To the south of Sydney’s vast metropolis lives a stretch of coast, littered with a series of beachies and slabs.
The most famous of these is ‘Ours’, which breaks off Cape Solander and serves as the setting for the Cape Fear event. When they’re on, these waves draw in scores of spectators and lensmen to bare witness to the crew of hellmen who venture out to take them on. We recently caught up with one such lensman- Dan Bielich, who dedicates much of his time to capturing ‘Ours’, and the area’s other waves, to find out what drew him to the pursuit of slab snapping.
“I started surfing when I was 16, and I got into photography a short while later. At 20 years old a heavy shorey at Seal Rocks left me with three broken ribs, and a grade two tear to my shoulder and sore neck.
“Docs said it could be a permanent injury, and I possibly may never surf again, which for any surfer is their worst nightmare. So I chased the closest thing that kept that feeling surfing gives us.
Scaling cliffs, fighting wildlife, wrestling through vegetation for that perfect shot
“As a mate of mine described it, we all run on a surf tank that needs to be refilled regularly, and I needed my fix. So, I became more focussed on my photography. Scaling cliffs, fighting wildlife, wrestling through vegetation for that ‘perfect shot’, and chasing the sound of the thunder of the breaks gave me my long-lost fix.
“Even though the beach is an hour and a half drive from my house, and the wake up is at least 4am, it’s all worth it when you get those few good shots.
“Most of the photos I take are in Sydney, but NSW has some of the most well known, and soul reviving breaks in the world. The community is great, with a whole range of different people, which makes the surfing exhilarating to watch.
With a roar of the crowd when they make it out of a mutant pit. Capturing the essence of that moment is what I live for
“But like anything, if you do stupid shit, you’ll get taken to school, no matter who you are. Always respect the locals. I love shooting in Sydney, because the quality of waves, and quality of surfing is world class.
“When the local breaks switch on, the whole community pretty much rocks up to support the brave souls risking their lives for the ultimate thrill. With a roar of the crowd when they make it out of a mutant pit. Capturing the essence of that moment is what I live for.’