Monday 23rd March
Tuesday 24th March
Since arriving on the Gold Coast in September 2014 I had planned to catch up with an Insurance Underwriter I had worked closely with for 13 years. He retired several years before me and I knew he lived on the coast and I had his phone number. We arranged to meet at a bowling club where he is vice president. I was looking forward to meeting Geoff O and his wife Filo a Fijian Princess. In my mind I thought the club would be a small suburban green with a small clubhouse and a few poker machines and a part time snack bar. WOT THE??? Club Helensvale ( http://clubhelensvale.com.au/ ) turned out to be a huge social club incorporating about 24 bowling rinks, rooms of poker machines, giant bars and a well presented dining room with extensive reasonably priced menu. Its logo is “the place to be”. I was looking at joining a local club and this one seems suitable and only 7 Klms from home. Besides I know the Vice President. It was great to catch up with Geoff and Filo who have both been bowling for 47 years. Geoff was part of the Australian Commonwealth games Team at Edmonton, Canada in 1978.
Wednesday 25th March
Weather forecast is for a hot and humid day.
Up early for a 19 Klm bike ride to Southport Surf Life Saving Club and back home again.
After breakfast I drove back to Southport Beach for a surf. It was low tide and the waves were dumping on a sand bar just off the beach. The waves were a good size but totally unsuitable for body surfing and there was quite a strong undertow. After ten rounds with what felt like being in a washing machine it was time to head home again.
Hmmm! It is Autumn but the air and water temperature are ideal for going to the beach.
Thursday 26th March
Today during my bike ride it rained. I got soaked.
Friday 27th March.
Ahem! Today I travelled by cycle to Southport Beach and rode along the foreshore for a Klm or so then rode home.
After breakfast I travelled by TERIOS to…drumroll… Southport Beach.
The idea was to go for a surf but nature decided it would be low tide when I arrived and a sandbar ensured the dumping waves of Wednesday would be double dumpers today. Double dumpers are umm err a dumper which normally I would dive underneath and surface on the other side. The double dumper is when I resurface and get hit by another dumper before I have taken a breath from the first dumper. After getting swirled around in the wash for a few moments the undertow then tugs my legs from under me and drags me into the next double dumper. Eventually I got to the place where the waves are just hitting the edge of the sandbar and the undertow is trying to take me out to sea. Just a few minutes of fighting these conditions becomes pretty exhausting. Another man like myself agreed it was like a washing machine and wondered how we could get back to shore without being…dumped. Eventually I dragged myself out of the surf noting that my bathing outfit was coated in sand…on the inside. I spoke with a few other men walking exhausted from the surf. Even after a cold shower on the beach pathway there was still a fine layer of gritty sand clinging to my body. A second cold shower at the pavilion helped and I was able to change into dry clothes. I arrived home in time for coffee feeling tired but strangely alive.
Hmmm! I think the reason we came to the Gold Coast was to spend time at the beach – surfing . At last I am now beginning to do just that.
Saturday 28th March
Parking at any beach in a populated area, especially along this stretch of coastline is difficult on weekdays. On weekends it is just downright unobtainable.
I woke with sore muscles in my arms, shoulders and chest. Put that down to the exercise gained while surfing this week.
I drove over the border into New South Wales to watch the Australian Longboard Titles held at Kingscliff Beach over 5 days. http://www.australianlongboardopen.com/ The finals will be held tomorrow. I am unable to determine exactly what constitutes a “long board” but am pretty sure it is any board longer than 7 feet.
Back in the sixties all boards were longer than 7 feet with the average certainly being longer than 9 feet. (shorter boards were beginning to appear on beaches when I was surfing but were mainly used by “Grommets” – schoolkids. We called our boards “dogs” because the surfing style for our boards was hot dogging) My boards, yes, over several years I had more than one, in fact I had four but not all at the same time, was 9 feet 3 inches long. However I digress. Today’s heats at Kingscliff were about junior surfers, male and female
as well as various classes of “stand up paddle boards”. There were few waves and mostly small but rideable. Once the stand- up paddlers (SUP) started their heats I lost all interest. During the earlier heats it was overcast conditions. The SUP arrived and the sun came out. Imagine that? The better, well known surfers surf in the finals tomorrow.
I drove further down the coast about 8 Klms to Cabarita Beach to find totally different conditions.
Parking as mentioned above was difficult to find. The sun was shining and wondrous glassy waves were rolling in on a point right hand break. I have never been along this stretch of coast and Cabarita took my fancy immediately. A tall headland at one end gave a great view of the surf and also showed a left hand point break on the beach to the south. A boardwalk called the Cabarita Foreshore Trail gives access to the top of the headland including a Whale Watching platform at the top.
Both breaks were busy with board riders. I could see the high rise towers of Coolangatta / Tweed Heads some 20 Klms to the north. These two towns are built on the border and you cannot see where one ends and the other begins. Currently NSW is still on Daylight Savings Time so is an hour ahead – until midnight tonight. Watching the great surf below I was getting itchy to get out there amongst the other surfers. Reason prevailed however as I do not have a board – yet – and at my age am uncertain if I will be capable of surfing with younger people.
Hmmm! The boogie board idea has re-surfaced in my mind.
Sunday 29th March
Readers may recall when at Post 411 when Donnis and I visited the Gondwanna Rainforests of Australia World Heritage area at Springbrook. On the day we visited, we had had a couple of days of very heavy rain and the mountains were shrouded in cloud which meant most of the time we were walking in a cold misty rain. We chose not to hike the 2 Klm steep track to the bottom of Double Falls as it was declared as steep, slippery and challenging with rocky outcrops, tree roots and a track which was close to the edge of a steep drop. Add to this the constant rain and the track beginning was mud puddles and of course Donnis knee problems. I resolved to walk that track. I woke this morning with my mind made up. Today was the day despite the hot and sunny forecast but I could see cloud cover over the mountains. Thank goodness the cloud cover remained. It was hot on the coast but overcast and chilly on top of the mountain.
The track, as promised in all the signs, was steep, slippery on the edge of vertical drop-offs and peppered with tree roots and rocks just waiting to jump out and snap the ankle or trip an unwary hiker.
Mud puddles still made the track a messy slippery trek. The track passes along the edge of steep cliffs, under fallen rocks, through caves and passes behind Double Falls.
Along the way I saw a large fat giant black skink. I am used to skinks which are no longer then 10 or 12 centimetres in length. These black species are also known as Land Mullets. This one was well in excess of 30 Cm.
At the base of the falls is a large pool area where despite the chill in the air and the even chillier water the temptation to stand under the falls was too much for a few women.
I had a snack here before beginning the slow climb back to the top. I arrived home tired but pleased for having completed the hike. Next I plan the longer 4 Klm trek which follows a different track to the top.