Kitesurftrip to Australia

During his studies Mathias Wichmann from Germany went out to Australia. The reasons were not the kangaroos or Ayers Rock, he just wanted to do what he loves: Kitesurfing! Here you can read the whole story about his trip.

Mathias Wichmann.  If you think of Australia from a European perspective, things like Aboriginals, Ayers Rock, Sydney, the Desert, the Great Barrier Reef, kangaroos, and the most poisonous animals cross your mind. Everybody knows Steve Irwin and he´s a hero, that´s for sure. Have a look at the music, you know AC/DC and Kylie Minogue. I personally think more of Xavier Rudd. Those who are addicted to water sports will know something about the big waves on the East Coast. Others just picture Santa Claus standing on the beaches of Melbourne, slightly amiss in his big warm red coat.

As my studies require a semester abroad in an English speaking country, I had the opportunity to go to Great Britain, the USA, New Zealand or Australia. It was a pretty difficult decision because I had the chance to see Hobbiton and the Battlegrounds of Middle Earth, or instead to jump naked with the Kangaroos. What got me to a decision was a look at the weather statistics which promised wind on the West Coast of Australia the whole summer. There was also the fabulous video with Ruben Lenten (Western Shore), where he is ripping the sea around Perth, as well as the fact that a friend of mine has been studying here for a while, which persuaded me to go to Perth.

When I was chatting with Silvester Ruckdaeschel about my plans for the up-coming season, he was so keen on joining me that he booked his flight straight away. And who says Silvester has to say Pile at the same breath. A funny German parcel was tied up.

You have several options to get to the other side of the world. Heaps of them go over Asia; ours goes over Dubai and that´s why we fly with Emirates. I have to recommend a closer look at their conditions of carriage to avoid possible surprises at check-in. The trick of putting fins and other snorkelling equipment in your (hand?) luggage saves Sven an additional 15kg. Meanwhile Pile and I have to pay for a ridiculous 22kg excess weight. Check in are nice and we just have to pay 5 Euros per Kg. Such an obstacle mustn´t keep us from our enjoying our trip, and so we choose to see it as an “all you can drink ticket” during the flight. After a six hour flight, and a stay of three hours in Dubai, the journey goes on for another 14 hours to Perth. Countless movies and ice-creams later and we’re arriving in Down Under. After having a couple of small-talks with the immigration officials, we are pretty close, except that one of us still has to open his entire baggage. At a rapid pace 41kg are unpacked and packed in again so that within an hour we are ready to enter the island. Ian Young, the Flysurfer distributor, gives us a lift to our backpacker stay. In good faith, we have anticipated no problems finding accommodation. We are wrong. All Perth is totally overbooked; fortunately we still end up at the most beautiful backpackers just a bit outside the city. It is colourful and yet simple. Being still tired from the flight, we wake up at 5.30am because of raindrops falling on our faces... The roof is fucked. It hasn´t been raining for the last 52 days. Jackpot.

Silvester who has recently been staying in South Africa, arrives at the backpackers on the same night as us. So now there are four tired Germans walking through the rain, searching for a used car. Funny picture I reckon. But at least finding a good second hand car is easier than we thought it might be. We decide to take a Mitsubishi Porn Station Wagon. We´ve won the style factor!! Still having the problem of proper accommodation, and after having called hundreds of people and driven 12.000 miles, we take an expensive apartment beyond our budget. We want desperately to go kiting, and so delay the problem for a week. All the stuff in the car and off we go!

Kitesurfer am Strand.  The spots are incredibly nice. The Swan River runs through Perth and is super wide so that it looks more like a lake. There are two spots in the city. Pelican Point is located next to the university and you can ride there from East to South-West. It is a bit choppy and the launching area is a bit tricky because it is surrounded by a couple of trees. After having launched, and when you are a bit further out on the river, it is fantastic because you can ride in front of the skyline of Perth. Imagine you could kitesurf in the Central Park of New York City. To get there by car is unproblematic and there are enough places to park your car directly at the water. The second spot in the city is Point Walter where you can ride from North to South East. There is a massive sandbar stretching out in the river, and you can choose if you want to kite on the offshore or onshore side of the sandbar. It is just fabulous there. Many locals take the chance to go on the river straight after work. Despite this it is never crowded! I reckon it is perfect to live here.

The most popular and famous spot is Woodman Point which is a playground for all kite boarders. It is the place to be when the Sea breeze kicks in (South-West wind) and all the pro-riders here for the summer catch up and push each other to train hard. We are surprised by who we meet, and who has been here just before we arrived. There are three different bays where you can ride onshore, side shore or offshore. At the first two bays are little kickers and at the third bay, made famous by Ruben´s and Aaron´s video, you can rip offshore wind when the water is bloody flat. Because of the Sea breeze we have constant winds between 15 and 25 knots and the water is 25°C. Also board shorts are enough, you’d better take a springie with you as well because it can be a bit colder when the wind is above 25 knots. Again there are places to park your car close to the water and you always meet the same locals, often having a nice chat.

Fortunately, the accommodation problem is solved by the end of our first week and we can go to Toby´s place. In the house are only kite boarders and we feel absolutely satisfied. Pretty soon we are introduced to the night- or better evening- life of Perth because parties never go much longer than a 12pm finish. That´s why it takes three attempts to get into a party. First: we are too late when we try to go to a party at 10.30pm. Second: Pile is considered to be too drunk. Whoever doesn’t know Pile´s smile, might actually believe so. We just have to get familiar with the fact that Australians start partying earlier than we do.

Anyone with a bit more time and wanting to discover beaches around Perth has to go down to Margaret River. The region is about 100km along the Coast Line, 350-400km south of Perth. It is famous among other things for its wine and you shouldn´t miss a free-tasting. Generally, Margaret River seems to be an island itself. At least since you see signs with “crossing surfers” on it, you have to realize that surfing belongs to the Aussie’s life as much as beer does. After we´ve seen a couple of beaches, we know why. You have to go surfing when you see those fantastic beaches with amazing swell. It doesn´t matter which bay you hit, each one is an adventure and has its own charm. Whoever hasn´t brought a surfboard with them wishes they had done so. Whoever still wants to go kite surfing has a perfect spot down in Augusta where you can ride in the river-mouth at south-east winds on bloody flat water, or on the seaside in the swell. I must confess that because of the bull sharks in the rivers there is still a kind of fear with each body drag, and our nerves are never truly quieted. As Margaret River is south of Perth you should definitely bring a wetsuit with you. Over night you can stay in one of the plenty backpackers, but you should book in advance. You also can sleep in the car but be aware of the rangers and mosquitoes.

Western Australia is definitely a Kiter´s Paradise and I have to come back next year in the summer. This time we arrived a bit late, having got here in February. The best season for Sea breeze is from November to March. And now I get to know what autumn means - Rain!! Cheers for having the opportunity to get to know all the beautiful beaches and people here. I hope to catch up soon.

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