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This Is Northern New South Wales


ALX_2881-EditALX_32125:20am. The alarm clock goes off with a faint murmur. Don’t wake the baby. My first decent nights sleep in quite a while. 6 hours straight of undisturbed bliss. These little beings go off like a ship’s fog horn in the night. Like a burglar I escape into the darkness with a loot of camera equipment.

The forecast wasn’t good. The swell was a short-fetched 2 metres of mixed emotion, with very light winds. In Byron Bay light winds usually make the surf reminiscent of a wobbly walk home after a night out at 3am. I could make out my good mate and photographer Alex Frings in his “Beast”, a blue Toyota Land-cruiser through the windscreen of rain droplets, parked on the side of an un-named road. We were optimistic as we combined forces and drove into the dull morning light.

“Hi mate, I might jump in near “Spot F” and paddle up the beach, there’s 30 crew out in the corner, got my froth on yewww”. A text message just came in from Dustin Hollick, who had just moved back up to the area from Tasmania. He had his off-duty “Daddy Day Care” amp on, after a week looking after his two young boys. We have known each other for a long while, surfing and competing together in our teenage years back in Tassie (I moved to Byron at 15). We were hoping for a few waves as a little homage to those memories.

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As we bounced through potholes and mixed conversations, I thought of the adventures Alex and I have shared in our pursuit of getting away from the Byron Bay crowds, and scoring good waves alone (or semi-alone). A lot of the time we get skunked, but we love it. Snapping back to reality with the jolt of another road vortex, weaving through pockets of phone reception, I checked the live weather – the wind was Westerly.

We could see through the trees we were in luck. No need to hesitate. With salt-watered amp “The Beast” makes it’s way onto the beach, gliding over some un-inviting terrain. Alex and I look at each other and smile, there’s no driving allowed on this beach… Out there.

Two to three feet of aquatic play. A palette of grey and rain, light and mood. After a flurry of water outside the breakers, putting Dustin off guard (it was a dolphin), we re-hash stories from our cold water past of boots and hoodies – and here I was on the first day of Winter over-heating in my steamer.

We were colliding with the shallow sandbar on just about every wave, resurfacing in fits of laughter. Alex captured the magic with an effortless glide, an unspoken relationship in timing between surfer and photographer.

I made a choice to grab my housing for a little while. Dustin couldn’t believe my decision making and neither could I. I wanted to capture a few moments of Alex in action. There’s one thing to weave ocean walls, but to position yourself to capture these fragments in time… Bravo.

It was suddenly 11:30am. I was deep in a nappie full of soft matter, far removed from the lines of turquoise I’d just enjoyed. Trance-like as I found my way through the fog. The little guy looks up at me and smiles.

Life’s all about moments like these.

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Words republished from White Horses “Winterfell” issue, where a series of contributors shared their experiences on June 1st 2013 across the globe. There are just the B-Roll images from the adventure. To read the other stories and more checkout –‎ – and get yourself a copy of “Winterfell”.

Images by Alex Frings –
Story and the not so good photos by Johnny Abegg –