Tag Archives: surfer

W – Whale Beach, Australia…A-Z Challenge.

For those of you who’ve ever been to Whale Beach, I can hear you calling loud and clear: “What are you talking about? That’s not Whale Beach!!”

However, today I decided to challenge your sense of the perspective of place. Instead of just viewing Whale Beach from it’s classic postcard perspective with its rocky headlands at each end and the sandy beach in between, we’re tracing snail trails across a rock pool on the Southern headland. I’ve always loved tracing and photographing their curly trails. They’re so creative, and seem to reflect my state of mind. There’s no such thing as a straight line from A to B.

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Palm Beach Ferry

After that brief explanation, I’d like to welcome you back to Places I’ve Been, my theme for the 2020 A-Z Challenge and as you already know, we’re heading off to Whale Beach.

Whale beach Map

A Map of Northern Sydney with Whale Beach top right.

It’s a bit of a complicated trip, and we’ll be catching  the ferry from Ettalong to Palm Beach, which will take us across Broken Bay with stunning views across to Lion Island. From Palm beach we’ll be getting a lift to Whale Beach, which is not the easiest place to reach via public transport. However, that’s also part of its quaint appeal. It has a very relaxed village feel, and doesn’t get the crowds during the Summer peak.  Indeed, many of the dwellings here are weekenders and while these blow-ins might live someone else, they’re largely considered locals, at least among themselves.

Whale Beach

Whale Beach looking North. CC BY-SA 4.0

I know “Whaley” very well. Indeed, it’s been my home. Our family used to have a house on Whale Beach Road, just across from the beach. Well, there was the slight matter of needing to climb up 200 stairs to get back to the house. That could be very challenging. Yet, there was a spot roughly halfway, where you could turn around, pause, and point out the view and distract your friends from your acute shortage of breath. It was often my salvation, not that I was that unfit even back then. Let’s just say there were a lot of stairs and they did go straight up!!

Whale Beach trike

Trike Heading Out To Sea, Whale Beach (looking South). 

My parents bought the place at Whale Beach, while I was still at uni. Unfortunately, I didn’t drive. So, unless I was with friends, I had to catch the dreaded 190 bus from Wynyard Station, which grunted along for at least 90 minutes from point to point, and that doesn’t factor in the steep walk from Surf Road straight over the top of the hill to reach Whale Beach Road. It might not be one of the world’s tallest peaks, it was a pretty decent climb.

Whale Beach Estate 1928

However, since my parents’ sold the house about twenty years ago, we won’t be revisiting the old house, and we’ll be heading straight down Surf Road to the beach. Indeed, I forgot to tell you we have a surfboard on the roof and we could even be driving a Kombi. Not a splitty, because that’s well beyond our price range, and I suspect we’re driivng something rustically unreliable. After all, that’s the less than romantic reality of being a true Kombi owner these days.

 

 

Whale Beach is a surf beach, especially at the Northern end where there’s a cool rip called “The Wedge”. I’m not even going to pretend that I know what that’s about. However, I have photographed quite a few surfers down there over the years. Watched them sitting on their boards bobbing up and down like corks waiting for the wave, while their faithful mutts sit on the beach waiting. At least, that’s how it used to be back in the day. Dogs off the leash are probably incarcerated now. Hey, even the humans are in trouble these days thanks to the coronavirus. A couple of footballers made headlines and were fined for flauting social distancing today. However, even I’m getting itchy feet and I have more incentive than most for staying put, and that doesn’t include sitting on Whale Beach and contemplating life, the universe and everything. Rather, these days have to revamp the walk and talk into some kind of walk and think. Is it possible? I’m not convinced. It’s certainly not easy to walk and write, although I could possibly argue that writing is work and the beach is my office, just as long as I stay away from Bondi!

Whale Beach Feet

Anyway, let’s rewind a little. As I said, my parents owned the house while I was at uni. So, of course, there were parties, usually with a ratio of way too many blokes to girls. There was love and heartbreak, not just for myself but also my friends. There were lonely stretches staying there for weeks at a time all by myself, but resulted in prolific writing and no doubt long hours talking on the phone. However, every night as regular as clockwork, a light switched on at the Southern end of the beach. The light fell right across the breakers and snaked around with the waves. It was absolutely magnificent and a memory which almost defined my soul and brought me such peace. Joy doesn’t need to cost the earth or be high tech.

Whale Beach also became a place of solace. Somewhere we could take friends who were going through tough times, and even combusting with self-inflicted angst. We’d walk along the beach or walk around to Palm Beach. It was a place of gentle, compassionate healing and casting all your cares off the cliffs and out to sea. For many of us, myself included, there was a Christian spiritual aspect to this, but I can’t speak for the rest. People from many walks of life came to the house, and had their own beliefs. It was not not a place of judgement, at least, from my perspective.

Rainbow Lorrikeets

A Pair of Rainbow Lorrikeets Having A Cup of Tea on the Balcony.

Before I head off, I just want to tell you about some extra special visitors to the house. There are the birds, especially the Rainbow Lorrikeets. They’re absolutely beautiful and ever so friendly with their sweet chatter.

Whale Beach is why we live at Umina Beach. It’s Whale Beach on a beer budget.

Have you ever been to Whale Beach? What did you love about it? Mind you, from my point of view, what is there not to love?

Best wishes,

Rowena

Santa’s Australian Post-Christmas Escape.

You couldn’t blame Santa for needing a bit of a break after supervising all his elves and dashing round the planet on his sleigh. After all, he must have the most stressful job on Earth.

So, here he is hiding out at Lennox Head, South of Byron Bay on Australia’s East Coast catching some waves.

Of course, I had to join him. While I’m not much chop as a surfer, today must have been my lucky day because I not only managed to stand up, I also stayed dry. That’s quite an achievement.

By the way, I should mention that I’ve enjoyed feeling 21 again on this holiday. I’m not looking forward to returning to responsibility when the kids go back to school at the end of January. It’s been absolute bliss drifting along for a bit and not needing to be anywhere at a particular time. No lines etched in the sand. They’ve all been washed away.

Have you ever been surfing and do you have any stories to share?

Best wishes,

Rowena

Gyuto Monks of Tibet in Australia.

Yesterday, I shared my serendipitous encounter where I met a group of Gyuto Monks from Tibet at my local beach in sunny Australia, not far from Sydney.

Today, I wanted to share a few more photos and delve further into what the monks are about and why they’re in Australia.

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Photo: Rowena Curtin

After all, if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably need to have the details pointed out to i.e these monks wear the the same robes as the esteemed Dalai Lama and “are masters of Tibetan Buddhist tantric ritual and their lives are dedicated to practicing tantric ideals. To be with them, to observe and be touched by their humanity, is to see kindness in action.”

That said, I have read and posted about The Pursuit of Happiness  by the Dalai Lama and Howard Carter in addition to yesterday’s post: Accidents, Blessings & Tibetan Monks at an Australian Beach.

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Much of this is beyond my understanding and experience but I strive to place love, compassion and empathy at the centre of my life…values which are lived and breathed by the Holy men.

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At one with the wave. Photo Rowena Newton at Wamberal, NSW.

I don’t know if I’ve ever thought of surfing as a spiritual activity before but it has to be. Obviously, surfing is intimately connected with the ocean, the waves and nature and being close to the ocean always makes me feeling closer to God, feeling his wonder, majesty and spirit all around me. It blows me away. After all, God occupies our entire universe and isn’t shut inside a building.

In an interview with Australian Surf Champion Nick Carroll,  broadcaster Caroline Jones asked: “Is there something about the moment when you’re absolutely concentrated there on what’s happening, that is, a feeling that as well as being frightening, a moment of great peace, or joy or something very extraordinary?

He replied: “Yes, surely.If you want to put it into a religious framework, Eastern religions deal with moments like that better than what we consider are usual forms of religion because they do deal with cathartic moments. The Zen Buddhists deal with them very well. You get moments where your whole body, soul and mind are just concentrated on doing something in the surf. When it’s very big and you catch a wave and take off there’s usually, on a big wave in Hawaii, several seconds during that wave where you really throw yourself over the brink, you really have to forget about everything, totally, to make it. You have to forget about trying to do something, you have to just get up, trust your instinct and just fall into the wave. It’s during seconds like that that you seem to just  totally disappear, you as a being don’t exist at that moment. It’ hard to express, you throw yourself into the moment that you’re actually inside everything that’s happening, you’re inside the wave, you’re inside your surfboard and what it’s doing. You’re inside all the landscape around you and the ocean as it’s surging, you get totally inside the moment and it’s so intense that time disappears, everything disappears. You disappear, you’re not thinking of you Nick Carroll or whoever. It’s way beyond that.

If you’re going to make a very big wave you have to be totally unified with everything that’s happeneing. You have to know absolutely everything the board’s doing, what’s happening with the wave, where the water is on the wave, how fast the water’s moving up the face of the wave, what’s happening with the wind, where there might be a couple of people in the way, and I don’t think you can know about that if you choose to take the form of thinking that we do in our everyday lives, where I’m very aware of me, Nick Carroll. Your brain just can’t handle it, it has to throw stuff away to fit it all in. And so a lot of what it throws away is the useless stuff, the ego, the “I’m Nick Carroll, I’ve got fears, worries, doubts etc”___all very useless stuff. To take all that information in about what’s happening, to get right inside it, you have to ignore a lot and discard it.2.”

I experience this myself through my writing, photography and also through playing the violin. I know that sense of merging and oneness and it’s incredible.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed riding the wave with the Tibetan Monks of Gyuta, even if it was only from the shore. Unfortunately, we left before they hit the waves…not in their robes but in the safety of board shorts and life vest.

To view TV coverage of the event and of the monks surfing: http://www.nbnnews.com.au/2016/10/05/surfing-monks-create-waves-in-umina/

Have you have any experiences with the Dalai Lama of the Tibetan Monks of Gyuta? I would love to hear your experiences and how you felt.

xx Rowena

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Hopefully some of his calm brushed off on me.

Sources

  1. About the Gyuto Monks of Tibet in Australia

2. Caroline Jones, The Search for Meaning, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1989 p. 56.