The freedom of going North II

Would you get bored if you weren’t working, studying or being a zombie in front of a screen? As soon as I decided to stay in Sydney I found my life revolving solely around the waves and weather. When I wasn’t surfing, I had to find things to keep myself busy. At first, I feared that I might get bored. I quickly realized that there are always things to do, if you are willing to do them. There were only a few days that I felt like there wasn’t a whole lot for me to do, but typically that was only because of several consecutive days of rain and unsurfable conditions. Even on those days I never felt bored. I just had to be a little more creative coming up with things to do.

After three days of surfing and exploring the area on my own, a German guy (who I will call Tim) showed up in a camper van. At first glance he looked like a dirty backpacker. With Middle Eastern heritage and months of the fierce Australian sun, Tim’s skin was dark, an unkempt beard and well worn cloths made him look a little sketchy. After a short conversation I realized that all my first impressions were wrong and we had similar intentions about our time in Australia. Tim decided to hang out and surf with me until I leave for Bali. Suddenly I had a friend to surf, eat, drink and play chess with.

When the waves were good I would surf for 3+ hours a day. A session in the morning and another in the afternoon after lunch. It seemed like there was one swell after another, leaving only about 4 no-surf days in the 3 weeks. Tim and I took a few daytrips to nearby beaches when the waves were no good at our beach. But typically my days were spent at the beach, reading, surfing and eating. It was definitely the surf bum lifestyle that I had been wanting for a while.

Unfortunately, there was a “No Camping” sign at our parking lot. The rangers only patrolled on the weekends and I usually moved my car just outside the parking lot at night so that I wouldn’t risk getting a ticket for camping. During the day we were parked right in the center of the parking lot with the best view of the surf and lagoon. It was obvious that we were ‘camping’ but at the same time, we were not technically doing anything wrong unless we slept on the beach. Then the locals started to get tired of seeing “dirty backpackers” camped out on their beautiful beaches and so they started to file complaints against us.

Three days before leaving to Bali I had a brief chat with the police. I was suspiciously reading a book in my car, so they stopped by to see what I was doing. They quickly realized that I was harmless and just wasting time, so they wished me well on my travels.

The next day the rangers came. After surfing an afternoon session, Tim and I were sitting by our cars and talking. Typically the rangers wear bright vests and make themselves known. This time the ranger first passed us without a vest on to see what we were doing and if we had parking tickets. I had my sticker, so I had nothing to fear. But Tim never paid for the parking and always tried to keep an eye out for rangers. Once the ranger got to Tim’s van, she pulled out her vest and ticket machine and started to give him a ticket. As he saw it happening, he jumped up saying “No, no, no” and went to talk to her. Surprisingly, he sweet talked his way out of getting a ticket and moved his van outside the beach parking.

The ranger then came over to me to have a little chat. First she asked why I had a car registered in a different state and a residents parking permit. I quickly made up an excuse that she accepted. She then went on to tell me about why she was there. Apparently they had 3 complaints about us and so she was investigating. People were not happy with us “camping” there. But she said that just as long as we had parking permits and didn’t sleep in the parking lot, we were not doing anything wrong. She even suggested that I sleep in the neighborhoods at night (which is what I usually did). During the whole conversation, the ranger kept trying to convince me that she wasn’t the bad guy and just doing her job. I already knew this and wasn’t worried about it. Plus, I was leaving to Bali the next day, so I wouldn’t be bothering the locals any more.

It was a funny and ridiculous experience to end my time in the Northern Beaches. I was surprised that it took 3 weeks for them to notice and do something about us being there. Overall, it was a great experience filled with great waves and fun times. I will definitely come back after Bali for a couple more days of surf before heading further north. But now it’s off to Bali for a little birthday vacation.