You don’t expect to feel like there’s a chance Jeremy Wade the River Monster fisherman will pop up at any moment when you’re on a surf trip, but after three straight weeks of incessant rain, it felt just like that this year in Australia. Every river we saw was swollen and bursting at the seams, erasing our hopes for dreamy blue beachies up and down the coast. Instead, we found creepy lagoons bubbling with mysterious monsters, dead livestock and dead chickens, which according to one local barkeep, were washing up regularly within a quarter mile of where we surfed. Couple that with the running of the mullet that was happening, the local fisherman off in the distance who regularly land sharks, every paddle out felt like jumping into a swimming pool of dangerous predators. “Seriously, it’s pretty creepy, and the dark brown water doesn’t help,” said Chippa Wilson, who lives on this coast but still felt super uneasy the entire time. “I had a fish jump on my back, a massive fish land on my back. I lost it. After that I had to come in. I was just waiting to get hit by whatever was chasing it.
Luckily the waves weren’t changed by the brown slimy water and Chippa, Nate Tyler and Brendon Gibbens all managed to find super fun ramps — but they didn’t come without nerves. What’s normally a soft blue pool next to aqua blue water, teeming with bikinis and swimmers, turned into a lagoon with a pretty high rating on the food chain, weird foam and the loud blare of a water pump removing the sea water from the pool. We’ll have all the photos and stories from Australia in What Youth Issue 4, which is available in May.