The bumpiest wave in the southern hemisphere, the most shapeless, the ugliest – but what does this matter when Ben Buckler throws up one of the best Hero Waves in Sydney.
A Hero wave is one qualified by the ease of an onlooker’s access to a close vantage point; like a carpark with enough room for a couple of bus loads of Chinese tourists to gander a while before they are turned around and taken shopping, or a municipal park with shaded picnic tables, or a couple of apartment blocks stacked along the water’s edge.
Ben Buckler is an over-achiever here. Councils have been kind.
Hero waves are infamous for their ability to make the ordinary surfer look a world-beater, particularly when his audience doesn’t even have to get out of the vehicle to watch.
Optimists who like to head out to the Ben for a spot of large bumpy big wave riding are sometimes a little deflated if they happen to trek past the North Bondi Fishing Club’s boatshed door – this is where the members used to like hanging their trophy shark jaws.
Not a surprising sight, seeing as how the headland is a known breeding and feeding area for all variety of sharks – The club members, mostly beady-eyed little men burnt the colour of old furniture and who speak in some obscure and guttural dialect, chortle as the surfers pass by, and they spit on the ground. They are also known to bring out their entire collection of shark jaws on the days when Ben was surfable, and lay them threateningly all around.
Yet sometimes they would pop a tooth out of a jaw drying on the door and give it to a youngster to wear on some string around his neck, and at other times they bloody would not.