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I got to check out the wave park in Tullamarine. Was it worth it? An unbias review.
Everyone knows that I tell it like it is. This article is without bias; I have no ties or have been influenced in any way by URBNSURF or any of its employees or anyone else alive or dead. I paid my own way. And for the purists, the its not like surfing in the ocean crowd, well you don't have to surf it, stay where your are while everyone else gets the waves and maybe your lineup will be less crowded now with a wave pool.
Stepping off the plane at Tullamarine airport in Melbourne I was buzzing like a 13 year old grom on his first trip to Margaret River, but this wasn't Margaret River I was heading too, this was a man made wave, in a pool, in the middle of Victoria.
Just left Perth where it was a hot 36 degrees, step outside Melbourne airport in shorts and a T-shirt and almost instantly my testicles retract from the cold icy blast of air and I now have 3 Adams apples. You gotta love Melbourne weather.
First up how to get to the hotel, a million options available from taxis, didi, ola, uber etc, etc, but lucky for me the hotel has an airport shuttle service to Ciloms airport lodge, this is where Chris Hemsworth stayed, much to the delight of all the female staff working there and every time I pushed the button on the elevator, I wondered, wow, did Thor touch this?
I arrive at the Ciloms airport lodge and step out of the shuttle bus to the sound of breaking waves. WTF? Just sounds like at home, what I wake up to every morning when the surfs on. Low and behold straight across the road from the hotel room stands URBN SURF Park. I drop me shit while the driver looks at me in bewilderment as I race across the road to have a perve through a gap in the fence.
I stand there looking through the fence in awe, my skepticism of surfing a man made wave that is not a natural phenomenon is shattered as I become instantly overwhelmed with joy. To say that I spot-welded my knob to my jocks would be an understatement, as I watch wave after wave after wave of perfection roll through.
The day has arrived when we finally get our turn at the wave pool. Everyone just stood there in awe hooting and carrying on as if Charlize Theron had just walked past in a bikini. We sign the waiver, pretty standard, basically saying that surfing is a dangerous sport and you might get fucked up.
We listen to the instructions and how the bottom is made of concrete lined with a membrane.
The guy next to me goes "That's hard, concrete?". I'm like "Well yeh, reef is hard too as well as compacted sand on beach breaks".
So before everyone starts tripping out about what the bottom of the wave pool is made out of remember that, when your getting pitched over the falls at your favorite reef break, that the bottom is much the same. We also got warned about the water temperature being cold, but in actual fact it was no colder than a mid winter surf in WA (Wait Awhile). We also got warned not to get too close to the actual wave mechanism which is covered with mesh otherwise it will suck you onto the mesh.
The paddle out was easy peasy, even for a fat overweight oldie like me. A strong current takes you out to the take off spot with ease.
Now this is the bit I like, old school rules, it goes like this. 12 of you line up waiting for the wave to start up as you take it in turns to catch a wave of which there were more waves than those massage parlors you see lining the streets of Perth.
You paddle for a wave and if you blow it, you paddle back to the end of the line, anyone hassles or drops in (and I love this part) you get kicked out of the facility, awesome, hey. This gives everyone the opportunity to catch around 12 waves in the hour, in piece without no one snaking or dropping in, not that you need them as most of the surfers were stuffed after riding 6 waves.
The waves actually have power in them much to the delight for the crew from the Margie's and Yallingup region that surfed it. They still ripped it up with some solid carves riding normal PU boards not epoxy. I saw Nick Pope tear the arse out of a solid left and he is no lightweight.
So is all the fuss about URBN SURF true, you bet your left nut it is.
I can tell you now, the WA government and the people of Western Australia are missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime. This facility is not only aimed at surfers, it would be a tourism phenomenon for WA with not a Quokka in sight.
The facts are:
1. While I was there the fence line had a steady stream of people who didnt surf watching the surf in disbelief of which a majority of them had never seen in their life. I constantly was asked by some of them what this is about and I explained,. Not only were they excited that they could learn to surf, but also the fact that for a small cover charge I think of $5 you could enter the park as a spectator and utilize some of the facilities on offer, yes there will be other things for people to do if they don't surf in the park once it opens to the public in January.
2. Every hotel around the area was booked out and that was just for the invitees imagine what is going to happen when it opens to the public.
3. The Cilmos hotel that I was staying at was saying this is the busiest they have ever been and that the owner was looking at building more rooms to cope with future demand. Oh yeh also forgot to tell you they have a $26 smorgasbord, all you can eat every night, of which I smashed 6 platefuls before they had to wheel me back to my room on a fridge trolley.
4. Once open to the public in January the cost for an advanced 1-hour session in the pool will set you back $79. A bit steep you reckon, well your usual day trip down south from Perth usually sets you back over $120 in fuel plus something to eat and sometimes you get there and its too crowded and you only score a handful of waves. It's a no brainer when you can score 10 to 12 perfect waves in an hour (depending on your fitness) with no one hassling the shit out of you or feeling tired from a long drive.
5. They have already sold out of their GOLD memberships for next year and it hasn't even opened yet. The wave pool, which is the same as URBN SURFS in Bristol in the UK, has seen some sessions sold out months in advance.
So in a nutshell you want a non-biased rating from a normal surfer (well overweight and old :) who has no ties to URBNSURF or the state government?
Well here it is: 10 out of F%#*ing 10.
Western Australia you are missing out.