THE GOOD OLD DAYS
Noosa Heads On Two-Bucks A Day
If you can remember back to when "dope" was the guy who sat in front of you in Maths, when "hash" was the stuff that Mum served up at Breakfast, and "grass" was the thing that needed mowing before you could go anywhere on Saturday morning, then you should remember the old term, "Surfari". You'd all pile into the FJ, or Dad's new HD Holden, and head out of Sydney, along Highway One, to some of those little known surf spots situated in the North. You know the ones - Angourie, Lennox Head, and Crescent Head!! If the car held together long enough you would head even further north to Greenmount, before your final destination - Noosa Heads, that small coastal town with it's two little shops, it's retired people wandering leisurely around, and it's seemingly never-ending swells pushing onto a variety of points, causing endless lines of uncrowded waves to form. This is about one of those trips.
Enjoying the present - unaware of the grey hair and the 4 kids in their future
The group on this particular trip consisted of six people in three cars. The vehicles of the day were the latest in refined automotive styling - a 1960 Morris Major, a 1963 Mini 850, and a thoroughly modern 1968 Fiat 1500. Two of us were still on P-Plates, so it was going to be a long drive - but we were going surfing and that's all that mattered. Our first stop was going to be Crescent Head, but the generator in the Fiat had other ideas, so after a quick repair job outside of Newcastle, our first night was spent on the side of the dirt track over-looking Seal Rocks. The Fiat had the added convenience of fold-back seats, so while the rest of us curled up on the front and rear seats of the other two cars, the occupants of the Fiat enjoyed a peaceful night stretched out on their folding seats.
Breakfast Break along Highway One - no MacDonalds around in them days
We surfed Seal Rocks for a couple of hours before continuing on to Crescent Head. We again chose to stay in our cars overnight, so we parked against the rail overlooking the golf course and the point. Now you have to remember that this was in the late 60's and not in school holiday times, so places like Crescent Head were absolutely deserted, especially getting on towards Winter, which is when we did this trip. (It was late-May if I remember rightly). Our overnight stay turned into three days of epic surf. We would all come out of the water just long enough to get a bite to eat and a drink before heading back into the water again. Make no mistake - it WAS cold, but we were too stoked, or too stupid, to feel it. One particular incident sticks in my mind from this part of the trip, and that was when I decided to take one of these photos. I had just taken the shot and was running back to the car. Being the smart-arse surfie that I was, I didn't think was cool to go around the small fence that bordered the golf course and car park, but it would be cool to jump over it. Well my front foot caught the top of the fence and over I went. As I was heading face-first towards the asphalt all I could think of was, "don't smash the old-man's camera". I somehow managed to turn in mid-air and land on my back. I was winded and had skin off my shoulders and lower back, and the foot that had caught the fence on the way over was also cut, but at least I saved my old-man's camera from any damage - for now anyway.
Another Crescent Head Session under our belts
Our next stop was to be Angourie, but car problems plagued us again. This time it was courtesy of a stray rock from a passing car. Result - one broken windscreen. So we were stuck around Grafton till the following day. Pulled into Angourie mid-afternoon the following day. Like Crescent Head, the place was deserted, and from memory there was a nice little swell running. We left the cars at the top of the hill (mainly because you couldn't drive down any closer) and carried the rest of our stuff down to the beach. We set-up camp under a rocky over-hang right down on water level. Try to do that these days!! It was pretty damned cold down there after the sun went down. But in front of a small camp-fire was pretty pleasant. This was complimented by the sound of the surf which rocked us off to sleep each night. I seem to remember that our diet consisted of something like Rolled Oats (with no milk or sugar) for breakfast. Very little, if anything, for lunch, and then tinned foods and tea boiled in a billy for our evening meal. The rest of our food intake consisted of Violet Crumble Bars and other junk like that.
Battling the cold at Angourie
We took an hour or so to carry all our stuff back up the hill to our cars before we were underway again. A couple of the people with us wanted to stop in at Byron Bay, but as we only had a little under 3 weeks, including travel, they were out-voted, and we headed straight towards Greenmount. You surfers who weren't around in the mid-to-late 60's probably can't contemplate having a place like Greenmount completely on your own for a couple of hours each morning. And those of us who can remember can only look back on it and say something like, "well at least it USED TO BE uncrowded". We planned to stay on the boardwalk in our cars for the first night, but the local police had other ideas, and with the threat of being gaoled offered as the only alternative, we soon headed off. I seriously doubt that it would have really happened - but when a 6½ foot Queensland Copper is standing over you with a flashlight in your face, you don't argue. Because back in those days there was none of this Police Integrity Commissions, etc. You took your lumps and learned to live with it. So we headed back out of town until we were over the bridge near Banora Point somewhere, and parked up a side-street for the rest of the night. For the next four days we spent our time between Currumbin, Kirra and Greenmount. After our "sleep-out" on the first night we managed to get a unit on Marine Parade (the road that runs along the beach-front at Coolangatta). It was called "Coolabah" if I remember rightly and it cost us $24 for the 4 days!! Yep, $24 for 4 days, or for you maths geniuses out there, that's $6 a day. After a quick surf check via the front window, we could then decide on where to start our day. It usually followed the same steps each day though - the Rock at Currumbin until mid-morning followed by Kirra until lunch. The afternoon session was invariably Greenmount Point. We would then spend the evening hours down at the now defunct Cabbage Patch Beer Garden.
Hamming it up on the road North
Besides the great - and very uncrowded - surf, which just seemed to come in never-ending lines, there was one particularly funny incident that did take place. One of the guys who went with us was having problems sleeping. He said it was because of being in strange beds. He had brought some sleeping tablets with him and so after returning from the Cabbage Patch one night he decided to have a couple of pills, then take a shower and hit the pillow. He got as far as having the shower and that's where we found him the next morning - sound asleep in the shower recess with the water still running. On one of our mornings up at Currumbin we decided to go inland and visit the Currumbin Rock Pools. It was a pretty rough old track up there, but the water was flowing and the falls were great fun.
"He always says just one more wave - but I seem to wait here for ever"
From Coolangatta we headed straight up to Noosa. From memory, we had to drive up to Nambour and then head to the coast from there. It was absolutely unbelieveable at Noosa. Main Beach, National Park and T-Tree all had good quality waves. There was a camping ground right on the corner of the main (and just about only) street, almost opposite the surf club. It cost us $2 a night for an unpowered site. We had brought a now very old, but back then, very new 12'x12' canvas tent with us. We had allowed ourselves three days to get home, so that left us about five days up here.
Rock-hopping at Noosa National Park
The surf ranged in size from a foot or so up to about four foot. The day it was up around four foot was the day that we struck the biggest crowds - about six other board riders out at T-Tree. What a crowd!!! We spent that whole day around at T-Tree, we had terminal sun-burn, our joints ached, our muscles were screaming for mercy and our board lumps were infected and full of wax and sand. Would we have it any other way??? How great is that!!!! Of the 4 or 5 days we were there, we only had other people in the water on the weekend. During the week we barely saw anyone else in the water at all. When somebody did come we felt like they were invading our area. Although the 4-foot day was the biggest, our best day was the one we spent surfing National Park. It was only 2-3 foot, but had to be seen, and surfed, to be believed. Low tide, high tide, mid tide. It didn't really matter. The waves just kept on breaking all day. That was the day I thought I had invented a good way of staying out in the water for long periods of time but still have something to nourish yourself with. I had wrapped a couple of chocolate bars in plastic and shoved them down the front of my T-Shirt that I wore in the water. I figured they would be okay there, because I always used to kneel-up to paddle. But I forgot about a thing called "body heat". I laughed at the others as they paddled in to get something to eat, because they were "starving". When I stuck my hand done my T-Shirt I pulled out a plastic bag full of melted liquid chocolate. Well at least it was dry, I thought. Strangest sensation - drinking salt water flavoured liquid chocolate. That little shop back in town was looking better all the time. We ended our trip north on a great note with some awesome waves. The trip home was uneventful for a change, and although the roads were a LOT less crowded than they are today, you could still tell when you had reached the out-skirts of Sydney.
T-Tree Bay Noosa
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