School of Shape Summer 2015 feat. Patch and Haz from Finbox

Simon Patchett and Harry Reid, two of the nicest guys you'll meet in our little seaside village, work at Finbox Boardstore and are amongst the most stylish and versatile local surfers.

We ran a School of Shape workshop with them to see what they could produce and how it would ride.  Patchy has had a crack at a few by himself, Harry had never laid his hands on a foam blank before.

The proof's in the surfing.  Good times and so much stoke.

The first classes for 2016 are up on the shop.  Join in or get someone you dig a voucher for Christmas.

Mighty Margs

Pictures and words by Madelaine Dickie 

I'm sorry these pictures have been posted so late! As the Yawuru and Nyamal and Karajarri girls in my office would say, I've been a bit of a 'slack hole' in getting them up. But here they are at last, a teasing taster of some of the slabs Tom and I experienced or were simply awed by in Margaret River in autumn. All of these waves are linked by a road, a bit inland, weaving through vineyards, a venison farm, cheese factories and a spectacular and spooky karri forest. The road has a stack of cut aways down to the coast and we stayed down one of these sidetracks at Gracetown, a spot notorious for its shark attacks. Our pad was a ramshackle holiday house on the hill that growled in the wind and gave us sublime views over morning barrels and wind-troubled sunsets. The surf was serious. Flat to eight foot in a day. The water one afternoon at South Point was dead black. There were no tea-baggers. This said, even on the weekdays, outside of school holidays, the surf was packed with little lady and little fella grommets. Grommets 360-ing, grommets throwing perfect fans of spray, grommets getting barrelled. Getting proper barrels--not grommet-sized barrels. So there were crowds to match the name of Margs, but the waves, True God, the waves beat all our expectations.
 

 TOM WAS GEEING HIMSELF UP TO PADDLE OUT FOR A CRACK AT MARGARET RIVER MAIN BREAK (THERE WERE ONLY SIX GUYS OUT) WHEN WE SAW THIS SET COME THROUGH . . .  

TOM WAS GEEING HIMSELF UP TO PADDLE OUT FOR A CRACK AT MARGARET RIVER MAIN BREAK (THERE WERE ONLY SIX GUYS OUT) WHEN WE SAW THIS SET COME THROUGH . . .  

 Tom PREPARING TO SHRED with STYLE AND grace on a dave porter treehouse creation at 'sazzy p' (south point, gracetown). 

Tom PREPARING TO SHRED with STYLE AND grace on a dave porter treehouse creation at 'sazzy p' (south point, gracetown). 

Maddy Wins the T.A.G. Hungerford Award for her novel 'Troppo'

Maddy Wins the T.A.G. Hungerford Award for her novel 'Troppo'

We are super excited to share the news that Treehouse Ambassador Madelaine Dickie has won the T.A.G. Hungerford Award for her novel 'Troppo'.  We received the media release below from Fremantle Press last night.  An except for 'Troppo' is also included below.  So much passion, hard work and talent has gone into the writing of this novel.  CONGRATULATIONS MADDY!

5 kinds of crazy - surfing Spain in winter

 Pic by Madelaine Dickie 

Pic by Madelaine Dickie 

By Madelaine Dickie

Heading to Spain during the heart of winter wouldn't be everyone's first choice for a surf holiday. The North Atlantic is cold and muscly and it belts the beaches of the Basque coast, rarely rolling in at below 6ft. It's the kind of surfing that demands a 4'3, and for the tropical skinned, boots and a hood. It also demands a special kind of crazy, which the Spanish have in spades. Here's five kinds of loco that went down over a month in Spain.

Barcelona's beachies

 Pic by Charlotte Dickie @charblLavita

Pic by Charlotte Dickie @charblLavita

 Pic by Charlotte Dickie @charblLavita

Pic by Charlotte Dickie @charblLavita

 Pic by Charlotte Dickie @charblLavita

Pic by Charlotte Dickie @charblLavita

 Pic by Charlotte Dickie @charblLavita

Pic by Charlotte Dickie @charblLavita

Barcelona has a wild blend of hedonism and artistic impulse. I fell in love with the waterfront -- the antique whitestone apartments and giant palm trees; the multimillion dollar yachts and unhappy winter blue of the sea; the towering public sculptures that owe a deep debt to Miro and the other Spanish art giants. It's a classy city and a cool city and a city where you can still go for a beer at the same bar Hemingway and Picasso drank at nearly a century ago. Could I live here? Maybe if there was surf. And then suddenly, crazily, there is surf, the Mediterranean gifts the Barcelona bound with three days of a 2-4ft windswell, and the light falls in that soft, moist European grey, and it is so so fun!

Night surfing a city canal

 Pic by Charlotte Dickie @charblLavita

Pic by Charlotte Dickie @charblLavita

 Pic by Madelaine Dickie

Pic by Madelaine Dickie

 Pic by Charlotte Dickie @charblLavita 

Pic by Charlotte Dickie @charblLavita 

Barcelona is a temporary stop to kick the jetlag (which doesn't soften for a full five days) before my sister Charlotte and I head to San Sebastian on Spain's north coast. San Seb's in Basque country, a heritage city built from old chilly stone that goes rose and gold when the sun hits it, which isn't too often in winter. The city is cut by a canal that surges and subsides with the tide. Magic Seaweed was calling a 21 foot swell at the end of our first week. When the swell hit, so did the snow; the hills behind San Sebastian got dusted white. It sure made for some freezing dawnies at the cove around the corner. It also made for swell in the canal. One evening, three loco grommets jumped off the edge and night surfed until well after dark by lamplight. 

Fiesta and siesta

 Pic by Madelaine Dickie 

Pic by Madelaine Dickie 

 Pic by Madelaine Dickie 

Pic by Madelaine Dickie 

The Spanish can throw a crazy party. We caught a full day winter fiesta where locals poured in to the city from surrounding towns and villages kitted out in peasant's skirts and clogs and white button-up shirts. Gallons of cider and wine were swallowed and old and young danced to brass bands between the cold cobbled walls of the old city. The next day (photo above right) it was pumping, and with most of the city nursing treacherous hangovers, there were plenty of uncrowded waves to be scored.

Hendaye south France

Charlotte and I had grand plans of cruising the coast in a little hire car and Mundaka was first stop on the list. We weren't worried about the driving part because everyone drives across Europe! And then I crashed the rental car less than a kilometre from where we'd hired it. Driving on the other side of the road, going through roundabouts backwards and changing gears with my right hand was too much. I completely sideswiped a parked car scratching all three panels of the rental. Luckily, we got out the worst of it by doing a spit and polish with our scarves, and better still, we ended up in the most picturesque town, a fifteen minute ferry ride to southern France. In southern France, the skies were blue, the water was frosty and the winter swell lines continued to pour in. Crazy beautiful!

Reuniting with Java

For 6 months during 2011-2012 Maddy and I lived in the village of Batu Karas, West Java Indonesia. This is a little story about going back.

 Javanese Volcanoes as seen from Susi Air flight

Javanese Volcanoes as seen from Susi Air flight

 Right size, right wind but wobbly as... My trusty old point break reminding me that perfect waves in Java are never a given. Luckily, I was on my own.

Right size, right wind but wobbly as... My trusty old point break reminding me that perfect waves in Java are never a given. Luckily, I was on my own.

Getting out of Jakarta always feels like the best thing you ever did, every time. A city of more than 25 million people crammed into an impossibly small floodplain with aspirations of a western lifestyle makes for absolute madness, expressed as gridlock and pollution. The light plane ride out of there, however, is a whole different experience. Viewing the world's most populated island from the air is a pretty interesting lesson in human expansion. Any habitable space is built on, farmed and altered. All that's left is what is too high, too step or too difficult.

 My dear old friend Nenek (Indonesian for Grandmother), we shared many a laugh and it was a highlight to see her still kicking.

My dear old friend Nenek (Indonesian for Grandmother), we shared many a laugh and it was a highlight to see her still kicking.

Two of the local fellas here in Batu Karas have been sponsored by Deus and are soul-shredding up a storm on the long easy rights of the bay. It's so cool to see our little mate Deni improve out of sight and get hooked up by a big company. When we lived here, we'd pretty much surf the point (above photos) instead of the longboard rights in the bay. Every Sunday without fail we'd arrive to see Deni already out on his own and charging, for so many of the other kids surfing was just what you did after school, for Deni it is much more.

 Deni with one of his new wares, not a bad stick for a village kid

Deni with one of his new wares, not a bad stick for a village kid

 Still fun though

Still fun though

At the time I was a little restless here, always dreaming of other trips deep into Indo, future career options and places that might take me. Coming back, I now see this place more for what it is, just a super relaxed town with some of the nicest people in the world. You cant beat the feeling of seeing smiling faces everywhere, especially when they are pointed at you.

 And the feeds are always a delight

And the feeds are always a delight

Welcome Home Lofty and Lucy

Treehouse Ambassadors Lofty and Lucy packed boards and belongings into their trusty Troopy over a year ago now.  It's so great to see their faces back in the lineups along the Coal Coast.  Here's a brief reflection on the amazing year they've had on the road soaking up our beautiful country.  Welcome home guys!

This is Lucy's first edit. Not bad for an enviro nerd. Okay she may of had a fair bit of help but she still got the ball rolling. Come with us on a journey across to Van Demons land, up the Oodnadatta track, past Uluru and Karlu Karlu, woof the sticky tropics of NT, journey into the Kimberley's most northern reaches, slide down WA west coast, climb through the SW forests and get out of boggs across the nullabour. Song: Blackfella/ Whitefella by Jimmy Little....the truest fullah.

Peace is Beautiful: Surfing in Aceh

By Madelaine Dickie

IMG_2694.JPG

Watching 1-2ft lines limp across the reef at Lhok Nga, Aceh, Indonesia, wasn't part of the plan. Maybe it would have been okay, or at least bearable, if I was on a long Indo drift, riddled with gutworms and suntanned and feeling slowpaced. Or perhaps it would've been bearable if I knew I was heading back to the brisk mornings and warm water of an east coast autumn. But given my current postcode in Australia's northwest, given the ocean off my closest beach is usually lake-like and threaded with box jellyfish, I was heartbroken. 

IMG_2698.JPG

Luckily Aceh is a place rich in stories and history, the kind of place where first world problems, like getting skunked on your annual leave, are swiftly revealed as irrelevant. The word Aceh, or originally, Atjeh, is actually an acronym. It stands for Arab, Tionghoa (Chinese), Jepang (Japanese), Europa and Hindi, representing the confluence of cultures that gathered, traded and intermarried on Indonesia's most north-western tip, and noticeable in the kaffir lime leaf twist in curries, or the aquiline nose of a village girl. It's no surprise, given this melange of cultures, that the Acehnese saw themselves as different to other Indonesians. For thirty years a civil war raged between the Acehnese independence fighters (GAM) and the Indonesian military (TNI). When the tsunami hit in 2004, killing more than 130,000 Acehnese, it spelled the end of the war. GAM soldiers and TNI soldiers mourned their losses together, buried their dead together, then set about the difficult task of rebuilding their communities.  

 Me trimming my Treehouse Pipsqueak.

Me trimming my Treehouse Pipsqueak.

I travelled to Banda Aceh a couple of years ago for work and was privileged to interview several women who were central in mitigating the impacts of the war either through politics or through grassroots social action. Their stories left me shattered. Terrible stories of rape. Terrible stories of children frightened by the sound of waves because they were reminded of gunshots. Needless to say, my engagement with Aceh this time, as a surf tourist, was much more superficial. But stories about the war and about the tsunami aren't far below the surface. One man lifted his shirt to show me bullet wounds from his time fighting for GAM. "Damai itu indah." Peace is beautiful, he said. This is also the maxim on the signs on street corners. And while this is thankfully true for communities throughout post-tsunami, post-war Aceh, while peace is here and apparently here to stay, the same cannot be said for the burgeoning surf community of Lhok Nga.

 Pipsqueak top turn. 

Pipsqueak top turn. 

Taking those two adjectives in isolation I'd say beautiful, yes. Mountains shear off into the ocean, casuarinas shade the waterfront, the sun sets into the surf through a flume of sea mist. And we stayed with the flamboyant and entertaining Eddie, a doctor-in-training with a habit of singing the Star-Spangled Banner in a truly terrible voice. Eddie's balcony became the spot to sink sludge-like Acehnese coffee, coffee that would have your heart still beating half-panic at 2am. A stones throw from the balcony was a narrow road linking on to a maze of quiet, picturesque lanes. So beautiful, yes, but far from peaceful. With carloads of Brazilians, Aussies and Japanese pouring in, I found myself paddling out at 4.30am to get a few uncrowded waves at The Peak before thirty blokes joined me at seven to hustle for 2ft sets. One afternoon, a mad Spaniard maliciously shoved his board in front of me as I was taking off; the same evening, I heard some local surfers brawled to blood on the beach. No, it was not peaceful. So when a manic-eyed German followed me around Eddie’s, desperate to know where we disappeared one morning with a carload of boards, I told him vaguely, ‘Down south.’ When he pressed me for details, I just shrugged.

These shots give all the detail you need ...

 Water catches on the lens during a top turn.

Water catches on the lens during a top turn.

 Simon Tedder tucking into a small one.

Simon Tedder tucking into a small one.

Too Much Fun

On a recent road trip north my mate Ben Stewart and I crashed in the carpark at Angourie.  The surf wasn't quite doing it so I challenged Ben to surf one wave on every Treehouse board I had with me.  Filmed on a little point and shoot camera the quality is low but the froth is high.  There's two types of surfer....the adaptable and the un-adaptable.  Ben is of the former variety and love surfing a whole range of different shapes.  Thanks to Matt Loft for making smething fun out of my crappy footage.

Enjoy!

Dave

Ningaloo Nectar: Cape Range National Park

A land without hoofs is a land of plenty.

 

Testament to a great session, Old Cat Fish Slater got out for a breather after a few hours of these and snapped these shots! Outside section by Foxy.

The end bowl section as seen from the tinny gallery. Photo: Old Cat Fish Slater

TOM: In stark contrast to the almost totally denuded, single story and weed infested landscapes of the Quobba and Waroora sheep station country, Cape Range National Park displays an insight into what the Pilbara Coast once looked like. As you leave the awkwardly sparse marina developments of Exmouth and round the Cape towards the coral lagoons and reef passes of the west coast, the landscape begins to show some long lost diversity. Now, multi story vegetation runs from hill to beach with more than just Buffell Grass and the odd shrub to show. Wild flowers abound as does the dense health-like thickets. Ahhh national parks, I do kind of miss them, both working and visiting. But with any good ‘lock the gate’ conservation style comes with rules, regulations and restrictions. After spending any amount of time in the Kimberley, especially when that means working with Aboriginal Rangers on their native title areas, on Country, you forget that unique feeling you get when entering a national park. Turn a corner, pass through a gate and pay your money... BOOM, nature! It’s just different when you’re on Country and the starkest contradiction is how people use the natural world, especially when compared to the ‘look but don’t touch’ status quo of national parks.

But anyway, here we are at Cape Range National Park: it’s stunning, it’s pumping and we are camping on small patch of dirt with no fireplace, a designated beach walkway and every rule, regulation and restriction possible. The 3rd swell of the trip (That's right!!! 3 swells in two weeks all in perfect time) has kicked in, the arvo onshore has given us a natural break to unpack and set up for a final time and get the bloody tinny in the water after dragging her about 3000kms just for this one wave!

 

Crawling out on the first morning towards the channel, totally unsure what to do and how not to get a 6ft set in the boat. Photo: Tom Nagle

The only blokes in the channel wearing Akurba hats... Photo: Old Cat Fish Slater

2nd day, swell has dropped off, cleaned up and the morning offshore is doing the thing. Photo: Old Cat Fish Slater

Tom: The wave here at Cape Range NP is actually about 2.5kms offshore from the beach and breaks into a channel between two long stretches of the Ningaloo Reef. I've never seen anything like it in Australia, cut into the escarpment behind the beach is a Kimberley style gorge with that classic red rock wall. Looking inland you think ‘yep, Pilbara’ but when the creek hits the sand the landscapes reverse and now you’re in a coral lagoon with turquoise water, white sand and a distant line of white water.

You wake up of a morning, drag the tinny down the sand, load it up with boards and fishing rods and out you sail. The lagoon is littered with these massive jagged coral heads which get denser as you reach the channel, at low tide you have to stand up whilst steering the tinny so you can weave a path through  them to anchor in the channel. We were so far out of our comfort zone the first few times especially as our first attempt was greeted with a series of 6ft+ wash through sets. We were all kinda of fighting each other to throw the anchor over, sort the boards and zip up our wetties and then these wide ones came through and it put a pretty sudden end to the kafuffle! Turned out the swell was just too big that first day and as we watched and waited, the offshore started to blow harder and harder. Good thing right? Sheeeet, when you are in a sinking, overloaded and under-powered tinny 2.5kms offshore a 30knot offshore is actually hell. So once we admitted defeat, it took us a pretty unpleasant 40 mins to putt back in against the wind and waves. 

Pretending/trying to fix something on the outboard, weren't even sure what it was. Photo: Maddy

Cape Range camp site, bare as a bear's arse and nowhere to hide from midday sun! Photo: Tom Nagle

Mad: I nearly blow up the gas bottle at Yardies. The boys are out of sight, dragging the tinny above the high tide line, and I'm experimenting with the camp oventonight, it's camp oven nachos. It seems to be going okay, but when I shift the burner over to make more space at the table, something comes loose. Suddenly, there aren't just flames under the nachos, but flames are twisting along the hose toward the gas bottle. I don't know anything about valves, or how gas bottles work, and I've always been suspicious of gas, so I panic hard. Screams of 'fire' bring our grey nomad neighbours running with water bottles and an extinguisher. The water's ineffective but the extinguisher does the job, delivering a heavy frosting of foam over freshly cracked beers, akubras, and of course, the nachos. The boys wander back from the beach to find our campsite packed with gawking nomads and our dinner ruined. Needless to say, I'm off cooking duties for the rest of the trip.

Sturt's Desert Pea flowering all over the shop. Photo: Tom Nagle

 The line up at Dunes. Photo by Mads

The line up at Dunes. Photo by Mads

Mad: While the boys watch Yardies max out, I hurtle toward Exmouth past turquoise spinifex and desert peas. There's a wave near town called Dunes, which I'd heard could be fat, better suited to longboards and mini-mals than a Treehouse Gold Can (aka Pipsqueak). But when I get there, thankfully, this is far from the case. Not as intimidating as Yardies, it's still powerful & occasionally hollow: a left and a right peel fast into a channel. The waves are underscored by a flat rock shelf and it's an easy paddle out. I surf Dunes for four consecutive days, only getting out when the wind kicks up or the arms give up. After each surf, on the drive back to Yardies, I'm in a better frame of mind to appreciate how pristine the country is. "Country's had a chance to breathe," observes Jimmy on the last night. And, judging by the fish the boys hauled in, the ocean's had a chance to breathe too.

 The right at Dunes. Photo by Mad

The right at Dunes. Photo by Mad

 Over and out from the Ningaloo Nectar Team. Photo: some boogan

Over and out from the Ningaloo Nectar Team. Photo: some boogan