G'day, Hock here.
The following poem is not mine. It's Jack's. It belongs out in the world, however.
I've attempted to get in touch with him but that man just dont answer his phone.
But I have his permission. I've already read it on radio, here in Noosa.
He orated this poem aloud to me and a few others, Christmas Day in about 2009.
He agreed to write it down on paper and mail it to me, which he did.
But he wrote it years before that, I'm pretty sure.
At the time I didn't surf.
And I considered it one of the best Australian peoms I've ever heard.
Now I surf. And life isn't normal. At least, it'll never be same again....
So, thanks again Jack Roberton, where ever you are.
Enjoy.... love Hock x
Jack Roberton. Lennox Head, NSW.
“The Mother’s Day Swell.”
No-one knows from where it came
This rumour as it were
But for the tribes of the Northern Rivers
Disbelievin’ was a slur
For only once or twice in any surfers life
do not words such as these betray
of a great southern swell
of what size who could tell
was arriving the following day
Now preparations for a challenge ahead vary in personal choice,
And who should say of another man’s way
Can any soul sound his voice?
For the pulse of the ocean played a different beat to those that slumbered that night
Some were serene,
others frantically dreamed,
most tossed and turned ‘til first light.
Dawn revealed an almighty sea,
Of one like never before,
For some she was a temptress,
For some a banchong whore.
From ‘Angas’ to the ‘Shine’,
And all the bays between;
For each man and his indicator,
The sight remains unseen.
This beast of a sea disfigured the shore,
It pounded the rocky heads!
Now decisions take time,
And for many that’s fine,
And some cowered back to their beds.
But there’s always a few who know what to do,
Where to go, and to whom to speak...
And a handful had gathered to hear the old man,
For none had done more time on the peak.
Ol’ Brocky had lived at the point,
For god knows how many years
And he had ridden with the best of ‘em,
Yet he was fightin’ back the tears
“To this task I am no equal,
Yet to the edge I’ve had my trips.
And as all of you know, when it comes you must go,
Or the seas bitterness will remain on ya lips.
I’ve tasted her many flavours,
I’ve seen her in every light;
But this battle is yours my brothers,
And to the ‘button’ you must take the fight.”
A few of the men shuffled to and fro,
Some glanced around at their feet,
“Her morning sickness is over,” he said,
“It’s time for you to meet.
But one thing you must know
before you go confronting such a test;
Wave selection is critical boys,
So paddle for only the best!”
.....T’was the wild man from down Yamba’s way,
That broke the ol man’s spell;
“I’ve waited all my bloody life to challenge such a swell!
I’ll ‘ave a crack at anything,
Just you watch me ‘ave my fun.
An abit o’ advice if yas was thinkin’ twice -
Out there you need a gun!”
Well, Baddy glanced around ,
To see who was in for a show.
A couple o’ locals who knew the point thought they might ‘ave a go.
The Goldy boys looked doubtful,
Their boards were mighty thin......
“If ya think y’all catch one with those,” he scoffed;
“Ya gotta be bloody kiddin’.”...
And there were two big boards that lay away,
Of whose names he hadn’t seen;
And he met the gaze of two young lads; one solid, the other lean.
And over the rumble of another set,
He yelled, “Let class begin.....”
And he noticed that the one lad winked,
The other gave a nod ‘n grin.
Now, half the battle in such a sea,
Is getting out through the foam;
And for some they battled it bravely,
.....’til she turned their heads for home.
But the crowds of people, who lined the hill,
Excitement it did not lack;
For the sea ‘respects’ the patient,
And a handful had made it out back.
Now the worth of many a good surfer
Is in the number of waves that he gets;
Yet it is in the wisdom of the waterman,
That can read between the sets
For the nervous ones caught the first that came,
They were itchin’ for a ride;
But only a few sat out on the peak,
Waiting – for a change in tide.
Few words were exchanged, each deep in thought
It was Baddy who cleared the air;
And he turned to face the two young lads,
That sat to meet his stare.
“There’s a few locals ‘round ere you boys will meet,
An’ me you’ll get to know.
But it don’t get like this too much
So when it comes you must go.
Be sure to ride with style ‘n savvy,
This is no place for tricks.
I know you boys ain’t from round ‘ere
Cos’ i’m unfamiliar with ya sticks.”
“They’re from Hawa....” one began to say
But he stopped in his reply
For the horizon had taken on a different shape
And the sea had become one with the sky.
They started scratchin’ for the horizon
Each deciding where to wait
But Baddy’s experience had told him
Just to resign himself to fate.
He made it over the first two
On the third he got to his feet.....
But his strength in his paddle was lacking
And he knew that he was beat.
He was pitched from crest to trough
‘n it made the people wince
‘n he was washed up onto the beach
And his board ain’t been seen since.
But the two young lads paddled further out
They knew where they wanted to be
For back in the islands they’d heard from a friend
The existence of an outside bombie.
He’d told them of the line-ups
The right conditions were hard to find
“But if ya ever get it on,” he said.
“It’ll be sure to blow your mind.”
It was as they topped the tenth wave
That they knew they’d found their place;
And that the wave after the next one
Was the challenger they would face.
It was the biggest of the set,
T’was the ‘peaking’ of the swell
It’s line reached across the bay
.....It looked like heaven and hell!
It drew its water off the reef
But the two lads held their ground
And it wasn’t until it started to feather
That they turned their boards around
And paddling hard and paddling strong
They stroked into the peak
And a ‘roar’ could be heard as they got to their feet.....
Yet not a spectator was able to speak
They could be seen riding down the face
But were lost then they reached the trough
And by the ‘explosion’ of the white-water
It was assumed they were knocked off
Well moments passed
The anxiety grew
The tension hung in the air....
And it took some time for the mist to clear
To reveal the two lads.....
They leant on their inside rails
Each responding to the cue
And crouching low, its energy drawn
Up in to a high line they flew
Well it’s “Mozart” that comes to mind when recalling the line
that they drew before i say more....
for they glided across that feathering wall...
like in a canyon does the great condor.
They seemed to know each others’ style
Criss-crossing with arcing cutbacks
And when one’d soul arch
The other ‘strokin’ the cat’
Their lines resembled rail-road tracks
They rode right outta sight
And still nobody spoke
And it was Baddy who broke the silence
..... “Who the fuck are those blokes?”
“From an island up north,” the old man replied
“Out off Moreton Bay.
I heard they grew up surfin’ outer banks
But where exactly it’s hard to say.
An’ I once ‘eard a rumour of an open lagoon that I believe gets bloody good
An’ there’s some long left only those boys have surfed
And they called it
The ‘Bay of Wood’.”
Little more is known, though much has been said.....
Of that day back in May
And the events have gone down in the archives...
And are still spoken of today
And should you ask the ‘ol man
Who still lives at the point
If he has any stories to tell
He’ll recall the time
The ‘Bribie Boys’ drew the line
On that memorable
‘Big Mothers’ Day Swell’!!
Jack Roberton. 2000