Back in February, I was invited to join the Quiksilver team down under as they continued their Roam campaign. You can see all of Mike O’Meally’s photos in the Roam Issue #4 zine right here. I wrote the accompanying story and shot some photos and video of my own I’ll be posting in installments here. Enjoy this first part:
Music: Volcano Choir
Day 1: February 8, 2009
Quiksilver planned this trip as part of its Roam campaign that will carry on throughout 2009. You probably already saw the crew do it down in Brazil. Now we're back in the Southern Hemisphere, roadtripping from Sydney to Canberra, and finally to Melbourne to really get a taste of the people, places, and of course skateboarding from the land Down Under. For many of us, these spots and cities will be a first-time experience.
The crew consisting of Kyle Leeper, Reese Forbes, Quik's art director Scott Richards and myself touched down in Sydney at 9 a.m. after a 14-hour nonstop flight from LAX. Aussie photographer Mike O'Meally was waiting for us at the airport and took us straight to Bondi Beach where it was already 90 degrees and bustling with tourists. Remember it's summer down in Oz right now. After an amazing Italian lunch overlooking the whole of Bondi Beach, the crew took a dip in the chilly water then walked up the sand to the world famous Bondi skatepark that sits right on the beach. It was scorching hot so only a few locals were zigzagging around, but it's sure to be our go-to warm up spot in the next few mornings to come.
After the air cooled a few degrees, we hit downtown Sydney to run amok on its myriad spots. The main plaza was going off with Sydney locals and Australian skaters from other cities basking in the long daylight hours of summer and the comraderie of having the metropolis to themselves on a Sunday afternoon. Lewis Marnell was in town from Melbourne, Sammy Winter from Brisbane, Shane "Nugget" O'Neill, Dane Burman, Sydney's own Chima Ferguson and many more were simply killing it, having a great time. O'Meally took Kyle and Reese away from the meeting plaza to show just a small sample of the spots nearby. We bombed hills, Reese ollied a tall handrail off a four-block, we sessioned more smooth plazas, all en route to the picturesque Sydney harbor. Again there was more smooth flatground to be had, not to mention plenty of benches and traffic barriers for the guys to ollie. The hoards of tourists getting off the Manly Ferry were treated to a show of Reese's insane pop and Kyle's technical flatground wizardry.
At one point a passing group of 20-somethings called out, "Hi, Reese!" Reese waved back and one of the guys, an obvious skate fan insisted Reese frontside 180 ollie over him. The kid sat down and Reese obliged—twice. The two guys and their girlfriends were beyond stoked.
The day wound down back at the central plaza and we found ourselves driving back to Bondi as the enormous fruit bats migrated across the city overhead. It was a surreal scene—a full moon, slightly cloudy, and bats with three-foot wingspans gliding overhead, all in the warm summer night air.
This long day finally ended at an amazing Thai spot on Curlewis Street that O'Meally recommended. Not a bad start to the trip!
With jetlag still an obvious factor, Kyle, Scott, and I were up at 6 a.m. walking around Bondi, drinking coffee and checking out the empty beach.
With cloudy skies and cooler temperatures, we took to the city and it's skatespots earlier today. O'Meally has the town wired. We're now also joined with Australian filmer Choi, a super nice guy with a ton of knowledge about the local scene. The crew warmed up at the Waterloo Oval skatepark, which is basically an amazing concrete plaza. It's important to note that Australia probably has the best skateparks in the world. They're expertly built and free of any monetary fee or being enclosed by fences. Kyle was loving it and will most likely lobby for a Waterloo Oval replica in his hometown of Carlsbad, California when he gets home. Reese was clocking high speed laps around the park mixing in huge ollies and even a no comply to fakie manual up onto a high manual pad.
With the crew warmed up we hit the raw streets, it was rad to see a lot of permission graffiti pieces on many of the buildings we drove by. Kyle and Reese sessioned a tall bump to bar, that wasn't easy to get up on, and both came away with rad tricks. We then went to a spot that consisted of a bump to a wooden post which was dubbed "the bump to stump," and Kyle proceeded to 180 ollie it frontside and backside, despite a surging afterschool crowd and dog turds in the landing zone. It's only Kyle's second day ever in Australia and he's on fire.
A couple more spots got sussed out, then as the day faded (it stays light until about 8 p.m.) we regrouped at Bondi's Italian restaurant from the day before and toasted to a well-spent day.
Day Three, Sydney To Canberra
Due to rain today—all day—we decided to head to Canberra. Danny Garcia flew in this morning to join us for the rest of the trip. After amazing BLTs at The Shop in Bondi, we hit up Deus Ex Machinas, a famed motorcycle store, to browse the classic bikes and grab a bite in the café next door. Alongside classic Triumphs and Yamaha motorcycles, Deus also has DVDs, zines, art, and memorabilia that goes along with its timeless ambiance. A stop at a Sydney guitar shop to purchase a nice Gibson for Danny was in order. He's got to keep up on his riffs and scales for his bandmates back home, and we'll all be getting free performances—not a bad deal. After a few beers and some fish and chips at a local pub, we hit the road for the three hour drive to Australia's capital, Canberra.
In the middle of nowhere, O'Meally had us pull over to check out a skatepark he knew of. Sure enough, next to a barn, seemingly in a cow pasture laid a nice capsule shaped concrete pool. Stiff legs from the car ride didn't stop Reese from carving around in the near darkness. Mike said there are random parks just like this in the middle of nowhere all over New South Wales.