MAKIN’ GRAVY WITH ASHER WALES
Asher Wales is waiting at the airport when I get there. He’d only landed two hours earlier, come in hot from the jungles of Java and was now off again. Not even an overland/ferry/bemo/red eye combination, however, can dampen his sparkiness. He’s walking around the departure lounge wearing a fez, bespectacled, and his electric teeth are visible from across the terminal as he has an animated conversation into his phone. He looks fresh, like he’s had 12 hours sleep which is good, because we’re still another 12 hours from the house.
We fly south and when we land he’s lugging two coffin bags of surfboards around the airport, his entire G-Land quiver, which are now being strapped to the roof of the car and we’re off, straight into Sydney peak hour traffic. He’s telling G-Land stories in between mouthfuls of dry bread. He’s got a loaf of plain white bread sitting on his lap, and by the time we make the highway he’s eaten half of it. His theory, he explains, is that whatever bugs he might have brought back from Indo will be soaked up by the bread as it sets like concrete. My mouth is dry just watching him but it works. He won’t get sick, but he won’t shit for a week either.
We make good time on the highway but as we cruise down Mt Grouchley we’re almost taken out by a plumber’s ute, the guy nodding off to sleep as he heads home from work in the city, coming within an inch of sideswiping our hire car. Asher tells me he’s studying property economics. Not content with the millennial path to homeownership – waiting to inherit one of your parent’s five negatively geared properties – instead he wants to play the game. He talks about flipping houses, and as we pass suburban houses he gives a running commentary on what rennos each place needs. Concrete render that one. A Tuscan façade for that one. Bulldoze that one entirely. He’s ambitious and keen to get ahead in life, although I remind him he’s now missed a full month of uni to go surfing.
Asher gets control of the car stereo and it’s a wild old ride. As we pass by the Nun Tun Temple he drops Darude’s Euro-trance anthem Sandstorm. Listening to it makes it impossible to keep the car under 120, although he jumps straight from Sandstorm to Paul Kelly’s How To Make Gravy and the car immediately drops back to 80. I’m failing grasp where he’s going with this playlist. We stop at the servo at Dad-tow and pull away into the night as suburban tracts give way to open coastline with our destination still hours away.
With a dozen boards you reckon Asher would have everything covered, but on his first surf the following morning he gets caught with the wrong one. We surf an open beachie that was three feet when we paddle out and closer to eight by the time we get washed in an hour later. Asher is on a stubby five-o that he uses to punt into the wind, but is soon doing donuts on double overhead drainers. He drives home and swaps it out, and with the swell still building suddenly the G-Land quiver doesn’t seem like such a crazy idea after all.
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