No. 1002-2014 (detail), oil on canvas and wood. By Wolfgang Bloch

THE BRIGADOON OF SAND POINTS

The rumours started circulating about July. 

I’d first heard them from a mate who lived an hour away from the place. A rock fisherman. That’s how he’d found it. He’s not the kind of guy prone to surf gossip, and I could tell by the way he talked about it – reluctantly, clipped sentences, still trying to convince himself that it was actually real – that he’d stumbled on something special.

It was a wave. More than that, a sand point, as long as you like. The wave itself he described as reminding him of Boiling Pot. It wrapped around the tip of the headland and rolled down a long sandbar, which had built up under a prodigious longshore drift last year. 

That wasn’t the amazing thing about it. The amazing thing was that nobody knew about it. 

It broke at the far tip of a long headland, half an hour’s walk, hidden from shore. The only people who ever walked out there were fishos. My mate had been out there twice at that stage and it was pumping both times. He had his fishing rod the first time; his surfboard the second. He didn’t see a soul. It wasn’t like it was remote either. It’s not a busy surf zone, but there are great waves all around it and a lot of surfers; locals, those cruising through. There’s even a little sand point further inside from it that gets surfed all the time. Less than a mile away you could be having a schooner at the bowling club. 

But still, nobody. 

He laid the secrecy on pretty thick but I knew exactly where it was. I’d surfed it 30 years ago. As a kid my mate had a holiday house in the nearby town, and while fishing out there one day we’d stumbled on it. We surfed it alone for a week and didn’t even try and keep it secret. We told everyone we could. There was only a half-dozen other surfers in town, none of whom bothered surfing it before it washed away the following week. Driving through every few years I always walk out and check it, but the sand never came back. This joint was the Brigadoon of sand points. 

Not only had it now come back, 30 years later, but by some divine miracle nobody talked. In the busiest surfing year there ever was, in an age of social media and satellites, news of its existence never leaked. It lived only as whispers. The fact it remained a secret conveyed on those handful lucky enough to surf it a sense of outrageous fortune. 

I never got to surf it, of course. I was locked down in Victoria for the whole time it broke. For a moment I was considering wearing two weeks quarantine just to surf it. My mate kept me updated and knowing I couldn’t get there he really started twisting the knife by sending photos. It wasn’t Boiling Pot, but man, it was a thing of beauty. 

An older local guy was onto it. 

He’d moved up there as part of the great migration north in the late ‘60s and had surfed Crescent, Angourie, Lennox, The Pass and Noosa all in their original states. Empty. So to suddenly find himself alone, surfing down this sand point six decades later really tripped him out. He didn’t know where (or when) he was. 

He’s also the only guy I know from that golden generation who doesn’t grizzle about how overrun all those points are today and how soured the experience of surfing them has become. He simply won’t hear it. He’s still living his good old days – gratitude from dawn to dusk – so for it to suddenly be 1962 again has seen him hovering an inch above the ground ever since. His energy may have in fact manifested the sandbank, pulled it together grain by grain. When I spoke to him, about it, he told me, “It took me an hour to walk out there and a month to walk back. I just couldn’t stop turning around to check it was real.”

* The wave has gone now, every grain of sand blown out by a big cut-off low from the north. The fishermen have reclaimed the cove. . 

– Sean Doherty

SW