Nick Carroll: The Weirdest Easter Ever

8 Apr 2020 69 Share

Nick Carroll

Senior Writer

A Surf Coast Vicco crowd scrambles an Easter swell two years ago. Photo: From the Coastalwatch User Photo Gallery by piffdog.

A Surf Coast Vicco crowd scrambles an Easter swell two years ago. Photo: From the Coastalwatch User Photo Gallery by piffdog.

COASTALWATCH | NICK CARROLL

THE PLAGUE DESCENDS – An Ongoing Series on How the Pandemic Affects Our Coastal Surfing Lives

What are ya gonna do? Bash a tourist?

OK so the scene is now set.

Here’s a list of Australian surf spots that will now be closed for the Easter break.

All Gold Coast beaches are closed to all non-Gold Coast residents. If you live on the Gold Coast, and if you obey the nationwide social distancing and gathering laws, you can still surf Burleigh, Currumbin, Kirra, Snapper and most of the beach breaks. Nobody can surf the Spit, Surfers Paradise beach, or Coolangatta Beach between Greenmount and Kirra groyne. And by Friday, all the beach parking areas will be shut.

In Victoria, all surf spots on Phillip Island and the Bass Coast are closed. As of this morning, and again if you obey the nationwide social distancing and gathering laws, you can still surf Bells, Winki, Bird Rock and other spots west of Torquay.

In Sydney, Dee Why, Manly, Bondi, Bronte, Tamarama, Coogee and Maroubra are all closed, no surfing or anything. Most other beaches are open for short stay exercise, including surfing. On the open northern beaches, beach car parking is limited to one hour, resident or not.

All of Byron Shire’s beach parking lots are closed, but you can still surf if you can get to the surf.

A range of beaches on the NSW central and mid coast are closed. All national parks are closed, which shuts down access to many excellent remote surf spots around the whole of Australia’s coastline.

Everywhere is subject to social distancing rules, and no more than two people are allowed to congregate in a public space (excluding immediate family members).

Movement in Australia is also heavily restricted over Easter, with all non-essential travel (including surfing) subject to a wide range of heavy penalties. Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania have all closed their borders. In Western Australia, regional borders are also closed, which means Perth residents can’t drive down to Margaret River to surf. The basic message is: Stay Home.

Facts, facts, facts. What about emotions?

Surfing, like everything else right now, has never been in a stranger place.

With organised surfing in complete lockdown, surfing communities around the nation have been thrown back on to their own resources.

There’s been some good news stories. In WA’s south-west for instance, local boardriders clubs were brought into the room with Augusta/Margaret River council people and police, to talk through how they’d all deal with these once-in-a-lifetime circumstances together.

But mostly, surfers haven’t been consulted on any of this stuff, and in some areas, the strain is beginning to show. NSW north coast crew are pissed off with Queensland people coming south and with Sydney people coming north, and with all the Vanlyfers evicted from Byron and going to Lennox and Ballina instead. Torquay and Jan Juc people are pissed off with people coming down to their holiday houses. Some surfers are ropable about the restrictions placed on their actions; others are furious at surfers who seem to be ignoring the rules. Everybody’s pissed off with sunbakers.

Old behaviours are beginning to re-surface under this strain, behaviours muted in recent decades by a changing surfing world. One of Australia’s best known surfers posted on socials on Monday, saying in effect he wished the days of bashing non-locals were back. “Friends” piled in to agree with him. Some of what they wrote was sketchy in the extreme. Nobody pulled anybody up.

Out-of-towners! Blow-ins! Like a Lennox mate of mine wrote yesterday: “Locals hate all visiting surfers equally.” It hasn’t rung truer for some time.

A lot of it is just talk, sure. But we want to be careful about this re-surfacing. Just as we should all be about COVID-19. Old school 1970s style localism was always a lot darker than many older Australian surfers like to pretend. A lot of them have it hidden under a golden haze of nostalgia, but it wasn’t just about getting more waves for you and your mates. What the hell was “grommet bashing” about, for instance? Did anyone really understand what they were doing?

You’ve gotta hope nobody disgraces themselves with some violent action over the Easter break.

Down the track, who knows? Everything about the national and regional response to this pandemic has been marked by a single theme, constant change. With that has come uncertainty. It hasn’t helped.

But after Easter, Australia begins to move toward winter. Beaches south of 30 degrees south latitude become increasingly unpleasant — for anyone who doesn’t surf, that is.

At some point, this will pass. In the meantime, let’s not be idiots. Take it easy, stay home, surf where it’s ok and not where it isn’t. Don’t make it worse.

And for chrissake don’t punch someone just because you don’t know who they are.

Maroubra as seen from the Coastalwatch Surf Cam on April 08, 2020.

Maroubra as seen from the Coastalwatch Surf Cam on April 08, 2020.

If you're still wondering what is and isn't allowed, SMH published a fairly in depth and up to date guide that's worth keeping bookmarked for any lingering questions.

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