To raise awareness of the bushfire crisis, singer and guitarist Zach Stephenson gives us a locals-only tour of the seaside Wollongong suburb the raucous rock duo calls home.
This article appears in AdHoc 30. To subscribe to our quarterly zine—and receive other AdHoc-related goodies—become a member.
In Best In Your Town, we ask artists to talk about the local institutions that make their town like no other place on earth. For this issue, we asked surf rock band Hockey Dad to tell us about Windang, the suburban beachtown they call home in the New South Wales region of Australia. Over the past few months, south- east Australia has been ravaged by a series of bushfires that have burned down houses and claimed lives. The fires hit close to home for Hockey Dad, who organized a benefit concert in the nearby city of Wollongong in January, raising $150,000 AUD to help communities affected by the crisis.
“Windang was covered in smoke for weeks because the fires were so close,” Zach Stephenson, the band’s vocalist and guitarist, told AdHoc. “We were lucky enough to not have the fires make it here, but the air quality was insanely bad, and it felt like there was no end to it. Our manager had to travel south to help his family, who were in the direct path of the fires. A lot of people in that area—Moruya on the south coast—lost homes.”
To better acquaint readers with this beautiful part of the world—and drive home the importance of protecting it from climate disaster—AdHoc asked Stephenson to tell us about his favorite places to surf, grab a bite, and cool off in Windang.
As told to Alyana Vera
Zach Stephenson: The funny thing about Windang is it has only one pub [Windang Bowling Club]. Therefore, it’s the best in town. It was the first place me and Billy played an actual gig. We were real young teenagers, playing in our old band. We had to play on the front balcony because we were still too young to go inside.
Best place to surf
There are so many spots to surf around our town—too many to count. But my favorite place to surf is the beach straight behind my house. 99 percent of the time, you have the whole beach to yourself.
For the best venue category, we have to venture out of our little town—because we don’t have a venue, to be honest. Our favorite and most important venue in our home city of Wollongong was Rad Bar. We played our first-ever HD show there and met pretty much all of our friends shortly after that. That unfortunately closed not too long ago, but there are some other venues in Wollongong doing a good job of filling the void. Dicey Riley’s is a classic Irish pub with a bit of grit. Always a fun place to have a drink and play a gig.
Best record store
Music Farmers—hands down [the] greatest record store. Easily one of the best in Australia! The first record I ever bought in there was a Nuggets compilation, and I still play it all the time. They have been going strong for around 15 years and have always been there to support local acts and get people excited about music and vinyl.
Best place to cool off
I’d have to say the best place would be my parents’ pool. But that’s private members access only, haha. You also can’t go wrong with Windang Beach or Lake Illawarra.
Best place to see the sunset
I think it’s actually much nicer to watch the sunrise over the ocean at home. Although it’s very hard for me to wake up early and get over there, it’s always worth it. Nature usually rewards you for the effort with some decent waves too.
Best place to go out on a weekday night
Definitely Windang Bowling Club! $3 schooners of any beer on Wednesdays and Fridays. The food is decent, and it finishes by 7:30pm (my bedtime when not touring, hahaha).
Best place to grab a bite
We have a really good fish-and-chip shop in Windang called Fast Chicken. It’s super cheap and so good! Another honorable mention has to go to Thai Paradise restaurant. Their lunch special saves lives.
I think the best thing ‘bout Windang is the fact that it is so small and bare-bones. Everybody in the neighborhood knows each other and supports one another. It’s so quiet and peaceful. It’s the perfect place to unwind and relax after huge tours and lots of traveling. I think living in a city would drive me mad.