SURFING THE SOUTH COAST
Surf writer Doug Lees enjoys an easy coastal weekend getaway in a Trakkadu camper from Trakka – a kitted-out Transporter with all the creature comforts
Text Doug Lees | December 2017
Travelling down the south coast for a surfing weekend is one of the great joys in life for any Sydney surfer. The South Coast of NSW is not only a beautiful coastline, but also home to some of the best waves on the East Coast of Australia. A coastline with endless possibilities of finding that perfect wave on an isolated beach. This trip south I’m travelling in the new Trakkadu Transporter van, a van that you can not only sleep, cook and camp in, but with enough room for you and a quiver of surfboards to ride any wave.
On any trip south, once we clear Sydney the talk is which surf spot to check out first.
The Farm situated within Killalea State Park is less than 100kms south of Sydney and is an iconic surf break always worthy of a look. This spot picks up any south swell and is a good indicator as to what the waves are doing for the weekend. It’s an easy to ride wave, and is great for all levels of surfing.
The Farm was declared a National Surfing Reserve in 2009 and sits in 250 hectares of coastal reserve. Getting to the Farm is easy as its quick turn off the freeway at Shellharbour, and then following the signs to Killalea State park. There is another surf spot within the state park called ‘Mystics’ on Minnamurra Beach. Mystics can be more challenging wave than the Farm, as swell rebounds off the rocks at the north end creating powerful wedging A-frames. Because of the difficulty it provides a less crowded option.
The Farm was first surfed in the 1960’s and within a few years the first photos of the surf were published by Surfing World magazine. From then on it became very popular with Sydney surfers in the 1970’s. The name “The Farm” was given because the only way to access the beach was through a private property farm and its fenced paddocks. For access the farmer at the time only asked that the fence gates be closed after entry. But after the gates were left open the farmer locked the gates, later charging people a small fee to go through his property. Today it’s an easy drive on a sealed road right to the beach parking on the southern end. There is also a camping facility in the Killalea State park where we park the Trakka for the night.
>> The name “The Farm” was given because the only way to access the beach was through a private property farm and its fenced paddocks. <<
The morning surf check unfortunately reveals a total lack of swell. It’s pretty much flat, so I decide to drive further south to Ulladulla where I hope there may be more waves. The recent upgrades to the freeway including the Berry bypass make the journey south easy. Where there was once a constant barrage of road works driving south of Kiama, the way through Gerringong and Berry is now beautiful drive.
But with time on our hands from the lack of surf, and the ease of the drive, it’s hard to drive past Berry for a late breakfast. It’s one of my favourite towns on the south coast, with a serious amount of choices of quality produce. I take the turn off to Berry from the freeway to indulge in the guilty pleasure of a great bakery. Situated in a renovated century old building at the entrance to Berry, The Berry Sourdough Bakery has a spectacular display of fresh croissants and patisseries on display in the rustic building and is a worthy detour. I order a large flat white, chocolate croissant and loaf of Sourdough bread before heading south again, stopping again just down the road to pick up a bag of cinnamon treats from the Berry Donut Van to keep me going.
It’s not until I hit the picturesque town of Milton, that I decide to turn left off the Pacific Highway to have a look at the surf at North Mollymook. With the summer North easterly wind picking up, I am looking for a beach with a northern wind protected corner that still has a good chance of catching the small surf on offer. The beach is packed with sunbakers and family making the most of the beautiful day and smooth conditions. But there is still very little surf on offer.
>> Mollymook is also the home of a true pioneer of women’s surfing in Australia, and 1990 world surfing champion, Pam Burridge. <<
Mollymook is also the home of a true pioneer of women’s surfing in Australia, and 1990 world surfing champion, Pam Burridge. Pam runs a surf school out of Mollymook, and as its now midday, is coming in from the water with her surf school for a lunch break. I ask her about the waves, and she tells me that its currently high tide. “But give it a few hours, and once the tide drops there will be a fun little wave in the northern corner. I’ll be back around 3.30 today. Come back around then and we can go for a surf together.” I look back at the ocean and its pretty small. I’m not sure that I can see anything breaking there in a few hours, but she is a world champion, and Pam spoke with such conviction that it’s worth a wait.
I pull up the Trakkadu right opposite the beach and pop the roof. Having the 12V fridge and diesel stove with me is perfect, as I make some lunch in the van, and take shelter from the midday sun. After lunch, I pull the back seat flat and relax on the readymade bed with a book and wait for the mystical surf.
>> How often do you get the chance to surf with a real Australian surfing legend? <<
By 3.30 Pam arrives back at the beach with her surf van. The van is full of learn to surf boards and she parks behind me and starts to pull out some boards. A group of 4 women also arrive at the beach for their surf lesson and help her pull the boards out. How often do you get the chance to surf with a real Australian surfing legend? As promised, by the time the boards and students hit the beach a wave starts to break in front of the van. Pam looks at me and smiles. Then rounds up her new group of learners and helps them into the surf.
After the afternoon surf, it’s time to find a spot to camp and have dinner. Bendalong is a 20 minute drive north of Mollymook has an excellent campground right on Bendalong point. The beach at Bendalong is also a south facing beach with a protected northern corner, and is without doubt the most consistent wave in the region.
One of the best things about travelling around in the Trakka is the ease in which you can set up camp for the night. The solar panels on the roof supply enough power for several days so there is no need to find a powered site to park the van, and a simple pop of the roof and you are set for the night. A few feature of the 2017 model is the electric side awning. Finding a nice shaded area for the side door is now just a flick of a switch.
In the morning I follow the bush track down to Bendalong beach. The waves are small but really fun. I paddle out and am greeted by a group of dolphins. The water is surprisingly cold, but so clear the waves look transparent. Just another perfect day on the beautiful NSW South Coast.
Doug Lees is a surf journalist living on the Northern beaches of Sydney with his wife and two teenage kids. He is the publisher of Surfing World magazine and also writes for the surf website Coastalwatch.
Trakka is a family owned and run boutique-style business dedicated to providing customers with ultimate campervan and motorhome conversions to safely accompany them on their travels. The multipurpose Trakkadu range, which is based on a Volkswagen Transporter T6, has been specifically designed for passenger comfort and on-road drivability.