Friday, January 11, 2019

Surf like a pro in the South-West with tips from a local legend

Yallingup Surf School’s Crystal Wallace comes from a family with a strong claim to the title “West Australian surfing royalty”, so who better to share some great tips for surfing in the state’s South-West?

Crystal learned to surf at Yallingup Beach from about the age of nine. She was taught by her father, surf legend George Simpson. George was one of the first people to surf one of the Margaret River region’s most beloved surfing spots, Three Bears. (Her uncle is famous surfing cinematographer, Jack McCoy, and another uncle founded the West wetsuit brand.)

Since her days as a grommet, Crystal has gone on to surf the world, catching breaks in places as far afield as Hawaii, Mexico, France, California and all across Australia.

But it’s the South-West of Western Australia where she surfs every day. So, here are her tips for any surfer heading to the breaks around the Margaret River and Yallingup coast.

Crystal’s advice for surfing the South-West of WA

“The beauty of our little zone — Yallingup, Dunsborough, down to Margaret River — is the fact we’re on a cape,” Crystal said.

“It’s filled with lots of different wind directions and sizes of swell. So, a lot of the time there’s somewhere that’s clean and breaking.

“If the swell is big on the west coast you can go around to the bay side and, most of the time, there’s a more user-friendly wave around Bunker Bay or Eagle Bay. Although in the winter months, if you get really big swells, you can still get big waves there.

“We do get some big swells up the coast, between four and seven metres, and there are a lot of regular breaks you just can’t surf when it’s that big. So, being able to go around the other side of the cape onto the bay side means you can have some beautiful, clean off-shore conditions and some good breaks there.”

You can find out more about family-friendly surfing spots in the South-West here.

Crystal surfing at Yallingup, 2018. Photo by Bruce King.

How to pick where to go surfing in the Margaret River region

Crystal says local surfers have a trick to work out the best spot to go surfing every morning.

“Check Yallingup,” she said. “You drive down Yallingup Hill and you check the wind and the size of the swell at Yallingup Beach. From there you get a gauge on where might be good and what might not be.

“Most surfers around here will drive down to Yallingup and check, then either surf Yallingup or drive off and surf one of the other spots where the swell might be better.”

And where else should you go?

“Have a chat to the locals,” Crystal said. “Most of them will be pretty happy to pass on the stoke!”

Here are some of Crystal’s recommended surfing spots around the Margaret River coast.

Yallingup Beach

“Yallingup is pretty iconic, there’s just something about it,” Crystal said. “This is the one spot that people say to me they really want to surf.

“The thing about Yallingup is it’s quite a mellow break, it’s not super advanced. You don’t have to be a professional to go out there. It holds a bunch of fantastic waves for all abilities and all boards.

“It’s phenomenal on the right swell. On a summer’s day, with a couple of foot swell, it can be a lot of fun on a Malibu.”

 Rocky Point

Rocky Point is a left-hand break at the northern end of Eagle Bay.

“It’s a bit of a hike out there but you can get it on your own or maybe with just a couple of other people,” Crystal said.

Rocky Point can peel for 50 to 100 metres.


Injidup is similar to Rocky Point.

“When you get the big winds and big swells that can be a really good break,” Crystal said. “It’s also got a point, which gets a bit forgotten about but it’s definitely world class.

“Fantastic all times of the year.”

 Three Bears

Three Bears is a favourite among local surfers.

“There are three breaks — momma, poppa and baby,” Crystal said.

“It’s so good because it’s like a fun park. It has something for everyone: a good left, a good right, it even has a bombie, when it’s really big.

“Bears is probably more of a small summer wave but it’s a great tourist surfing spot.”

 Smith’s Beach

Smith’s Beach is a popular beach for swimming as well as surfing but surfers love it for its beach breaks. Crystal said there are also lots of spots nearby that are “really user-friendly”.

 Margaret River Main Break

One of Australia’s most consistent big wave locations, the Margaret River Main Break is the reason many people head to the South-West to surf. This is one of the spots where they hold the Margaret River pro.

“It’s also iconic, but it’s not for the inexperienced,” Crystal said.

Found at Surfer’s Point, Prevelly, this reef break is several hundred metres offshore. The carpark above the beach is also a great spot to sit and watch the surfers tackling these incredible waves.

 North Point

“If you’re experienced you want to get North Point at Grace Town,” Crystal said. “It’s one of those really phenomenal spots, although it’s not for the feint-hearted.”

North Point, which is the second location to host the Margaret River Pro, is an extremely heavy right-hand reef break.

Taj Burrows and surfing-related activities in Margaret River

Perhaps Yallingup’s most famous son, retired pro surfer Taj Burrows, is still heavily involved in the local community.

In April 2017 Taj and fellow surfing legends Dino Adrian and Jay Davies launched their own beer label, Honest Ale. Each brew is said to have a little bit of the ocean from Margaret River in it.

If you’re in the region, you’ll find Honest Ale served in several local watering holes, including Caves House Hotel, The Common and Aravina Estate. Many bottle shops also carry it.

And if you’re in the region this weekend, surfing legend Taj Burrows is hosting his annual “Small Fries” surfing competition at Yallingup. It’s one of the most anticipated junior surfing competitions in the country. Find out more about this event here.

 Learn to surf in Yallingup

If you’re not a surfer but have always wanted to give it a go, Yallingup is the ideal place to learn. Crystal’s surf school has classes for adults and children all summer, learn more here.

Private Properties has many stunning luxury homes throughout Western Australia’s South-West, including some just a short distance from breaks at Yallingup, Gracetown and Margaret River

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