Joe Van Dijk

Tracks - - Phillip Island Views -

Joe’s just hit 18, but he’s too busy com­pet­ing to stop and get his li­cence. He reck­ons he’s dou­bled his 120 hours at the wheel but has for­got­ten to log it. A drive to Cac­tus might fix the sit­u­a­tion.

The Woola­mai Surf Life­sav­ing Club ap­peared in 1959, housed at what was then one of the state’s re­motest beaches, in an ex-mil­i­tary Nis­sen hut. It’s an im­pos­ing sight these days, as Joe runs past it. The surf’s light off­shore and blue as hell. Joe throws airs with the head­land in the back­ground, faded to lilac in the heat. Joe’s dad Rob­bie talks while Joe surfs: short and bearded, he’s been a com­mer­cial fish­er­man up the north­west coast at Ex­mouth. He and the fam­ily live out by the south­ern coast of the is­land now – be­fore that he spent his sum­mers here, and used to al­ter­nate with the north­west for surf trips.

Phillip Is­land can do bru­tal win­ters – it’s fa­mous for them – but to­day Joe could be any­where up the east coast. The dome-shaped banks, a righthander that races down the line. Joe’s tall and square, whip thin. He likes to scour the shorey banks, so close to the beach that he once got a salmon hook right through his big toe and had to have it cut out. His white hair stands out in the lineup – later when he surfs a righthander with the sun­set be­hind him it’s the hair that marks him out among the sil­hou­ettes. Ed shot him 18 months ago and thinks he’s surf­ing far bet­ter now – and he’s grown a foot.

Main: Joe Van Dijk pulling his spi­der-man act above a green-lantern lip. In­set: Joe roam­ing his is­land play­ground.

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