Is there anything better than a road trip in search of waves?

While it’s always wise to spend the long hours getting your local dialled in, nothing beats packing the car with boards and fins and hitting the road with your mates and some good tunes.

The anticipation of scoring, the search for a new discovery and the camaraderie shared with your crew. It all adds up to being the best memories of your salt encrusted life.

For many bodyboarders from the Sunshine State, making the journey over the border to the wave rich South Coast during the Autumn/Winter months usually pays off. That is exactly what Gold Coast quartet Tyson Ryan, Elliott Butler, Joel Rochford (filmer) and Jack Gore (photog) did recently.

Morning glow on the South Coast. Photo by Jack Gore

Words by Jack Gore and Elliott Butler | Photography by Jack Gore

The journey

by Jack Gore

After a little bit of discussion and some last minute prep as always, Tyson Ryan, Elliot Butler, Joel Rochford and myself somehow ended up with everything packed comfortably in a fancy new push to start Ford rental thing, south bound. We punched the drive down in one hit, with the only breaks being for disappointing pies, the toilet, and for Elliot to pick up a housing for his 6D camera. After damaging his neck pretty badly surfing just before we left, photography was Elliot’s way of getting as close as possible.

On the road south.

“Tyson had apparently been staunched by a shark whilst he sat out the back. In retrospect, that was pretty grim seeing as though this was less than a week before a local surfer had been mauled nearby.”

We arrived to a solid, working wedge (see Kiama Wedge shots) the minute we got there which was different. Especially different seeing as though there wasn’t a single person out. Tyson jumped straight out with no hesitation at all, and (Lachlan) Cramsie came down to say hello shortly after and paddled out for some too.

It wasn’t until dark that they came in, and Tyson had apparently been staunched by a shark whilst he sat out the back. In retrospect, that was pretty grim seeing as though this was less than a week before local surfer Brett Connellan was severely injured/mauled by a shark only down the road from where we were.


We went straight into town in the rain and sat in a dimly lit Dominos waiting for $5 pizzas, after finding out the cabin place we were going to stay at was closed for the night. Pretty stupid of us really. We desperately called every motel, hotel, and backpackers around only to find out nothing was open, which was a bit of a stitch up seeing as though it was pissing down rain, dark, and we were in pretty damp clothes. After an hour or so of calling everywhere in a two-hour vicinity, one of Tyson’s mates from further south offered us a place to crash the night. Needless to say we didn’t hesitate to start driving.

After a good sleep, change of clothes, and an even better morning of crowd less wedges, we were hungry. It was a routine trip to the local pie shop that almost caused a riot. We had just been surfing and shooting for the past couple of hours and everyone was famished and had one thing on their mind: Hayden’s pies. We walked into the bustling little shop and everyone decided to purchase their trusted pie flavours. Joel the butter chicken, Jack the honey roast pumpkin with feta, Tyson the trusty old steak bacon and cheese while I grabbed myself a peking duck pie.

Choices, choices, choices.

We were all content and decided to leave when out of the corner of my eye I saw big bald fella with a chef apron on. For some reason I knew it had to be Hayden but I walked up to the counter to ask him. After confirming that this person was in fact Hayden, I proceeded to ask what his favourite pie was. “Can’t go past the blessing of the fleet” he said. “Made with the finest swordfish, hermit crab and prawns, all blended up in a seafood bisque.” I couldn’t argue with the man himself so I decided to grab one for the road. Back in the car I opened up the pie and started to sample the fine specimen. Straight away everyone started freaking out and Tyson refused to drive me anywhere while I had the pie. The boys were convinced that my pie had left a lasting fishy smell in the car and they were not happy.

Tyson Ryan slotting into yet another South Coast cylinder.

The following few days just involved nothing more or less than completely empty lineups and fun waves wherever we seemed to go, and it wasn’t until we headed back north from our cabin after Tyson got a call from a trusted source that Mystics was good earlier that afternoon, that we encountered another wig out. We arrived to super crowded, bumpy 2-3ft waves, and Tyson decided to go out for a wave regardless. Within the hour he was back on the beach uttering words such as “crap” and “rubbish”. After a unanimous decision to head back to base, the sunrise started looking pretty nice so a detour to bombie was called for.

This South Coast bombie has anger issues.

Butler’s close call at the bombie

by Elliot Butler

We rocked up and there were some 3-4ft caverns happening. It didn’t taking much convincing from all the boys and I decided to suit up and get out there with my half broken neck. The sun had already gone down by this point but the boys encouragement urged me forward. I started suiting up and realised that someone had taken my flippers out of the car, with the only pair of fins being owned by Jack’s behemoth feet. I took the large fins and scaled the rocks, housing in hand and jumped into the brooding abyss.

“A little wave with far too much power for it size landed on me and ripped both fins straight off my feet, so I was basically stranded like a fish out of water.”

Another angle of the Bombie.

As soon as I jumped in, the water pulled me in every direction. Jack’s fins rattled around on my feet as they were about two inches too big but onward I pushed. I got out to the spot and looked up to the headland to see the fellas giving me the thumbs up. I sat around for a bit scoping out the lineup and generally freaking out about how deep it looked and how late it was but I was determined to get a couple of shots. After a while I looked around and felt that I was a bit out of position. A little wave with far too much power for it size landed on me and ripped both fins straight off my feet, so I was basically stranded like a fish out of water.

Would you want to be caught on the inside of this?

I knew I was in the wrong spot so I looked up to the fellas and they were pointing frantically out to sea. I started kicking as best I could with the behemoth flippers dragging me down as the biggest swell line I had seen that day started approaching. There appeared a foreboding black monster that painted the sky with a swirling mass of jagged water. I kicked with all my might for the horizon but as I looked to my left I could see the water drawing off the reef and the rocks starting to pierce the surface. I could feel the power of this almighty beast and I started to submerge like a submarine as the lip starting pitching. It was an almighty battle under there but I was victorious and surfaced on the other side with my half healed broken neck still intact unlike Jack’s fins. By this point I had more than satisfied my need to get in the water, and it was a very quick trip back to the safety at the top of the headland to rendezvous with my comrades. They were all saying they thought that was the end.

Safely on the rocks.

Empty waves and car troubles

by Jack Gore

The streak of uncrowded waves continued for the rest of the trip, with no more drama until the night before we left. After a real fun day of waves, we decided to head in to town and pick up a carton and get some dinner. Everything was going smooth, we even found a good special in the bottle shop on the beers, but then we had to drive to get dinner. Joel was driving, Tyson was in the passenger seat and me and Butler were sat in the back. I looked out the window on Butler’s side to see a car coming straight at us, they hadn’t even noticed the intersection. I only really had time to say “oi”, and by the time I’d even said that, the car had hit the back corner of our car and knocked us around.

I was initially more worried about Butler’s neck seeing as though it hit his side of the car, but being the tough bloke he is, he was fine. I then realised very quickly that this car we were in was a brand new, expensive SUV and it wasn’t ours at all. The woman who hit us was fine and completely admitted fault, but that didn’t stop the shit mood with the thought of a $6000 excess from the company hanging over our heads. Turns out we don’t have to pay that, but this saga still continues to this day, even Batemans Bay Police got involved the other week due to the woman not giving us her number or something along those lines. Pretty weird.

See more photographs of the trip in the gallery below:

See more of Jack Gore’s work at