Australia entries

Life on the Gold Coast Pt. IV by Kevin Huang

Part IV.

DURANBAH

Slotted.  Typical day at D-bah.

Dbah was the only wave on the Gold Coast that was working the first three weeks I was there, so that’s all that I surfed. 

From my house on Binya Avenue in Coolangatta, Kirra was a 2 minute bike ride from my front door.  Snapper was probably about 8 minutes, and D-bah was probably 10. 

Currumbin Alley was about a 35 minute bike ride if I rode fast, Burleigh was about an hour and fifteen, and Straddie was about a 2 hour trek.  I never got to surf Straddie though unfortunately.

For the first month that I was there, there wasn’t enough swell for the machine-like points that the Gold Coast is known for to start working, so I surfed the only place within biking distance that had any solid swell – Duranbah.

Life was good.  I would wake up every day and check the forecast.  If it was good, I would surf.  If it was pumping, within 5 minutes of checking the cam on Swellnet, I would have all of my beach supplies packed into my backpack, my board strapped onto my bike rack, and I’d be walking out the door on my way to the beach. 

Gold Coast Surf Break map

The trusty steed.  Buying a car was too expensive and didn't make sense, so I ended up just buying a bicycle.  Don't be fooled, the surf rack was held on with duct tape and prayers.   

The trusty steed.  Buying a car was too expensive and didn't make sense, so I ended up just buying a bicycle.  Don't be fooled, the surf rack was held on with duct tape and prayers.   

Aside from feeding myself, I literally had no other responsibilities.  For the first time in my entire life I was able to pass endless hours at the beach with absolutely no one waiting on me for weeks on end.  It’s a really special feeling being able to sit out in the lineup with absolutely no pressure to leave perfect waves in order to go to work.   Even when I was surf guiding in Nicaragua, spending 10 hour days in the ocean, I was still waiting on the guests.  We still had to surf the breaks that they wanted to.  Oz was the first time that I had complete freedom.  If the surf was pumping, I’d be pulling six hour sessions, surfing until the point that I felt that if I kept surfing any longer, I would definitely tear or pull a muscle.  I would hilariously surf through multiple tides swings on some days.  It was epic.   

Yeah, you wouldn't get out either if it looked like this.

I was there in the late summer, early fall.  The days were bright and sunny, the water was still warm, its color a magically beautiful aqua, and the underwater visibility was unreal.  Almost every single day, you could see the sand on the bottom of any beach, 6, 10, even 15 feet below you.  On the Gold Coast, even with a population of a half a million, both the land and the ocean seemed virgin. 

The first month was very peaceful.  It was simple, and nice.  Living without any obligations or responsibilities was incredible.  I had many beautiful days shoulder to head-high days at D-bah.  The wave was the most special beach break I had ever surfed, by far.  It is the definition of a bowly, A-frame.  It’s a tricky wave, as the wave often comes in at a strange angle, and then wraps when it hits the sandbar.  Every wave you think is going to be a left, becomes a right, and vice versa.   At first, your intuition tells you the wave is going to break in one spot, but then at the last second it backs off, wraps, and then the A frame peak forms just 10 feet away from you and starts to break perfectly as long, aqua walls with a hint of green peel away on both sides. 

Funnily enough, I had no idea this wave even existed let alone barreled when I first got here.  Click the photo for a link to the insta page and a little story about discovering this wave. 

Funnily enough, I had no idea this wave even existed let alone barreled when I first got here.  Click the photo for a link to the insta page and a little story about discovering this wave. 

For days on end I would surf there in the late morning and afternoon, sharing fun, head high swell with the local rippers, Brazilian “students”, underground Japanese ex pat shredders, and the occasional Kiwi.  It would definitely get crowded at times, but not having the pressure of having to catch X number of waves before work kind of mellows you out when in the lineup, and there were always enough waves for everyone if you had patience.

For a time, it was good.  But, after a while, I began to get restless.  Paradise can become monotonous.

The waves were fun, but eventually they got boring.  After surfing on the North Shore in Hawaii, the waves in Australia seemed small.  Don’t get me wrong, I love surfing perfect head high beachies with no consequences, but it felt like something was missing.  I hadn’t come halfway across the world to surf a beach break, even if it was one of best ones on the planet. 

Sometime during the blissful carefree weeks of surfing D-bah I had reunited with my little ex jungle explorer.  Every doubt I had of coming to Australia was erased when I hugged her again for the first time, but as the dust settled, I realized that things now were going to be different.  I remember watching her car drive away after that first time we hung out and I realized that it was going to take a long time to work things out between us.  I was going to have to remain in Australia for a lot longer than I had expected.

Whether it was waiting for waves, or waiting for a woman, the most difficult challenge of living on the Gold Coast, was the waiting.

Luckily, I didn’t have to wait for long….

[to be continued]

Life on the Gold Coast Pt. III by Kevin Huang

Part III.

Settling In

Kirra

I touched down in OOL after dark in a city with a population of half a million, the only person I knew being a girl I had met in the jungle 6 months prior, in a foreign country with the only belongings I had split between two suitcases and a board bag, not knowing where I was going to be living for the next few months, and having to drive a rental car on the opposite side of the road for the first time in my life. 

With a deep breath and a sigh I shoved all of my earthly belongings into my tiny little rental car and hit the ignition.

Nobody ever said it was going to be easy I suppose.

Everything i owned in this life

 

The next few days were rough.  I had signed up for flatmates, and I was lucky enough to find an entire three bedroom house with a big yard and a garage in Burleigh Heads.  It was a nice house, in a great location, with a great price, and if I had been back home in the US there wouldn’t have been a problem.  But, I just vividly remember sitting in the living room of this empty house when the enormity of just how alone I was hit me. 

It’s not like I had a job lined up for me there.  I couldn’t work there, and rightfully so since I was on a tourist visa.  For thousands of miles in every direction I literally only knew one person.  Things sort of reminded me of California, but everything was just different.  The vibes were just completely different.  Australia for those of you who have been there, and the Gold Coast in particular know that it’s unlike any other place on the planet.  I couldn’t even call anyone, since nobody I knew back home was even awake.  The way the time zones were, everyone back home was literally in a different day.      

I still remember just sitting on the floor, with my back against the wall, and my fingers just tapping on my knees trying to think about what the hell I was going to do.  The air was still, beams of light streamed through the blinds, and it was very quiet, save for a few cars driving by in the distance.  It was then that the realization that I was going to have to spend hours upon hours on end here slowly drilled itself into my brain with every tick of the clock. 

I could literally hear the tick of my wrist watch it was that quiet.

I sat there against the wall for about 10 minutes.  And then, without a single word, I packed everything up into my car and drove away.  I never saw that house again.  I only lasted one night there (if you’re reading this I’m so sorry Jen). 

 

Luckily though, the universe took care of me and after a flurry of text messages and hurried internet browsing on my phone I ended up finding a room in a townhouse apartment on Binya Avenue in Coolangatta, just down the road from Kirra.  

Binya Ave

I had spent two years living alone back in Los Angeles and I actually loved it, but for some reason this was different.  From the bottom of my heart I just knew that in Australia, on the Gold Coast, I needed to live and be surrounded by other people – and in this case those people ended up being a bunch of Slovenians.

 

Funnily enough, as I write this, yesterday, my friends back home in the USA were asking me what a typical stereotype of a Slovenian is, since they had never even heard of that country.  Well, after two months of living in that house, I learned that wherever there’s one Slovenian, there’s at least 5 more right around the corner.     

 

Slovenia is a tiny country in Central Europe with a population of only 2 million.  Slovenia is a beautiful country, full of mountains, gorgeous valleys carved out by glaciers, and pristine lakes the likes of which would grace the cover of any travel magazine.  But, unfortunately, the winters get brutally cold, and if you have any dreams of living a life other than a relatively simple one out in a log cabin (albeit a modern, incredibly comfortable, insanely well-built one) in the woods with your family, then it’s time to pack your bags and hit the road.

 

Because of this, there are Slovenians everywhere in the world.  The first lady of the United States of America is actually a Slovenian ex-patriot, although unless another Slovenian made you privy to this information, you would never know.  They are like chameleons, Slovenians.  They are an incredibly kind, polite, and hard- working people, and their skin is white, so unless you stumbled upon one and specifically asked, you would never know they were Slovenian and not just your average, run of the mill backpacking European. 

Australia, unlike Slovenia, is almost never brutally cold, the ocean is accessible to almost everyone, it’s extremely easy to find a job, and you can make good money there if you are willing to put in the work.  The Slovenians I ended up living with, were all trying to find a way to permanently live in Australia – and they were succeeding!  When I moved into the house on Binya Avenue, I essentially stumbled upon the unofficially designated Gold Coast Slovenian outpost.

The Gold Coast.... kind of like California, but no, not really. 

I would be on my computer in the dining/living room editing photos when a group of Slovenians would bust through the door and usually one of them would be clearly agitated about something.  What that thing was I would never know since they would almost always talk to each other in Slovenian.  They would bust in the kitchen, and within a few minutes the blender would be whirring, the oven would be cooking up some incredible vegan dish, and I’d be shaking hands meeting someone’s cousin or brother or sibling who had just gotten in from Europe two days ago and was on a road trip all along the East Coast.      

It was great.  It was exactly what I needed.  And after that first week passed, and I was able to open a bank account, get my new SIM card, buy a bicycle, stock my fridge with groceries, and finally take a second to breathe – things got much better.    

 

And for the first time in 3 weeks, Australia sort of started to feel like home. 

 

[ to be continued … ]

 

P.S.:  To all of my old housemates, and your guys’ friends and family, I miss you all.

Life on the Gold Coast pt. II by Kevin Huang

PROLOGUE:  

Landing in Oz

I touched down in Sydney after a 12 hr flight from Honolulu and that afternoon hitched a 5 hour bus ride to Canberra (with two suitcases, and a board bag no less) where my boy AcB was living. 

 

 

 

That night we ended up partying till 2am (I took a cab home since AcB was still raging but it's all good) and I woke up on the couch the next morning to the sound of some girl getting railed.  

 

So began my first day in Australia.  

 

 

While I was there, so many things were happening, and I had so many things on my mind at the time, that it became difficult to really soak it all in in that moment.  It wasn't until many months later (which is partly why I'm writing this blog post), that everything sort of started making sense.  

I went into the country not knowing what was going to happen - I had only bought a one way ticket to Sydney.  I had been granted a tourist visa which lasted for an entire year, and I could come and go as many times within the year as I pleased, but the longest I could remain in the country was three months - I had to leave and come back if I wanted to stay longer than three months.

The girl who I was chasing, I hadn't seen in about 6 months, and although I obviously cared for her, there was no telling what was going through her head now.  When I made the decision to come, I figured aside from a basic overview of the country, there was only so much I could learn from the Internet, so I came with the mindset that I would just wing it (it's always more fun that way anyway).  It was essentially a "show up, and see how things go" type of situation.    

The first two weeks in Oz were sick.  My friend AcB welcomed me in, we road tripped along the coast, and he pretty much gave me a sink or swim crash course on how to survive all manner of Australian life or death situations (VB is always the answer).  I still remember freaking out with pure stoke the first time I saw a Kangaroo.  

We started out going east and pretty much made our way up the New South Whales coast.  It was one of those trips where the sacrifices were done properly and the wave gods came through.  We would show up to perfect wave after perfect wave, sometimes with a crowd, sometimes with only one dude out, but always with enough waves for us all. Sometimes more than enough.   We surfed point breaks, beachies, and reefs.  To me, it all seemed normal, but my boy, who had made the pilgrimage up the coast many times, assured me that this was something special.  The wave gods were indeed looking down upon us.  And it was good. 

But, sadly, before I knew it, I was running around the airport again, getting owned by the lady behind the ticket counter, smashed by board bag fees, and trying to catch a solo flight up to the Gold Coast.  And with my heart in my throat, it was back again to reality ...  

 

[to be continued...keep your eyes on the instagram for news of a new post!]