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TURN LEFT FOR HUMPBACK HIGHWAY

11/10/2019
by

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Ever think of running away to a remote part of the Western Australian coast and living on a diet of wind and waves at the edge of the desert? Fredrik Plantin makes the case for a simple, salty life.

Words  Fredrik Plantin   //  Photos  Adam Klingeteg


Sweden. October. It’s the time of the year when it’s starting to get dark. People are walking faster, it’s raining, and it’s getting colder. Did I pack enough fins? The reef can be nasty. Did I pack ding stick? The reef can be nasty. Did I pack a first aid kit? The reef can be …. nasty.

Me – “Adam, you all set? I’ll pick you up in 15.”

Adam – “Yo, just need to pack, shorts, shades & flip flops right?”

Me – “Eh, yea…see you soon!”

I felt a bit stressed. I’m sure I explained in detail that we are going to a remote place hours away from the nearest store with no possibility to “pick something up” if needed. Just having shade and enough water is crucial to being able to survive there. 

He was having a laugh. Dude was more kitted out than me. Off we go. 

Getting older, I need a good sleep at night and finding flights optimised for all the time zones we fly through is always tricky. It’s 20 hours travelling before we land. Luckily we get all the gear on for free, window seat as well, nice. A Singapore sling before take off, don’t mind if I do.

Touchdown, feeling like a run over hedgehog, but at least the gear made the transfer. Can’t say that I’m looking forward to the 10 hour drive to the last supermarket before hitting the desert but hey, I know it’s worth it. I think I counted five turns from leaving Perth to parking at the campsite. Getting a driver’s license in Western Australia outside Perth cannot be a significant obstacle in life.

Bam! Made it, 20 hours after landing it looks like we will get an evening sesh after setting up our camp. You read campsite, well… it’s a patch of dirt and a rock with your site number on it. If you’re lucky, there is a fireplace made of rocks and oyster shells.

DESERT LIFE
But it’s a pretty sweet setup, a tent and a friend’s camper van; we even have a carpet so it’s shoes off when stepping into the “living room”. I had a rolled up newspaper ready if someone thought otherwise. 

You always think that you can keep things nice and clean, but you forget that it’s howling 20 knots pretty much all day and you are in the desert. The showers sure feel good when you have one. Not so much for getting clean, but for washing off all the salt and sand that’s stuck to your body.

Cooking food after a full day of sailing and the sun has set, whatever food it might be.. usually canned food, often tastes like the best meal you’ve ever had. A fridge is worth its weight in gold here.

SAILING
The sailing, yes. I want to romanticise it and say that it is 4.7 and a logo high peeling left that will make your arms give up before it does. I want to say that because I’ve experienced it on so many occasions, but not this time.

This time we were a bit unlucky. Bobbing 5.3 without any real swell to talk about. Days are still busy though. You swim in the lagoon, play chess, read a book or go for a surf. You hang around and enjoy where you are.

The forecast did, however, look good for the last two days of the trip. Ok, how can we optimise our travel to the airport without risking missing the flight? It is a 12-13 hour drive, and a lot can happen on the way. Getting stuck with flat tires without any road assistance or without water on a dirt road with no passing cars.. could be the beginning of a horror movie.

Sorted, we are staying to get an extra day sailing. 

The late session usually has lighter side-off winds, but unluckily this time coincides with low tide. I’m going out, there are the occasional mast high sets, and I can’t go home without giving it all I’ve got. 

DOWN AND OUT
The medic kit, yes. Glad I brought it. I was late on a section and got eaten like a bowl of popcorn at a Disney movie by 10-year-olds on a sugar rush. Brutal and without mercy.

I sliced my foot, and it looked like I’d tried to fight off a ninja with it. 

Luckily my friends Wendy & Maria had their wound game on point and fixed me up. Sailing, no, forget it. Their motherly instincts took over, but they knew I listened with one ear.

I wasn’t so cocky the day after with a foot feeling like it wanted to detach itself from my ankle. Finally it got windy with some swell. It was our last day, I had to sail. I’m positive duct tape could solve world crises if someone could find a way to use it. It has saved me so many times before and did this time again. Salt water in deep cuts is something that could make Superman cry, or at least that thought makes me feel better about crying. It sure was worth it though. The sailing was the best we had for the whole trip.

Sitting in the car on our way to civilisation you have time to let things sink in. We travel all this way, to a place so primitive, where just making coffee can be a pain in the ass, to enjoy the wind and the waves. A place like no other, where you are so far from home, but it still feels like home. Merely a place you want to get back to as soon as you can.


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