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Gnarloo by jesse taylor

GNARLOO By Jesse Taylor


Gnarloo Surf Trip
June-July 2001

Our trip began with an 1100 k car trip to Gnarloo Station in an older land cruiser towing a 19 ft boat. As you can imagine this brought our average speed down to 80 k per hour on a 110 k highway. This caused us to have a 14-½ hour drive to the homestead.

When we arrived, all I could see was a desert and "lefts" everywhere. We quickly unloaded all the stuff and went down to the surf. All that I knew about was "Turtles" and that there was a perfect hollow "left".

Arriving we were soon taught by a local that the main breaks were "Midgies" which was the furthest up and then came "Centre Peaks" and then "Tombstones" which is all the magazines and videos only know as "Gnarloo".

Before leaving for "Gnarloo", Wayne Ryan of Line-up Surf Boards, told Dad that Johnny Boy Gomes had said, "Inch by inch, pound for pound, Gnarloo is as heavy as the 'Pipeline'." We were soon to find out for ourselves. We even saw one wave "spit" seven times.

During our stay, "Tombstones" was a consistent 4 - 8 ft, depending on the tide. One day we had a very brief look at Tombstones" and did not wait to see a proper set which led us into a stupid idea of going to "Turtles" (a "left" and "right" which picks up more swell than "Tombstones" and is suited better for smaller swells.

To cut a long story short, a couple of young "groms" and myself quickly rushed out while the older wiser men decided to watch for a set. By the time we had got out the back, we realised that it was bigger than we expected - about a very solid 8 ft and rising. After about 10 minutes I got washed in by a solid 10 ft set in about 2 ft of water.

After about 3 or 4 of them I went in as it got bigger, about 5 minutes later my mate got caught by about 10 to12 huge waves that snapped his leash almost drowning him. My cousin quickly went out and helped him safely in. A little shaken we all went back to "Tombstones" where it was a perfect 6 - 8 ft.



It is wise to have a proper look at the sets before making a decision where to surf.

"Tombstones" is a very heavy wave with a "warped barrel". It takes a while to get used to it - one mistake can be very painful. I was caught inside by a big set, maybe 8 ft plus on the suck up and was dragged underwater for 150 metres.

We were seeing at least 2 to 3 boards snapped each day - how many others were broken we are not sure. Therefore, it is a good idea to bring at least two boards and 3 or 4 leg ropes.

The trip to Gnarloo was an awesome experience and my advice is that you need to be well prepared in every way. You are two hours from the nearest shops so you need to bring all your own food, water and fuel, etc. Before leaving try to get some practice on reef breaks as it can be a bit of a shock after surfing mainly Sydney beach breaks - but let me say I did get some of the waves of my life.

Jesse Taylor