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  • alexellenward

first stop: yamba

Groovy ghostbusters guy to the rescue. Van started losing revs as we pulled off the highway, but after a retired looking rockstar - complete with mullet and spiky belt - followed us into the coastal nook that is Yamba, everything was sweet. A local welcome.

Our first van view looked something like this: a cove nestled south of a grassy headland with an 1880’s lighthouse. Butter yellow lifesaving villa + beach houses up a steep hill to the left. A swimmer doing his laps in the ocean pool as the waves crash into it. Out in the waves now, we get out the back nice and easy. A local 60-something said to me that Cathos was a ‘shredder’ because she rode the wave all the way to the shore.


We drove to Coffs in the van, then pulled into Gallows Beach - Scottish-like headland to one side and low set mountains shrouded in tendrils of cloud to the other. A light drizzle covered us as we ran to the sand, and then water, to reunite with our four friends. Jack, Kris, Llewy and Justin. They had been on a week-long trip down south, and were now heading back up to Bris. The plans were loose - none of us much cared for being on our phones in the organising phase - yet I could tell we all appreciated each others’ company. Between powerful three-footers, we heard their tales of Bago Bluff and dancing too close to the fog-hidden cliff edge and lifeguard warnings for the “two inexperienced board-users to get out of the water”, saving the exchange of longer reflections for later.

Jack helped me find 'the channel’ and we finally got out back - past all the white wash - to see a pod of dolphins join us, flipping out of the water and catching waves alongside us. We stayed in the water for a couple of hours, then climbed the headland to get a better vantage over the underrated gem we had gravitated to.


We arrived at my mum’s friend’s two-storey beach shack in Angourie, complete with 90’s style panelled glass windows in the shower and a yellow, blue and white paint job, not to mention that Cathos had expressed her wish to live in a house of the exact colours earlier that day (we are manifesting our life here). It didn’t take long for Justin, Jack and Kris to find the keyboard, a guitar and a hand drum. Before long, we were listening to a rendition of ‘bemyself’ by The Parcels.

Jack and I started on the pasta. A creamy seafood one for the boys and a herby tomato one for Cathos and I. Llewy set down a case of Tuns on the bench. Within minutes, everyone magically had one within arm’s reach. Dinner round the wooden table outside brought out all sorts of stories. We could have stayed there all night, the six of us, if there wasn’t more music to be played and dreams to be had.


A sleepy-eyed walk to Lake Wooloweyah (‘big cedar trees’) where we all watched the flailing mullet jump out of the water, each speculating our own reason as to why. We shared bowls of rip-off nutrigrain and cups of coffee. In our little convoy of Lewy’s Prado and our Reggae Woman, we drove around to a few headlands before settling on ‘The Breakwall”, a small cove to the left of Yamba Main Beach. Long, smooth waves the length of the bay greeted us - perfect for those of us with the seven-foot-sixers. There were many with three or more of us going into shore on the same one. Party waves, Cathos called them. We saw dolphins passing through again. In the three-ish hours that we were out there - not one of us with the slightest clue to this - we were all children again, in our freest form.

We said our goodbyes after lunch.

The image ingrained into my brain: Lewy’s Prado peaking over the hill of Lakes Blvd in Yamba as Cathos, barefoot and in a giant yellow t-shirt, races them on the old, off-white cruiser bike from the house. A small beach town send-off for sure. They reached the crest of the hill and our time together was up.


cathos + alpal <3

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