• What do people do for kicks?

    The obvious answer is they go surfing, this being a surf site after all, but what else do people do in search for adventure? The entries we received for the Swellnet BF Goodrich trip to the desert gave us a healthy insight. The criteria to the contest was deliberately broad: "Submit a photo showing why you should win the trip" so we shouldn't have been surprised when the entries that came back were equally broad.

    There was lots of surfing of course, that was to be expected, but there were also photos of truly dangerous off road racing, a shot of the less risky sport of emu racing, a few hundred fish being caught, plenty of campfires being stoked, and even the odd beer bong being downed. It would've been wonderful to select more than one but the judges had a job to do and settled on the entry from Ellis Nicol, 38, from the reef-riddled hamlet of Shellharour on the NSW south coast.

    Going on the photos, Ellis clearly knew the answer to the riddles and he had a pinch of adventure to boot. But the trip was for two so after Ellis received the big call from Swellnet he made a subsequent call to his mate, mentor, and fellow south coast rock jockey, Jordy Fowler.

    The fellas were thrilled and did all they could to find out about Yorkes, neither having been there before.

  • It's not such a surprise to find out that a seasoned traveller like Ellis had never been to the Yorke Peninsula before. 'Yorkes' occupies a curious place in Australian surfing. Long frequented by Adelaide surfers who use it as respite from Mid Coast mediocrity, it's almost totally ignored by travelling surfers.

    The reason is obvious though not wholly rational: the Yorkes coast is a two hour detour off the main highway. Travelling surfers, who may have already put in 20 hours from the east coast or 10 from Vicco, tend to push on, past the steel towns of Port Augusta and Whyalla onto the more well known Eyre Peninsula.

    The surfers you find down at Yorkes, therefore, are a mix of locals and Adelaide daytrippers - it being a four hour trip up one side of Gulf St Vincent and down the other from the City of Churches. This creates a particularly parochial feel at Yorkes, something quintessentially South Australian, and not something that's replicated further west where the influence of Adelaide simply isn't felt.

    And it's not like Yorkes goes without. The most curious geographical aspect - at least from a surfers point of view - is the sudden westward bend the peninsula takes to maximise its exposure to swell. Like the 'boot' of Italy 'cept the Mediterranean Sea doesn't compare to the Southern Ocean for energy, and down on Yorkes it strikes the toe then wraps around both sides. Mixed with a scalloped limestone coast and you've got a tonne of reefs to choose from.

  • A good trip requires a good mix of crew and this trip was fortunate to have both Ry Craike and Asher Pacey as hosts. First impressions would have you believe the two are like opposite magnets on a kids playset: one natural, one goofy; one black, one blonde; one from the east, one from the west; one a long-haired herbal hippy, the other a beer-guzzling maniac.

    But they were friends from way back and their differences paled in relation to their similarities, which were in no particular order: surfing; fishing; and standing around a barbeque talking about surfing and fishing. Clearly these were activities that forge powerful bonds.

  • The second day of the trip was Australia Day, and when the sun rose over a flat ocean alternative pursuits were suggested. "Fishing!" said Asher. "Fishing!" said Ry. Aside from surfing the other thing all four have in common is fishing so when the sun rose over a flat ocean the hooks were quickly baited and beach rods cast.

    It wasn't long before the first fish was caught and roundly celebrated with cheers and a libation. Then the beach cricket bat came out, and after a few innings the tow board.

    Locals joined the crew offering bounty from the sea and a BBQ at the high tide mark was fired up. Bellys were filled with flathead and lobster as the sun moved to the west forcing shelters to be erected.

    As the last rays from the sun diffused into an iridescent twilight and eskies and rods packed away, the crew had one last chore to attend to: rescuing a pair of bikini-clad girls who'd locked their keys in the car.

    All in all it was a satisfactory diversion on a day with no waves.

  • Yorke Peninsula may face into the Southern Ocean, but even the Southern Ocean can turn into the Mediterranean Sea sometimes. This was the case for most of the trip; a slow-moving high pressure system and a slack set of isobars made for great weather but a listless ocean. And because the trip was booked months in advance even Australia's best forecasting site couldn't help them into waves. 

    Despite the circumstances the spirit of wave chasing endured. The crew woke early each morning and drove the coast, walked the cliff tops, and checked the lookouts. They were keen to see what was around each headland, especially as they hadn't visited this coast before.

    Each surf spot they scoped was another opportunity to fill in the blanks, to imagine in their mind how perfect it could be under six feet of swell and light offshore winds.

    And then they discovered the wall at the pub, plastered with photos of the waves they'd checked each spot breaking under pristine conditions. It was enough to drive a man to drink.

  • So yeah, as the photos indicate the good weather abated and the wind blew in, and when you get enough wind you eventually get swell. Not necessarily the best swell, but enough to catch waves at least.

    And that's what the fellas did when they tired of fishing and off roading. A lonesome reef offered just the right amount of exposure versus protection, with an inside section that made sense of the veritable tempest.

    It was enough to give a taste of what could be, to create a link between what they surfed and the pictures they saw tacked to the pub wall. And even though the trip had come to an end, it was enough to convince them they'd one day make tracks back to the Yorke Peninsula.

  • Most surf trips are booked well ahead of the forecast period, often many months before the scheduled date. Being outside the range of long term forecasts it means the best the crew can do is hope, or pray if that's your bag, for good waves.

    What this trip discovered, more than anything else, 'cos it sure didn't discover good waves, was that surf is only a small piece of the puzzle. Good times is what we’re really after and that’s what was had at Yorkes. What it lacked in photos of great waves it made up with the creation of great friendships.

    The feeling amongst everyone was, “We’ll be back next year!” And sure enough, planning for 2017 is already underway, so come join us for the Daly Heads Surfing Reserve SURFARAMA and share in the good times. To find out more about SURFARAMA like the Daly Heads Surf Reserve Facebook page.

    Swellnet would like to thank all the people and businesses who contributed to making this trip what is it:

    BF Goodrich Tires
    MCN Sport
    Asher Pacey
    Ry Craike
    Ed Sloane Photography
    Fresh Air Broadcast 
    Ellis Nicol
    Jordy Fowler 
    Flight Centre Coolangatta
    Complete Ute and Van Hire Adelaide
    Marion Bay Rentals
    Marion Bay Tavern

    And a very special thank you to the outstanding locals of Marion Bay, especially Billy, Jane, Ed, Wayne, Miff, Jasmine, Shakey Jake, and Tommy Two Tanks.


thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Monday, 15 Feb 2016 at 1:30pm

I wish, I wish, I wish that I could fish.

Would have made the onshore flat spells twenty years ago so much more enjoyable.

Good work lads. Looks like you had a great time.

finback's picture
finback's picture
finback Monday, 15 Feb 2016 at 3:01pm

I did a solo trip there back in June. Scored good waves at the right and took a great photo sequence of local Indian chef / home delivery in the National Park.
Some good MTB tracks but be careful of emus. Meet Ed and his crew too. Great bunch of locals who do a lot of dune care / surfing reserve work. If you read this Ed I will eventually get around to sending you a copy of SOD

wellymon's picture
wellymon's picture
wellymon Monday, 15 Feb 2016 at 7:44pm

Awesome stuff fellas, great vid, cool drone footage, just enough......
Well documented.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Monday, 15 Feb 2016 at 8:09pm

Great stuff guys, well done.

Hanging for more but the only location I'd be stoked on you exposing would be Bondi.

I hear the South end can get alright.

PS Ben - if one thing is certain, it's that there's plenty more flat spells ahead.

Grab a rod and start fishing.

barley's picture
barley's picture
barley Tuesday, 16 Feb 2016 at 7:56am

Good too see the waves turned on for them! Knew swillnut would pump out an article..good to see one of the anti photo locals grab his 5mins of fame...

sunlover199's picture
sunlover199's picture
sunlover199 Tuesday, 16 Feb 2016 at 3:22pm

typical Yorkes, lucky you guy's can fish, as for the local legends, hahaha, for how long have they been legends ?
i never saw them in the 70's, 80's or 90's. what a joke, if you want real waves you have to go to the West coast of S.A.

Baitja's picture
Baitja's picture
Baitja Saturday, 20 Feb 2016 at 3:24pm

You are showing your age. I Was a kid in the 70's, started coming to Yorkes in the 80's and moved here in the 90's. Guess we never met. And I certainly don't think I'm a legend!

the-u-turn's picture
the-u-turn's picture
the-u-turn Tuesday, 16 Feb 2016 at 7:04pm

Well written. Yorke's, timed well, delivers and it delivers with great diversity.

Put a smile on my dial remembering the Yorke's Dash after the obligatory Thursday Holdy night.

penmister's picture
penmister's picture
penmister Tuesday, 16 Feb 2016 at 8:28pm

Looks like there was plenty of piss for craike.....Animal....would of been a good Australia day....

old-dog's picture
old-dog's picture
old-dog Thursday, 18 Feb 2016 at 7:09pm

Nice little clip, but at risk of sounding like a whinging kill joy some people would respect the blow-in so called locals if they had beaten them up and sent them packing like their wiser brethren further west instead of sucking them off. If they keep this up we'll have convoys of Kombis full of long haired bearded hipster heroes flooding down from Byron for a free feed because someone told them it was the cool thing to do. This joint is pretty low key and I'd hate to roll up and see hippies riding around on ladies bicycles with bread sticks in the baskets. Welcome to Yorke Peninsula, now fuck off. BTW calling this place the desert is pushing it a bit. Cheers.

Stok's picture
Stok's picture
Stok Thursday, 18 Feb 2016 at 11:12pm

People would respect them more if they beat them up? I never respect anyone who uses violence as a way of trying to solve their pitiful problems, in fact, I strongly disrespect them.

Bloody hell, Yorkes is good, but not that good. The article nailed it - it's good for people in the area and Adelaidean's to get some reasonable waves, the so called 'combi convoy' heads west. It's got a fun remote vibe, but let's face it, it can be fickle, it's sharky and a long way from anywhere else.

Baitja's picture
Baitja's picture
Baitja Saturday, 20 Feb 2016 at 2:20pm

Beat them up? I don't think so. I will always welcome nice people to where I live. I'm not sure in your head what a local is? I think I've been here long enough to not be a blow in! It's the aggressive Meatheads that I wouldn't welcome. I can assure you that I met these guys and had no idea who they were or where they were from. They were just great people and I'll always welcome them back. Whether anyone likes it or not. Might go get on my bike with basket and go buy a breadstick!

robert billy's picture
robert billy's picture
robert billy Saturday, 20 Feb 2016 at 3:15pm

I love how people who don't live here have got so much to say.marion bay & corny point survive due to tourists.surfing fishing & our environment is our main draw card .this creates employment which allows us to live here.you do realise yorkes is not a secret spot .oh yes ,i definitely do not consider myself a legend ,as for blow in local .lol.at least when i do decide to blow out of town .i will be proud of what I've contributed to our community &environment.what about u whingeing living in the past ,want to be locals..........grow up........ps cooper cheeeers to the boys happy day

belly's picture
belly's picture
belly Monday, 22 Feb 2016 at 5:18pm

Yep, three trips to the Yorkes area - respect the place and the locals respect you back, super friendly, and just dolphins and no sharks

winkie's picture
winkie's picture
winkie Sunday, 21 Feb 2016 at 7:37pm

what employment has yorkes got ? t he place used to be busier in the seventies look at stenhouse that no longer exists. Its on the road to nowhere
and always will be, thats fine people from the east coast hate driving so they won't go.

Baitja's picture
Baitja's picture
Baitja Monday, 22 Feb 2016 at 11:12am

Employment- tavern, shop, gallery, cafe, national park, farmers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, gyprocker, charter boats, pro fishermen, rental business's, cleaners, surf school. etc This allows who wishes to live here to be able to stay here. Yes there is not huge choices and yes it is the road to nowhere but if there are no tourists this opportunity to live here wouldn't be. The businesses would not survive. We rely on tourism. And things change.....we are not in the 70's!

old-dog's picture
old-dog's picture
old-dog Monday, 22 Feb 2016 at 7:32pm

Didn't mean to ruffle any feathers with my off the cuff attempt at humor and was hoping this thread would quickly fade into the archives.
P.S. Hope the gyprocker has heaps of time to surf, there are enough Macmansions in M.B. already. Populate or perish at Yorkes? Build it and they will come, Food for thought. Sure aint the 70's, apart from the hair styles and fashion that is. Yorkes is such a special place to so many surfers it's bound to stir some deep emotions and controversy. Cheers. (no reply necessary). BTW I would never condone physical violence .