Fear and Euphoria

A recount of my most memorable session.

Words by Louie Hynd & Photos by Darcy Ward


I arrive bewildered and exhausted in the middle of nowhere after 24hrs in transit. After two flights and a lengthy overnight drive, I found myself at the location of a wave that should be lighting up according to the charts. The harsh afternoon desert heat blared down on me as I dragged my feet through the orange dirt toward the edge of the cliffs.  As I stood on the edge of the crumbling cliffs, I look out at one of the most notorious surf spots in the world.

The full brunt of the southern ocean was detonating onto a shallow slab of reef. The conditions didn’t look perfect, the solid swell washing through on the sets and a light onshore wind causing ribs and chop on the wave face. Far from the ideal combination at a wave of such consequence. But I thought I may as well give it a go anyway. Just to tick it off the bucket list since I’d come so far.

As I was getting ready, I couldn’t help but feel a strange energy. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and my heart beat a little quicker. It may have been the prior knowledge of some of the dark history that surrounded the place. Standing on the same cliff where a group of early settlers apparently drove 260 aboriginals towards the edge and forced them to jump, or be shot. Maybe it was the fact that the spot is notorious for great white sharks and not too long ago, a man was devoured whole by a great white while surfing the break I was about to paddle out at. The incident confirmed by two eyewitnesses who each then and there, took a vow to never step foot in the ocean again. A pub horror story that remains well versed by many of the locals that call the desolate lands home.

Regardless of the bad juju in the air, there was still the potential for a few crazy rides. The sun was starting to dive and I knew that I didn’t want to stay out too long as the day was fast approaching PST (Prime Shark Time).

The first challenge is attempting to reach the sand to paddle out. No beach access stairs around here. How about traverse your way down a steep, loose-footed rock and dirt cliff instead? Okay! With nobody around to tell me the right way to get down, I decided to go with my default navigational and problem-solving strategy; just wing it. I cautiously and ungainly slip slided my way down the slope. Each wary footstep causing mini avalanches of dirt and rock larger than the last. After a treacherous descent of the cliff, I eventually make it to the beach, but not completely unscathed. Kicking a rock toward the end of the trip down resulted in a ripped wetsuit bootie and bleeding cut. Great, now I was going to be attracting sharks and have numb toes.

My Anxiety had since taken form as a tiny red devil on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, tantalising me with its persuasive allure.

‘This isn’t worth it, the waves don’t even look that good.”

“It’s way more risk than reward.”

“Fuck this. Go back to the car,” the tiny red devil persuaded.

A few deep inhalations later and an empowered ‘Fuck it’ rebuttal from the tiny white angel on the other shoulder gave me the attitude adjustment required to get me out there.

Feeling equal parts anxious and exhilarated, I paddle out through the deep channel behind the wave. The eerie darkness of the water perpetuated the already spooky vibes. Not eager to sit on my own, I paddle straight up to the two guys that were already out to exchange pleasantries.

Being an outsider hunting waves in a heavily localized area of the world means you’re constantly walking on eggshells. And don’t even think about pulling out a camera. I crossed my fingers and hoped they weren’t two gnarly locals ready give me an earful; especially if they’d already detected the not so disguised tripod amongst the cliffs…  Luckily for me, they’re just two men on a road trip from Wollongong. Phew! Bullet dodged.

I always like to take off on a wave as soon as possible. I find it helps me tune in with the energy of the ocean. When the waves are intimidating, the longer you sit and over analyze the conditions and waves, the less confidence you gain and the more fear you begin to develop. My preparation consisted of surfing 2ft, 3-second period wind slop on the Gold Coast for the past two months. It’s a real shock to the system when you're suddenly thrown into a large long-period southern ocean swell. (Period of swell is the time between each wave. The longer the period, the more power and water in the wave as it folds over the reef).

A reasonably sized in-between set wave appeared. I turned to the bloke beside me and probed for a hint to what a good one should look like. He gave a hesitant remark that didn’t exactly give away the answers to the test paper.

Any spot you surf, good ones are the kinds of waves you see break and think fuck, I wish I were on that!  Picking a good one comes down to your ability to read the ocean and identify waves with the right look. At waves of consequence like this one, recognizing the look becomes less of a calculation and more of a spiritual connection.

For me, a swell line with the look emits intangible euphoric energy that connects with my intuition, giving me an instinctive sense of, that’s a good one and you should probably start paddling.

You’re essentially reading the ocean and coming up with a hypothesis on how that particular swell will hit the reef and break. The angle the swell is coming in, how much energy there is in the wave, and numerous other small factors are added up to create your hypothesis. Reconciliation between the scientific calculation and spiritual connection is how you ultimately make your decision to commit or let the wave go.

Surfing this spot, the ability to feel this connection would mean the difference between getting blown out of a crazy tube or being slammed on the reef and ferociously rag-dolled under the water for an uncomfortable amount of time.

Energy doesn’t lie. The result of trusting this intuitive connection and your skill to ride the wave is when you get to experience what I believe to be one of the most incredible natural highs that life can give.

It’s why passionate surfers have that insatiable desire and dedication to search far and wide, hunting new and different waves.

We’re chasing the dragon for another hit.  Each wave is different, making every high unique. That’s how surfing becomes such a strong addiction.

I swing around for a wave and paddle my heart out. So much water is surging off the reef; it feels like I’m not even moving. Eventually, I feel the wave start to pick me up. Time to try and take off on this thing. Hands leave the rail and my feet jump onto my board as I knife down the wave. There is so much power and speed in the wave, I could see it already starting to run off on me before I even got to the bottom. Too late to turn off the bottom I was forced to straighten out. I made it safely out the front of the wave away from the lip; only to be mowed down by an avalanche of white water. One deep inhale of air and I pin dropped off my board.  Despite jumping off in the safest place, I still get absolutely flogged.  Surfacing a little while later, way on the inside of the break. It was time to face the part of the surf I’d been dreading; the long, very lonely paddle back to the take-off spot, through the deepest, darkest, sharkiest water you could ever find yourself in.

I cop a few more waves on the head before I reach the channel. Rattled and dizzy, I take a moment to compose myself. 

“Deep breaths Louie, deeeeep breaths,” I whisper to myself in an attempt to calm my racing heartbeat.

I start paddling as fast as I can without splashing around too much. The feeling reconnected me with my childhood irrational fear of being in the deep end of the swimming pool.

You’re not scared of the water, you’re afraid of the unknown.

“Don’t look down, keep looking forward and keep moving those twigs you call arms. There’s safety in numbers, just reach the lads at the take-off spot and you’re in the clear”, I reassured myself.

Halfway there and I’m quickly heating up. I shouldn’t have worn the 4/3.  I eased off the gas knowing if I try to keep up that sort of record pace for the whole session, my arms would end up turning to jelly very prematurely. With the lads now within close range, I feel more comfortable and reach them pretty soon after.

One of the guys yells out, “Hey mate, just letting you know we’re gonna head in. Not getting that many and it’s getting kind of late. You gonna stay out or head in too?” I’d only had one wave and it was a flogging, no way I was wrapping up my session like that.

“No worries lads, I’m gonna stay out, wouldn’t mind just trying to get one decent one” I reply.

Gone, taking with them the safety of their presence. An involuntary solo sesh is upon me…


As I sit there alone, scanning each swell rolling through, I notice the wind slightly drop off and swing offshore. I’m in luck, it’s the beginning of the natural phenomenon much appreciated by surfers - The LAGO (late arvo glass off).

The ocean cleaned up and the wind started to swing lightly offshore, meaning the absence of a chandelier falling through the barrels. 

An opportunity for a stand tall pit was now truly on the cards.

A set approaches and I feel the instinctive feeling to go. Learning from my mistake earlier, rather than paddling out and waiting for the wave to jack up, I immediately swing and start paddling in as hard as I can.

Paddling feels like I’m battling with the opposite direction on an escalator. As the wave starts to pull me up the face; I grab the rails and jump to my feet. The bottom is dropping out faster than I can get down the face. I freefall for a split second and then land.

I look up and see the golden afternoon light beaming through the lip as it throws over me, illuminating the emerald green tube I’m standing in.

I stand there for a moment, truly present. Mouth wide and eyes beaming in sheer awe of the beauty and energy I’m experiencing. The intense natural euphoria of this moment seems to slow your perception of time, gifting the chance to enjoy a completely unique experience for much longer compared to someone watching. All senses are in overdrive, absorbing and reacting all at the same moment. I come flying out of the tube hooting myself and kicked out into the channel. That’s what I came I here for.


I lay down on my board and start the paddle back out. My body suddenly jolts when a dorsal fin emerges just inside my peripheral vision.

It’s just a dolphin, thank god. I’m suddenly surrounded by a whole pod of dolphins that are just out of arm’s reach. It’s pretty common to see dolphins in the ocean, but to be paddling alone with an entire pod in the wild is something else. I feel safe with them around me, like they are my security convoy, protecting me from harm.

(I later heard an alternative opinion that when a pod of dolphins does this, they are actually drawing the attention of a predator away from them and towards you. Oh the naivety!)

In true ignorance is bliss fashion, I take the experience as a spiritual connection as they swim with me all the way until I get back to the take-off, where they too begin catching waves themselves.  Scoring pumping waves with only a pod of dolphins challenging for priority. There was no way I was heading in now.


I traded a few more waves with the pod until another surfer eventually joined me. I threw him a wave and received one back. I recognised him, it was the underground surfing world core lord known only as ‘Camel’. I’d met him once before but, I still felt slightly star-struck in his presence. His dedication and passion for surfing, especially large tubes, is second to none.

He’s a man who has lived an extraordinary life fuelled by nothing other than the desire of chasing that feeling.

A true inspiration to living life the way you see it. We exchanged tales of epic sessions we’d experienced and I listened in awe as he shared details of some of his wild escapades.

He was coming off a major injury and was just happy to be in the ocean again. He belly boarded a few waves off the shoulder, but his real stoke came from calling me into sets. His mind is so analytically dialled into the ocean after a lifetime studying it. Explaining why a wave was doing with pinpoint accuracy and detail. I had complete confidence in his wave selection whenever he said ‘go this one’. Wave after wave I kick out into the channel to see him claiming it in the distance with pure froth!

As the sun neared the horizon, I decide to wrap the session. I let Camel know my decision and he responded in sigh of relief. “I was hoping you’d say that soon, I was only really staying out to keep you company.” We paddle with purpose back around the top of the wave and make it safely to the sand. One last burst of effort to scale the crumbly cliff side and I make it back to solid ground.

I sit and watch perfect empty waves continue to roll through under the pristine sunset. Revelling in the euphoria of having just experienced one of the most memorable sessions I’ll ever have.


Check out Louie and Darcy's latest clip: IMAGINATION ROULETTE EP003

IMAGINATION ROULETTE EP003 from Darcy Ward on Vimeo.



Instagram:  @louiehynd 

Instagram@darcywardvisuals   Vimeo@darcywardvisuals

Rebuild Together - Bushfire Volunteer Platform

Rebuild Together - A Platform to connect volunteers with people who have been affected by the recent bushfires.



When the fires broke out across Australia, I had an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. I wanted to help, but I didn't know how or where to start.

We don't all have a bunch of money to donate but we do have the time and skills that are really needed. Whether it's cleaning up, dropping off supplies, caring for injured animals, trades, or just lending a much needed hand.

Which is why we built Rebuild Together. A platform for people who want to volunteer to help those who need it most.

  1. If you want to volunteer your time and skills - Become a Volunteer and help those who need it.
  2. If you have been affected by the fires - Create a post and connect with local volunteers.

The platform has just launched - if you would like to volunteer, please jump on the site and create an account. If you need help (or know anyone who does), create a listing and get connectd with local legends.


If you have any questions or would like to get involved please email me on:



Keep on keeping on,


electric bubble handcrafted raro magazine documentary free

Handcrafted - An insiders look at the Australian Custom Motorcycle Community.

Our good friends and stupidly talented filmmakers Jake Ashe and Cam Brunt from Electric Bubble released their first feature documentary earlier this year, Handcrafted. A fifty minute film capturing the essence of the Australian custom motorcycle community. Craftsmen from all walks of life, creating for occupation or purely for love. Spending countless hours crafting a machine, worthy of their name.

Created by: Electric Bubble - https://www.electricbubble.com.au/

Purpose Built Moto - https://purposebuiltmoto.com/


Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John

Unlearning by Bike - Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain

Unlearning by Bike 

Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain

Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John


It’s remarkable to hear the stories and wisdom from someone with a mere quarter century of birthdays under their belt. When many twenty-somethings are just becoming their own person, falling into the capitalism cog and finding joy in the form of baggies and beers. Nicole is outside, exploring, learning, unlearning and making a difference to those she cares about. And cycling from Thailand to Spain. 

Nicole Heker has been living and travelling through Asia for the past 3 years.  Managing the Happy Kids Centre in Bhaktapur, Nepal since she was 23. Now she is on her biggest adventure, cycling solo from Thailand to Spain. An unassisted bike trip to raise money for the Happy Kids Centre. Her goal is to raise $12,000 - enough to cover an entire years worth of costs for the centre.

We caught up with Nicole to chat about the best and worst parts of the trip so far and we dive into her philosophy on life. 

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John


Why and when did you decide to do this trip? 

I was working as a deck-hand on a sailboat that would circumnavigate the world. The captain of Mr. Percival is an Australian man who decided to leave Australia for the first time and see the world. I was fortunate enough to get a gig working on his boat for a short period of time, crossing the North Java Sea in Indonesia. At this point, I had been traveling for almost two years throughout Asia and had thought that I had a good grasp of what it meant to be an independent traveler. Then, I met Tiphaine and Marco, two cycle tourers who had cycled all the way to Indonesia from France for over 3 years. They rocked up to the boat with two bicycles and all of their gear. They looked tanned and rough and adventure-worn. Over the next three weeks on the boat, they shared their stories, showed me photos and videos and explained the sense of freedom and autonomy. Their stories beguiled me but it was how they carried themselves that sold me. They were so comfortable in their skin, so confident and strong within themselves. They were resourceful, and independent and were quick to fix things that were broken or take on any new task on the boat that needed handling.

It was their inner-state that captured me and brought this trip to the forefront of my brain. But it had to wait. I had 0 funds left and had already signed a contract to work in Korea for one year as an English teacher. Over that year, I saved almost every penny I could. I did the research, followed all the blogs and Instagram accounts I could find and moved toward this goal–riding my bike from somewhere, to somewhere else, far away. I didn’t know where, but I knew what I wanted out of it. Cycling every day gives one a sense of purpose as it is, but I wanted to have a driving intention behind what I was doing, and I wanted to use whatever platform would form from this trip to make a positive impact.

The cause was easy, I have been working as the Director of Development for a Nepali NGO for three years now, we’re a small organization, but our impact has been huge over the past three years, but like any organization, we needed more funding. This is the impact behind my trip.  The intention came a little bit more slowly until I started messaging with an old sociology professor from Penn State University. That’s when I remembered his words on the final day of class. He challenged us to “unlearn everything” and so, Unlearning By Bike was born. I was going to pay attention to the stories around me, the stories that I carried within me, all of the judgments that I harbored and I was going to try, to see as clearly as I could, the truths of the world and of myself. 

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John


What does, 'its the inner journey that I’m after', mean? 

In short, it means growth. We live in our self-made cages of perceived limitations, fears and redundant stories that for the most part do not serve us. On the bike, I try to observe what's happening, what kind of thought patterns have become habits, and what fears dictate my actions. So often, people travel in search of themselves. While traveling can be a great catalyst for growth, everything–every journey we need to take, every facet of ourselves is already inside of us.

I guess my version of the inner journey is outgrowing my cage by taking responsibility, wandering into the unfamiliar, conquering my fears, and integrating new skills and tools. We are ruled by so many things from our genes to our environment, but, I don’t believe that they have the final word. We have space for growth, improvement, and change. Not just through reading books, or making a Pinterest board of inspirational quotes, but by putting some serious work into breaking down what those limits, fears, and stories are and taking ownership over them. 


What has been the most uncomfortable/scary experience of the trip so far?

Mongolia is a place of extremes. I would easily say that it's one of my favorite countries that I’ve cycled in but it was also scary and uncomfortable at times. One time, in particular, was in a very small town called Ulziit. It was exactly what I imagined the old Wild West to be like–dusty, lawless, streets were strewn with horses, drunk men, and shattered glass. The buildings were short, square and colorful. My three cycling companions at the time, Claudia, Oliver and Jerry, and I rode in on a fair day. The fair happens once a month there and nomads come from all over the region to raffle for a motorbike or some sheep. Everyone was wasted and rowdy, barking at us as we rode in, intimidating us by riding their motorcycles straight for us and then turning at the last second, making sexual gestures towards Claudia and me. We were supposed to be there briefly, just to restock on food and water for the road and then we heard it, “crunch.” It was Oliver’s rim. It was broken. This was a catastrophe. We were stuck in a town where everyone seemed like they wanted to rob us or harm us in some way.

It felt anything but safe, but we were stuck. Jerry and I found a hotel and barred the door with some chairs and Claudia and Oliver got a ride back to Ulaan Baatur where they would buy another rim and meet us back in Ulziit. It took two days. Jerry and I only left that room to pee in the ditch outside, one at a time, while the other stood guard at the window to make sure nothing happened. When we were leaving the hotel owner begged for money and started trying to grab at all of our things laying around the room until finally, my face made its point and she left. Sufficit to say, we did not enjoy our stay in Ulziit. 

What has been the most memorable/enjoyable experience of the trip so far? 

Before this trip, I had never really heard of Tajikistan let alone knew where it was. This small country, surrounded by Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and China, exceeded all my expectations. The landscapes were surreal, epic mountains were the backdrop to this incredible stretch of bike riding. Being very unpopulated, I felt like I had the world to myself. All of my camp spots became home, the roads were mostly paved but led us up, up, up incredible passes that gave me a daily sense of accomplishment. We were dirty and rugged and resourceful. We built campfires and bathed in rivers and when something broke we had to fend for ourselves, getting creative as we patched up tires or adjusted chains. Every evening, it was just us, me and the couple other cyclists I met on the road and the stars.

When we did come across the occasional nomad or mountain family they treated us like family, inviting us into their homes and showering us with hospitality, usually in the form of many cups of tea and a place to sleep. There are countless moments, in every country that has touched me in some way, but Tajikistan as a whole was just a wild and adventurous time that tempted my imagination and left me a different person as I exited out the other side. 

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John
Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John

What do you mean by "designer of my fate"?

Being the designer of my fate is about living with intention. Without awareness and intention, it is easy to get swept up into the crowd and end up living a life where you never question what you want or what makes your heart dance but just follow the herd. It also has to do with circumstance. For example, the night can be dark, and storms can rage, but by taking responsibility as the “master of my fate” and captain of my soul” I’m giving putting my confidence in myself to change the direction of things. My philosophy on living life is ever-changing haha! But at the base of it all is “Follow your heart/bliss/curiosity” whatever that may mean for you and LOOK INSIDE. See what drives you and ask yourself “Is it fear or is it love?” When I’m 70 years old I would be proud to say that I lived–that I tasted and tried and wondered and that I left this world a little better than when I found it.  

What books are you currently reading and what is your favourite book? 

I am currently reading Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut. I really love his works, particularly his short stories from Armaggedon in Retrospect. It’s so difficult to choose a favorite book but Siddhartha by Herman Hesse is a short read that I keep coming back to before starting any journey. It demonstrates the non-linear path of a Siddharta’s journey to enlightenment. I keep going back to that book because every time I read it, no matter how different my life circumstance has become, it sings true and teaches me new lessons. 

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John
Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John

When you were a child and at college, what did you want to do with your life? 

I have always been someone who felt drawn to the margins. When all my friends were checking out the flowers, I was turning over the rocks, looking for something else. I was always pushing the rules and sometimes, I took them way too far, but I had this insatiable curiosity and thirst for experience-based knowing. I wouldn’t say that I thought I was unique in any way, but I knew that I questioned everything and that I had little regard for doing what was expected of me. I’ve never really had a clear image of what I wanted to do with my life.

I’ve always had an idea of the person I wanted to be though. I remember being around 10 years old and going over to my friend Caylin’s house. It was different from any other house I’d seen. It was a Victorian style and painted yellow. Her kitchen was colorful, with orange floors and yellow walls and they had their own garden outside growing strawberries and cherry tomatoes and giant sunflowers. Caylin’s mom had a tattoo, she skinny-dipped in the pool outback under the moonlight, and she went deep water swimming, encouraging me to do the same, something that my parents usually forbade. Her job was in construction and on Caylin’s birthday one year, she put a hammer in all of our hands and taught us how to build. She was different and I knew that when I grew up, I wanted to be radical and draw my own lines as she did.

As I grew up, I tried to fit myself back into the mold. I went to university, still not knowing what to do with my life, and thought what office job I would get when I graduated. After studying abroad, something reawakened. I decided to trust myself and just follow my curiosities. That brought me to Thailand after graduation, where I started to really ask myself questions about who I was and what I was interested in. Now, I plan on having many careers! I want to write a kids book and be a yoga teacher or start an eco-cafe somewhere. I want to live in a treehouse and a van for a while and get good at using my hands by practicing ceramics, wood carving, and leather-work. But I find its best not to plan too much. I’ll just keep following my curiosities for now. 



If you would like to donate and keep up to date with Nicole, check out www.unlearningbybike.com

And check out more of Jeremy's work www.jeremyjohn.co.uk and @jeremyj0hn

Waves breaking on the sand of Torquay beach.

Learning to read the ocean

Words by Jessy Wills & Photos by Ryan Cheng

Learning to read the ocean is like learning a foreign language, whilst some structure and rules apply each break has its own dialect, it takes time and practice to fit in like a local.

The Big Blue monsters of the sea roll in successively with the force of a prevailing army.

But look closer, these monsters can be playful too.

A force of nature


Howling offshore winds cause fragments of the wave to get left behind in a trail blazing rainbow.

In an instant, turbulent waters are turned to glass. Black reef beneath the surface paints the ocean an emerald green the foaming edges cover the rocks like a veil. The Seaweed glistening like jewels whilst dancing refractions of light pattern the shallows.

Equally how beautiful are rain swept oceans, ripping the water to shreds. The thunder a heavy groan from the heavens, the lightning flashes like a warning, illuminating fault lines in the sky. The rains have come to top up the seas.

How alive do I feel in these moments. Just as the moon pulls on the tides we too are pulled towards the sea.

Swells birthed hundreds of kilometres away, weather systems and an orchestrated collaboration of wind, tide and ocean floor topography work in unison to create the perfect wave.

Perfect if only for a second, it would be enough!

A lone surfer surfing a wave at Torquay beach, Victoria.

To surf, is to engage in a dance led by the ocean. To follow the tune of the tides in symphony with the swell. How beautiful the melody.

Surfing trips mean days spent with no agenda.

There are those who are the dawn patrollers rising with the dew, who wait eagerly for the return of the light. Others prefer sunset sessions, where the sun kisses the horizon and blesses those who remain with the riches of liquid gold.

To surf is to be exposed to the elements, to be immersed in cold water, fingers unable to clench a fist, teeth chattering- drowning out the sounds of your thoughts. But yet we go. What is this strange allure? All for a moment captured in a second, replayed for a lifetime.

To surf is to flirt precariously with passion and obsession, what a beautiful head spinning blur.

A collective experience


The ocean has an uncanny ability of introducing you to people.

There is something about being washed up together that opens you to shared experience. A shared experience with the saltiest of humans. Sun-bleached hair and sunburnt faces, a zinc smeared tribe ready for battle. Wrinkles etched like channels carved by a river, running as deep as their linage with the ocean.

They wear black suits though they do not belong in an office, travel thousands of miles but always find home. The never ending pursuit of waves, those swell chasers, who share their stories and secret spots- drawn up on mud maps and passed down with the secrecy of a family recipe. Adding to the pages of my story, some stay just for a photograph, others contribute exerts or poems and some even stay to write an entire chapter.


A surfer washing up onto the shore of the beach.


The ocean is the greatest teacher.

It has many lessons, lessons about its nature, its dangers and about yourself. Ultimately we are all at the mercy of the ocean, what it gives can easily be taken away. It has a way of evoking fear amongst the brave and humbling the bold.

I have experienced indescribable heartache in the ocean. Forever marked by the memory of entering the oceans rage to save another, only to lose him through my fingertips – another soul claimed by the sea – a broken family left behind on the beach. Heartbroken because of my life spent dedicated to the water; lifesaving, lifeguarding and swim teaching.

I cursed its depths and vowed never to return – only to find healing here again, a burden lifting from my shoulders in its weightlessness. Left in awe and in reverence of it power. The ocean does not discriminate; age, colour, gender and race are irrelevant in this realm.

A celebration of life


The ocean has the ability to evoke one’s child-like spirit, the spirit we were all given so long ago, the one we covered up with experience, logic and reason. But here it is stirred in a beautiful awaking of imagination, discovery and play.

As a child I would boldly state that when I grew up I wanted to be a mermaid, a tough profession to get into as I now realise, though definitely one worth pursuing.

So take a breath and disappear into an underwater wonderland.

Submerge in a magnification of colour and rhythm. Be held by its hydrostatic pressure and serenaded by its silence. Witness the moving sands, not blown by wind but by current. Be denied of your breath only to become part of the oceans breathing. Defy gravity.

In this world you get to be the bird, soaring beneath the clouds of the crashing waves. For to be here is to escape time.

But regardless of how long they stay, the ocean has a funny way of connecting people, of reminding people of their humanity, the blood in their veins.

Chronicles of a Skateboarder


Chronicles of a skateboarder
Made by @cyrilafonso ✍🏻


How To Build a Bowl


How To Build A Half-Pipe



Check out more adventures @the_fantasic_sam

Bud Heyser - 13 Knives - Knife maker - Photo by Laurence James

Bud The Knife Maker

I walk down an alleyway and into a fluorescent lit workshop. Behind an assortment of half-built motorcycles and benches is a man in an apron and gloves, pulling a piece of metal from a furnace with a pair of dramatic tongs. He looks like he’s in his element.

He sees me from the corner of his eye, removes his goggles and turns the furnace gas off. Reaching out to shake my hand with his scarred knuckles and a welcoming grin beneath his beard.

I ask him if I was interrupting his flow.

“No, not at all. I was just making a spork for my buddy upstairs.”

I admire a man who orders a custom feeding utensil usually reserved for toddlers.

His name is Bud. He’s a modest man. An adventurer at heart with a love for winding down roads on his motorcycle. He even went to architecture school but I certainly can’t imagine him in a collared shirt slouching over a desk. Now he forges custom knives with intricate handles made from wood and bone.

Bud spent his whole life in Kentucky before packing up and moving to Melbourne a fews years ago. He worked as a furniture maker when he first arrived but it didn’t last long.

“I couldn't handle the clients… it's so wanky haha. That's why I got away from it. I just wanted ideal clients - people who I could relate with. I was already making some knives on the side and everyone I made a knife for was cool. I met some of my best friends by making knives for them.”

Now he forges out of a workshop on Easey street in Collingwood - sandwiched between a bar (Paradise Alley) and a screen printing shop ( While You Sleep ), surrounded by vintage choppers (BITZER). A photo of his manager is mounted on the wall to make sure he stays in line and doesn’t duck next door for a cheeky midday pint.

All kinds of people walk through the door. Some are knife collectors, others are tradies or hunters. He even made a bunch of throwing knives for a guy in the circus.

Heating and hammering metal has always been in his blood.

“My Grandpa ran a forge and foundry called International Harvester and my dad was a machinist; he made some knives as well. I played around when I was younger but didn't really make any knives.”

“Grandpa would always give me a knife on my birthday. Actually, even if it wasn't my birthday. Whenever I went over to his place he’d be like, “do you want this” and hand me a knife… or a BB gun haha.”

Yet, Bud didn’t learn much from anyone else. No fancy knife making school and limiting his internet use as much as possible. Just some helpful pointers from his old man and an old book.

“My dad taught me a bit but I bought a book from 1906 called The Farm Blacksmiths Handbook. That’s it. I try stay away from the internet. People that know how to make good knives generally don't know how to make good youtube videos haha. So you see a lot of bullshit online. I like it this way. It keeps my head down, playing with what works and realising what doesn’t.”

Knife making wasn’t something he planned for as his career - it just fell into place.

“I just wanted it to be a hobby that paid for itself. I rented a space so I had to be doing something in it. So I built the forge and started making knives - I can’t believe it didn’t blow up haha. I still get scared sometimes when I start it.”

But his current workshop in Collingwood wasn’t his first. He got kicked out of his last workspace.

“I went to this knife symposium up in Tharwa Valley. I spent 3 days riding a motorcycle there, 3 days forging with some of the leading experts in knife making and then spent 5 days riding back. I had no cell phone service and no clue where I was going.

"Once I finally got service I checked my emails and one was from the owners of the studio saying that I had to move out because I was being too loud. It sucked haha. I came from such a high from the past week with so many great ideas. And now I had to find a new place to work.“

I guess it was a blessing in disguise. Otherwise, he might never have found Paradise Alley.

We looked through a bunch of his creations; knives the size or my arm, counterfeit coins, cutlery and vertebrae shaped knuckle dusters. With knowledge of metallurgy, alchemy, chemistry, woodwork, fabrication and everything in between, he can create almost anything he thinks of.

“I get obsessive over things and then never do it again. Recently I had this weird fascination with making counterfeit money.”

“I’ve been second guessing calling it 13 knives. Cause I'm also making silverware and jewelry. So I might have limited myself. Now I'm calling it ‘13k, Quality Goods’. So that's the transition. I just want to keep it open ended, making knives and whatever else I'm interested in.”

He hands me a couple of the knives from the cabinet and starts rattling off the different types of bone in the handles.

I was a little skeptical. Is this crazy knife-wielding bloke getting black market animal parts from African poachers?

He doesn’t. Relax.

“I get water buffalo horn, zebra bone, warthog tusk. There's an organisation in Africa that go around and pick up the bones from reservations when an animal dies. There not poachers. The money goes back to the reservation for conservation. Bone lasts for ages when it's treated properly. These knives will last a few hundred years, I hope.

“The handles are a lot of fun to make. But so is the blade... Actually, it's all fun haha.”

These knives aren't mass produced. It takes a lot of time and effort to make a single knife.

“A knife takes around 40 to 50 hours to make. I start with a block of steel, heat it, beat it into shape, harden it, treat it, temper it, and then start doing handle work. The handle work takes forever.”

“I go from one day, brutally bashing out steel to make the blade and then the next day making hidden pins for the handles. There are so many different skills involved in making a single knife. A lot of engineering is involved just to get it all to meet up and feel nice. “

I noticed that he still had 10 fingers.

Which is impressive with all of this hammering, grinding, melting, and fireballs around. I asked Bud if he’s had any accidents.

“Yeah, I ran my finger through the grinder last year. That was pretty bad. I went to the doctor and asked him if it was that bad. He was like ‘yeah, go to the hospital’. They wrapped it in gause really big and told me to take a month off work. I went back to the workshop that afternoon. It was hard though because every time I was grinding, it would shoot sparks straight onto the gause and set it on fire.


He then made a passing comment about getting metal fingertips to prevent it from happening again.

“Not like removing my real nails. Just like attachments. You could do anything with them. My nails are always getting hit on the grinder. That and an exoskeleton and I’d be set haha.  I’d be unstoppable, taking over the world making knives.”

I ask Bud what his next line of metal creations will be.

“I really want to make a steam engine haha. That’s my next thing.”

I could get around that. Petrol is way too expensive anyway, I’d much rather buy a bag of coal and a jug of water. Maybe we should start a new series called ‘What’s Bud Making this week’. I think it has legs.

Check out some of Bud's creations: @thirteen_knives / www.13knives.com.au.

Also, how epic are those photos? I know right. Insane. Make sure you check out their other work: Laurence James -@laurencejamesphotography www.laurencephotography.com.au and Alberto Zimmermann -@betozimmermann


Check out this interview with Bud by Jack Sprenger:


Photographed by Johnny Casey at a wave called Riley’s. The wave that inspired the whole trip.

The Red Baron - Surfing in Ireland

The Red Baron - Surfing in Ireland

By Louie Hynd


Coming into December, I assumed I’d be going to Hawaii like every other semi-pro, pro and photo chaser. Boards were ordered and I was looking forward to watching the title showdown from the balcony of Ripcurl’s beachfront team house as I’d done the year previous. But this year it wasn’t meant to be, not enough floor space. Even the cupboard (literally) I slept in the year previous was occupied. I had already had a month of 1ft northerly wind chop on the Gold Coast and I sure didn’t want to sit around twiddling my thumbs waiting for waves.

I saw a bunch of photos of amazing waves and setups in Ireland over Instagram and got chatting to my friend and filmer Darcy Ward about doing a trip there.  He was equally excited about the idea. Two weeks later we decided to stop talking about it, drop everything and just go.

Wing it and see what happens.

Flights were booked, 5mm rubber was packed and Darcy and I were off on our first major solo mission.

Photographed by Johnny Casey at a wave called Riley’s. The wave that inspired the whole trip.
Photographed by Johnny Casey at a wave called Riley’s. The wave that inspired the whole trip.

Things could not have gone any smoother on the journey over to Ireland. Excess baggage costs flagged at check-in, extra legroom seat on a domestic flight and to top it off, a business class upgrade for the long haul flight.

Once we landed in Dublin, we had no accommodation or transport organised. We really were winging it from here the start. I received a few strange looks dragging a massive coffin bag through the cobblestone streets of Dublin. We eventually found a vacant shoebox size room in a dodgy hostel atop a fried takeaway joint.

Pungent fumes of deep fried goodies wafted inside our room every time we opened the door.

We sampled a few pints of Guinness before the jetlag set in and fell asleep at 2pm. The next day we were bound for the west coast of Ireland.

Jet-lagged in Dublin at 5am.
Jet-lagged in Dublin at 5am.

We nearly missed the train due to no taxis wanting to deal with our enormous amount of luggage, but we made it to the station with two minutes to spare. Upon catching the train it really sank in that were on the other side of the world. Going past identical townhouse suburbs like something out of Harry Potter, then through rolling green landscapes with giant leafless trees.

It certainly didn’t look or feel like we were on a surf trip.

A three-hour train ride followed by an hour-long bus ride; we arrived at the coastal surf town of Bundoran. The place was completely dead. It was 4 pm and the sun had set long ago; there wasn’t a soul in sight. It wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. We dragged our luggage down the road to an old-fashioned bed & breakfast. We were greeted by a lovely old lady called Betty.  She woke us up at 6:30 am sharp for breakfast and seemed quite offended when we turned down the cereal that looked like it’d been sitting on the shelf since the 60s.

The next day we picked up our vehicle for the trip; The Red Baron. An old red Ford transit that our friend Elliot Marshall and his mates used to road trip through Europe earlier in the year. Darcy took the driving reigns although he only had his learners. The anxiety of being pulled over whilst driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle without a license quickly set in. A Google search suggested that we would be looking at around 15K in fines and possible jail time if we were caught.  I decided it was finally time to learn how to drive manual so if we did get pulled over, at least I had some kind of a licence. Twenty minutes of practice in an empty estate before being thrown straight in the deep end.

The legend himself - The Red Bandit.
The legend himself - The Red Bandit.

It turned out that surfing in Ireland wasn’t as simple as I’d hoped. The first few days were completely flat, followed by freezing 80km/hr cyclonic onshore winds and then rain for a few more days. We needed to be precise when picking a time to surf. With only seven hours of daylight and four-metre tides, you basically need to pick your spot and time to surf the night before. Some spots only break on high tide, whilst others only on low tide.

There’s not a lot of time to spend drive around checking everywhere because before you know it, the tide has turned too much and the only decent wave is now unsurfable.

In between the constant rain squalls, we eventually found a window of daylight that we could film a session.  Being covered in 5mm rubber and a hood made every movement restrictive and much more exhausting than usual. Having your face frozen by the 8-degree water temp and the howling arctic winds doesn’t help either. After about a week of struggling to get any decent waves, I was worried that I’d bitten off more than I could chew. I was bummed out and thought I was going to return home with nothing but a royal skunking. Luckily, the swell outlook for the next week was looking promising.

The charts were reading 22ft at 15 seconds and to be honest I was shitting myself. I had borrowed an 8”6’ board and was ready to paddle into the infamous big wave spot at Mullaghmore. All the big wave madmen were in town ready for it, but unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to paddle. We headed back to another spot just as the tide started to turn.

It was firing! Clean 6-10ft heaving left pits with less than 5 guys out.

We had an hour and a half up our sleeve before the winds were predicted to go upwards of 80km/hr.

We reversed The Red Baron into a spot so Darcy could shoot from the boot out and then I was out there. It was surreal to be in such a unique location and surfing perfect uncrowded waves. The gamble had all been worth it. It felt so much more rewarding scoring waves off your own back opposed to just being thrown on a plane towards the nearest purple blob on the map. Chasing a swell in Indo is one thing but going on an adventure outside my own comfort zone, putting the time in and then finally scoring perfect empty waves was one of the most satisfying feelings I’ve experienced surfing. Aussie expat Noah Lane and local legend Fergal Smith were showing me how it’s done. We traded waves until eventually, the forecasted 80km/hr wind rolled through. I was beaming after that session; just dumbstruck that we’d finally scored the waves I’d seen in photos before coming over.

The cyclonic winds made the walk back along the edge of a cliff on a narrow goat track a treacherous and terrifying task.

At one point my board began to flail so dramatically in the wind, I had to throw myself to the ground and crawl through the mud to avoid being blown off the cliff to certain death.

The Irish are some of the friendliest people I have ever come across in my travels. It’s easy to feel alienated when travelling overseas. Locals might speak a different language, participate in odd customs and may not understand Aussie humour or sarcasm. Usually, on a trip I just keep to my own program, but in Ireland it was different. We got along really well with the locals we were surfing and staying with. They’d always be popping in for some banter and discussing where the waves would be good. It made us feel welcome and helped us forget that we were on the other side of the world.

Classiebawn Castle on the Mullaghmore peninsula
Classiebawn Castle on the Mullaghmore peninsula

Ireland was the first place I’d been where I felt like I really fit in. Much like Aussies, the Irish love having a good time and enjoying a beer at the pub. One of our first nights, we thought it would be a great idea to have a beer at each pub on the main street. A simple task one would think, but not in Ireland. On the short kilometre long main street we were staying, there were fourteen separate pubs, all serving pints opposed to the smaller schooners we were used to back in Aus. I think we cut it short once we realised we were only halfway through. We still managed to get into the water at first light, which was at an achievable 9 am.

The Irish are also the most trustworthy people I’ve met abroad. One night on the town I lost my wallet. In any other country this would be a reason to panic, but for some reason, I just had the feeling it would turn up.

Two days later, I get a phone call from a friendly local who found it, still with 70 euros inside.

Another instance happened in the early hours of the morning. Our share house front door was always left unlocked and one night we had an intruder. He came into our room and I bewilderedly locked eyes with the man from my bed, expecting him to quickly try an escape after realising I’d noticed him. He mumbled a few words before he suddenly ran to the bathroom and proceeded to boisterously throw up in our toilet. He apologised and then left. He hadn’t come to steal anything, the poor bloke had just accidentally gone inside the wrong door on the stumble home from the pub.

Photographed by Connor Flanagan at a wave called girling, aka the G-Spot.
Photographed by Connor Flanagan at a wave called Girling, aka the G-Spot.

If someone told me in November that I’d be spending Christmas and New Years in Ireland, I would have chuckled in dubiety. For Dacey and I, it was the first time we have been away from our families for the occasion. Aussie expat Noah Lane and his family, who flew over from Australia, happily adopted us into their festive celebrations. It was a pleasant change having Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere. Seeing snow-capped mountains, snuggling up next to the fire and leaving the beers outside to stay icy cold were some welcomed changes. We played a classic game of Aussie backyard cricket with a piece of wood as a bat and a bin for stumps. A bunch of the neighbours joined in and we played until we felt the onset of frostbite.

After a week or so of playful waves over Christmas and New Years, the charts were again showing a massive swell.

Except for this time around the weather was looking in our favour. Light winds and sunshine are a rarity during the winter months in Ireland so there wasn’t any time to waste. It was our last day and we were blessed with the best conditions of the trip. Even the tides lined perfectly, allowing me to have a solo session at one left slab, followed by another at a much more fickle left slab which required no wind to work. By the time of the last session, I was down to my last board. It was a 5’6” and the waves were double overhead. A sunny afternoon, sharing fun barrels and banter with some of the local legends I’d met during our stay. It was the perfect end to the trip. One last dash across an angry farmers property to the car and we were out of there.

Everyone was on such a high after the first perfect day of weather and waves in over a month. We were invited over to one of the local’s house for a celebration and send off. The Irish drank us under the table in a game of kings cup until we ran out of beer.

Luckily, the local bottle-o delivers to your doorstep, genius!

We were so caught up in having a good time that we had forgotten to pack.

You always think travelling when hungover is going to be fine, but it never is. A tactical chunder before the winding bus trip and I was good to go. Thirty-six hours of feeling seedy was certainly not enjoyable, but we had a successful adventure and made it home in one piece.


A 17 year old landscape, surf and aerial photographer - Luke Workman

Hey Luke, tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Luke Workman. I am currently 17 years old and living on the Gold Coast, taking landscape, surf and aerial photography.

When did you start shooting?

I started photography when I was 13 years old, and taught myself everything I have learned. My first camera was a GoPro, then saved up for a canon 1100d.

When you wake up early and the surf is pumping. Do you grab your camera first or a board?

Generally, when the surf is pumping I will grab my camera and shoot. But I always go for a surf when ever Im not shooting.

What other photographers and artists do you admire?

I still admire the photographers who I admired from when I started photography: Sean Scott, Craig Parry, Clark Little, Ted Grambeau, Mark Wilson, Chris Burkard and Corey Wilson.

A post shared by COREY WILSON (@corey_wilson) on

What is your most favourite photo you have ever taken ?

My favourite photo so far was probably a shot of Currumbin Alley on a big day with a guy in a barrel behind the rock.


Favourite spot (beach, landscape, location) to shoot at?

My favourite spot to shoot on the coast would have to be Currumbin. It's where I have grown up.

What’s in your camera bag?

I use a canon 80d, Salty surf housing & Dji Mavic Pro Drone.

What do you love about the Gold coast?

Just how there is so much to do and there are so many beaches and places along the whole coast.

If you had a billboard sign outside of Coolangatta airport, what would it say?

If I had a billboard sign outside of the airport, It would have one of the photos I have taken and something that would promote the Gold Coast and how it has some of the best beaches in the world.


Keep up to date with Luke:




A chat with Gold Coast Photographer, Blaze Parsons.

My name is Blaze Parsons, born and raised here on the coast. I Love to surf, travel and take photos. The ocean has always been a part of my life. I love that it is ever-changing, with its mix of beauty and power. Each day brings a different natural work of art with new and exciting ways to capture these moments. I’m a full-time concreter which takes up most of my time. But when I’m not working, I try to be at the beach as much as possible. I’m such a kook at speaking about myself. That’s why I’m a photographer; my photos can do the talking haha.



Why did you start with photography? What was your first camera?

I think I got my first camera when I was 11, it wasn’t anything special just an old second-hand film camera, but I loved it! The last couple of years I’ve just been using GoPro’s. I love how handy and tough it was for traveling, surfing and everyday adventures. It wasn’t until the start of last year that I bought a decent camera and starting learning how to use it. A few months after that I bought my first drone, experimenting with different things and learning from there.

You wake up on your day-off and the surf is pumping. Do you grab your camera first or a board?

Both ! I always leave the house with all my camera gear and a couple of boards depending on the swell. I normally try to be up for sunrise so I don’t really know what I’m gonna get until I’m there. It’s a constant battle between paddling out first or shooting photos. Normally surfing is the priority but I almost always do both! I will take some shots, then paddle out and then take more photos after.

What other photographers and artists do you admire?

There are so many! I love Sean Scott’s ocean photography of the coast and his travels around Australia. It constantly feeds my goal to road trip around this beautiful country one day! Also one of my close friends Marc Gardner! All of his ocean and travel photography. He’s kinda been my go to support for everything photography while I’ve been learning. He definitely inspired me to want to take photography more seriously.

A post shared by Marc Gardner (@mgardz) on

What is your most favorite photo you have ever taken? 

I have so many favorites but I think my drone photo of the swirl in the surf just off Burleigh headland is my favorite. It was such an epic morning of swell and I’d been taking shots of perfect barrels for a while and then I started to see this whirlpool forming underneath the drone. I was so stoked with it, it was something you couldn’t see without that unique perspective from using a drone.

Who is your favourite surfer to watch?

Definitely Rob Machado! Dude has just got style on anything he rides. Watching him surf wooden Alaia's inspired me to make my own and he changed the way I surf.

Favourite spot to shoot at?

Burleigh headland and Tallebudgera creek. I’m at Burleigh almost every weekend for sunrise and it never gets old!  Tallebudgera creek has been my favourite spot on the coast since I was a kid.

What’s in your camera bag?

My bag consists of a Sony a6000 , with a 16-50mm kit lens , a 55-210mm zoom lens and a meikon waterhousing. I also use a Gopro hero 4 with a knekt trigger and dome. And finally a Dji Mavic Pro drone.

Favourite piece of gear ?

Definitely my Dji Mavic Pro. I have wanted a drone for years but they where too big , expensive and the technology just wasn’t there yet. Now I have a portable, flying, high-quality camera that’s small enough to put in a back pack and take anywhere.

What do you love about the Gold coast? What do you hate about the Gold coast?

I love the Gold Coast’s blend of city , beach and the hinterland. I hate how busy it’s getting these days though, but that’s why I start my days early! I get a few hours in at the beach before the rest of the Coast wakes up , then still have the rest of the day for whatever you want to do. 

Are avocados overrated?

Definitely not overrated but definitely overpriced , but always worth it for with  breakfast food and Mexican

Bacon and Eggs or Acai Bowl ?

Either one ! Depends if the surfs pumping I’ll have an açai bowl , it’s light so I can go back out after ! If it’s not then I’ll get bacon and eggs then have a nap on the beach


Check out more of Blaze's work on his Instagram and portfolio: