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In stores now!
Geoff Culmsee recorded his SW memoirs for the Surfing Down South book published by Margaret River Press in 2014. Excerpts from these memoirs where included in the book.
I first went to Yallingup in 1960 when I was 16 years old. I went with Murray Smith whose mate owned a car!! It was in January and there was a dozen or so surfers out…Kevin Merifield, Mark Paterson, Ray Geary and some whose names I can’t remember. They were a few years older than us and were probably the original surfers.
The first day was clean 4 to 5ft surf but coming from Scarborough, Yallingup was a whole different thing. I had never imagined waves with so much water and push in them. I think the first time I caught about one wave and was glad to get back on the beach. Things improved from then on. We only had a few days and went home full of enthusiasm.
With a few mates we formed a new surfboard club called the North End Board Club. It grew to around 25 members and we used Smithy’s place in Scarborough as the headquarters, as he lived right on the beach. All the members paid 2 shillings a week and we built up enough money to buy a block of land at Georgette Way in Prevelly Park in 1964.
Photo: 1961 North End Board Club at Scarborough L-R M Darcy, J Pinch, unidentified doing Quasimodo, Murray Smith, Geoff Culmsee & Gary Granery. Murray Smith pic.
At age 18 I bought my first car… a Holden…and we started going down south once or twice a month. It was a bit of a trek then as the coast road was rough limestone from Miami to Australind so we travelled the Southwest Highway. We surfed mainly Yallingup and Injidup, most weekends with only 2 or 3 car loads of surfers.
We camped under the melaleuca trees at Yallingup where the playground is now, slinging hammocks up for the weekend. Most of the time, we didn’t even leave Yallingup. You could lie in your hammock and watch the waves roll in. There were old weatherboard change rooms on the beach where we left our Malibu boards…no-one ever touched them. Things were really good in those days! The old change rooms slowly fell down and finished up as firewood for the odd kegs we had on the beach.
When there was no surf we went exploring down the coast and one day some mates came back with reports of great right-handers at a place called Cowaramup…also Gallows was discovered and then Margaret River.
In 1963 the North End Board Club bought the block in Prevelly and our base became Margaret River. We started building a shack on weekends and holidays. Within 12 months we had a 3 room shack with a toilet and shower…luxury!! The shack only had louver windows which were pretty draughty in winter, but it sure beat hammocks!! The shack stayed in the board club for over 40 years and was sold to one of the members (Zac Kochanowitsch).
Photos: 1967 North End board club shack at Prevelly Park with Geoff’s Landrover on the right. Murray Smith pics.
With my wife and 3 month old daughter we shifted down south to live in 1969. We first lived in Prevelly in a caravan, but when our daughter needed more space we found an old farmhouse inland a bit on the Margaret River. In those days I surfed Margs on my own, sometimes because there was not many people around during the week, and many times I just waited hoping someone would turn up!
I started my first surfboard shop down south at the farmhouse. We shifted to an old farmhouse at Cowaramup, but didn’t stay too long because it was full of fleas and it was either them or us and we took the easy option!! We moved to a farmhouse on Caves Road next to where Driftwood Estate Winery now stands, which had a lot better exposure as far as selling surfboards went. By this time there were a lot more surfers around and we were surfing most of the breaks that are surfed today. After a couple of years we shifted to Eagle Bay, living in a cottage on the Rocky Point track. I continued making surfboards in a shed that I built.
Photo: 2016 Mark Hills from Yahoo Surfboards with a vintage Geoff Culmsee single fin surfboard made in the shed at Eagle Bay 1971-73. Photo courtesy of Yahoo Surfboards.
We didn’t have 240volt power at first because the power lines didn’t go that far, but we put some money towards the scheme to get it out there. We were the only ones out there until a local doctor built a house in the then new subdivision where the Eagle Bay shop was.
I teamed up with surfing mate Ralph Redman and started a fibreglass business in Dunsborough which operated for about 30years
Photo: 1970 Geoff-Culmsee surfing Big Rock beach at Gracetown. Jim Breadsell pic.
The Gallows track ran down between fences at Cullens Winery…a horror track in winter with creeks flowing over it which bogged most cars, if you were not careful! It stopped about 2 kilometres from the coast and you had to sneak through the bush past Cullen’s beach cottage to the surf break carrying heavy Malibu’s! One day a bulldozer happened to be working in the area and a couple of guys from the West Coast Board Club talked the driver into pushing a track the last 2 kms to the beach, through someone’s farm. The problem was that no-one thought to ask the farmer!! There was a bit of unrest for a while, but it all settled down and the track stayed open. It was also a hell of track in summer…going in wasn’t too bad, but it had some black sandy hills to climb coming out which meant getting out and pushing in sand that was as hot as hell!!….All good fun!! The tracks into Injidup and Left Handers were not much better.
John and Paul Witzig came over a few times bringing some of Australia’s best surfers…Wayne Lynch was one that that John was taking photos of for his surf magazine…Tracks. Paul was taking movies. This started a lot of eastern states surfers coming over.
Image: Renowned NSW surf journo/photographer John Witzig took this photo of Geoff Culmsee in front of an old farmhouse at Margaret River circa 1970. It has been shown in Surf mags and Photo Exhibitions around OZ. Geoff’s framed image has been signed by John Witzig. Image courtesy of John Witzig & Geoff Culmsee.
A lot happened in the mid 70s with surfers turning up from all over Australia to surf. Some stayed and made the area their home. It was the hippy era with long hair and beards which didn’t impress the local farmers much. You had to prove to them that you were willing to miss a surf and turn up for work!
On a trip south a young George Simpson, his brother Mick and mate Mick Gracie walked the coast from Yallingup to Sugar Loaf and saw the wave at Bears. It was called MGM for a long time before being named 3 Bears. At first it was a walk from Sugar Loaf to surf it.
Around this time a very easy going American…Tom Hoye had moved down and was making surfboards in a shed next to the shop at Yallingup beach. He lived in a farmhouse near the Dunsborough Cemetery. The farm ran all the way to the coast so Tom could drive through the paddocks all the way to Bears. It was a bloody long way and not much of a track. A new track was needed, so with an old Toyota with a log tied on the roo bar a track was pushed through from Rabbit Hill Yallingup to 3 Bears.
In the late 70s to 80s Yallingup was declared a NO DOLE area as they were too many surfers not working and claiming the dole. As it happened…the early surfers changed the area by bringing in many tradesmen and guys like Tony Harbison who built the first Holiday cottages in Yallingup (Hideaway Holiday Homes).
When my daughter started school there were 43 children at the school in Dunsborough and now there are 2 primary schools at capacity. We sure had the best of life surfing back then and it was a great place to bring up kids.
It’s a pity that things change…but that’s progress…not always all for the good!!
Photo: 1989 Abrolhos trip Culmsee, Burrow & Redman families. Photo courtesy of Nancy Burrow.
L-R Nancy Burrow, Gina Pannone, Tony Cook, Vance & Taj Burrow, Justin Redman, Geoff Culmsee & Ralph Redman (the moustache bros), Wayne (red shirt), Natasha Culmsee (now remarried) and John Clemenger. Boat cook (crouching).
Geoff is now a septuagenarian and shares his surfing time between SW and NW waves, similar to his mate Murray Smith.
Last year Geoff, Ralph Redman, Vance Burrow & Geoff Hewitt scored good waves on a boat trip in the Maldives.
Historical notes on the Seymour family cottages in Dunsborough
The Seymour family were early settlers in the Capes region. William Seymour arrived in Dunsborough 1845-1846 to work for Lionel Sampson and the ‘Castle Rock Whaling Company.’ The Seymour’s two original family dwellings designed in local vernacular style were located on Lots 1 – 17 in Dunn Bay Road, Dunsborough WA, before being relocated to Millbrook Farm at Yallingup. One of the cottages was made from stone and the other weatherboard. Source: City of Busselton Municipal Heritage Inventory 2013.
The Seymour’s family name is shown on the 1902 Lands Department map showing the Locality of the Caves between Capes Naturaliste and Leeuwin in WA.
Image: 1902 map of Capes region with the Seymour’s name in Dunsborough. Image courtesy of State Records Office of WA.
Image: Pre 1980s the Seymour’s stone cottage on Dunn Bay Rd Dunsborough. Image courtesy of the City of Busselton Municipal Heritage Inventory 2013.
Julie Favell (former SW resident): “In 1982 I took these photos of the historic Seymour cottage which used to be located at the end of Dunn Bay Road in Dunsborough just across the road from a car park and boat ramp on the beach.”
Photo: 1982 the Seymour’s weatherboard cottage on Dunn Bay Rd Dunsborough #1. Julie Favell pic.
Photo: 1982 the Seymour’s weatherboard cottage on Dunn Bay Rd Dunsborough #2. Julie Favell pic.
The Seymour’s family dwellings were relocated from Dunsborough to Kevin and Margaret Merifield’s Millbrook Farm at Yallingup in the 1980s.
Kevin Merifield: “My understanding is the Seymour cottages in Dunn Bay road were the first cottages built in Dunsborough around 1850, when Dunsborough was a whaling station.
The historic Seymour cottages were relocated to Millbrook from memory in the early 1980s, we purchased Millbrook at Yallingup in 1976.
At that time Malcolm Paine was operating a tourist business on our property at Millbrook, the Seymour cottages were about to be demolished and we decided to save them and relocate to Millbrook.
Ironically Margaret and I were intrigued when we first came across the cottages around 1958, we knocked on the door to see if we could have a look and Jack Seymour the owner obliged by showing us around and offering a cup of tea, little did we know we would become the proud owners some 25 years later”.
Photo: 2016 the Seymour’s stone cottage on Millbrook Farm at Yallingup. Kevin Merifield pic.
Photo: 2016 the Seymour’s weatherboard cottage on Millbrook Farm at Yallingup. Kevin Merifield pic.
Photo: 2016 the Seymour’s cottages on Millbrook Farm at Yallingup. Kevin Merifield pic.
Left: Stone cottage, Middle: Jack Seymour’s cottage, Right: Weatherboard cottage.
Julie Favell: “I am ever so pleased about the Seymour cottages being relocated to Kevin and Margaret Merifield’s property. It is nice to know someone took the time to preserve a beautiful piece of Dunsborough’s history.”
Oceans Surf Shop
Oceans Surf Shop in Perth City sponsored the Bali Who pro surfing competition at Trigg from 1978-82.
In the late 70s Bill Girdwood took over Oceans Surf Shop from Gary Grierson and promoted the annual Bali Who pro surfing comp held at Trigg Point.
Gary Grierson: I got out of Oceans Surf Shop and moved to Margs in 1977-78. Oceans later became Star Surf Shop with the late Dave Kennedy at the helm.
1978 Bali Who pro surfing comp
On 11th March 1978, Waterman’s Bay surfer Shaun Atkinson won the inaugural Bali Who pro surfing comp held in fun waves at Trigg Point. There was a strong field including Damon Eastaugh, Wayne Stevens & Norm Bateman.
Shaun Atkinson – When I won in 78′ I was awarded a trip to Bali, 2 weeks accommodation, plus clothes, board bags leg ropes etc so it was quite substantial.
Independent Newspaper journo/photographer Ric Chan was there to record the action in ’78 contest.
Photos: 1978 Bali Who contest winner Shaun Atkinson surfing Trigg point. Ric Chan pics.
Photos: 1978 Bali Who competitors surfing at Trigg point. Ric Chan pics
Top: Norm Bateman left & right.
Bottom: (Left) Wayne Stevens (Right) unidentified.
Photo: 1978 Bali Who pro surfing comp official & compere Bill Girdwood at Trigg. Ric Chan pic.
Editor: In 1983 Bill Girdwood stepped into the President role for Surfing WA when elected President Adrian Wilson had to withdraw for work reasons.
Photo: 1978 Bali Who contest official Bill Girdwood acknowledging head contest judge Greg ‘Pants’ Laurenson. Ric Chan pic.
Photo: 1978 Bali Who contest officials & finalists at award presentation on Trigg Beach. Ric Chan pic.
L-R. Bill Girdwood, Wayne Stevens, unidentified, unidentified, Shaun Atkinson, Norm Bateman & Damon Eastaugh.
Photos: 1978 Bali Who finalists receiving awards at Trigg. Ric Chan pic.
Top: (Left) Shaun Atkinson (Right) Damon Eastaugh
Bottom: (Left) Wayne Stevens (Right) unidentified.
Shaun Atkinson: Don’t know why I had to wear budgie smugglers : ) ????
Photo: 1978 Bali Who contest winner Shaun Atkinson receiving his award and acknowledging sponsors. Ric Chan pic.
Photo: 1978 Bali Who pro comp spectators on Trigg Beach. Ric Chan pic.
Spectators include former WASRA President Ken Trainer (1976) applauding in white t-shirt in centre of pic.
1982 Bali Who contest
Shaun Atkinson: When I left for Bali in 78, I travelled overseas for two years through Asia & Europe with very little surfing. I came back & lived in Freo & Northbridge for a couple of years with very little surfing & went to live back down south & got back into surfing. I decided to try & have a go at the Bali Who again…. I won the Bali Who again in 82′ and it was a good time to go to Bali.
You weren’t allowed to re-enter the pro comp for 4 years if you won it. From what I can remember the 82′ comp was the largest of its kind with over 360 competitors. The FM stations were all over it. It was the first competition where you could win significant prizes.
Images: 1982 Bali Who Surf Classic catalogue and Media coverage. Images courtesy of Shaun Atkinson.
Left: (Top) promo for The Bali Who 82 and The Pro Invitational. (Bottom) Prize Lists for Bali Who 82 and Pro Invitational.
Right: Randall Owens Shaun’s off to Bali coverage of 1982 Bali Who contest in his West Coast Tubes column. Image courtesy of Independent Newspaper.
Dunsborough’s Peter ‘Squiz’ Yeomans (age 18) was a finalist in the Bali Who 82 contest.
Peter Yeomans: I rode a Murray Smith 5’9“ twinnie with channels and placed equal 3rd in the final, which was held in onshore conditions. John Shindig and Paul Cunningham were hotties at that time.
Shaun Atkinson: I’m not sure who won the Bali Who pro surfing comp in the intervening years 1979 -81, but I remember a guy by the name of Chris Matters won it one of those years.
Editor: If you know the results of the 1979-81 Bali Who contests, please let us know.
Shaun Atkinson is an artist (painter) and has been exhibiting nationally and internationally since 1975. He has travelled extensively, living abroad both in Europe and Asia. Shaun exhibited his paintings in Bali 2002 & 2004 and produced a catalogue on the Sea Temple show.
Shaun now resides at Margaret River and you can see his art work at Jah Roc Galleries in Margaret River.
Local craftsmen are restoring Peter and Robin Bothwell’s historic Hammond cottage on the hill at Yallingup.
The architect is the Bothwell’s daughter Lucie.
Craftsmen include Steve Russo, Rich Myers, Bevan Carr, Loz Smith & his son Jimmy.
Loz: “You can’t build memories into a new house, so Spook kept the old one”.
Photos: Dec 2016 restoration work on the Bothwell cottage at Yallingup. Peter Bothwell and Loz Smith on site. Jim King pics
Discovery of historic article
The craftsmen renovating the Bothwell cottage found a 1963 Australian Women’s Weekly magazine under the old linoleum flooring.
The magazine dated March 6 1963, includes an article on former World Surfing Champion Bernard ‘Midget’ Farrelly from NSW.
The article written by Kerry Yates appears in the magazine’s Teenager’s Weekly supplement.
The header reads….
“The Midget” goes Hawaiian…and wins World Title
Bernard Farrelly, the 18 year old Sydney boy who recently won the International Surfboard Riding Championships in Hawaii, became a film star at the same time.
Image: 1963 article on Midget Farrelly, courtesy of Australian Women’s Weekly & Kerry Yates.
Sadly the first world surfing champion Midget Farrelly passed away August 6, 2016 age 71.
Many thanks to Loz Smith for providing this historic material.
Queensland surfer Mark Favell made his first trip to WA with Jeff Carroll and his brother Steve in the early 70s. The lads settled in the South West at Dunsborough.
Julie Wakefield moved from Queensland to WA in 1973. Initially she lived in Scarborough, but only six weeks after arriving, she moved down South where she met and subsequently married Mark Favell.
These are Julie’s 70s & 80s South West recollections and photos….
In the early 70s we lived at Mark’s dad’s place in Beach Road at Dunsborough with Andy Jones. We all worked at the Dunsborough Bakery.
The house is still there, we checked it out when we visited the South West in 2015.
Photo: Early 1970s Mark’s dad’s house in Dunsborough. Julie Favell pic.
L-R Jack Farrell, unknown, Andy Jones, Mark Favell and Kerri.
This photo was taken around early to mid-70s, it was taken in Dunsborough in one of the many other houses we lived in. North Street I think!
Photo: Mid-70s Julie Favell in North St Dunsborough. Julie Favell pic.
We used to work night shift until dawn in the Dunsborough Bakery then Mark, Andy Jones and Neil Juster would go surfing. In the next shot, ‘Granite’ the dog was named after ‘Granites’ surf break at Noosa Queensland.
Photo: 1973-74 Neil Juster & Mark Favell on Yallingup Beach with Granite the dog. Julie Favell pic.
Photo: 1970s Mark Favell surfing solid Yallingup. Julie Favell pic.
Mark is surfing in the slot on the first wave on the left.
Photos: Early 70s Mark Favell surfing Yallingup. Julie Favell pics
Mark had a 1958 VW Beetle, which from memory was a fully imported vehicle from Europe, supposedly as the story went. I think it was purchased off one of the Vidler boys. Photo does not show the larger tyres we used to drive up the dirt track to Three Bears.
Photo: Mark’s 1958 VW Beetle at Eagle bay. Julie Favell pic.
Photos: 1970s Mark Favell surfing Three Bears. Julie Favell pics.
Photos: 1970s Three Bears surfing pics. Julie Favell pics.
Top left: Peter Wallace. Other surfers unidentified.
Bottom left: small day Bears Bombie with Cape Clairault (Injidup point) in the back ground.
Photo: mid 70s Mark Favell surfing Injidup Car Park. Julie Favell pic.
This surfing shot of Mark is labelled Rocky Point, but it was actually the Farm.
Photo: mid 70s Mark Favell surfing the Farm at Bunker bay. Julie Favell pic.
Photo: 1970s dammed creek behind The Farm surf break at Bunkers Bay. Julie Favell pic.
In the late 70s we managed a property at Eagle Bay on 40 acres which now is an estate. The old house we lived in was up a bit on the hill, with three cottages on the water’s edge, no electricity, kero fridges, kero lamps, wood stove.
Photo: Late 70s our house and Mark’s VW beetle at Eagle Bay. Julie Favell pic.
Photos: Late 70s Views from our house a bit up the hill at Eagle Bay. Julie Favell pics.
Left: view over Geo Bay from our house verandah.
Right: bush walk from our house down to cottages at Eagle Bay.
Photo: Late 1970s one of the cottages at Eagle Bay and Southey the dog. Julie Favell pic.
Jerry and Claire Guinness owned and managed Dunsborough Store/Post Office. Claire also did a Newsletter for Dunsborough for many years. Jerry was a Councillor for Busselton Shire. Mark & I worked for them in the store, on their Eagle Bay property and their farm on Commonage Road.
Photos: Late 70s Guinness property on the hill at Eagle Bay. Julie Favell pic.
Left: view of the only house on the beach at Eagle Bay and Jerry & Claire Guinness’s new home on the hill to the right.
Right: view over Eagle Bay from Guinness property on the hill.
This photo shows Mark with Andrew Jones and his new Ducati motor bike. I think from memory, Andrew had at least two bikes (both Ducati’s) during that period.
Photo: Late 70s Mark Favell and Andrew Jones with his new toy on the Guinness farm Commonage Road Dunsborough. Julie Favell pic.
In the late 70s Mark and I worked at the Dunsborough Bakery and Caves House Hotel.
Goog was still alive then and he was the owner of Caves House. Well it was two brothers, but we never meet the other brother, as he had passed away before I started working there. Caves pub was managed by Wendy & then Em.
I remember at the same time we had offered to purchase the Bakery in Forrestfield from Colin White. Em was going to retire. Not sure how many knew this, but Em approached me to manage Caves House, I was honoured to have been asked, love that place. Sadly I had to decline as we had already agreed to purchase Forrestfield Bakery.
It was a shock to me when visiting Caves House in 2015. The road no longer goes around Caves House anymore, plus all the other additions. Inside the pub was two separate rooms, main bar and lounge, both had separate external entries.
We use to love listening to Nancy and Vance Burrow’s band with lead vocals by Gina Pannone at Caves Hotel sessions.
Circa 1980 Mark & I built a house, which I designed in Chester Way, Dunsborough. It is still there today. This photo was taken in 2015 when I finally got back to visit the SW after all those years.
Photo: 2015 the house Julie designed and built (circa 1980) Chester Way Dunsborough. Julie Favel pic.
Circa 1984 we lived at Smiths Beach on top of hill in a double A frame house which is still there, I checked it out last trip to the SW. It was then owned by Colin and Marion White which was another property we looked after, as Colin and Marion sold Dunsborough Bakery and moved up to Forrestfield as they purchased another Bakery, which eventually Colin sold to us and Dave Dwyer.
Claire Guinness has since passed away, Jerry last I heard, when he dropped in a few years ago was living at Tea Gardens, NSW. Colin White has passed away. Marks Dad is still with us and now lives in England. Mark has one brother Ray lives in Queensland. Marks mother passed away a few years ago (lived in Queensland).
Mark passed away on 5 November 2006. A ceremony (Jeff Carroll did the ceremony) was held at his other favourite beach Mudjimba Beach on the Sunshine Coast and his ashes spread over the ocean by our two sons Adam and Connor. They were joined by many friends forming the traditional surfing circle, equally we sent some ashes to WA where Mark’s Dad John Favell, Andy Jones and a SW crew spread his ashes at Yalls, with an ending note “Eternally surfing East to West”.
Mark and I have two sons. Adam was born in 1983 Busselton Hospital and Connor born in 1990 Nambour Hospital. Adam now lives in Lithgow NSW and Connor did until 2 years ago, but now lives in Scarborough WA.
Photo: Dec 2016 Julie & Mark’s sons Adam & Connor Favell.
Currently I am living just on western edge of Blue Mountains at Lithgow in NSW. I have lived there for 15 years with my husband Chris. We are both involved in the Lithgow Environment Group which was started by us and a few others concerned for the natural areas and coal mining here. The Group had its 10 year anniversary last year.