Aus­tralia :: The Big Lap

Tracks - - Rapture -

No need to board a jet plane to find pre­mium waves, hairy-balled ad­ven­tures, pris­tine wilder­ness and pumping surf cities if you live in Oz. You could de­vote your life to ex­plor­ing our coastal fringes and not see it all. Most surfers aim for the big ticket waves that cor­ner post our perime­ter: The Gold Coast's dreamy points, Torquay's cold wa­ter equiv­a­lents, the brawny slabs of Mar­garet River, the iso­lated desert lefts of the North West. Link­ing them all to­gether re­quires a sturdy 4WD and a cal­en­dar year (at least). Known as the Big Lap it's of­ten un­der­taken by grey no­mads, Ger­man back­pack­ers and work-shy surfers in their prime. But as for­mer Tracks editor Tim Baker has demon­strated you can be a mid­dle-aged fam­ily man and still pull it off (check out his ex­cel­lent travel book Sur­fari). Aus­tralia's coast­line to­tals 35,877 kilo­me­tres with an ad­di­tional 23,859 when you chuck in our is­lands. Most of it is sur­fa­ble – even Dar­win and Broome gets waves in a cy­clone – and big chunks get world class on their day. Best of all, de­spite con­gested cities and east coast sprawl, Aus­tralia is still frig­gin' big and largely empty. You get a real sense for the coun­try's sun-burnt ex­panse if you drive across the Nullar­bor (where you can just about steer with your feet) or vir­tu­ally any­where in WA. Tas­ma­nia's world her­itage listed south west coast of­fers the op­po­site ex­treme: dense old growth for­est, vo­lu­mi­nous pre­cip­i­ta­tion and hy­per­ther­mic wa­ter. And then there's all those other is­lands we tend to for­get about: King, Kan­ga­roo, Flin­ders, Rot­tnest, and over 8000 more. Dig­ging deep into your own coun­try can be more sat­is­fy­ing than skim­ming across a more ex­otic one. How many of us can say we know much about our indige­nous her­itage – the old­est con­tin­u­ous cul­ture on earth? While the Big Lap is en­tic­ing it's not the only way to get to know this Great South­ern Land. Surf ad­ven­tur­ing around Oz can be savoured in in­stal­ments. Two weeks here, two weeks there. All you need is a car and a board and a tent.


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