“You’ll never get waves there, mate—it never breaks, and good luck convincing the airline to take your boards.”
“I didn’t bring any boards,” I said.
“Ah, because you know you won’t find surf.”
“I’ve arranged to borrow one. Have you been there?”
“No, but some mates of my mates traveled around there for a month or two during swell season, and they didn’t surf once. I reckon there’s a real reason the Solomons aren’t a bloody surf destination. It’s a two-hour flight from here, and if it was any good up there, it’d be bloody swarming with Aussies.”
“Well, I’m going.”
“Then I hope you’re into fishing and diving,” he said. “Got your spear gun?”
He was a thirty-something, gangly, gaunt Sunshine Coaster, with horribly blotched and sun-damaged skin, a head of kinky red hair, big bloodshot eyes, and an elaborate tattoo of his name, Caesar, down his left forearm. He was a stonemason by day and a drinker by night, and it was late at a quiet bar in Brisbane’s airport where we’d met, awaiting our flights, killing time with peanuts and Victoria Bitter. He was off to Bali for a fortnight.
“Got a little ‘exotic goods’ shop in Mooloolaba,” he said. “I go to Bali, buy the shit, and my wife sells it in our little shop at four times the cost. The tourists love it—right now is our high season, and we’ve just run out of goods, which is why I’m going up now to get more, before all the tourists go home.”
Caesar was a longboarder whose local spots included Point Cartwright, Coolum Beach, and, further north, the famous Noosa Heads. Naturally, the soft, long rights of Tea Tree and First Point are a strong draw for any longboarder, and coincidentally, that weekend, the Noosa Festival of Surfing was ongoing in tiny, windblown slop. Caesar had been up there all day, which showed on his sunburned face.
“Might as well stay here, mate. Come on, at least you’re guaranteed waves—”
“I think I can do better.”
“—rent a car, stay in Noosa, surf the park—”
“I’d love to, but perhaps another time.”
“—meet some girls, do a little hiking....”
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you then,” he said, wagging a bony finger at me. “You’re not going to get any waves in the Solomons, mate.”