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ASB MAGAZINE: Part surf film, part conservation film, Never Town takes a journey along some wild coastlines and talks with the people fighting to keep them wild. Filmed along the Southern Ocean coasts of Australia, it’s an exploration of what these places mean to surfers… and what surfers are willing to do to save them.

WATCH THE FULL FEATURE RIGHT NOW ON PATAGONIA.COM.AU HERE

There is so much beautiful wild space in Australia, and a lot of it has surf. Good surf. We don’t know how lucky we’ve got it. Not even close. And there, perched on the vibrant edge of this continent, are surfers… surfers who know this wild space intimately, surfers who cross that edge and paddle out into the ocean pretty much every day. There is no group better qualified to be the spirited defenders of the coast.

Currently, along the less populated southern coasts of Australia, there are surfers working to protect their local ecology from the threat of modern industry and companies who want to turn wild space into dollars. The oil industry is working to drop dangerous deepwater rigs out in the Great Australian Bight. The fish farming industry wants to set up on one of Australia’s most pristine southern islands. In The Bight and on King Island however there are grassroots groups rallying together to protect their strip of coast. The stories of these locals celebrating and protecting their local ecology are what we dive into in Never Town. But while there is plenty of work to be done in preserving our coastal way of life, there is also the need to celebrate what we still have; old growth forests, long empty coastlines, wild waves… and enough time to save it all from being lost. We need to stay positive.

We’re lucky here in Australia that there is wild coast all around us, and it’s not just at the bottom of Tasmania or out west in The Bight or even in our national parks. Even if you live in the city there are pockets of wilderness all around, and then there’s the ocean. The ocean is a wilderness all in itself. All of this wilderness connects us to who we really are. As Wayne Lynch said, these are places we’ve mythologised, they speak deeply to who we really are as people, and “if we lose them we lose ourselves.”

Sitting on top of steep cliffs overlooking the Southern Ocean, Wayne and I talked about this. Well, he was doing most of the talking while I listened to the “common sense wisdom” he was sharing, wisdom learned from a life spent in the ocean. He talked about “turning the ship just a few degrees”, changing if only subtly the way people think about the natural world they live in, gaining a deeper appreciation for it, sparking a greater willingness to stand up for it, and maybe – just maybe – starting a revolution the brings people together to give wilderness a voice.

Surfers have the opportunity to lead here. I feel that as coastal people we can look at activism in the same way we look at how we engage with the ocean. There’s only so long you can stand there and look at the ocean before you have to jump in. I feel it’s the same with activism. I feel there’s a new era dawning, an era where the real value of this wilderness is being realised and people are coming together to stand up for it.

– Dave Rastovich, Global Surf Activist

READ WHY BIG OIL IS NOT WELCOME IN THE BIGHT HERE