Words: Wade Davis
Surfing Life has spent the last week in Indonesia with Matt Wilkinson, Adrian Buchan and Glenn Hall. You can find out more about the trip, here.
I awoke to Nick Pollet banging on my door. It was still dark and I was still dreaming; I jumped up startled and confused. “Yes! What?” I yelled, tripping over the pants I was pulling on as I moved to open the door. “Dawn service dude”, said Nick and I remembered the plan from last night. We were going to have our own little dawn service at Lakey Peak, Sumbawa.
Red Bull’s Andy King had downloaded The Last Post, or First Recording as Matt Wilkinson calls it, for the service. As my sunburnt eyes blearily found their way to the beach I saw Andy, Matt and Nick assembled, as well as Mick Fanning, Adrian Buchan, Mikey Wright and Luke Hynd. All were standing in a row on the sand, all were facing the blue glow that signified the soon-to-be-rising sun. I joined them as the bugling began and we stood with heads bowed and arms crossed in respectful silence. When The First Recording was done we stood for a moment’s reflection until an explosion of orchestra shattered the calm. Unaware if being weirded out by this musical barrage was disrespectful we all stood in bewildered silence until Mick had the gall to ask, “what is this, Star Wars?” Turns out it was a particularly bombastic version of the Australian national anthem, part of a playlist, Mikey explained, for all those times the 16 year old participates in nationalist rituals abroad.
Behind the hotel where we breakfasted were mountains riddled with Japanese World War Two bunkers, a reminder of how close the war came to Australia. That morning Mick, Mikey, Luke and Andy surfed the Peak (mid to low tide, bigger swells) and Wilko, Nick and I the Pipe (high to mid, smaller swells). I was affected by the juxtaposition of our ability to come here and get tubed in front of bunkers that were created to try and take those rights away. Everyone has their own reasons for commemorating Anzac Day, I thought of my grandfather and his brothers, one lost, who fought in this part of the world against fascism and imperialism, fought for the freedoms which we often take for granted. In the surf we secured a deal that would land two goats in a bonfire for Anzac dinner, despite my protests that the goats we’d seen on our motorbike rides to surf Cobblestones (very high tides and slightly smaller swells than Pipe, tres picturesque) are cutie pies and thus not fit for consumption.
Following the surf we reconvened in the restaurant where Wilko got his hands on a paddle and some coins so that we may have a few throws of Two-Up. Gambling is illegal in Indonesia, so we didn’t bet money, and at the conclusion of the days throwing I dominated Wilko and he deemed it necessary to give me 300,000 rupiah, which was nice of him and befitting of the Anzac spirit (Ace just about gave away all his rupiah, what nice guys these pro surfers are!). Then the Bintang beers started flowing, and the Australiana started to dominate the iPod speakers. Ace played a comedic skit by Irish comedian Jason Byrne called “Magic Land” which made us cry with laughter as well as fill up with pride of place. Cheers were getting thrown around with every round, the cry being “for the Anzacs!” It wasn’t the same as being in Australia, but we made a day of it all the same.
By the time the goat came around some of us had had a few, and I’d all but forgotten my previous enamour for the delicious nimble devil sheep. With more Bintangs came conversation, and we discussed everything from pet hates, Wilko: sun, sand and seawater, to alternatives to the Australian national anthem, I think we settled on Thunderstruck. It was with merriment and full bellies we exited the restaurant, Mick and the groms went home, and the rest of us made our way to a place we knew had good acoustics. Nick performed his single, “Old Man, Young Man”, for us, a song about constipation and old guys with small dicks driving Audis, with recent lyrical modifications excluding Ace and Julian Wilson from the stereotype. As happens on nights like these we descended into a sculling contest, well Wilko and I did, which put us in bed by midnight.
The next morning we were up at dawn again, thankful to have the freedom to travel and surf and drink and eat and be merry, freedoms that were ensured through the sacrifices of our fellow Australians in the defence forces.
Lest we forget.