging, fickle arrangements and tactically deliberate procrastinations lead you to this very moment.
There’s no internet surf cameras that have drawn you here, no phone call reports from a frothing mate, no Instagram reveal … just a hunch and a fist full of weather data that’s brought you all together – here and now.
Huffing through the thicket, ever mindful of the rust-caked barbed wire fences, long buried beneath the sands, and the occasional brown snake that resides herein, you traverse across the sun-parched dunes, to eventually climb that last slope and crawl over the gritty white peak.
This is the view you all receive. This is the reward and this is where the next three hours will be spent – with just a handful of other surfing beings along this glistening stretch of shifting silica and turquoise-rippled waters. This is the real Gold Coast fun park, and you don’t have to pay some filthy foreign corporation for your ticket to ride here.
Our little strike mission this day was with a tribe of really cool kids – groms that already paddle and know to respect the place. They’re part of the generational shift that’s engulfing the core crew out there now, with the Mainy and Southport locals of the 1980s and ‘90s passing the torch and throwing the reigns. It’s crowded these days, a lot of people are in and out like the spinefex that has rolled down the Stradbroke dunes for centuries. Everyone owns the place but only a handful belong to the place.
Fathers and sons are out there now, their daughters too, and despite the infernal water taxi that’s often written off by those who secretly ride it, there’s still moments like this amongst the usual boiling mess of flailing bodies and fibreglass, of kooks and southerners that blow in most days just to reap and run, leaving some burned sections, straighthanders and wasted waves in their wake. The message is the same today as it was in the 1990s though – if you don’t know how to surf, and we mean really ride an A-frame barrel, it’s probably best you head to Narrowneck or even an isolated Nobby’s bank.
She’s a freak occurrence, a combination of nature and man that makes this place so unique – but it hardly constitutes solely a man-made wave. Before the sand spit’s natural migration north was halted by the ambitious construction of a permanent navigational channel, the old Southport Bar was already a magnificent wave machine, with shifting gullies and scoured sand banks that often created incredible and isolated waves.
There was a little known but famed lefthander that in the right conditions turned on a perfect grinding sand bottom point break that would run for hundreds of metres across the northern aspect of the bar. The southern tip of the island has long been established as one of those magic and rare surfing jewels, and was so, well before man’s intervention came along. Regardless of which cash-crazed developer or pilfering politician that has come and ranted their twisted tune over the years, the place has formed part of the heart of the north end surfing history and culture …