The Chronicles Of G-Land

This book examines in great detail, the complicated and surprising circumstances surrounding the early years of the world’s first surf camp. Indonesian author and journalist, Dian Hadiani, spent the better part of four years interviewing scores of people, who either visited Grajagan to surf, or were involved in setting up the camp. Unravelling the sequence of events, Dian’s research describes how the vision was realized and how warring parties battled to control the lucrative venture. If you think you know the history of G-Land, think again. This book will surprise you. The Chronicles of G-Land relates what really happened to the headland and the bay at the tip of southeast Java, commencing in the 15th century to the present time.

The history of the region, however, predates the ‘Age of Discovery’ and European Imperialism and reaches beyond the Austronesian Majapahit Kingdom which spanned maritime Southeast Asia from Sumatra in the west to Papua in the east. Humans over time have marked themselves in this locale as being disruptive and in many instances destructive agents of change impacting not only the flora and fauna but the whole regional ecology including its economic and socio-cultural aspects at large. King Brawijaya the final ruler of the largest Kingdom in all of Southeast Asia completed his last dance early in the 15th century, among his many legacies is a pilgrimage site left overgrown and hidden deep in the forest of Alas Purwo.

Fast forward to the middle of the 20th century, when travelling surfers brought their own idiosyncratic behaviours fuelled by their eccentric blend of ‘surf fever’ to commune with mother nature, in what has now become a pilgrimage site of a different kind, well preserved in its semi remote habitat. Bobby’s Surf Camp; Behind the Legendary Tales describes how feral surfers discovered this magical place, and how the first surf camp in a protected jungle commenced operations, all of which precipitated the massive changes which flowed from 1971 to 1983.

More than sixty surfers were interviewed, including Gerry Lopez, Rory Russell and Peter McCabe. Despite their legendary status, Dian felt no compunction in challenging any stories that didn’t make sense. She even disputed the account of an Indonesian official; such was her determination to expose the truth.

The book reads as a first-hand account of an investigative journalist piecing together multiple accounts from different and sometimes conflicting points of view. The historic significance of the work could have broad appeal, i.e. beyond the surfing fraternity. At 356 pages, the hardcover book includes many color photos, historic maps, old newspaper clippings and old documents, as well Dian’s illustrations.

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