Stab Magazine | Craig Anderson, Merewether Car Park
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Craig Anderson, Merewether Car Park

Craig Anderson is a proud Novocastrian. Since leaving South Africa, he’s lived in Newcastle for the better part of seven years. One of those years was spent residing in Bar Beach, but he’s spent the rest at Merewether and much prefers it. Unintentionally, but fittingly, Craig is wearing a red and blue wetsuit – a […]

full frame // Mar 8, 2016
Words by Rod Owen
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Craig Anderson is a proud Novocastrian. Since leaving South Africa, he’s lived in Newcastle for the better part of seven years. One of those years was spent residing in Bar Beach, but he’s spent the rest at Merewether and much prefers it.

Unintentionally, but fittingly, Craig is wearing a red and blue wetsuit – a colour combination you’ll see used unsparingly around town, as it is that of the region’s football team, the Newcastle Knights. “I follow the knights a little bit. Surfing with guys like Hoyo all the time, you meet a couple of the Knights players and it’s all just a little clan. You follow the footy and surf with all those guys – it’s just a cool little place and everyone’s just mates.”

Matt Hoy ain’t the only local that Craig’s looked up to over the years – some big inspirations have been Mark Richards, Travy Lynch, Mitch Ross, Chad Edser, and a goofy-footer known as Glenson – “He’s nuts. He rides a paddle board pretty much every day now, but he gets layback tubes and he’s just super talented.” Craig agrees that though it’s not a trend that’s exclusive to Merewether, many of those with star talented fade into obscurity. “There’s so many guys you’ve never heard of, so many good surfers… if you get a really big north swell, you’ll just see these guys come out of nowhere with their big boards, and they all charge and surf really, really well.”

Merewether Surfing Reserve chairman Tim Ryan has been another influence on Craig – “He used to go to Hawaii heaps – pretty much unheard-of, but he went in the pipe contest, charges and rides barrels really well.” Lately Tim’s been leading opposition to the proposed re-development of Merewether surf house. The decrepit, pigeon-infested building was recently demolished, and is to be the site of a new three-storey building with public amenities, a café, function centre and restaurant. Prior to the demolition of the Surf house, Tim said: “We’re not anti development; we want to get rid of the eyesore – just without replacing it with another building.”

Beachfront architecture isn’t the only change Merewether has been undergoing. In a bid to protect housing in close proximity to the ocean, groups like Landcare have undergone steps to stabilise the sand and regenerate beach fauna. Couple that with council’s regular mechanical cleaning of the beach, and you gots a process that many surfers fear has changed the surf at the reputable break. Local legend Dave Anderson, or ‘Pa’ as he’s more fondly known, is concerned that while Landcare is reaching their goal of a regenerated beach front, the process has been very damaging to the wave quality:

“If we’re going to be listed as a world heritage surfing beach, we’ve got to look after it. In a surfer’s perspective we really don’t want the beach too flat – if it’s completely flat, we seem to be missing out on the shore breaks and really a lot of it’s just about protecting real estate prices on John Parade (the street running adjacent with the Merewether – Dixon Park stretch).”

Though not wishing to speculate on a precise reason, Craig has definitely noticed the change in Merewether’s waves – even in the six years that he’s been there.

“I’m not sure if it’s just me getting older thinking the waves have been getting worse, but I definitely believe that they’ve gotten a lot shittier over the years. The banks and the sand is different. So are the weather patterns and the swells, its all been so different to what it was. I remember surfing a proper rip-bowl at ‘Rocks’ (the inside reef), and it hasn’t been like that for probably four years. You get a southerly that’ll come through and change it up – some of the sand will get ripped out of there. I don’t know whether its got to do with wave conditions or not. If we got 10 foot southerly’s for a month, Rocks could be back.” – Elliot Struck

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