"A Unique Coast & A Unique People” - Stab Mag
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“A Unique Coast & A Unique People”

The Coopers Pacific Pale Ale odyssey takes the long road home.

cinema // Mar 30, 2022
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 4 minutes

‘Down here you’ve got to be built for the terrain’

Australia is the oldest, flattest, and driest inhabited continent in the world with the least fertile soil. You wouldn’t think that would be very conducive to life, but weirdly, it teems with native plants and animals. Life can be awfully persistent in unforgiving places. The native thorny devil, for example, thrives in one of the most drought-stricken regions on earth.  

She dry. Photo by Hayden Richards @sa_rips

“You sort of need to be a different person down here to deal with the heatwaves and the stormfronts,” laughs tour guide Josiah Schmucker genially. “It’s just desert plains that meet giant cliff lines, long white sandy beaches with no one on them, and crystal clear waters full of sharks and fun waves at the bottom.”

“When you look at the horizon you feel very small. You feel like an ant” – Benny Howard. Photo by Hayden Richards @sa_rips

“Nothing’s easy, everything is just that little bit harder,” said Nikki Van Dijk who accompanied Harrison Roach, Ben Howard and Josiah Schumaker on their trip through the desert. “The roads are long, there’s so much wind and energy and power in the ocean. There’s so much going on at all times of the day”. 

“You can always pick a Rippsy photo, he’s got his own style. It kind of blows me away all the shit he has stored away in his head. He’s so knowledgeable” – Ben Howard. Photo by Hayden Richards @sa_rips

New York City, 17,000kms away, is commonly referred to as ‘the city that never sleeps’. In the desert it’s not the restless bustle of people that never tires, rather, it’s the constant buzz of wildlife. Spiders, sharks, whales, birds. “Don’t get me started on the sheep. You can be walking around in the moonlight and you’ll fucken bump into some sheep. And they’ll still be eating, aye. You’re like ‘just give it a rest will ya?’” laughs Rippsy over a couple of Pacific Pale Ales. 

Very good boys. Photo by Hayden Richards @sa_rips

For ten days our surfers chased waves across the desert, waiting for waves to trickle in from the horizon. “It’s pretty funny, we just stare at it, constantly waiting for something to happen. Driving around, staring at all these different horizons but it’s the same one,” laughs six-tonne Bobcat driver and goofyfoot style lord, Benny Howard in a moment of unplanned profundity. 

Horizon time reports went up 63% from the week prior. Photo by Hayden Richards @sa_rips

When the waves came, they were quick to capitalize and scored fun tubes without a human in sight. “Surfing’s one of those pastimes that’s hard to satiate. It’s hard to be content. It’s only when the sun goes down after the waves have been epic all day that you can genuinely feel that way, and still that feeling doesn’t last for too long. You wake up the next day chasing them again,” reflected Harrison. 

The pilgrimage. Photo by Hayden Richards @sa_rips

Waves weren’t the only thing being followed closely though. Rippsy’s stories told over a couple of tins, held an equally captive audience. “His sense of humor and his character, I’ve never met anyone like him before. His mannerisms and his conversation flow, his experiences are so far from anyone I’ve ever met. You don’t want to turn away, you want to hear everything that comes out of his mouth,” said Nikki.

PPA debrief. Photo by Hayden Richards @sa_rips

Harrison added, “The way he gets excited by the birds, he has that love of nature that shines through when he talks about it. He doesn’t take them for granted, he’s actually interested in the way they work and how they work. I think Rippsy was always documenting what was going on around him, but when he found photography it gave him the medium and the format to actually express it, outside his awesome stories. For someone like him with that mind, it makes magic happen.”

When the waves get like this you’d be forgiven for forgetting to shut the door. Photo by Hayden Richards @sa_rips

We had a ball brewing up ‘the long road home’, we hope you enjoy drinking it down just as well. 

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