Gallery: Outstanding October
Now that October has come to a close, I'd like to stop, take a breath, and look back at the surf of the past month.
Sizable swells and favourable conditions, the kind that are more typical of autumn, bathed the East Coast, while over west, some big, clean surf days went down towards the end of the month.
The only real difference out in the water was the reversal of ocean and air temperatures. Autumn typically has bath-like sea temperatures while cold fronts start intruding from the south, bringing cooler air. In spring, however, we've got the cooler waters lingering from the winter months, while offshore winds equal heat, bringing dry hot air in from central Australia.
A mix of the current La Niña signal and weakening negative Indian Ocean Dipole event soaked inland and coastal locations as eastward-tracking instability crossed the Great Dividing Range and met the moist, onshore flow.
Just as coastal waters were clearing up from winter rains, the ocean again turned a rich brown as catchments from QLD to the Victorian border received falls in the hundreds of millimetres.
Sitting water dominates the landscape up and down the Princes Highway (along with suspension wrecking potholes), and while the general population continue to curse our triple La Niña, surfers are one of the few beneficiaries to this pattern.
For the second half of the month I had annual leave booked in, and I ventured south, first to the Snowy Mountains, and then to the coast for a bit of solitude in contrasting landscapes.
All the moisture that's been falling either side of the Dividing Range has just been cold enough at height to deliver snow to our highest mountain peaks. This has provided the best spring coverage I've personally witnessed in the Kosciusko region, though finding a window of clear, sunny weather has been like finding a needle in a haystack.
This is where meteorological knowledge shows its true value, with Steve Wall and myself picking a small window during the middle of the month to jump on the skins, putting in 26km including 2.6km vertical over a 24 hour period.
The drive back to Sydney was unsurprising, leaving clear sunny weather to arrive back in drab and dreary overcast skies.
As the weather worsened, the swell built and all attention was focussed on tracking the evolution of a tropical low slipping down the East Coast. Questions needed answering. Where and when would the wind swing offshore? And where would hold the size once winds swung northerly?
Last week, you couldn't have really gone wrong once the winds shifted offshore as everywhere from Queensland to south-eastern Victoria pumped, with the bonus being favourable all day offshores as the tail of the swell wagged.
Reefs, points, beaches, and barrels. Solo body surfs deep in the wilderness and empty sessions with a couple of mates, new and old. Such pure experiences are what surfing is all about, and we're lucky to be in a country that makes it so easily accessible.