A much-anticipated getaway weekend of juvenile tomfoolery for good friends Coogs, Doogs, Corka, Macca, Bif, Boxhead and Shane-O has turned out to be a far mellower affair than forecast, with conduct barely approaching anything remotely ‘boisterous’, it can be revealed today.
Now nudging 30 years of age, and living in various locations along Australia’s eastern seaboard, the old high-school friends rarely see each other these days, but take very seriously their vow (made at the end of Schoolies week, in 2007) to catch up annually for a weekend of reverting to over-excited teenagers again.
All keen surfers, the choice of Iluka as this year’s destination (nominated by Shane-O, unofficial group leader and alpha-figure) was met with unanimous approval by the lads –– though in the weeks leading up to the trip, the prospect of riding waves merited far less discussion than affirming their commitment to non-specific outrageous conduct and ‘going a bit silly’ once free from the disapproving oversight of assorted GFs, wives, children and, in the case of Bif (who still lives with his parents) ah… parents.
Indeed, innocent campers had good reason to be concerned as this band of brothers convened at Woody Head Campground late last Friday afternoon where, amid backslapping man-hugs and cracking of beers, they set up tents and swags while regaling each-other with anecdotes of boorish antics on past mates’ weekends.
As Noel and Marjorie O’Halloran, camped in a neighbouring spot told your reporter: “We just looked at each-other and went ‘uh-oh, here’s trouble’.
“We could only catch snippets of what they were talking about: nudie runs, hot coals and someone named Bif being airlifted to a burns unit back in 2013 or something. Lots of talk of hangovers from hell and what have you.”
Surprisingly, their first evening turned out to be uneventful. According to Alpha Leader Shane-O: “With a solid weekend of debauchery ahead, we paced ourselves Friday night, just had a few quiet ones and a bit of a laugh.
“If we’d known how the next 36 hours were gonna play out, we might have gone bit harder,” he added wistfully.
The first impediment to a weekend of juvenile antics revealed itself with Saturday’s sunrise: clear skies, not a breath of wind, and a sparkling three-to-four-feet of easterly groundswell creating waves of sublime quality. By midday, our motley heroes had racked up over four hours of water time and were displaying alarming early signs of mellow contentment.
The situation deteriorated further after lunch. With the waves looking inviting a few clicks up the beach, a decision was made to ‘earn some lager credits for tonight’ and walk to the next surf session via the National Park track. And despite their best efforts at lowering the tone with puerile banter, the natural beauty and scenic vistas unfolding along the walking track rendered them hushed and thoughtful.
And if the morning surf had taken the edge off the boys’ appetite for antics, this afternoon session up the beach – with waves of perfect shape, textured and airbrushed by a straight offshore breeze – totally ruined them.
To make matters worse, the lads found themselves spending much of their three-hour surf in the company of a pod of dolphins.
As a clearly disappointed Shane-O told your reporter: “It’s hard to get your yobbo on when you’re sharing a wave with a family of highly intelligent, sentient cetaceans. Muppet behaviour just doesn’t feel right when there’s a pair of White-bellied Sea Eagles circling majestically overhead, and you can’t really swear or raise your voice on the beach when there’s a joey looking at you from mum’s pouch just a couple of metres away.
“Honestly, those roos – those big, brown gentle eyes just rob all intent of loutish behaviour from a man.”
By 7.00 pm that night, the crew had made it to the Iluka pub as had long been planned, but instead of throwing down boisterous beers at the bar and switching speedily to silly drinks, patrons report this plucky band of brothers as being barely able to get through their Parmas and chips, with Bif nodding off in his chair halfway through his meal – not from the sedative effects of liquor – but rather from a day immersed in nature of the most glorious kind.
“They got back from the pub early, and by 8:30pm the only noise coming from their tents were snores,” neighbouring campers Noel and Marjorie O’Halloran tell us.
“Oh, and a single fart.”
That solitary fart, allegedly emanating from Bif’s swag, represented the pinnacle of the weekend’s naughty behaviour.
On Sunday the lads rose early, and with shoulder muscles aching and lower backs feeling like they’d been placed in a vice after the previous day’s surfing, found themselves conducting an improvised yoga class led by Shane-O on the beach before the sun had even found its way to the horizon
And after brekky, a quick surf in the fading swell, some seashell collecting and catching up on each others’ news over a cuppa, our heroes packed away their camping gear, along with several unopened cartons of beer (one of which was donated to a clearly delighted Noel O’Halloran), and hit the road back to their respective lives.
And as they dispersed and drove – some north, some south – they replayed in their minds the waves they rode, the nature they experienced, that life-affirming connection with friends, and felt a quiet relief in the new-found knowledge that Clarence Valley catch-ups needn’t involve carrying on like a pork chop.