I stretch to life in my swag, covered in dew, reeking of grog, basking in Dutch oven warmth. Rufty’s foot has found a home too close to my face. Cheers mate. Tristan’s already up and frothing. Yeah, he slept like a baby – the Florist – always smelling like roses. The mozzies would've left him in peace too, guaranteed. I wipe sleep from my eyes, jump to my feet, crack my neck, touch my toes, hold, raise back up, lift my palms to the heavens, breathe deeply. Yoga as it should be; fast, efficient, no ‘omms’, no tea, no chakra-praising-wank-offs. I’m good to go.
We’ve slept in the north Boomerang car park. It’s illegal, I guess, if you get caught. I’m sure you won’t do hard time in the slammer for sleeping the way mankind has for millions of years but, naturally, some beige uniform civil servants with knee-high white socks like enforcing nonsense laws in the modern world, dolling out hefty fines along the way. Over the fence, our favourite slice of north coast heaven is doing its thing, ruler edged lines of swell marching to shore. Boomers, you little beauty. We rustle through our board-bags in the light of the sun moments before it arrives, the air filled with the unmistakable sounds of surfers; the hacksaw to-and-fro of waxing your board, smooshing of sunscreen hitting leathery skin, wetsuit zips pull closed. Ex-girlfriends have always hated these sounds…‘you’ll never compete with fibreglass and saltwater baby, I’m sorry’…I’m not sorry.
Surfers don’t walk to the water’s edge, they run, through the dunes like five year olds, barefoot grown men, lives defined by playing in the ocean. Boomerang Beach is empty, no people at least. A dawn surf always carries the risk of big boys in grey suits with dorsal fins and rows upon rows of razor sharp hungry chompers, searching the lineup for brekky. I suppress my very real fear of being ripped limb from limb to feed a protected prehistoric beast. Everyone dies somehow, may as well make it interesting. We run to the very north corner of the beach, jump in the rip leading out to the lineup. The sun winks hello beneath a lone cloud on the horizon. Boomerang’s north headland stretches out to sea, sloping down sharply to the beyond-blue water. There's an A-frame peak with rights running back into the headland, lefts drifting away down the beach. Take your pick, you can’t go wrong, just don't waste any time. This breathless, sheet glass morning won't last forever.
I squint through the glare, grab my moment, stroke into the first wave of the session through bath-warm, summer water. Rufty gives me the obligatory "Yeeeewhhh" as I drop down, push to my feet. I catch a glimpse of the headland soaking up morning sun as I twist my chest up the wave, eye my sweet spot and drive my back foot through the wave’s shoulder, feeling weightless as the top turn unwinds. Surfing? You never really get anywhere near good, but every kooking moment's worth it for one decent wack off the top. I paddle back out, watching Tristan and Rufty attack the next two waves of the set, bottom turning through liquid glass, flying up the face, carving top turns, leaving spray hanging over the sun’s rays as they descend once more into the wave’s early morning shadow. "Yeeeeewhhh"! We ride the Boomerang playground for four hours straight. The crowds roll in as the nor-easter starts blowing and our stomachs get growling.
While a surfer runs in to the ocean, there's always a lazy, meandering motion back to land. Eventually we stand on the shore, wipe salt from our eyes, face the waves a final time. Boards under our arms, saltwater drips from our calves to leave dots in the sand like priceless Aboriginal works of art soon to be washed away in the tides. The perfect morning's over. There'll be plenty more. Without surfing and places like this, we'd probably never see each other, perhaps not even be friends, but here we stand in the summer glow of Pacific Palms and know without speaking that it’s damn good to be alive, it's damn good to call Australia home.
Liam Carroll is the author of Slippery, a story about capitalism on steroids, set in the commodities trading world of Southeast Asia, and Sweet Dreams of Fanta, a nostalgic romp in time back to the Sydney of 1988, seen through the eyes of a freckly, moon-faced, seven year old Fanta addict and Balmain Tigers lover.