Australia :: The Big Lap
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.
WHO NEEDS A TELLY WHEN YOU HAVE A BIG SCREEN VIEW LIKE THIS? PHOTO: RESPONDEK