Paul Paterson settles in close to nature.
The Paterson bloodlines run thick in Australia’s wild west. Along with good mate Taj Burrow and hordes of lesser-known big-wave heroes, brothers Jake and Paul “Antman” Paterson rule countless world-class breaks. But it was the early expeditions “down south” to Yallingup and surrounding haunts with their pioneering surfing father Mark that seeded their desires. Today, both brothers are fortunate enough to call “Yall’s” home.
A few years back, Jake, the former Pipe Master, built a swanky pad there for his brood and now big-wave specialist Antman has acquired a quaint plot of his own. Four-and-a-half acres, in fact, containing a shed surrounded by sheoak, eucalyptus, banksias, and other Australian native species of tree and bush. An earthy dig for a no-frills man.
“The aspect is crucial,” explains Antman. “You’ve gotta face north to catch the winter sun. And all the bush is really good for protection from the westerly storms and cold fronts we get all winter.”
Despite the legend, you’re not likely to see many kangaroos leaping around Oz, but Antman’s remote acreage is an exception. The bloody things, ahem, abound. “They come bolting through every morning and night,” says Antman. “We’ve also got heaps of birds and a couple of kookaburras that come to say g’day. There’s one we recognize–we call him Kenny.”
Sounds great, eh? But wait. There’s also a heap of redback spiders, which are lethal, and snakes. Kind of the West Australian Outback version of Southern California’s more obvious threat to human life–other humans.
“You’re pretty much okay,” explains Antman. “As long as you wear shoes and keep your eyes on where you’re walking. The creepy crawlies, they’re more scared of us than we are of them.”
His shed even boasts electricity (don’t laugh!), hot water, which is just rain water warmed by an exterior heater, and a composting toilet known in the biz as a “drop dunny.” Explains Antman: “You poo above a long, deep hole in the ground. Then when you’re finished, you sprinkle a little bit of lime (a white powder which actively breaks down feces) and a little bit of dirt over your shit, and it doesn’t smell. It’s great, I reckon, living in harmony with nature.”
When Antman bought the place, he did make a few changes. He hung a hammock up for those lazy afternoons outside and enlisted the help of his nearest neighbor, Gordy, to build a veranda and lay some paving. “Gordy’s a chippy (carpenter) by trade, so he’s a good bloke to have around,” he says.
Next, Antman reckons he’ll probably upgrade and build some sort of respectable house, but that’s still a few years away. For now, he’s happy knowing he’s partly living the great Australian dream–owning your own home–and is just a ten-minute bike ride away from one of his favorite waves. “It’s been a real score because they’re only ever going to release a certain number of properties in the area,” says Antman. “I bought it off a painter, Mick Malone–he needed a neck operation. He’d painted too many ceilings I guess and had to move to Perth. Not a bad bloke, though–when I moved in he’d left me a bottle of beer and a bottle of champagne in the fridge. Now that I think about it, he actually left me the fridge, too.” –JJ