Western Oz, trip report (longish)

Western Oz, trip report (longish)

Post by David San » Fri, 28 Feb 1992 00:15:15

I have been travelling for the last couple of months, and spent
Christmas in Western Australia. After asking around for info last year
on WA (and Oz in general), a number of people asked me to post my
experiences. Sorry for the delay, and thanks to everyone who responded
with info, it was a great help. In the end I didn't get to do very
much windsufing (I had lots of other things to do), but here is an
account of a few days sailing around the Perth area.

I arrived in Perth a couple of days before Christmas, and immediately
set about finding a car and board to hire. I rang about ten
windsurfing shops listed in the yellow pages. A few were prepared to
hire short-boards, and I finally decided to hire from a place called
"Broadway windsurfing". They seemed fairly well equipped with gear,
although it didn't seem like they hired stuff out very often since
most of the gear they gave me was unused. I hired a brand new tiga 257
wave, a rig including a couple of Pryde raf cam wave sails (1 new), and a
fancy roof rack (new!) for A$ 180 for a period of six days - a pretty good
price assisted by a weak Australian Dollar.

I met up with my girlfriend from the airport (she had come directly from
the UK, whilst I had been travelling for a couple of weeks already)
and we drove south from Perth, near a town called called Yallingup about three
hours away. We stayed in a place overlooking Smiths beach, which was
very nice. Christmas eve was completely windless, but on Christmas day
we went down to the beach near Margaret River, which is famous for its
massive surf. I read in a surfing mag somewhere (I usually read them
in airport newsagents) that in a recent contest (last Oct/Nov I think)
they had the biggest waves for any contest outside Hawaii. Maybe so,
but by the time we arrived the waves were only a few feet high and not
really sailable at the main break as they were forming too close in
(and all the while I had been worrying about the waves being too big).

However apart from the main break at Margaret river, there are a few
other minor breaks to the left which are accessible from a nice beach
called something like Prevelly Park. I rigged a 5.5 and spent about
half an hour playing chicken with the rocks trying to work out which
bits of the reef were sailable. Fortunately a few "locals" turned up
and were able to explain where to sail, so I had a pretty good warm up.

On the next day we didn't have much wind, but late in the day a few
whitecaps appeared out at sea on Smiths beach near where we were staying,
so I had about an hour on flat water. Apparently when it gets a bit
more windy Yallingup beach is quite a popular spot. I was the only person
sailing at Smiths.

On the day after boxing day we went back to Perth. According to the
locals the weather had been very strange there over Chrismas - it
rained for a start, and the Freemantle Doctor (the famous summer
afternoon wind) had not been blowing. Fortunately it chose to return
that day, and provided solid 4 - 4.5m conditions. The beaches of Perth
north of Freemantle are all pretty similar, since the coastline is
very straight, and don't produce real surf waves (why not?). I started
at Cottesloe (sp?) beach where a few waves seemed to be shaping up to
the left of the groyne. Later I sailed up-wind about half a mile to
where there were a lot of people out (the grass is always greener) but
the conditions were not better, but there were fewer rocks!

On my last full day I drove up to a well known windsurfing mecca,
Lancelin, about 2 hours away. There is a protected lagoon providing
clean wind and really flat water, excellent for screaming gybes
withiin feet of the beach.  By the time the cars have parked, the
beach is about a mast-length long, from bumper to water, and fills
pretty rapidly with rigs. Not a great place to come if you don't
windsurf. If you do, it is pretty easy to see why it is
 so popular, because as well as providing excellent flat water
sailing, the reef a few hundred meters out throws up some nice waves.
The waves were a little slack that day ('though the wind was about 4.5m),
which meant that the best sections of the reef were becoming insanely
crowded at times. The crowds really got to me once or twice, and I
found myself searching for quieter wave spots downwind. Although there are
probably better and less crowded waves to be found elsewhere up the coast,
this place is well worth a visit: the combination of waves and flat water
really is fun. For pure windsurfing holidays, the camp
site at the back of the beach seemed perfect.

I didn't have the time or the luck to do any windsurfing in the other places
in Australia that I visited (although I did quite a lot of boogie-boarding,
and found a great place for it on the east coast near Ulladulla)
but thanks again to all those who gave me the relevant info. If anyone
wants to know any other details, feel free to drop me a line.

You have got to stop off somewhere on the way home from Oz, so *obviously*
I had to stop in Maui for a bit more than a week (far far too short!!). I'll
try and post a _brief_ report soon on my experiences and the latest gossip
from the beach.