A personal account of the first ever unofficial official Whomp Camp held at Seal Rocks.
To say that I was excited for this event is an understatement but after months of planning and speculation the day had finally arrived. The forecast was a balanced affair with good wave conditions mixed in with some potentially horrible weather - standard winter camping fare!
Got the car packed and ready the night before so I could set off early on the 290Km journey from the Northern beaches to Seal Rocks.
As with all great traditions - there was the obligatory stop at McDonalds along the way - I typically only eat Maccas for one of two reasons. Survival (hangover) or convenience (road trip). A McMuffin and coffee later and I was back on the road and triangulating a meet with the other early risers.
I meet up with Vic Ivec, his son Paul and Matt Ruscoe in Buladelah for the next coffee of the morning and a few last minute supplies that were left behind (always something). Excitement levels are pretty high around a good weekend away with mates we know and those still to be met. With the forecast a bit iffy, no one has any idea on how many bodysurfers will show.
Hitting the camp, we are first to arrive and duly cordon off a large space for setting up tents and the camp fire area. Its a warm day and the call of the ocean to wash off the travel dregs is getting stronger. About the time we finish setting up Rikki Gibley from WAW Handplanes makes an appearance and we all duly set off together.
If you have never been to the Treachery camp site, the camping area set in between the bush of the Myall Lakes national park and is a mere 400-500m walk from the ocean. Except that ‘mere’ walk, is up and over a very large sand dune. It almost like you have to pay your way in sweat to get past some giant granular guardian.
Once we had settled our dues and crested the top, we could scarcely believe our eyes. The beach was completely devoid of people and the waves were pumping! 3-4ft blue peaks breaking up and down the shoreline. We ran down the rest of the way and jumped in at the north corner. Underestimating the distance and wave size we “enjoyed” a pretty stiff swim through the surf. The waves were breaking a long way out and providing fast, awesome walls to glide on. All for us, its unbelievably different to the cold green water we had left only 300km south.
The lads are tucking in and it wasn’t long before we are joined by Sam Christopher and Jack Norton, AKA The Whomp Social Club. The frothers had driven all the way down from the Goldie for Whomp Camp. Legends!
With the barrelling blue kegs on offer, we bodysurf until our arms turn to mush. All the while more whompers were arriving and doing the sprint down to the beach to enjoy the awesome waves on offer. Its an epic start to the weekend and we reminisce into the night over a few beers and probably the most biblical BBQ chicken ever cooked (thanks Vic!)
It was quite a surreal experience, to be the dominant wave riding group. So disconcerted were the surfers, that in a complete reversal we displaced them from the north end of the beach. Perhaps they were put off by our perpetual "Party Wave!!" war cry!. The waves had tailed back a foot and were a bit slow, so every opportunity was taken to share the love. Even the local marine life seemed enthused, with a conveyor belt of migrating whales, curious dolphins and a fairy penguin sharing the moment.
That evening we fired up a massive camp fire for the crew to get around and share stories, beers and best of all - a sing a long! Its not every day that you get a bunch of complete strangers, salt crusted bodysurfers, who lets face it are a bit weird, to belt out a tune. Cliff Flax AKA Belly Slater I salute you for not only doing that but for getting us all to sing YOUR song - that was pretty amazing. The man has talent thats for sure and with his guitar, kept us all wholly entertained throughout the evening.
Like gamblers sensing their run was coming to an end, a number of people had cashed out early and headed home late Saturday afternoon to beat the forecast rain. The rest of us woke on Sunday and packed just as the onset of the downpour began... it wouldn't be camping if you didn't pack a bit in the rain! The timing was perfect really and to wind up proceedings, the Whomp Camp raffle was drawn while we huddled under on of the last remaining gazebos.
That could have been the end of it but one more quick and unexpectedly fun session put the final icing on an epic weekend. A weekend where we had the weather, the waves, the campfire, the beers, the great camaraderie and most of all a sense of community. There are actually other people out there with a craze to ride waves in the way that we do. It turns out, there is an army of them and nothing says belong more than a "yewwwwwwww!!!" from a complete stranger...other than perhaps "party wave!!!!" Im already frothing for Whomp Camp 2017
Has spent over 30 years of his middle aged life trying to spend more time in the ocean. Likes to surf, bodysurf, free dive and pretend he enjoys chasing big waves.