I took this photo the day after we moved into our house in June 2011 and it captures so much of what Yanchep has been for us. The kids looking out to a rainbow over the ocean – a little bit of wonderment and awe and some symbolism of a fresh start. Its been all that and more.
That said, if you told me 10 years ago that we would be one day living in Yanchep I think I would have laughed. Yanchep?… Does anyone actually live there?!
It just felt so far away – from everything – but then we did it. We bought a house and moved. We didn’t know much about the local community, but we did know that we loved the beach and from the upper level of our home we could see the ocean – not panoramic ocean views but enough to say ‘hmmm nice…’ I had never lived in a home with actual ocean views before and with such proximity to the water, so this was a whole new experience.
Now each morning I could look out and see the ocean – see waves – chop – flat blue water, white water on the reefs – but what I discovered is that being able to actually see it makes all the difference. You see we lived in Butler for 9 years, just a couple of kms from water, but we didn’t go there a heap. It was out of sight out of mind a lot of the time.
The Lagoon – a daily drive by
One of the things I committed to from the day we moved in was doing ‘ocean drive bys’ on our way into Yanchep and on the way out. You can go a slightly shorter route to & from our home thru the back streets, but even when I’m running late I still do the ‘lagoon drive by’ either in or out. It is enriching to the soul every time – just to see the ocean in all her various moods – calm and placid, raging and wild, it doesn’t matter.
That’s me on ‘big Mal’ with Brett, Mark & Cal on one of the best days of 2017 (Photo Corey Kirwen)
Coming to Yanchep was a chance to really get surfing again. I knew there were waves up here, but didn’t realise just how many good spots there were. There are the two well known breaks, (yeah… those ones…) but also a couple of lesser known but equally fun waves on their day. My favourite is just a short walk from home and when its good – its very good. And when you drive past every single day you are generally in a position to not miss out. Even though I’m well past 50 now, I’ve probably been surfing more than ever – proximity to water – friends in the area – and a pretty quiet winter with work meant I got wet more often that ever before.
As well as great waves, there are a great local crew. I’ve enjoyed living somewhere you can actually get to know the guys in the water. Some days when the surf has been average I have paddled out anyway because I have seen the cars in the carpark and realised who is out there. Sam gets to surf around older blokes who encourage him and push him – and sometimes give him lifts home. Its a great vibe.
Sambo learning to surf at Club Cap
In our first years in Yanchep we were still homeschooling, so we would take the kids down to the old Club Capricorn to teach them surfing. I never pushed Sam into surfing, but fortunately he’s taken to it, so we get to do something we both love together. That’s a cool thing! Now he spends many afternoons down at the beach getting home just after dark and usually forgetting that its dinner time… but that’s fine with me.
At the start of 2017 – Jan 1 to be precise – I launched into a new experiment. I began taking daily photos of the beach and set up an Instagram / Facebook page called ‘yanchepbeaches365‘. This meant I now took the time every single day to observe the ocean more carefully each day – to be there – to notice and to share it with others. The simple act of being present at the beach every single day has been a really valuable practice both for enjoying it, but also meeting more people in the area. What began purely as a personal experiment has enabled me to enjoy the ocean in a new way and also make friends – ironically social media has connected me with the people in my community rather than keeping us isolated…
Occasionally we ponder the whole ‘moving house’ thing, but then we ask ‘to where?’ It feels like we have found paradise. Last year we considered moving back to Quinns Rocks to allow the kids to be closer to school and to minimise the drive time, but the overwhelming decision after weighing things up was ‘we’d all rather do the drive and live in Yanchep than come back to suburbia.’
This was also the year of my first overseas surf adventure since the Philippines back in 1989. Danelle took a team to the Bali Orphanages we are involved with while I headed off to Medewi for some time alone and hopefully some good waves. I was a bit nervous going on my own to a new break and just launching in, but Medewi is a very easy, friendly wave so it turned out to be a lot of fun and very easy to manage. Danelle and the kids joined me after 4 or 5 days and hung out for another 4 days and we all had a great time.
So this our life now. I remember travelling thru the Philippines a long time ago and up into Bagiouo where we met the ‘mountain people’ – people whose lives were based around their physical location. Living by the beach and having it as an integral part of our everyday experience. I never thought I’d be here as a 10 year old Irish kid obsessed with soccer, but 40 years of getting wet and enjoying the natural environment of the ocean has made us ‘ocean people’. Its just who we are now and I doubt that will ever change.