Toonalook Surfers United By Existential Threat

Ding Alley
Ding Alley

Friday 14th August. The often fractious Toona surf community has bonded in solidarity this morning, drawn together by a shared sense of foreboding as the prospect of a grave – though not entirely unexpected – menace looms on the horizon.

Much like the African Wildebeest sniffing the wind and knowing that within a few short weeks the life-giving rains will cease to fall, surfers in Toona carparks and lookouts have been dealt a sharp reminder that the sublime season of surf does not last forever. 

Tragically, unlike the Wildebeest, who will simply take themselves thousands of kilometres across the Serengeti towards new pastures when the season dictates, the men and women of Toonalook – who’ve been squinting into nor’easterly-affected lineups for the last three consecutive mornings – know that before long they will be condemned to endure several months of grim, mediocre surf conditions, as the monster known as Spring emerges from its lair and takes a continuous shit – metaphorically speaking – on the entire East Coast of Australia.

Despite reassurances given to each other that there’s still “maybe a month or so left” where rideable surf might be the rule rather than the exception, the distinctly substandard conditions of the last few days has cast a pall of horror over surfers of all ages and abilities, as unwanted memories of October through February return vividly to the collective consciousness, eliciting an outpouring of grief, anger and confusion.

“It’s like Game of Thrones, but in reverse,” resident TV enthusiast Adrian Hanna told Ding Alley breathlessly. “As we all know, ‘Winter Is Coming’ is established in the first episode of Season One as the motto of House Stark – a warning that times of peace and prosperity never last, so make the most of those times of abundance, and use your time wisely, as all will eventually turn to ruin.

“Of course, the irony here is here it’s Spring that’s the season of doom, and instead of White Walkers, it’s an armada of bluebottles massing on the horizon.”

As Ding Alley made our excuses and left before Hanna issued his customary invite to come around and play Dungeons and Dragons, other surfers were seen consoling each other as the reality of the near future began to hit home.

During a mid-morning surf check, alpha local and self-proclaimed sheriff of Toonalook, Barry Cornell, was seen to drop to his knees and wail inconsolably to the heavens when a decidedly November-ish Toonalook Main Beach came into view as he rounded the path.

Friends of the hair-trigger kingpin say they knew Cornell was “close to the edge, emotionally”, after he posted several surprisingly candid poems on his Facebook account, one of which, 'Ode To A Lost Fucken Winta', a deeply introspective piece in which he calls into question his surfing commitment over recent months, is reproduced here:

Did I fucken surf enough?
A million fucken diamonds under winter fucken sun
Thought those days of fucken sparkle were fucken endless
Did I do all that could be fucken done?

Hush fucken now
What the fuck’s that I fucken hear?
That gate only rattles in a fucken Northerly
That caaarrnt of a season’s drawing fucken near

So you fucken caaarrnts out there
Fucken listen to Baz’s warning call
Make the most of the rest of fucken winta
Spring can go fuck itself. And fuck you all.

Startled and more than a little disturbed by the cracks appearing in the mental armour of Toonalook’s most robust surf warrior, we asked noted Toonalook psychologist Dr Petra Mills about the combined ‘double whammy’ effect of the surf season drawing to a close and the continuing COVID-19 crisis on the morale of the tight-knit town of Toona.

Dr Mills, fresh from an unsatisfying session at Toona’s main beach, let out a jagged peal of laughter.

“Not to belittle an unprecedented global pandemic that’s laying waste to health systems, casting us all into Dickensian poverty and tearing the fabric of societies apart at the core, but COVID’s a walk in the park compared to four or five months of pissweak windswells and relentless nor’easterlies that bleach the blue out of the sky and the sea, the same way our souls are stripped of the joy and wonder of being alive. 

“By comparison, COVID, short term at least, well, life’s never been better for Toona’s residents – JobKeeper, JobSeeker, cashie jobs up the wazoo, the kind of localism even I can get behind. What’s not to love?

“But pretty much – and I say this as a happy, well-adjusted and successful young professional with a healthy range of hobbies and interests, a network of wonderful friends, a devoted, loving husband and two children I absolutely adore and cherish – if I could take a pill in a few weeks’ time that would render me comatose through until, some time, say, mid March 2021, I’d definitely take it.”

While most adult surfers of Toonalook have become hardened by years of exposure to the brutal seasonal cycle, and can take comfort, at least intellectually, that all things will pass and autumn will make its blessed return in 2021, perhaps the most vulnerable are the children. For them, the prospect of five months of shite represents an unfathomable eternity. 

Of all the surfers Ding Alley contacted for this report, the most forlorn creature in all of Toonalook is young surfer Daniel Hughes, who declined to join his friends for an early session before school in clean head-high conditions last Monday morning, choosing instead to watch the much-publicised 'Rumble at The Ranch', touted as professional surfing’s exciting return to competition. 

By the time Hughes, 13, emerged from his house in a state of bewildered disgust and raced to the beach to cleanse himself of the toxic experience, the wind had turned to the north-east and has remained stubbornly anchored to that bearing for the rest of the week. 

Hughes has remained in his darkened bedroom ever since, vowing not to come out unless the wind swings back to the west, or certain heads roll at the WSL, “Whichever comes first but preferably both,” the brave lad whispered to us through the door. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with Daniel at this time.

// DING ALLEY

Ding Alley is two mates, illustrator David @maccatoons McArthur and writer Gra Murdoch. McArthur is the smooth natural footer Yin to Murdoch’s erratic goofyfoot Yang.

Comments

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 1:33pm

Haha, best poem I've ever read.

Hush fucken now?

Shakespeare would be cracking a fat.

Pops's picture
Pops's picture
Pops commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 1:46pm

Didn't mention the worst thing about the looming spring - no travel; no respite.

And Gra, you can put your pen away now. That poem was a masterpiece.

He who hesitates is lost

Henry's picture
Henry's picture
Henry commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 2:33pm

Petra is the type of counselor I am looking for

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 2:35pm

She has her own anger issues, but is honest about 'em hey.

Jono's picture
Jono's picture
Jono commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 3:08pm

Amazing - could hear that poem being read out in Russ Crowe's deadpan gravelly tones

Aussieinsweden's picture
Aussieinsweden's picture
Aussieinsweden commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 3:56pm

This series just keeps getting better and better!
Taking ‘a continuous metaphorical shit’ ha ha love it, you are a wordsmith, and the illustrations just top it off!
For me this piece is in the top 3 up there with nugget the dog and the hipster! 10/10!

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 4:02pm

But seriously, fuck Spring.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 4:04pm

Means shit unless you put it in a poem.

Jono's picture
Jono's picture
Jono commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 4:12pm

We could compile Sprout's comments from the past few years in the Qld forecast notes and turn it into a real ode to the Sunny Coast

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 4:46pm

It's just that good.

amb's picture
amb's picture
amb commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 5:16pm

To all the Toona carnts, stay the fark away from our beaches over summer.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 5:54pm

Fuck you nor-easter,
Your sea spray stings my eyeballs,
bluebottles suck too.

I've never been able to piece together a haiku.

Young Daniel, wise beyond his years.

1173

nextswell's picture
nextswell's picture
nextswell commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 6:34pm

Got home from work today, got down to the beach with my lady, can in hand to see the ocean in fading light. Dead set looked like late spring, early summer. 1/2ft onshore. She’s a comin!

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 7:34pm

Fark, is it really that bad? Ive only ever visited in winter so I assumed that all day offshores and endless swells were a permanent fixture. Anyway, in consideration of this predicament let me offer my sincere condolences.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 7:54pm

Just a clarification: Toona's an amalgamation of many surf towns the length of the east coast pretty much, certainly not one single joint!

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 6:25am

We’re pretty slow on the uptake over here in NZ being about twenty years behind the times, but I had that one figured pretty early on. Haha!

Actually now that I think about it, that’s something lacking so far: Toona’s Kiwi population. Every surf town in Australia has a few of us. Generally seen wandering the streets in the middle of winter wearing a Warriors singlet, lamenting the inferior quality of Aussie meat pies.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 8:20am

And that resident Kiwi Spud you can pretty much count on to bring a guitar and some ratty leaf to a barbie and keep bangin' on about next time having a hangi.

Love the Kiwi's- salt of the earth. Good people.

1173

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 12:03pm

Funny you say that, our resident kiwi absolutely loves sitting under the pandanus and getting a fire going on a winter’s day.
More often than not he’d rather do that than surf nice little peelers.
Salt of the earth for sure.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 7:53pm

No, not even close, Spud.

But excellent work, nonetheless - once again.

dangerouskook2000's picture
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dangerouskook2000 commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 9:08pm

" four or five months of pissweak windswells and relentless nor’easterlies that bleach the blue out of the sky and the sea, the same way our souls are stripped of the joy and wonder of being alive. "

GOLD.....

Not to mention that fucken freezing upwelling water. Fuck, just remembered my wettie's full of holes

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 11:36pm

Interesting one boys.
15 x the F..k word in the one article?..and a few ca...nts too?
One or two for clever comedic affect to mirror the vernacular of today is perhaps appropriate?? I don't know.
You said dear old mate Joe Turpel said "Incredible", 17 times during just his on air time for the Lenmore commentary this week. Not to mention how many times he said "insane", too. Perhaps mildly irritating?
I love your very funny, clever stories and drawings. You are talented guys.
I so know that I'm in the conservative tiny minority, but.....?
Anyway just me, a nobody, thankful for the opportunity to post one tiny opinion/comment in a supposedly "non-discriminating", "tolerance for everyone", "ALL lives matter", "freedom of speech", country? No surfing being done here for much needed sanity under the Vic stage 4 regime.
I'm crankier than usual!
And I certainly know that if I don't like something I can click it off, but if we both had the same thoughts and opinions, then one of us would be redundant?
Please keep the clever and really funny coming. Still a fan.
Thank you & God Bless you

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 6:26am

Hey Servant. It's a valid observation you make mate. I guess in DIng Alley's defence, Bazz's poem contributes the lion's share of caaarrntentious words.
And unlike a Woz commentator reaching into his bag of superlatives and pulling incredible out every time, the idea with Baz's poem was to mash the confessional / vulnerable side of Baz with his go-to vocab – so the more it got deliberately loaded up with farken farks the better the dynamic worked (hopefully).
But mate I defs hear ya and agree – when it comes to words, be they superlatives or swears, you really wanna make 'em count and not devalue 'em by repetition.
Hang in in there through stage four fella and thanks heaps for the feedback.

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 12:24pm

Thank you and well played Gra with a respectful reply.
God Bless you & yours

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 11:38pm

P.S. A count of all the F..k words in all the comments since your story is fascinating.

Dannon's picture
Dannon's picture
Dannon commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 4:57am

Farrk off ya caarrnt

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 12:29pm

Thank you Dannon.
God Bless you too
Matthew 5:39

Hoodie's picture
Hoodie's picture
Hoodie commented Monday, 17 Aug 2020 at 5:34pm

Funny

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 6:28am

^ You walked into that one Servant. Haha! Would have been my comment had Dannon not beaten me to it. Getting slow in my old age.

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 12:44pm

Thank you also Spuddups.
On the contrary, Some-one opened this door intentionally, hopefully for many like you and Dannon to walk through
God Bless you too.
Ephesians 4:29

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 12:55pm

I don’t believe in your god, but the sentiment is appreciated. Have a good one.

servant's picture
servant's picture
servant commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 1:33pm

Thank you again Spuddups. You have a good one too. Hope you get some great waves.
Sorry to hear you don't believe in God. I'll pray for you also.

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Sunday, 16 Aug 2020 at 3:19pm

Thanks man. Much appreciated.

tiger's picture
tiger's picture
tiger commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 7:17am

A classic ode to the horror that is spring on the east coast of Australia! I for one, intend to impose my wrath on the local flathead population!

andy-mac's picture
andy-mac's picture
andy-mac commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 8:01am

Unreal!
Keep em coming.....

Botak

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 8:36am

Gra thanks mate. Can also just say you come across as an egoless champion. Always gracious with your replies and humble when constructive criticism comes your way.

Hope you really enjoy what you do, we do.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 8:46am

Thanks Sol! Yeah no idea how long the chronicles of Toonalook & general Ding Alley carry-on will retain its mojo, but defs relishing the challenge and so stoked to be a part of Swellnet.

R00ney's picture
R00ney's picture
R00ney commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 9:14am

Well done again, men.
More farks and carnts in Barry's ode than the toona and surrounds knock shops i'd say.
Gold.

rrr's picture
rrr's picture
rrr commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 3:47pm

id love t see a barry cornell love letter to his missus . haha

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 4:50pm

I'd love Baz to record an album of covers, ballads mostly, a bit of spoken word...

rrr's picture
rrr's picture
rrr commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 5:39pm

" feeeelings.... nothing more than fucken feeeelings ...."
oh yea . cornell on the classics.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Sunday, 16 Aug 2020 at 10:32am

Thanks rrrr, I've had this song stuck in my head (complete with Baz's embellishments) since your comment. It's been on rotation with Baz belting out The Fucken Love Boat theme song, Julio Iglesias's classic 'To All The fucken Girls I've Loved Before', The Beatles' 'Something in the way she fucken Moves' and a bit of girl power with Aretha Franklin spelling out R.E.S.P.E.C. fucken T ... so thanks for that!

rrr's picture
rrr's picture
rrr commented Sunday, 16 Aug 2020 at 1:04pm

haha . fk yea. its on rotation in my head all day long. dang !

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Tuesday, 18 Aug 2020 at 7:42am

I was working with this bloke for a couple of years and we used to call him “Cock Boy” Basically he could get any song imaginable and change the lyrics to include the word cock somewhere. (Amongst other hilarious alterations to the song) To this day I find myself singing “wide, wide, wide, vagina!” (Why why why Delilah!”)

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Tuesday, 18 Aug 2020 at 7:44am

Ha ha...that's the sort of talent we should foster and encourage.

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay commented Tuesday, 18 Aug 2020 at 9:33am

Working next to Spuddups, you learn to wear your ear muffs.

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 10:53pm

"The caarnt came back with faark you you faarking caarnt , caarnt"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYGy-j_oH5Q

views from the cockpit's picture
views from the cockpit's picture
views from the ... commented Sunday, 16 Aug 2020 at 6:32am

Cried with that Derek and Clive Tube shooter!

Standingleft's picture
Standingleft's picture
Standingleft commented Sunday, 16 Aug 2020 at 7:54am

Only one planet in the entire known universe has surf. Do we really think that's just random? It's extremely unlikely, like a million billion to one and yet we complain bitterly cause it only pumps for 4 months of the year! Farken ungrateful Caarnts we are. Nice work Dingers as always

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Sunday, 16 Aug 2020 at 3:23pm

Yeah, kinda puts things into perspective. Being born a surfer on the East Coast of Australia... about as lucky as it gets really.

Distracted's picture
Distracted's picture
Distracted commented Monday, 17 Aug 2020 at 7:53am

.

kanej's picture
kanej's picture
kanej commented Monday, 17 Aug 2020 at 9:58am

To be honest, Summer aint that bad when there is a back beach in the town.

drodders's picture
drodders's picture
drodders commented Tuesday, 18 Aug 2020 at 9:10am

This is for Barry...

There was a boy from the ‘Gong
As winter ended he could smell a pong
As the Nor’ Easter blew near
He was slain by fear
He’d rather take a hammer to his dong

fatjackdave's picture
fatjackdave's picture
fatjackdave commented Tuesday, 18 Aug 2020 at 10:08am

I was going to counter with a Haiku - and trawled Google for some inspiration. First hit sent me to this posted by a grommet in 2007. ......seems she's living her dream

Surfing Haiku
Nikki van Dijk, Grade 6, Cowes Primary School Poetry 2007
Barrels are out there!
Big, blue, deep, dark crashing waves.
Surfing is my dream.

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Tuesday, 18 Aug 2020 at 5:14pm

That’s a great poem.

Pops's picture
Pops's picture
Pops commented Tuesday, 18 Aug 2020 at 5:16pm

Could... could Sally Fitzgibbon be Eddie Haiku?

He who hesitates is lost

drodders's picture
drodders's picture
drodders commented Tuesday, 18 Aug 2020 at 5:41pm

Glad you didn’t, Haiku can’t match the sophistication of a limerick...

Also Digging up the NvD gold was awesome

fatjackdave's picture
fatjackdave's picture
fatjackdave commented Wednesday, 19 Aug 2020 at 8:21am

Drodders challenging,
poetry at ten paces?
Mic drop. "Hah!", I coo

matt.evans's picture
matt.evans's picture
matt.evans commented Tuesday, 18 Aug 2020 at 9:53am

Man, even from halfway across the fuken world, these pieces capture surfing like nothing I've ever read. Fuuuuuuuuuuuck spring!

sangsta's picture
sangsta's picture
sangsta commented Tuesday, 18 Aug 2020 at 2:03pm

Feeling it. Where can I get one of Dr. Petra's pills?

Fliplid's picture
Fliplid's picture
Fliplid commented Wednesday, 19 Aug 2020 at 6:42am

There is always a solution to the problem

Word got out that Logan and Slater were in town
With plans for the Toona Tub to go down
Faark orf said Baz with a lear
But Kelly had a sly word in his ear
We'll make you head lifeguard, you can even have a tower
6 pm each day, kick everyone out and the place is yours for an hour
We'll charge punters 50 bucks for a 30 minute slot
But you won't have to pay a dot

Barry thought about those north easterlies that were the pits
How they lasted for weeks and gave him the shits
The punters could pay the fare
And have fun without a care
No stings from bluebottles or being harassed by a shark
Even the chance of a surf under lights after dark
They would hear the wave train rumble
And there’d be no need to grumble

But something just didn't sit right with the local icon
This scheme hatched up by a foreign media corporation
Who wanted people to believe that to have fun you would be shafted
That locals were a source of income to be grafted
He thought Logan was behaving like the kaiser
So he looked him in the eye and told him to faark orf to Mt Isa

Caarnt !!

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Wednesday, 19 Aug 2020 at 9:24am

Fliplid, we're not worthy mate! Also you'll have to take my word for it that the next installment of Ding Alley contains material with kinda similar concepts (as far as a certain Mr Cornell goes) but it's been in development over the last coupla days... Just in case ya think the Alley has ripped ya off!

Fliplid's picture
Fliplid's picture
Fliplid commented Wednesday, 19 Aug 2020 at 6:40pm

No worries Gra.

Been enjoying White Horses lately, particularly the story about the adventure with the octopus.

mattlock's picture
mattlock's picture
mattlock commented Wednesday, 19 Aug 2020 at 10:07am

Maybe Cornell and a couple of his mates could do a desert road trip to avoid the east coast spring.
Then he could whinge about the fucken cold water, the fucken pointy rocks, the fucken big sharks. the caaarnt of a see breeze that comes up every day by 9am and the locals telling him "fuck off you pussy east coast caaaarnt" while they catch all the sets and get in the way when he finally gets one.

factotum's picture
factotum's picture
factotum commented Wednesday, 19 Aug 2020 at 11:46am

Don't encourage them/him, Mattlock.

Keep the 'mockumentary' antics where they rightly belong.

mattlock's picture
mattlock's picture
mattlock commented Wednesday, 19 Aug 2020 at 1:29pm

Good point Facto.
I forgot to mention the fucken caaarnt flies.

tango's picture
tango's picture
tango commented Wednesday, 19 Aug 2020 at 10:58pm

Fucken hell. Not one fucken mention of a Datsun.

qbctm's picture
qbctm's picture
qbctm commented Friday, 21 Aug 2020 at 7:25am

That fucken poem brought a fucken tear to my fucken eye....that's real fucken torture right there ya fucken caaarrrnnnnttttsss

love youse all ...TM