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May 20, 2024


Wesley Fry and Skyla Rayner look back on a road trip to the northwest of Australia that was hampered by bad luck and costly errors, but the sun shone down on the SMIK crew and their patience was rewarded with some all-time wave sessions.



This story is not about competition surfing. It is a story of desert lefts, diesel engines, refreshing Aperol, (not so) friendly Ghosts, and a sixty-four-hour road trip across Australia.


Let us skip to the middle. Not the middle of the story, but the middle of Australia. A quiet, abandoned town by the name of San Isidore. It’s 10pm on an icy winters night, our eyes are weary from the days driving and our spotlights cut through the fog, which settles on the frosty road. Desperate for sleep we drive down a dark, quiet street. The only sign we see reads ‘Church of Christ Missionary’, which has probably seen a few exorcisms in its day… however, this did not cross our minds. We drove on, looking for refuge. We soon found an old cricket oval with a single spotlight illuminating half of an old shed and a quarter of the field.

We erected the rooftop tent and dozed off in a matter of moments. At 2am we woke to arctic temperatures, and mysteriously, a gentle tap on the side of our tent. We asked each other “Was that you?” and immediately felt a chill run down our spines. Someone must be tapping on the canvas… the tapping turned into vigorous slapping, and after a few moments of whispering in fear we conjured up the courage to make some noise. A feint cough brought a stop to the slapping. It started again on all three walls of the tent. We decided to unzip a window and sure enough the slapping stopped, but only briefly, before starting even more aggressively on the wall behind us. Now running on adrenaline, we opened up the other side and sure enough, it stopped… that was the moment we decided to jump down, close the tent and drive off. No sign of any human or other animal and still not a breath of wind. Not one leaf was moving on any tree and fog had settled over the oval. While not huge believers in ghosts, it goes without saying that we were pretty spooked and struggled to free camp for the rest of the journey.


Two weeks before this encounter we sold our cars, then purchased and decked out a Prado, all while working full-time. Our dreams of adventure and living on the road were near. Five days and 6000 kilometres later, we arrived in a barren land with abundant seas. Catching fish for dinner was the new norm and we vowed to never again wear shoes as we drank Emu Export around the fire. That was until our mattress became coated in beach sand and red dirt… Scotty soon joined the party and of course, it was in typical Magoo fashion. We called Scotty (and his little bubba-boat) to give him a hurry up. It was offshore, 30 degrees and we were desperate for a wave on the outer reefs. Scotty answered with the first dose of bad luck. A trailer holding gas bottles had crashed and self-immolated, blocking the only road in and out of town. Scotty’s solution after driving all night was: “I’ll double back to the nearest pub for a beer, I’m starving”. Eight hours later the roadblock was cleared and he was on his way to the servo. One last stop before arriving in paradise. After driving all night his tank was definitely on empty. What could possibly go wrong…


As the sun prepared itself to set on another glorious day, we received a call from a surprisingly calm Scotty. “Oh s**t” he said. “I’m 10K’s off and the car was making weird sounds, so I pulled the receipt out of my wallet and the first thing I read was the number 91”. “Oh ****” he reaffirmed, “I put unleaded in my Diesel van”. Soon after, we were cruising down the highway, with a spectacular sunset over the ocean, and a miraculously full moon rising over the mountains. A moment of gratitude amongst the chaos. Not going to lie, driving a road train is fun! The Prado chugged along, followed by Scotty’s van and trailed by the caboose (bubba boat). A drive we will never forget!


The next morning was equally as eventful. Another tow mission and an hour spent syphoning 70 litres of fuel into multiple jerry cans. Scotty did well to only cop one face full of petrol. Now, with burning eyes and wreaking of petrol, it was finally time for Mr. SMIK to catch some waves. We had a close eye on the forecast, watching a swell that was brewing off the coast of Madagascar. We waited patiently… preparing for the swell by hydrating on Aperol spritz’s and attending a live performance from rock royalty, ‘Southern River Band’. By the time the swell arrived, we were shrivelled desert rats, but it quickly whipped us into shape.


We set out on an adventure in bubba’s boat to an outer reef. A couple of local early risers battled howling offshore winds, throwing themselves over the ledge into large chunks of groomed swell. We were out there in a flash… the wind was nuclear, but with only two friendly locals in the lineup we couldn’t complain. We also had word from Scotty, ‘the wind god’, that It was about to glass off, leaving an hour or two of pristine conditions before the sea breeze would kick in… Sure enough we scored it all arvo’ and had a special guest appearance from Rick Jacko. Scotty was slapped with some more bad luck among the many blessings he was also experiencing. Firstly, as he was about to paddle out, a local snapped his board, so Scotty did the honourable thing and took him back to shore on the boat. Upon return, Scotty managed to catch two waves before another local dislocated his shoulder… Scotty paddled back to the boat and took him ashore, right as the sea breeze started to blow. The rest of the week was filled with similar tales of pumping lefts. Also, Scotty’s luck began to change, scoring an all-time day on the water. A thumping morning surf, a midday wing ding in pristine waters and a nostalgic afternoon windsurf. The day we needed and deserved.

Stay tuned for the next Aussie SMIK adventure.

Wes & Skyla.

Disclaimer: No GST was added to this story. All events are recounted with honesty and integrity to the best of our memories.

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