Watch: Strickland Bay Surfing Pioneers

Stu Nettle
Reels

A short doco on the Wozzle's latest CT location - Strickland Bay on Rottnest Island - focussing on the surfers who discovered it (paddling two hours from City Beach!) and also those that devoted themselves to the wave.

 

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spencie's picture
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spencie commented Thursday, 18 Feb 2021 at 3:35pm

Great to see names from the old days. Never surfed it myself but know plenty who have and most of them love the place.

easterly

Ewy's picture
Ewy's picture
Ewy commented Thursday, 18 Feb 2021 at 4:48pm

I love Rotto, however , calling the left as a world class wave for the WSL tour is a big statement. The right is better but again world class ???

I wish you guys all the best for the comp in a tough year...

hackonayak's picture
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hackonayak commented Saturday, 20 Feb 2021 at 5:02pm

I guess they're pumping up Rotto's tyres for the up coming comp.....Rotto will have way better waves than any of the Brazil beaches on tour... Im in Vic and sad to Bells shouldered to the side but I hope its pumping for the WA comps..cheers

Pottah's picture
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Pottah commented Monday, 22 Feb 2021 at 8:49pm

I've lived in Indo for coming on 9 years, I know world class waves reasonably well. Strikos is world class when it's big, but not when it's small.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno commented Thursday, 18 Feb 2021 at 4:58pm

It's great, isn't it? Gives an idea of the waves too, even at times when they are more ordinary.
Did the paddle looking after swimmers, that was 5hrs plus. 1st beer nearly knocked me out. The ships look big moored in the channel.
Thanks for including a bit of the legends of West Oz surfing, the other side of Australian surf history. The crew surfing it for the first time ever - there was still a little bit of that on far flung coasts when I was growing up, amazing to think you might be the first one to surf a place no one goes to after the 4wd got stopped for lack of tracks and you walked over dune after dune after dune... The spot probably has glamping on it now lol

radiationrules's picture
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radiationrules commented Thursday, 18 Feb 2021 at 4:59pm

World class - nup...awesome fun wave...yep..wilderness surfing..not for the WSL...will be a cluster-fuck of boats , buses and bicycles.. clambering over a zero infrastructure , highly fragile environment - I have very little faith that they won't fuck it up in some way.. BTW..nice to see Al Bean pics/footage - a quiet, understated man, master craftsman shaper/surfer.

sacash's picture
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sacash commented Saturday, 20 Feb 2021 at 10:52pm

exactly what I thought when it was announced

ringmaster's picture
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ringmaster commented Thursday, 18 Feb 2021 at 7:30pm

Still got an old (Aussie)surf mag from the early/mid 80's stashed somewhere with an article about a Rotto trip by Jim Banks. They were with Mitch Thorson who's parents had the bakery and lent them the bakery panno to go surfing. I never got there but that story for some reason stayed in the old memory banks.

sorrentoden's picture
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sorrentoden commented Saturday, 20 Feb 2021 at 4:25pm

heheh, funny that. A mate and I stayed on Rotto for a week before going to Gradjagan in 1982. The weatherboard cabin cost us $40 for the whole week! We were lucky enough to get rides in that Panel van a few times too. At Strickos one morning with me mate Rob Hunt(knee boarder from Vicco) and the Thorson brothers and then another guy takes off on a big set wave..but no, it was Mitch's brother going switch foot! Amazing skill. We also got to surf West End and on a big slabbing left on the north side -long paddle out--wont say the name of the place---how big does that wave handle anyway?

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Thursday, 18 Feb 2021 at 7:39pm

had a lot of fun there, seem to remember the wave being better than that footy shows.

maybe got lucky, I know I did with the young lass I was over there with.

seaslug's picture
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seaslug commented Thursday, 18 Feb 2021 at 7:46pm

Use to leave our boards stashed under bushes out at Stricko's and then try and remember where they were haha, snakes galore

Scott Barrow's picture
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Scott Barrow commented Thursday, 18 Feb 2021 at 7:53pm

I would liken Strickland Bay to Lakey Peak's little brother. Similar qualities and setup but not as thick as its get big. Can be a good wave.

Redmond Clement's picture
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Redmond Clement commented Thursday, 18 Feb 2021 at 8:03pm

I remember riding to the bay in the back of the bakery panel van. G'day Mitch.

NDC's picture
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NDC commented Thursday, 18 Feb 2021 at 8:08pm

Rode up and down the length of the island in the early hours a couple of times with zero results when I was there... the peddling legs knew they’d had a workout, especially on mornings when the return journey involved a cross-headwind and the board was acting like a reverse sail

As a goofy I was gutted coz I had heard all about stricko’s ... oh well, it’s nit an adventure if you know what’s going to happen

seaslug's picture
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seaslug commented Thursday, 18 Feb 2021 at 9:08pm

Haha, the ride back could be brutal with a board under the arm NDC

Bluedreams's picture
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Bluedreams commented Thursday, 18 Feb 2021 at 10:30pm

I lost the key to my bike lock here one time and had to walk back to Geordie store. Fuck me that was a long walk

MidWestMonger's picture
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MidWestMonger commented Thursday, 18 Feb 2021 at 10:40pm

I used to catch the Freo ferry that got there before the hillaries one , position for first off and on my bike. Tour de France sprint to Strickland trying to get an hour before it packs out when the bus arrives. Then out and pedal further to cathos. Got smashed into the limestone stack at catho once and could hardly pedal back. Limping the bike uphill. Just made it back to the ferry in time, didn’t get a couple in at the quokkas arms like usual

Dan Zina's picture
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Dan Zina commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 10:37am

Fark those were the days!!

I focus's picture
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I focus commented Thursday, 18 Feb 2021 at 11:33pm

A lot of old names there, surfed the north west with Jimmy Keenan great bloke serious athlete remember his story's of paddling to Rotto, veins popping out of their arms as they battled the breezes.

Remember one day in the NW a rare day of glass just Jimmy and me at this fickle spot that was smoking and just going off and a dolphin turned up and started going crazy stuff, Jimmy roaring with each jump the dolphin seemingly feeding off the roars.

When it finished Jimmy look at me and said how do you tell anyone what happen then?

It was just one of those moments.

Strickland is an OK wave and can have a touch of power, I recon a bit of wa*k factor describing it as world class but yeah nah happy for the WSL to have it leave the rest of the state as is.

Kellya's picture
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Kellya commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 12:04am

Rotto swim on this weekend, good luck to all competitors! I did the paddle across assisting a swimmer on a shit year. Big swell and windy, not fun! Those dudes who paddled across and surfed back in the day are maniacs.

indeocean's picture
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indeocean commented Sunday, 21 Feb 2021 at 2:33pm

Rottnest Offshore Boardriders, was formed in the 80's lots of environment work volunteered by the members, including paths and fences to stabilise the fragile vegetation.

seaslug's picture
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seaslug commented Sunday, 21 Feb 2021 at 8:33pm

You guys did a great job IO, real disappointment that not even a courtesy call was made re comp

Sickaz's picture
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Sickaz commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 2:30am

Cool video. Paddling there and then surfing? They were some fit and tough dudes, almost 20km offshore! Credit that is awesome.

I have so many awesome memories from that epic island.

Learned to fish, dive and surf at ‘Rotto’, first name Wadjemup.

First time I surfed strickos it was big and onshore and freezing and I was getting smashed on the inside and both my hamstrings cramped at the same time.

I remember the fist time seeing cathedral and the crazy, fickle slab close by, where it can be a perfect longish barrel where the lip literally lands on razor sharp dry limestone. There are a few scary and dangerous set ups there.

At cathedral once I was trying to get onto the ledge only to have the wave surge keep pulling me back into the ocean over the edge like flotsam. Again and again until I paddled around and scrambled up the cliff to the side. Bleeding hands and feet.

The biggest whitey I have ever seen was at cathedral. Lurking near the boats, very glad to be on the bike that day. Also snakes, whenever it’s sunny, Dugite’s everywhere.

I was on the ferry once with glass catalyst in my pocket, it leaked and nearly dissolved my scrotum. Had to wash the junk in the ferry toilet - not ideal. Full recovery I have three charming though quirky children.

Going skinny swimming on acid late at night at the basin, my ‘friends’ ran off with my clothes and I had to ride home to Thompson’s naked. Riding naked is not that fun.

Watching transit reef 6+ and looking through the barreling peak as the sun went down and seeing Perth lights through the open Barrel.

Starting a friendship with one of my best mates surfing strickos on a solid day where you could see the lighthouse from the top of the big swells, just the two of us surfing and chatting. Mates ever since.

Renting one of the old fibro tent land shacks by myself as a late teen, waiting for a mate to join me the next day. Went to bed, heard the door open, is it my mate early? No, it’s the hot girl from next door who I waved at earlier is now straddling me and snogging me despite not having said a word to each other.

The bakery, delivery booze, the pub, chook fat from red rooster for burley.

I gotta stop I could go on and on.

Epic place, not the right venue, strickos is a fun place to surf, can hold up to 8 foot, but not the right location for the WSL circus. IMO

Does gabs know Strickland bay is a ‘shark rehabilitation area’?

Serious note. The history of imprisonment and execution of indigenous people on Rottnest by colonial peoples is a truly horrific and shameful crime.

I hope that indigenous people are given priority, even subsidised access to their Wadjemup island. The lotteries and queues to stay at the island should not be applied to the traditional owners, so too the crazy prices to stay there.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-25/rottnest-island-black-prison-to-w...
https://www.derbalnara.org.au/first-contact-and-timeline

Solitude's picture
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Solitude commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 6:54am

Sounds like a very special place for you. Would’ve been young fella heaven

Dan Zina's picture
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Dan Zina commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 10:59am

Great read, thank you mate! I’ve got many similar memories that were triggered reading this.
Hooking up with chicks at Pinkies as a pre-teen. Spearfishing off west end after the hottest bike ride I’ve ever experienced. Sleeping in board bags in limestone caves. Shark stories...

Bullets and Stark were favourites of ours, always a mission but always worth it. There’s a couple of other options around that are fickle but amazing when they’re on.

I really wish WSL wasn’t going there to take advantage of such a culturally and ecologically sensitive place just to make money flogging footage of the top 44.

SurferSam's picture
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SurferSam commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 6:26pm

How fun a wave is bullets! Roll in ledge take off to barrel section, then cutty section and then line up the dry reef end section barrel . Cliffs surrounding the line up. Surf for hours then pig out at the bakery. Hot poontang everywhere back in town. Epic memories.

JackStance's picture
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JackStance commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 11:39am

YOWAY!!!!!

good read from an obviously good fella.

thank you for the stories and all the best too ya.

Breathe. Murdoch's empire will one day fail to control our minds.

Optimist's picture
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Optimist commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 5:46am

Sickaz, those links were one of the saddest things I've read for a long time...People can be so cruel....I even hate the fence around my house after that.

Dan Zina's picture
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Dan Zina commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 11:07am

I used to ride my bike to Freo to get the first ferry over, then ride around to Chickens, Stark or Strickos with mates as a kid. Whenever we could get our hands on a boat we’d wag and spend the day surfing and wherever the waves were or spearing off west end.

Plenty of sharks, mostly tigers but more whites in recent years. Every regular you meet over there has at least one close-call story. It’s a long paddle back to the boat when you’ve seen a big tigerey.

The reef gets razor sharp at certain times of the year and the inside sections can be brutal if you get caught in the wrong spot.

It’s heaven on earth though when you get a sheet-glass bluebird day and it’s 4-6ft.

Money hungry Woz can beat it as far as I’m concerned.

radiationrules's picture
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radiationrules commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 12:05pm

DZ : "The reef gets razor sharp at certain times of the year and the inside sections can be brutal if you get caught in the wrong spot."..i know what you mean..
.. I was out there last monday. 4-6ft but 18s period - one pulse set @6ft, I was paddling back out from a right..then a 8 wave set, each one on the head, ended up in the cray-hole at the end of the left? dry-retched twice b4 paddling back out..had another 2 hours..was awesome day all round..could have done without the hold-downs..but good training for the NW winter..

Dan Zina's picture
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Dan Zina commented Monday, 22 Feb 2021 at 10:59am

Definitely good training! How's that feeling in your belly when you see the lines stacked and you're still amongst the boils...
Great fun though, I'd kill to be able to get back there - been trying to come home for a year!

MidWestMonger's picture
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MidWestMonger commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 1:21pm

I bet the ferry sprint race hasnt changed. Had to be the first freo ferry. Tip was to wait and load your bike on last so it was first off. Used to pack a lunch, stash it in my backpack and left it under the limestone at strickos. looked back into the session and a crow is pulling my towel out of the back pack bit by bit. then the little bastard eats my sandwiches.
i had a 10 speed raleigh bought for $10 at karrinyup swap meet with the rear board carrier fitted as my wheels

Kellya's picture
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Kellya commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 2:19pm

These memories of Rotto are awesome! Such a pity they can't be recreated anymore. The ferry trip alone would have you not being able to afford a pie from the bakery. A beer at the pub or actually staying on the island? Forget it!

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 6:20pm

Cool little Doco and great to hear from some of the pioneering crustys. Also, cool comments and memories from above in the comments section.

One thing that stands out (apart from the waves of course) is how beautiful is that WA water! So blue and so clear, not many places on earth can compare to it I reckon.

1173

memlasurf's picture
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memlasurf commented Monday, 1 Mar 2021 at 12:24pm

Limestone will do that.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 6:51pm

I just love hearing Australian surf history which is blissfully free of the East coast centric mindset . A lot less ego involved. Different coasts breed different mentalities and a hell of a lot of that stems from the waves on offer.

SurferSam's picture
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SurferSam commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 7:51pm

Been thinking a lot about rotto with this thread , the place means so much to me and from reading the comments above it means so much to others too
I think it represents a lot of firsts for young west Oz surfers
First foray into big waves, tuning chicks for the first time canoodaling on the beach at night
Boozing at the pub for the first time, freedom
And the waves , so much fun
Can remember spending a month at lakey peak and wishing I was at stricko ha!
Agree with the lakey comparison only stricko not as hollow but probably funner in my opinion
Gets big , have surfed it triple head easy and holds it too. The footage in the vid is not of a good day
So many waves for a small island jeanies, chickens , stricko, bullets, radars, rotto box, cathedrals, spiders, stark , north point and the mighty transits ha!
Stark is hardcore at size seen some big barrels out there
The shark factor just adds to the buzz :-)

indeocean's picture
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indeocean commented Saturday, 20 Feb 2021 at 12:40am

I remember doing an indo trip when i was living at Rotto, wishing i was back home! So many stories :)

Craig's picture
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Craig commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 7:53pm

Rotto sounds like Yorkes in South Australia. Same sense of adventure, far enough away and in a national park to get that sense of remoteness. Raw, sharp limestone reefs, deep channels and beautiful blue waters. Big sharks, dolphins and amazing experiences to push yourself into bigger and heavier reef surf. We didn't have the chicks but..

Daveharro's picture
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Daveharro commented Friday, 19 Feb 2021 at 10:54pm

Check the first 2 mins of this for fun Strickland https://vimeo.com/105419258/comments

Harrydog

batfink's picture
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batfink commented Saturday, 20 Feb 2021 at 1:38pm

Great stories, great place. Only been there once, did the full bike ride around checking out every surf option, but didn’t have any boards that trip, longer and not interesting story.

Can’t believe they paddled over. 2 hours! Fark, I know that would have been on the toothpicks that paddle like anything, but it would be a 2 day paddle for me on my short board.

Really enjoyed the memories from the guys on here.

wedgell's picture
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wedgell commented Saturday, 20 Feb 2021 at 6:05pm

Have to say it’s been surprising to see the enthusiastic support for an event here, particularly in light of environmental concerns being one of the main reasons some crew put forward for not wanting the comp at Lennox.

There’s not much in the way of structure on rotto outside of the Thompson – Geordie area. The scrub there is especially vulnerable to foot traffic, and I can’t see how they could fit all of the judging and broadcast infrastructure (plus hangers-on) in the existing small lookout shelter without building additional structures. Which then if they need additional structure, where’s it going to go? The stretch of beach between the water and the dunes is tiny, and the limestone cliffs adjacent aren’t suitable. Are they going to build over untouched dunes?

I'm not completely against it... can’t see it making huge changes in terms of ongoing crowds. Plus I had the chance to live and work there for a year, and have had my share of waves. Not having access to the wave for a couple of weeks in the prime season sucks though is something I could get past. But the fact no one is raising questions about the environmental impact seems a bit odd.

indeocean's picture
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indeocean commented Sunday, 21 Feb 2021 at 2:39pm

Hey Wedgell, the Rottnest Offshore Boardriders have reached out to the organisers. Your spot on with your comments. The club has volunteered hundreds of hours over the years to build fencing and paths to re stabilise the dunes. Im hopeful that being in a A class marine and nature reserve has and will be taken into account when setting up the structures.

seaslug's picture
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seaslug commented Sunday, 21 Feb 2021 at 8:35pm

Should take some before and after photos and then name and shame if not left as before IO

memlasurf's picture
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memlasurf commented Monday, 1 Mar 2021 at 12:31pm

For sure hope it doesn't end up like the Portsea life saving club - limestone, dune, sensitive vegetation...stuff it lets plough on.

muffsic's picture
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muffsic commented Sunday, 21 Feb 2021 at 2:10pm

Great doco on a unique place - surfing and otherwise.
Saw Mitch progress from the grommet dropping in on the end section at Strickos to a serious big wave surfer in Hawaii. And some real talent in amongst the other crew - Bettenay and Fullston in particular.
My first surf was in 1975 - after a mighty NW storm turned SW - as the Rottnest Islander pulled up, Transit was 6 - 8 foot and breaking perfectly all the way from shit rock almost to the jetty. Surfers were dumping their bags on the jetty and straight into it. Like a right hand Ala Moana. Never saw it like that again. And Mitch is spot on about the left at Strickos - over 10 foot the right closes out to piss heads - and a heavy barreling left is a thing of (unfortunately) rare beauty.

WSL wave?? Way to fickle - needs very specific winds, swell size and direction. Could be good - could blow south for a week and be very ordinary.....

marcus's picture
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marcus commented Wednesday, 24 Feb 2021 at 1:30pm

my mate looked after the golf coarse there, a few slabs about

i remember the internet when it was just for intelligent people but.

memlasurf's picture
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memlasurf commented Monday, 1 Mar 2021 at 12:32pm

Sorry Marcus couldn't resist. Course not coarse.

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marcus commented Wednesday, 24 Feb 2021 at 1:33pm

is that pubes on the screen at 1 min 02?

i remember the internet when it was just for intelligent people but.

seaslug's picture
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seaslug commented Wednesday, 24 Feb 2021 at 5:31pm

But somewhat amazingly, Western Australia said Yes.
This might be the most unexpected part of the whole thing. According to Stark, this had a lot to do with Tourism WA wanting to hang on to the Margaret River event. All the relevant government crew were on board, from the Premier on down. They paved the way for the WA Police to look at what might be needed in the event of a border closure. Margaret isn’t like Snapper; it can be closed off, and the police were willing to manage a bubble if necessary. In this case it would have meant a guarantee of police assistance with managing the bubble. The surfers wouldn’t be coming into contact with the public. They’d have to be brought into hotel hide-outs, take part in closed off practice sessions, then compete without spectators — just like the Australian Open tennis tournament.

seaslug's picture
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seaslug commented Wednesday, 24 Feb 2021 at 5:50pm

So if there's an outbreak in NSW before they fly over, expect the point and SS to be closed off to all except WSL

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OHBILLY commented Saturday, 6 Mar 2021 at 1:29pm

Video is private?

Yea, I get barrel