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Video and Words by Robin Pailler | Additional filming by Hunter Vercoe

‘Cooloola’

  • The cooloolah is the coastal cypress or callitris. It is said to be suggested by the sound made by the wind in these trees.

We’ve had the pleasure of meeting Harrison Roach several times around the world.

Mainly at Duct Tape events, Vans’ annual longboard competitions. He’s always struck us as someone very assured. Incredibly outgoing with a dry sense of humour and an insatiable desire to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. So when the opportunity came to produce a video together in Australia, we naturally jumped at the chance. But documenting his day to day life in Noosa seemed too easy. We wanted something more conceptual. Everyone knows Harrison’s the longboard king, the proof being a maiden world title in 2022. Since then, Harrison’s stepped away from the competitive circuit to focus more on surfing for pleasure. Nevertheless, it feels like shooting surfing in Noosa has been done to death. Once the project was green-lit we jumped on a call to discuss ideas. Right off the bat, Harrison said he didn’t want to make a day in the life documentary, talking about career highs, surfing his local spot etc. Much to our delight. 

“To be honest I kinda wanna get away mate. I was thinking we just pack up the Ute and escape to K’gari for a few days. Disconnect from the world.”

For those unaware, K’Gari, the island’s traditional name, is 123km long and is officially the world’s largest sand island, home to the Butchulla people for 5,000 years (although some studies claim it could actually be 50,000). Listed as a World Heritage Site in 1992, the island, 250 km north of Brisbane, was renamed Fraser Island by European colonists in the 1800s after Captain James Fraser and his wife, Eliza Fraser’s ship, Stirling Castle, was holed on coral travelling through the Great Barrier Reef en route from Sydney to Singapore in 1836. Whilst James Fraser died, Eliza and second mate John Baxter survived living among the local people for six weeks. Despite her survival, many deem Eliza Fraser responsible for the near extinction of the Indigenous locals due to disparaging stories of her time amongst the Aboriginals. It’s only in recent years that the island has been officially renamed to its traditional name in honour of the Butchella People who are the rightful owners of the land.

As Harrison and I left Noosa behind and took the ferry across to K’gari, our phone signals dropped out, freeing us of all digital and social connections. As we drive across the beach with no specific destination, Harrison revels in the natural beauty of the island, pointing out the angles of the trees, leaning 40 degrees out from centuries of strong winds. He explains his need to escape the constraints of modern life and reconnect with nature. The oceans. The sand. The perched lakes scattered throughout our surroundings.

“People are heckling us, 24/7. We can’t catch a break. That’s why you need to go somewhere where there’s no phone signal. I think it’s so sad that humanity has lost touch with what’s important in life.”

Luckily, Harrison hasn’t. As we set up camp and cook dinner, indulging in a delightful assortment of artisanal bieres and sparkling seltzers, with a handful of magic mushrooms for good measure, we set up our deck chairs and marvel at the stars, free of all light pollution on the cusp of a full moon, as Beach House’s Bloom plays softly out of our accompanying bluetooth speaker. 

I can’t help but feel incredibly lucky to experience such a beautiful part of the world and a much needed disconnection from the constant disruption of modern life and all its entrapments. It’s safe to say Harrison feels the same as we stare out wide eyed. The album comes to an end and the only sound we’re left with is the wind in the trees and the waves crashing against the shore in front. 

How good is this, mate?”

 

©Wasted Talent Magazine
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