Next door to Terry Klemm, Greg Hogan’s planing bottom curves. He thinks he’s been shaping boards in the Cowes factory for “10 or 20 years”. Glyndon Ringrose’s kelpie is asleep nearby in the foam dust. “They love the dust because it’s an insulator,” says Hoges. “Cool in summer and warm in winter.” Apparently no amount of screaming power tools will wake the hound – he’s only disturbed when the electrical lead whacks his flanks on the way past.
Hoges’s history here mirrors the constant movement between Gippsland and the island. He used to live in nearby Inverloch, shaped under his own name, and was something of an identity around Kilcunda and Inverloch. He says island surfers are more connected to the coastline to their east – that is, the more remote Gippsland coast, than they are to the west, towards the peninsula and Melbourne.
Hoges has been surfing the island since he was 13. “If you surf Woolies (Woolamai) all the time, they’re the locals. But not at other spots.” He feels like the island is getting ever-closer to Melbourne as the freeways shorten the trip. “My mates in Rosanna used to take up to three hours to get here. Now they’re doing it in less than two, so they’re more likely to come down for a day. Everyone’s semi-localised these days.”
He’s a great craftsman, can turn his hand to any shape. Klemmy and Hoges share a house together, and sometimes on a day off they’ll go fishing. “I worshipped Klemmy when I was a grom. Now I get to sit out the front of the garage with him, drinking beers in the sun.”
Hoges is just explaining about how the Island Boards model of showroom out the front, factory out the back is such a crucial tradition when Pete Coffey, the glasser, hollers at his dog in the passageway. It’s barking at something or other. Klemmy appears and shakes a tin full of coins at it. It’s hard to know which racket is worse, but the dog desists. Hoges watches the cowering mutt in amused silence: “This is a great place to work.”
When the Pub Burns Down
The island these days is busy every week of the year, but one absence remains baffling. There is no pub. That’ s right: since the 140-year-old Isle of Wight burned down in 2010, Bloke’ s Island has no pub. There’ s a couple in San Re mo, just over the bridge on the mainland, but that’s it.
Main street is a coastal classic. Flat yellow cypress es that define it. Stinking hot, Western port flat and shiny in the sun. The gap where the Isle of Wight had been. Angle parks dip ping into the culvert in the shade, the gradual down hill to the pier. Mist in the gullies, not much traffic. This island is too big to do the finger-on-the-steering-wheel g day( Cowes has got three major-chain super markets these days ), but too small to ignore people.
The nature here is surprisingly diverse given the pace of human build-up. A midst the many different colours of bed rock, from bright red to black at Pyramid Rock and pale rat the cape. The Cape wasn’ t originally attached to the island: the sands pit of Wool am ai connected it gradually overtime. Maybe sea level changes will restore it to its original isolation. There are purple swamp hens, diving gannets, mutton birds, seal sand dolphins, as well as the much-hyped Little Penguins. Surf fisher men in the gutters. You can assess the crowd sat Wool am ai without leaving the highway by counting the cars in the Forest Caves car park.
In the late eighties, self-described “shark hunter” Vic His lop left baited lines under a barrel out at the Nob bi es (nowhere near the main swimming and surfing locations on the island) and hooked a gigantic great white, which he triumphantly to wed backwards into Cow es, after notifying national media. The animal may have been up to a hundred years old. These day she’ s still trying to explain the necessity for doing it, but he was permanently banned from fishing Victorian waters after the incident. There has never been a fatal shark attack on the island.
The Profitable Penguin
The last time they measured tourism here was in 2013-14, and back then tourism was contributing $655 million per annum to the Island and Bass Coast’ s economy. That’ s nearly 40% of their overall earn, and it employs 6400 people. Based on the 5.1% annual increase in tourism to the region, the figure is now probably closer to $850 million.
To those outside the surfing bubble, say in mainland China, Phillip Island means one thing and that thing is penguins. 693,000 people visit them every year, and 57% of those are inter nationals. If you want to think about those numbers in traffic terms, that about 10,000 bus loads per annum, or nearly 200 buses per week. The big game for local tourism authorities to get those people to stay overnight.
The penguin sand the buses and the surf( and maybe the domicile of the He ms worth brothers) have all contributed to a steady rise inland development, and side by side with that, a whole lot of traffic, especially in January.
Left: Haunting light seeps through a moody, Phillip Island skyline.
Right: Terry Klemm ejoying the familiar feel of foam beneath his hand.
Joe Van Dijk flying high against a backdrop that’s refreshingly bereft of human development.