THE JUN­GLE BOOK

Tracks - - Contents - STORY BY MIMI LA MON­TAGNE ALL PHO­TOS: TED GRAMBEAU

Two weeks ago, Luke Hynd was loung­ing on his bal­cony on the Gold Coast quite lit­er­ally twid­dling his thumbs. His feet rested on the salt-rusted rail­ing, his eyes shut. The norther­lies were blow­ing, the swell was push­ing straight past the points, the blue­bot­tles were in­vad­ing and go­ing for a surf was the far­thest thing from plau­si­ble.

“It was flat and shit and I was go­ing men­tal,” Louie said. His voice ag­i­tated just from the mem­ory. “But then Darcy (Ward) came ‘round one day and I started telling him sto­ries of a trip I’d taken a few years back – I’m not sure how it came up – but I was say­ing how I got re­ally fun beach-break-ey reefs, heaps of lefts, good winds and it was a beau­ti­ful place.” And then the duo re­alised that, hell, they weren’t do­ing any­thing else.

So three days later Louie had roped in his good friend and Rip Curl team­mate, Kipp Caddy, locked in pho­tog­ra­pher Ted Grambeau, and hopped on a plane.

“I had just re­turned from a long stint trav­el­ling through In­done­sia,” Kipp said, when asked how he got in­volved. “I’d only been home for a few days when I got a call from Louie. He said he might have a Search trip for me, and that he’d found a cool lit­tle stretch of coast that had fun waves. Be­fore I had a chance to think about it, I was en route to a new archipelago.”

“No poi­son, right?” It was sur­pris­ingly heavy, Louie thought, as the snake wrapped its thick, slug­gish body around his neck, drap­ing it­self along his arms and weav­ing around his back. The man looked up at Louie from his po­si­tion on the floor, cross-legged on a wo­ven mat, a cobra at his feet. He sized him up, tak­ing in the curly blonde locks, the vaguely sun­burnt face, the seem­ingly re­laxed pos­ture. A smirk spread across his face. “Just lit­tle poi­son. Only kid­ney fail­ure.”

be­gan to rise. This is a unique area, in terms of surf – it’s one of those places where you never know what you’re go­ing to find. There are so many dif­fer­ent nooks and cran­nies that no mat­ter the winds or the swells or the storms, there’s al­ways some­where to pad­dle out and get a head dip. That, and there aren’t any crowds. “When I first came here,” Louie re­calls, “there was no­body. I mean no­body. And now it’s be­com­ing a bit of a tourist spot – but it’s not a surf tourist spot. There’s a huge dif

fer­ence be­tween those two things. I mean, there are a few surfers here and there, but for some rea­son they’re all Rus­sian and they’re all be­gin­ners – they don’t go near any of the waves that you or I would surf.” So each day the boys would wake up, hop in the tray of their guide’s ute, and drive. The sin­gle coast road bends and tucks and me­an­ders in line with the ocean, never let­ting the blue stray out of sight. With ev­ery turn the boys would check an­other wave, an­other reef, with­out ever hav­ing to turn their heads. “A lot of the time, you didn’t even have to park. You’d just drive, check, drive, check, and even­tu­ally, de­cide on some­where that looked like the best op­tion. That was the hard­est part re­ally, choos­ing.” The rou­tine? Choose. Surf. Hop out and find cover. Wait for the af­ter­noon storm to blow through. Drive. Check. Surf again. Head back to the town. Nap. Head into the jun­gle. That last bit – the jun­gle – that was the real pull of this trip. See, Kipp Caddy is a slab-hunt­ing ma­niac. That’s his shtick. And as you might be able to tell, the boys weren’t ex­actly chas­ing heav­ing 15-foot­ers. So, what was he do­ing there? “My thing is surf­ing slabs and crit­i­cal waves,” says Kipp, “but at the end of the day, I love trav­el­ling, and I love be­ing able to surf while check­ing out new places. Hon­estly? Know­ing the waves weren’t go­ing to be huge made the en­tire trip a lot more re­lax­ing. It can get re­ally in­tense in the lead-up to a big swell – ev­ery­one is on edge, pre-amp­ing on what the con­di­tions might be like, what boards to ride, etc, etc. But this trip didn’t have any of that, and just know­ing that the waves were go­ing to be fun let me get into my flow – re­ally en­joy the place and the waves with­out all those in­tense vibes.”

The place. The place is un­like any­thing else. And as men­tioned be­fore, the jun­gle. “Af­ter we’d surf, we’d head out to see some of the more ru­ral parts of the coun­try. Where all the na­ture is.” Louie ex­plains. “As soon as you get 20 min­utes in­land, you’re driv­ing past ele­phants and mon­keys and snakes. You look out the win­dow and see pea­cocks fly­ing by. It’s in­sane how much na­ture is there. It’s untouched, and that’s so rare to see in this world, I think. It’s al­most like when you leave the coast, you head straight into the Jun­gle Book. No bet­ter story will il­lus­trate said Jun­gle Book than one of Kipp’s. He re­counted a day on the trip when the crew de­cided to head out on a tour through the na­tional park, when a mon­key stole Ted’s $2500 cam­era. “It was only a lit­tle guy,” Kipp said, rather ex­cit­edly for his nor­mally lack­adaisi­cal at­ti­tude, “but he was so ag­gres­sive that he straight up wouldn’t give the cam­era back! We spent al­most an hour play­ing cat-and-mouse with him, and when we fi­nally man­aged to get it back, he ran over to Ted’s cam­era bag and started ri­fling through it. Ted ran over freak­ing out, but the mon­key had a pretty high qual­ity left hook. He al­most cleaned Ted up!” It’s mo­ments like that … those ran­dom ex­pe­ri­ences, those unique mem­o­ries, that made this trip – and frankly, that are miss­ing from a lot of surf trips these days. “It’s a re­ally dif­fer­ent feel­ing than most trips,” says Louie, “when you go to a unique place that you wouldn’t nor­mally think of for a surf trip. It’s go­ing to a place to ex­pe­ri­ence an­other cul­ture and a wild place, and on the side you score fun waves. It’s just re­ally fun, surf­ing in a unique area like this. There were kids play­ing cricket on the beach, and they were all froth­ing out be­cause they hadn’t re­ally seen surf­ing that much.” Speak­ing of cricket, they’re fa­nat­ics in this part of the world. And de­spite the fact that nei­ther Kipp nor Louie are avid crick­eters, to say the least, they both found the kids’ en­thu­si­asm … en­ter­tain­ing. “They

hon­estly couldn’t have cared less about surf­ing,” Louie says, laugh­ing. “But they would still come up and talk to you. The first ques­tion would be about your board, and then they’d go straight to ‘Who do you go for in cricket?’ “I’m not a cricket fan at all, but I knew that Aus­tralia was hav­ing a shocker, so I’d just say ‘Not Aus­tralia, we’re play­ing like crap!’ And they’d just love it. They’d be your best mates al­most in­stantly.” A mas­sive part of ev­ery trip you go on is the peo­ple you meet. Your in­ter­ac­tions and ex­pe­ri­ences with lo­cals shape the way you talk, and think, about that place upon your re­turn home. “I don’t know what it is about this place,” says Louie, “but out of all my trav­els, I’ve met some of the nicest peo­ple here. Some peo­ple say that af­ter a trip not re­ally mean­ing it, but these peo­ple are re­ally, truly self­less. I’d give some­one a tip and they’d al­most try to deny it. They’d say, ‘Nah, we just wanted to help you!’ That doesn’t hap­pen, any­where. And this coun­try has been through a hell of a lot, so it’s in­ter­est­ing to me that the peo­ple are so kind-hearted and gen­er­ous. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s re­fresh­ing.

“For me, there are two parts to a Search trip. One half is to go and find per­fect, pumping waves with no one out. And then the other half is about go­ing some­where you wouldn’t ex­pect – a re­ally cool place – meet­ing new peo­ple, and find­ing waves on the side. Dis­cov­er­ing what a new place, a new coun­try, is all about. And that’s just, uh, what’s the word – it’s about find­ing out about the world, be­ing able to ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent cul­tures and dif­fer­ent places, while still be­ing able to surf – and maybe you even get to show some­one what surf­ing "It's not just find­ing the per­fect bar­rel." Even for some­one like Kipp, whose sole pur­pose in life IS to find that per­fect bar­rel, agreed. “What’s the Search all about? Well, this was my first time re­ally Search­ing, and af­ter this ex­pe­ri­ence I would say that, to me, it’s about get­ting out of your com­fort zone and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing new places, peo­ple and waves. It’s about go­ing some­where com­pletely new. No ex­pec­ta­tions, just go­ing and see­ing what you find. It’s in­spired me to travel.”

TOP: HARD TO TELL WHO HAS THE BEST HOOD RE­ALLY. BOT­TOM: LUKE LETTIN' THE CURLS TWIRL.

THEY DON'T LIKE CRICKET, THEY LOVE IT HERE.

KIP CADDY WITH A MOD­ERN VER­SION OF THE DROP KNEE TURN.

LEFT: KIP IN FULL FLIGHT. RIGHT: COOL HAND LUKE, CHARM­ING THE SNAKE.

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