Tasmania was good to me but the brief Tasmanian times were over. I spent my last day drinking in a small town with a retired maths teacher who told me in his darkest times he would stroll the paddocks and talk to sheep at night.
Next evening the boat lumbered out to sea and rocked all night as it was battered by a fierce storm and an 8 meter swell.
I slept on a bench on the top deck where empty tinnies rolled around the floor and the rain leaked from the ceiling. Empty. The chairs swiveled with the rocking boat. I’d step outside for a smoke occasionally. The waves cracking into the hull would make the whole vessel shudder and soon after a rain of spray from the impact would fall on me. I didn’t get much sleep.
I had a lot to think about.
Like, where to next?
I’m like a dog chasing a car. When I catch one I don’t know what to do with it.
That’s how it rolls when I’m looking for waves. Its sketch looking at a raw 3 meter swell wrap around a slab of basalt with bullkelp ripping up the face. It’s a tough call to suit up and paddle across that deep channel to throw yourself into what is really, when you think about it, a pretty stupid situation.
More often than not on this trip I made the call not to go. Straight up. I ain’t brave.
I love the search though. Finding breaks.
From rumors, faded shots in an old surf mag you found in a servo toilet, from looking at a map and just going ‘I reckon that’s got potential’.
I met some of the people who were the first to find and surf these waves while I was looking around this coast. The ones who named them.
The ones who drink concrete.
“Man was born for society. However little He may be attached to the World, He never can wholly forget it, or bear to be wholly forgotten by it. Disgusted at the guilt or absurdity of Mankind, the Misanthrope flies from it: He resolves to become an Hermit, and buries himself in the Cavern of some gloomy Rock. While Hate inflames his bosom, possibly He may feel contented with his situation: But when his passions begin to cool; when Time has mellowed his sorrows, and healed those wounds which He bore with him to his solitude, think you that Content becomes his Companion? Ah! no, Rosario. No longer sustained by the violence of his passions, He feels all the monotony of his way of living, and his heart becomes the prey of Ennui and weariness. He looks round, and finds himself alone in the Universe: The love of society revives in his bosom, and He pants to return to that world which He has abandoned. Nature loses all her charms in his eyes: No one is near him to point out her beauties, or share in his admiration of her excellence and variety. Propped upon the fragment of some Rock, He gazes upon the tumbling waterfall with a vacant eye, He views without emotion the glory of the setting Sun. Slowly He returns to his Cell at Evening, for no one there is anxious for his arrival; He has no comfort in his solitary unsavoury meal: He throws himself upon his couch of Moss despondent and dissatisfied, and wakes only to pass a day as joyless, as monotonous as the former.”
― Matthew Gregory Lewis, The Monk
Akira Kurosawa shot his last film when he was nearly blind. It was an adaptation of Hamlet set in feudal Japan. It was an epic.
I watched a documentary on the making of the film. So the day is set up, 100’s of extras are ready, foot-soldiers, Samurai on horseback, a giant castle set.
This massive sequence, it’s been rehearsed dozens of times. Now they only need to shoot it.
As they roll on the first take a heavy fog falls upon the set.
The crew panic and turn to their leader, the ancient Mr. Kurosawa, perched in his directors chair above the whole scene.
‘Sir what will we do?’
Without pause he lifts a hand and points behind them all, past the hundreds of actors, the lighting rigs, the crew and the 360 degree replica feudal-era styled castle set.
The frail, near blind, auteur points to a back-lit mountain peaks with drifts of cloud pouring down over its shoulders.
“Shoot the mountain…”