Filmed by: Sean Lucey, Jesse Burtner and Christina Burtner
Music by: War Puppy bandcamp.com/warpuppyarmy
Words: Jesse Burtner
Pics: Tim Zimmerman
It was almost a year ago today that we got the supreme pleasure to head down to Australia for the first ever Bowly Down Under by Snowboy Productions. Another creative flowing snowboard park / work of art the world seldom sees, and this time nestled at the top of Thredbo Resort in New South Whales.
It was a scramble back home planning and pinching pennies, scraping budgets and trying to figure out how to get new boards for the mission. Once it all came together we had an insane Mervin squad to make the jump Down Under including Phil, Blair, Forest, Blake, Lucey, Zim, Sweetin, Pika, Ollie and myself. We flew to Sydney and immediately had a meat pie… curry. And so it began. Outside the terminal Phil, Forest, Blake and Blair were skating in the crisp morning air trying to clear the brain, joints and soul of a 16+ hour plane ride before we jumped in our rigs and headed to Thredbo. Right off the bat we learned a couple things about Australia. It was fairly cold there being winter and all, seems like the kind of place that should never be cold but it was a tit bit nipply. And the food and coffee were excellent everywhere we went. We literally never ate a bad meal or had some bunk coffee. In this part of Australia every spot off the side of the road is a twee little foodie gold mine. More like spots you’d find in a trendy west coast neighborhood and not so much like the bar Crocodile Dundee frequented. On the drive (and whole trip) we saw HEAPS ROOS! The first 15 or 20 were dead on the side of the road which was bumming Ollie out pretty bad but by the time we got to Thredbo we had seen so many that the road kill didn’t seem as bad. Roos, wombats, wallaby’s, emus we even saw some wild brumby (big pony looking horse guys). Thredbo is up in the Kosciuszko National Park so there is a lot of wild space for animals to roam and at night the road from Jindabyne to Thredbo is like an animal theme park / obstacle course with potentially deadly consequences. I found myself driving half speed in the middle of the road watching for leaping kangaroos and suicidal wombats at every turn.
Our first turns in OZ were pow turns! Some snow had hit and blown into decent pockets around the mountain. We ended up going for a little hike and shooing some slashes, dust on crust but still pow on day one in Australia!
When the storm cleared and the course came into view it was obvious that the Snowboy crew along with Thredbo Resort had again gone above and beyond in the creation of a freestyle snowboarding sculpture like none other. The course was shorter than a traditional Holy Bowly but it packed plenty of a punch. It was a good 8 to 12 hits depending on how big or fast you wanted to take it. And once again I found myself in a common dilemma, how are we possibly going to have enough time to ride this thing?
One thing that helped with riding time was that we started double or even tripling down our sessions by hitting the course at sunrise and sunset as well as the entire day in-between. And thus was our fun yet exhausting and sort of surreal Bowly Down Under rhythm. Wake up at the butt crack of dawn, take a cat to the top, wait for the sun to crest the weird rock formations and spill out across the snowscape. Get some shots. Ride back down to our amazing accommodations at the House of Üllr where we would have a delicious breakfast and many a coffee. Switch our boards back to 19/20 graphics and head up for the normal day session with all the homies. Film, shoot, ride, laugh. Head back down, maybe a quick brutal bath with Phil in the river (I could last seriously 5 seconds he could go minutes… total psycho) then switch boards back to 20/21 graphics and head back up for a sunset session, then back down and a late dinner + drinks at House Üllr. Whew! I’m exhausted just typing that. But for real such a sick time shredding that course in Australia at the end of a long summer for us and good winter for them surrounded by die hard shreds who had similarly scraped pennies and done whatever they had to do to get there. Real boarder bonding up there, every moment priceless.
For five days we rode that course about as hard as we could and enjoyed every second of it. Then our time in beautiful Thredbo was done and we headed out to try to score some surf on the coast with our buddy Marcus Stocker. But before we got to the beach we swung by a couple skateparks for Phil, Forest and crew to dismantle. Phil went in to skatepark hero mode (aka his normal mode) and launched fences, blasted channels and got tech at the Bellconnen park in Canberra (you know the one with the spider web bowl). 2 sports down… one to go… off for the surf we went.
The surf didn’t cooperate, in fact it did everything it could to not cooperate. Which is so classic coming from Washington where waves are hard to find and getting to the Mecca of surf and… it’s about the same. But it didn’t even matter because it was still epic at the beach and was made even more epic by our new good bud Marcus who was helping us out the whole time. We got some waves and Phil surfed in his undies and I filmed in my undies and we really did it up Team Washington style! Marcus ripped and attacked the hell out of what little waves there were… legend. Also we had all these bright green lorikeets hanging with us which was amazing.
We rode boards… all of them. Saw animals… a lot of them. And got pics and videos galore. But the real heart of our trip to Australia was without a doubt the people. The people we met there were so friendly, easy going, fun and accommodating. We made real connections with our Mervin family over there, lead by the absolute legend Jeff Sweeney and his crew consisting of Marcus, Sam, Alex and Di (just to name a few). Thank you to all we came across on this voyage from Thredbo Resort, Aron and the staff at House of Üllr, Krush and Snowboy Productions fam, and all the other riders who made it happen. Not too long after this trip, Australia was hit with catastrophic wild fires killing countless wild animals, homes destroyed, lives lost and it even threatened to ingulf the very lifts we rode at Thredbo Resort. And now it’s now and we’re amidst a global pandemic that is shaking the fabric of our world. So much about our winter, spring and summer has changed, including no Holy Bowly this year. Looking back on it all from this perspective makes this trip and all these moments that much more precious (Precious Moments Lib Tech porcelain figurines in the works!). And I can speak for all of us Mervin-ites in saying we are filled with immense gratitude from the experience. Thanks Australia, we will be back!