Making the Pass

8 May

Here t’is. The Pass. Where the boiling bomboras brought last year’s Byron bay winter whales swim to an abrupt end. Hard to imagine how anything so comedic could harbour such malevolence. It begs to be characterised into a wibbly wobbly mound by one of my favourite artists, Janine Coddington.

The Pass

The Pass

Unwilling to share one of Byron’s best breaks (it’s usually pumping somewhere round here), possessive townies scrawled ‘locals only’ on a rock on the ocean facing side of the Pass some number of years ago. Rock climbing backpackers swapped ‘locals’ for ‘love’ in the dead of one night and so the sign stayed until Ben King died at a surf competition at Yamba in 2006 aged 42. Much loved community man (Byron Bay boardrider club president) and father. The surf comp was renamed in tribute to him and the town turned out in their hundreds to honour him in a huge ‘paddle out’ in his memory.

Now the sign simply says BK in memory of a celebrated man and his own Pass.

Every day, the Pass is the start of the 1.5km casual swim (meet at the surf club at 8am) back to the surf club. We did it Sat’dee and Mon’dee. We loved it. We even swam over a turtle. Promise we did. We hadn’t been to Nimbin’s Mardi Gras cannabis reform rally to see the dancing leaf green ganga fairies or stand under the inflatable big joint.

Neither had we been smoking weird stuff when we saw dolphins jumping out of the break at Wategos on Sat’dee and on Sun’dee just before us not quite so old but getting there codgers went off in The Swim. Many of the townies might have thought they were smoking something though when they saw bus after bus of newdie people as we were ferried around to the start in nothing but our smugglers. Appropriate seeing as how there were indeed Mr Os.c, so many Pirates around.

Wategos - where the dolphin were surfing

Wategos – where the dolphin were surfing

On the bus, we had the privilege to meet and have a quick yarn with Paul Lowther who later scored a gong. Paul is 84. He lives in Robina and trains in the pool and does one ocean swim a year. This one. He finds he needs a goal you see. It was a pleasure to meet him.

At Wategos, the peloton assembled. 1700 of us, including superfish (like Ky Hurst), salty superheroes (like Mrs Sparkle and Killer), one TV celebrity (I won’t say), one fellow Can Tooer (big shout out to Allison from our pod), one Bold and Beautiful father of an MP, a couple of bloggers and lots and lots of ugly mug punters like us.

As we waited in the Autumn sunshine, the Byron Bay Surf Boat put on a show and a half in the bombora.  At least Gill told me that they were just showing off and hadn’t simply misjudged and been caught in the break unawares.  There was no power in the break he assured me to quell my rising surf terror.  Later, I found out that one of the crew fell out so I am not so sure that it was deliberate.  Nonetheless, the whole beach drew breath for longer than the average bunch of bilateral breathers and then burst into applause when it seemed that they had made it through unscathed.

My swim was wonderful.  There was a tricky negotiation to get in and to the first buoy as the moment that you left your feet, the rip picked you up and swept you left, but that same current, pushed us along, past the infamous Pass and on to the surf club with minimal effort required.

There was a tiny bit of bump from the swell and the waves of the younger peloton stroking at our heels – so nice not to go off last for a change!  Some of them were a little boisterous (if you were the laydee swimming near me that I bumped a couple of times as they squeezed me into your space, I am sorry) but nothing on the scale of boisterous Balmoral or some of the Bondee bashings that we cop off some of the Sydnee swims.

Afterwards, we of course, retired to the Beach for the afternoon.  Shayne, I looked for you but Mrs Sparkle said you had left already.

So, thanks Byron for a beautiful weekend.  I think it is the Promised Land.  And thanks Katie for having us to stay, for the emergency wine and chips, the local gossip, beautiful breakfasts and arranging the benign conditions.  Could you please arrange for me to find Wategoat next time though?

2 Responses to “Making the Pass”

  1. London City Mum May 8, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    I’ve done that one – the casual 1.5km swim, that is – in preparation for the Bondee swim you took me on! And I lost my goggles in the surf at the end of it. Did you find them, perchance?

    LCM x

  2. Liz May 10, 2013 at 6:47 am #

    Well done!!! Pleased to hear it went well. As usual, love your work:)

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