In stores now!
In stores now!
Veteran WA surfing & music legend Peter ‘Dyso’ Dyson is back in the South West to catch up with friends and enjoy the annual Yallingup Malibu Classic at Yallingup. The former Yallingup resident now lives in Bali.
Photos: 2016 Dyso at Yal Mal. (Left) Dyso). (Right) Loz & Dyso, Dyso & Bruce King and Louie Longboard & Dyso. Bruce King pics.
Dyso’s 1960s South West surfing memoirs will be published Wed 7 Dec 2016 on SDS.
The 32nd Yallingup Malibu Classic will run this weekend (3rd- 4th of December 2016) at Yallingup Beach. This event is the marquee event of the Western Australian Longboard season and has been running since 1985. It is proudly presented by HIF and hosted by the Indian Ocean Longboard Club.
Image: 1985 Inaugural Yallingup Malibu Surfing Classic t-shirt design in different colours.
Left: Loz Smith with his original Yal Mal t-shirt. Right: Peter Dunn’s original Yal Mal t-shirt. Photos courtesy of Jim King & Peter Dunn.
Image: 1986 Yalls Surf Classik (Year 2) finalists standing in front of brick toilet block at Yallingup Beach. Image courtesy of Yal Mal program.
Quindalup’s Laurie ‘Loz’ smith conceived the idea of celebrating the introduction of the Malibu board back in the 1960s.
Image: 1988 Malibu Surfing Classic promo. Courtesy of Yallingup Progress Association.
The 1991 Yal Mal Classic goes down as the contest with the biggest surf.
Image: 1991 Yal Mal Classic 0verview. Image courtesy of Yal Mal Program.
Photo: 1991 Yal Mal finalists at biggest surf contest. Photo courtesy of Mick Marlin.
In 2004 the late Greg Laurenson recorded his memoirs for the 20th Yallingup Malibu Classic. Greg’s memoirs were published in PLB magazine.
Image: 2004 Greg Laurenson’s 20th Yal Mal Classic memoirs Page 1 of 2. Courtesy of PLB Magazine & Loz Smith.
Image: 2004 Greg Laurenson’s 20th Yal Mal Classic memoirs Page 2 of 2. Courtesy of PLB Magazine & Loz Smith.
Image: 2015 Yallingup Malibu Classic list of previous winners. Image courtesy of Yal Mal Program.
Do you self a favour and get down to Yallingup Beach this weekend and watch the State’s finest Malibu riders compete in juniors, womens, mens and team divisions.
Presentations will be held at Caves house in the afternoon following the finals on Sunday with a wealth of prizes for all divisions.
Although a resident of WA for many years, Mick Marlin was originally North Narrabeen born & bred.
In 2004 Australian Long Boarding Magazine (July/Aug edition) featured a detailed article on Mick’s North Narrabeen memoirs from the halcyon ‘60s era. This is an abridged version of that article.
SHARK ALLEY MEMOIRS.
The early days and empty waves of North Narrabeen
Photo: 1963 North Narrabeen SLSC and surf line-up. Photo by Bob Weeks.
Since the 1880s, the young males of Narrabeen have had three things on their mind: beer, sex & joining the Surf Club.
The last of these three ideas were pretty much knocked on the head in 1956, when a team of Californian lifeguards, Greg Noll & Tom Zahn amongst them, visited Australia. They came to for a surf carnival at Torquay, which was held in conjunction with the Melbourne Olympic Games. After the competition in Torquay the Yanks travelled to Sydney and competed in a surf carnival at Avalon, and then went for a surf and put on a demo. They had their small light weight Balsa ‘Okanui’ boards, 10ft long and weighing about 35 pounds. This contrasted heavily with the local boards of the day, which were 14-16ft hollow ply toothpicks, weighing a ton.
The old conservatives weren’t impressed, but the younger guys were stoked! When the Yanks left they sold their boards to some lucky locals. Until balsa became available a couple years later, hollow plywood replicas were made by the local ski and surfboards manufacturers.
This change in board design resulted in baby boomers born after WW2 giving up the idea of joining surf clubs, they just wanted to go surfing!
The first of younger Narrabeen boys to get new lightweight hollow ply boards were Owen Pilon and Jim Geddes. Balsa started appearing about ‘57-’58 so Owen & Jim had pig boards made by Bill Clymer, the Bronte surfboat builder.
At that time, I was learning to dog-paddle in the seawater pool on the point. Then I taught myself to body surf the foamies on the sand bank and later to crack the greenbacks out the back. I remember suffering the ultimate embarrassment one day, being swept out to sea in a rip, right between the flags and being hauled in by a heroic lifesaver, attached by rope to the rescue reel. I must have been 8 or 9 years old, and firmly resolved my ambition, when I grew up, of donning the Speedos and red & yellow beanie.
About 1957 our mob, who were a few years younger than Owen & Jim, started to get surfoplanes (these fore-runners of the surf mat were later made obsolete by the Esky lid). Quite a large gang of us used to paddle out in any size surf at Northy, in front of the old surf club. As the surfos got older and the rubber perished, they would deflate, so we’d have to catch a wave to the beach & blow the things up again.
Occasionally we’d kick our Turnbull flippers over to the dreaded Shark Alley, to join the old blokes on their 16ft hollow plywood toothpicks, surf skis, or the new Okanui boards – some of which were hollow ply and some were the new balsa wood variety.
My first wave on a board was on the front of Owen’s 9’6” balsa pig, hanging on for grim death!
Photo: 1958 Mick Marlin (age 10) on his first wave ever, hanging onto the nose of Owen Pilon’s board. Photo by Jim Geddes with a Kodak Brownie box camera.
In late 1959, at the tender age of 11, mum gave me an early Xmas present, £15 ($30) to buy a surfboard with. I saw a board advertised in the Manly Daily at Dee Why. It was a 7ft balsa wood teardrop, with cedar nose, pointed at the front, with a wider tail, hence the name ‘teardrop’. The fin was a swept back arrangement made from waterproof marine ply. My dad, a very nautical chap, thought you laid on the bottom, upside down, back to front and steered it by holding onto the fin!
After catching the bus into DY and parting with my £15, I set out to carry the heavy little bastard back home.
Down I went to DY Beach, walked along to what we called ‘no man’s land’ and over to Long Reef, along Collaroy Beach and up to South Narrabeen. The board weighed a ton! It went under both arms and on me ‘ead, both shoulders and was dragged behind on the sand. Then over the sand hills to Ocean Street when luckily Marto’s mum came along. We put it on top of her Fiat 500 for the short distance home, and the poor little car nearly died!
Life was pretty lonely down at the beach those first couple of years. Sitting on the big steps of the surf club waiting for someone to come along. I was too scared to paddle out to Shark Alley on my own. Usually a FJ, a Beetle or a Customline would pull up with ‘Pikey’, ‘Batman’, Bernie Huddle or ‘Puppydog’ Paton on board. Or ‘Wagga’ in his single-spinner ’49 Ford with the boys from Barry Bennett’s surf factory. I was too young & shy to walk up & say gidday, so I’d just paddle out after them and get in the way.
The second year didn’t get any better, with most days having no one to surf with. It’s a wonder I didn’t piles, sitting on those cold concrete steps waiting for someone to come along.
Photo: Early 1960s Mick’s mates hangin’ on the concrete steps in front of the old North Narrabeen SLSC. Photo courtesy of Mick Marlin.
The next summer, 1961-62 more of the local kids got boards. The boys had been borrowing a 16ft hollow plywood from under someone’s house (until it split down the middle and they stuck it back under the house without him knowing about it!).
After another year we’d all saved up £23 for a new Gordon Woods, Barry Bennett or Scotty Dillion board. Marto saved his lunch money at school for a year to buy his first board.
Most of us lived a few streets south of the Narrabeen headland and surfed a spot at the end of Octavia Street we called the ‘The Pines’ (because of a stand of Norfolk Pines that are still there today). There was always a defined channel running out, with a left & right running into it. It seems like it was always good, when you think back. We’d surf there in the morning and when the nor’easter blew up we’d drag our planks up to Northy.
There would still be hardly anyone out at North Narrabeen Alley.
One winter we built a shack out of packing crates, driftwood and fence palings. A large fire was necessary on cold days, as wet suits were unheard of, and you nearly drowned if you fell off wearing a footy jumper. Most of the firewood came from neighbourhood fences! One day Lance ‘Lulu’ Cullen came hot-footing over the sand hills, an irate fence owner in angry pursuit. ‘Lulu’ was accused of stealing firewood, a fact he couldn’t deny as both arms were laden with fence palings! A few days later. While we were at school, the shack mysteriously burnt down.
Photo: 1959-60 beach shack on North Narrabeen beach. Photo by Jim Geddes with a Kodak Brownie box camera.
L-R Mick Marlin with his first tear drop surfboard, unidentified & Owen Pilon waving, later to become Captain at the Narrabeen Fire Station.
In southerlies we’d go on a big surfin’ safari and walk a couple of miles up to Collaroy. The boards were so heavy somebody would walk up front, with a nose under each arm while his mate walked three paces behind, with a tail under each arm. Towels were rolled up like an Arabic head-dress and stuck on our heads. Later on board trailers became available to tow boards behind push bikes.
Photo: 1962 Narrabeen boys heading to Collaroy with boards loaded on bike trailers. L-R John Martin, Dennis Kennard, Rick Taber, unidentified, Mick Marlin, Frank Hetherington & John Courtney. Photo by surfing legend Bob Evans.
In May 1961 Narrabeen gained its first water photographer when I borrowed my sister’s Kodak Brownie box camera, wrapped it in a plastic bag and paddled out at The Pines. I managed to get a few shots in before a closeout set sent me back to the beach. Luckily with the Box Brownie safe inside the placcy bag. Although primitive, I still have the photos in my collection.
Photos: 1961 Narrabeen Mick Marlin’s water shots at The Pines. Peter Courtney on the right. Photo by Mick Marlin with a Kodak Brownie box camera.
Narrabeen High School opened its doors in 1960, and the following year our age group started. This opened the door to another world as we met other surfers our age from faraway places with exotic names like Avalon, Palm Beach & Mona Vale. A friendly rivalry developed at school over who had the best surfers and the best waves. I’d say in hindsight that Collaroy had the best surfers (including Nat Young) and Narrabeen the best surf.
We would have a wave before school and if it was any good we’d leave our boards down the beach and then meet in the car park to walk to school together. Sometimes we omitted the walk to school and went surfing all day.
A good eye was kept on the windsock above Grahams Ford car yard, opposite the high school. If the wind sock turned off shore during the day you would duck out the front gate, bold as brass, past the headmaster’s office and no one would say a word.
Some of the best surfs I’ve ever had were on those days and there would be hardly anyone out.
Photo: 1962 North Narrabeen Mick Marlin surfing in woollen vest before rubber came along. Photo courtesy of Mick Marlin.
Those three years 1961-63 flew by with amazing speed. More than just pubic hair was appearing, not just at the centre of our universe Narrabeen, but throughout the rest of the world as well. Surfing had mushroomed, with more & more kids our age turning up at the beach. The dreaded weekend warrior was hitting the coast in his duffel coat & ripple shoes. Peroxide was the chemical of choice. Balsa had given way to foam. Surf music was blaring out of every transistor on the beach – instrumental stuff like ‘Pipeline’, ‘Bombora’ & ‘Wipeout’ was ok, but the bandwagon crap like, ‘Cause he’s my blonde headed stompy wompy real gone surfer boy yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah’ by Little Patti and ‘My little rocker’s turned surfie’ by Digger Revell made us cringe with horror!
Surf movies were hitting the silver screen to the sound of a thousand hoots from stoked gremmies. The first I remember was at Avalon Surf Club. Owen took us there in his Dads’ ’53 Customline. I’d say at a hazy guess it would have to be Bud Browne’s The Big Surf, as Bob Evans was showing Bud’s movies before making his own.
When they started showing at movie theatres, trouble began. A riot broke out at Anzac House, with the theatre trashed and surf movies banned from there. At Collaroy the theatre would be packed with to the max, with stoked gremmies screaming at the top of their lungs at Pat Curren or Greg Noll charging down the face of a Waimea monster. The movies only seemed to feature huge Waimea or Sunset. Bottle tops would be flicked, Jaffas and fruit would be hurled. The fact that you couldn’t hear the narration didn’t matter, as you’d be trying to scream louder than the kid next to you!
Bob Evans lived at Elanora and was a salesman before filming his own movies. His first shorts were shown at surf clubs, a 16mm projector in the middle rows of plastic chairs. Evo’s first feature length movies shown in the theatres were Surfing the Southern Cross and Midget Goes Hawaiian. Bob filmed a good day at Narrabeen in April ’62, and a wave of mine appeared in the first of these. I was stoked. The footage was used later in Ride a White Horse and Nat’s History of Surfing, but unfortunately the original prints of those movies have been lost. Photos of the same day appeared in the first copy of Surfing World Magazine, with a very daggy shot of me opposite Dave O’Donnell.
Image: 1962 First edition Surfing World magazine. North Narrabeen surfers Mick Marlin on the left and Dave O’Donnell on the right. Image courtesy of Mick Marlin.
Because of Narrabeen’s consistent surf, especially in the big nor’east swells, it attracted a big crowd of visiting surfers. ‘Midget’ was by far the best, with Mick Dooley, Nipper Williams, Bob Pike, ‘Love Dog’, Scotty Dillion and others inspiring us gremmies. The Collaroy mob used to visit often in Ian ‘Wally’ Wallace & Bob ‘Keno’s Kennerson old bread van, covered with Denis Anderson’s Murphy drawings (Denis became a well-known Sunshine Coast shaper). McTavish would sometimes roll up in his FJ. On classic days I remember ‘Magoo’ from Bondi coming over in his VW Beetle, bringing a stylish Warren Cornish with him, and sometimes a little hottie Kevin ‘The Head’ Brennan – surfing’s first famous drug casually.
Our group had grown with an influx of Warriewood surfers walking over the hill. Among them was a little freckled faced kid called Bruce Channon, who carried upon his head something resembling his mum’s ironing board. Bruce later went on to run Surfing World magazine. A few older blokes were around; well they seemed old back then. Freddy Lister from Harbord, John Payne from Collaroy and ‘Doc’ Spence, who missed his early days because of medical studies. Doc, although blind as a bat with glasses, would go out in anything. Quite often his wife would pull up in the carpark, if Doc was wanted for an emergency at the hospital. We’d all paddle out and chase Doc in. He became the first President of the Australian Surfriders Association and when Warringah Shire Council wanted to ban surfboard riding from all the beaches, Doc took them on and had the bans lifted.
A few girls were surfing – Sue Jorgenson, Patty Malcolm, Lyn Klein (now Lyn Scammel of Kirra) and not many more, as the boards of the time were 9’6” and weighed 30lbs. Then there was Midget’s sister Jane and Collaroy girls ‘Dotty’ De Roy and Marilyn Bennett (Beau Young’s mum) would come to the beach for a surf. Carla Dunbar & Pearl Turton surfed up Avalon & Palmie way. Although we roasted the hell out of the wahines, they were treated with the utmost respect and we’d lay down our lives (well almost) to protest their honour, virtue and dignity.
But this respect certainly didn’t apply to the travelling bicycles who travelled the length and breadth of the northern beaches in search of multiple sexual partners. Names like the ‘Collaroy Grunter’ have their place in surfing folklore (Grunter sightings today are like Elvis sightings to the old boys residing on the peninsula).
On Saturday nights the floor of the old surf club used to bounce like mad to the sound of the Sundowners playing ‘Bombora’ or ‘Apache’. A thousand pairs of things or ripple soles would be stomping up & down like fiddlers’ elbows.
Owen Pilon, Jim Geddes & Collaroy’s ‘Wally’ Wallace went on the first surf trek to Hawaii in Christmas ’61 and came back with mesmerising tales of huge waves. Owen returned with a beautiful 10ft Pat Curren gun. They went again the following year when Midget won at Makaha.
Doc Spence went to Hawaii in ’64 and charged anything and everything. Doc had a special flip-up lens made that attached to his wrist like a watch, which enabled him to see approaching sets. However, an over-the-falls wipe out at Pipeline sent it to the bottom, and Doc was back to being blind-as-a-bat. One time after a wipe out at Sunset, folklore has it that Doc went out and around the rip three times because he couldn’t see the beach.
Owen, Doc & Ross Jorgo surfed Haleiwa and Sunset and returned with many tall-tales-and-true to excite us gremmies. I bought a 10ft three stringer Hobie Phil Edwards model off Ross Jorgo. (unfortunately I sold the board for a boat ticket back from NZ a couple of years later… wouldn’t I love to have it now!).
Photo: 1962 young Mick Marlin grabbing the rail & backhand surfing at North Narrabeen. Photo courtesy of Mick Marlin.
Sometime in late ’62 early ’63, long before the term ‘Westie’ was coined, we were invaded by a bunch of kooks from Gladesville in the Western Suburbs. None of us had even heard of the joint before an FC Holden with two Norm Casey boards on top (back to front, fins down) rolled into the car park. Out rolled ‘Wincote’ & ‘Macka’.
Not long afterwards an FX Ute with a canopy putted into the car park and out hopped Clive Handley, the oldest fart we’d ever seen, and his side kick ‘Spud’. These two were even worse, they had ironing boards in the back of the Ute! We used to give them heaps of abuse. Call then kooks, run over them in the surf and rub soap on their boards. “Paddle!!” we would yell as Clive (or Phil Edwards as we’d call him) would get tossed head first over the falls on a 6ft close-out. The poor bugger would pop up in the white water a minute or two later, with a big shit-eatin’ grin on his dial. “Ah geez fella’s, wod I do wrong? Was that a wipe out?” We hadn’t had as much fun since we ran out of dogs to take out on our boards!
In return they’d tie one of us up to the light pole in the car park on a crowded Sunday arvo, and dack the poor little buggers. Sometimes dog excrement would be rubbed into the poor unfortunate’s hair. That boys & girls is how the grommet pole came into being!
One day a dead fish washed up on the beach, so we put it in Macka’s FC, way up under the seat where he’d never find it. Macka wondered what the rotten smell was for two weeks. Eventually everyone became good mates, especially with Clive bribing us. Clive had a bread round, every day after work he’d drive down to the beach for a surf and dish out the leftover cakes. That won over the starving gremmies, Clive & his mates were in! Cream buns weren’t the only sweet things in the back of the van, as a certain young Karen the Grunter used to climb in with the bread crumbs.
These older and worldlier blokes were to have a considerable influence over us young gremmies in years to come. They took a number of us up to the Royal Antler pub, put a glass of amber fluid into our hands and commanded DRINK!!! Well it was all downhill after that!
But least we were mobile. A few more cars showed up, so on long weekends we’d load up and head off in a convoy, the more the merrier. Destinations would be Seal Rocks, Green Island, Terrigal, or anywhere with a chance of a wave. A weekend trip to Avoca then was considered like a trip to Bali nowadays.
Terry and Col Smith moved down from Port Macquarie. Everyone used to bag Col for his outrageous behaviour at first. Little were we to know that he would become one of Narrabeen’s greatest ever surfers. One weekend ‘Pricey’, Chris Diemont, Col Smith and I went to Green Island. The swell was huge from the south and we finished up inside Jervis Bay, at Huskisson, where the locals came out of the shops and houses to watch Smithy and me skateboard down the street. They’d never seen a skateboard before! It was like a scene out of an old Western movie, where they all come out of the saloon and barber shop to watch the gunfight. Later the town’s surfers, four boys, two girls and a dog all sat on the point and cheered as we caught waves. On the Sunday morning we surfed huge Golf Course Reef and saved a few guys who were swept out to sea.
One time we pulled into Blue Bay Caravan Park in Dougie McGoo’s 1950 single-spinner Ford with about 10 boards on top, all yahooing and screaming, looking for a surf. The proprietor came out armed with a shovel and threatened to smash the windscreen, if we didn’t piss off quick. Surfing sure didn’t had a good name in those days!
My first trip to Queensland came about in 1963 when ‘Bucky’ McManus & Spud took Peter Courtney & me (both age 15) up to Currumbin in Bucky’s FJ. We surfed Currumbin Alley on our own for most of the time.
Photo: 1963 Mick Marlin’s first trip to Queensland. L-R Mick Marlin, Russell Slater, Bruce McManus & Peter Courtney. Photo by surfing legend Bob Evans.
In April ’63 a huge cyclone travelled down the East Coast and swept past Sydney. On our way to school for first term exams we saw the biggest Narrabeen ever, with huge spitting tubes coming from way outside the point. Totally unrideable. Scotty Dillion and Bob Pike surfed the Queenscliff Bombora that morning, and after lunch a few hardy souls ventured out at Narrabeen. On our way home from school we could see the tops of waves from the camping ground, something we had never seen before. The big names were out! I got out once and caught one wave that finished down at The Pines.
Next morning the swell had dropped and cleaned up for what was to become the greatest day in Narrabeen’s early history. I caught a couple and came in for the school exams. There was a study period and lunch between exams, so I ducked out of school and had a couple of hours out in the most perfect surf I’d ever seen. The word was out by now and surfers from all over Sydney had arrived. Bob Weekes and John Pennings were filming from the top of the surf club. Midget, Pikey and dozens more were sharing waves. Back at school I did a quick exam and was back out there for the late arvo glass-off, ‘til darkness forced us all in. Photos of that day appeared in Surfabout, Surfing World and American Surfer and even rates a mention in The Encyclopaedia of Surfing book.
Photo: 1963 North Narrabeen Mick Marlin take-off at the Alley. Photo by Bob Weeks.
Photo: 1963 North Narrabeen Mick Marlin surfing under the lip at the Alley. Photo by Bob Weeks.
John Pennings photo of Jim Foreham was the classic of the day – a huge blow up of it was used by the Sundowners as a back-drop at the stomp. The poster mysteriously disappeared one day, but the band knew exactly where to find it – they simply drove around to Jim’s place and took it down off Jim’s bedroom wall.
There may have been better days since, but the era, the crowd, the camaraderie all combined to make it the greatest day in Narrabeen’s history.
A board riders club seemed the right idea. Bob Evans put a notice in Surfing World advising one & all of the inaugural meeting at the home of Owen ‘Pilarus’ (Owen had apparently turned into a missile) on 26 July 1964. There was a huge turnout of locals & non-locals alike. Doc Spencer was named President & Fred Lister Vice-President. The club started with 103 members paying 15 shillings ($1.50) each. I was on the committee, but all I remember doing was eating the sponge cakes put on by Mrs Pilon or Sonja Lister (things haven’t changed today either!)
We had a friendly rivalry with Collaroy and had inter-club contests against them at Narrabeen. They had Nat Young & used to beat us. However, the keg afterwards was a hoot – it was held in Owen’s backyard, with drunken, debaucherous behaviour all round. The keg helped the two clubs become even better mates.
Like many clubs, we had teething problems. The club grew too quickly, as every yahoo in sight joined up, then raped & pillaged around town, giving the club a bad name. In the second year a culling program began to cull out the pretenders, only keeping the keen members wearing the NN baggies.
Having a club at the beach helped us a great deal in our relations with the surf club. We’d been at odds with the clubbies since day one – they couldn’t understand how any red-blooded male would rather ride a surfboard than spend the weekends on patrol, wearing Speedos and a silly red & yellow beanie with a strap on it, to hold it on your big boofhead. Not to mention surf carnivals with musical flags, the march past, swimming races, and the most challenging of all, the pillow fight on greasy pole. Punch-ups, abuse and confiscated boards were the order of the day early on. It wasn’t until we rescued a few swimmers, helped the clubbies in a big rescue in huge surf and attended a few kegs as underage drinkers, that the clubbies started to tolerate board riders. We even entered a team in a surf carnival and won the blue ribbon rescue & resuscitation, which pissed off the clubbies to no end – but they won the bloody boat race!
Photos: 1964 Narrabeen local Mick Marlin surfing the Alley. Photos by surfing legend Jack Eden.
In the late autumn of ’65 I threw in my apprenticeship (silliest thing I ever did) and headed north to Queensland for winter with Clive, Wincote, Hetho & Spud. I grabbed my 10ft Farrelly triple stringer (which cost me £53/10/- ) and joined them to surf the right-hand point breaks of that fabled land. Many adventures followed, which may be dragged out of the deep recesses of my mind and put into print one day.
Not many of the old crew still surf. A lot showed at the 30th and 40th North Narrabeen Boardriders Club anniversary weekend dinner dance & keg in ’94 and in 2004. A bit wider of girth and thinner on top, but still able to help the young blokes demolish a truck load of kegs. Over 500 of all ages turned up for the North Narrabeen Boardriders Club 50th anniversary in 2014.
Photo: 2014 Mick Marlin at North Narrabeen Boardriders Club’s 50th Anniversary celebration. Photo courtesy of Mick Marlin.
The old boys are now scattered over the place, mostly Northern NSW and Queensland and myself happily ensconced in WA. Just don’t hit me up the arse with a cattle prod – it sends the pacemaker haywire!
Continued from Crystal’s beach life by Elizabeth Nunn – Part 1. 1985-2000
In 2001 after her North West sabbatical and final departure from school, Crystal’s parents bought the Yallingup Surf Shop (formerly Hillzeez) next to Surfside Cafe with the intention of Crystal running the shop.
“After months of prawn trawling, I was ready for something different. We renovated the shop and renamed it Surfside Beach Shack. I wanted the challenge of being my own boss”.
And so she did. At the age of just 16, Crystal became the owner and operator of Surfside Beach Shack. She did all the buying, employing, staff training, rosters, accounts; the whole deal. What she hadn’t been able to harness at school, she came to accomplish in her own business.
“I learned as I went, on my feet. It was certainly challenging but I loved it”.
Photo: 2006 Surfside Beach Shack at Yallingup. Peter Mac pic.
In 2003, three years after purchase, the Simpson clan sold the surf shop to Chris ‘Feggsey’ Fullston and at age 18, Crystal left Yallingup to travel around Australia and then on to the USA. For all her extensive travel of Western Australia, the world beyond had alluded her.
Byron Bay was the first stop and it’s there she spent months honing her longboarding skills on Byron’s world class point breaks and beaches. The plan had been to continue around Australia, but a phone call from friend, and later business partner, Lizzie Nunn and Crystal suddenly found herself aboard a jet plane headed for the USA.
The two girls had gained employment with the largest all girls surf school in the world, Surf Diva, based at La Jolla beach in California. Their three month employment saw them run every aspect of surf camps for girls and women from the USA.
“It was an absolute eye opener in terms of potential for an all women surf school and surf businesses owned and operated by women. Surf Diva dominated the Californian surf school industry and it was a valuable experience to coordinate surf camps which we hadn’t done back here. They paid $500 U.S a week (which was about 1K AU at the time) plus, we got tips and they covered our accommodation, travel & food expenses. They even paid for my boyfriend’s expenses to be there too! We had a few trips to Mexico as well. It was a time of hard work, but also partying pretty hard”.
In total, the girls ran 11 weeks of surf camps back to back, from 6am starts to 11pm finishes organising every aspect of the camp; pick up, food, accommodation, transport, surf lessons, activities, shopping and entertainment. Local legend and Surf Diva founder, Izzy Tihani worked the girls hard.
“It was utterly shattering, but we learned so much from Izzy and her twin Coco. It gave Lizzie and I some ideas for what we thought we could achieve back home with Sam Hanson (of Yallingup Surf School). I worked there for each northern hemisphere summer from the age of 19 to 21. I was legally only allowed to drink on my final trip. Needless to say, THAT was the best trip of them all.”
Photos: 2000s surf coaching for Surf Diva on La Jolla beach in San Diego. Crystal Simpson pics.
Top: Lizzie Nunn & Crystal with boss Izzy on the La Jolla beach.
Bottom: (Left) just another lazy day surf coaching on La Jolla beach L-R Katie, Lizzie Nunn, with unidentified male and Crystal. (Right) Surf Diva logo.
Photos: 2000s Crystal surfing Del Mar beach in San Diego. Crystal Simpson pics.
(Left) Crystal nose Ride at Del Mar. (Right) Crystal nose ride on Cocobella Lifestyle fashion bag by artist Jos Myers.
In 2005 while on a snow ski trip to Japan with her family, Crystal met renowned surf photographer Shane Peel. Shane invited Crystal on a surf trip to the Telo Islands in Sumatra with some of the best women Longboarders in the world. Belinda Baggs, Schuyler McFerran, Belen Kimble and Mary Osborne made up some of the big names on the trip.
The photo shoot was featured in Shane Peel’s Telo Island surf trip article in Australian Long Boarding magazine in 2006. Photos by Miagunya.
“That was an amazing trip! We surfed fabulous locations, got great photos and it was a fantastic experience”.
Image: 2006 Shane Peel’s Telo Island article in Australian Long Boarding mag. Courtesy of ALB mag.
With her surfing skills at an all-time high, some good competition results and now some solid media exposure with the Telos island shoot, Crystal was now gaining sponsorship attention.
“I was picked up by McTavish boards, West Surfing Products and Otis sunglasses. However, the ‘best’ recognition I ever received was making the cover and featuring in Girlosophy – Real Girls’ Stories by Anthea Paul”.
Girlosophy is a series of books featuring articles and stories of inspiring women from across the world. Created by stylist turned author Anthea Paul, the aim of the book was to empower young women and inspire them with real stories of achievement. Crystal’s life story was covered in the book.
Crystal also featured in Pacific Longboarder Magazine and in a documentary filmed in the South West called Impact.
Images: 2000s Surfing/Lifestyle media images courtesy of Crystal.
For the next several years, Crystal patched together a living as surf coach, bar maid and intrepid traveller, but each year returning to Gnaraloo for the winter.
“We get up to Gnaraloo around June, make a surf camp at the beginning of the winter season and just stay all season. It’s great fun once everyone arrives and it attracts a lot of big wave surfers from all over the world. A lot of them do tow-in surfing there – we all drive jet skis. Getting worked by the reef is scary and I’m always cutting my feet. I’m forever doing my own first aid.”
Photos: 2000s’ Gnaraloo surf camp. Crystal Simpson pics.
Top: George & Crystal on dunes and Tim & Crystal going surfing.
Bottom: Crystal sandboarding & yoga headstand.
Father & daughter surfing Gnaraloo images.
Photo: 2005 Gnaraloo George Simpson surfing Centre Peak. Photographer unknown.
Photo: 2005 Gnaraloo Crystal Simpson surfing Tombstones. Photographer unknown.
“In 2010, Pro-surfers Andy Irons, Parko & Luke Egan stayed at Dad’s camp at Gnaraloo. My brother Jason was running the camp at the time.”
Photo: 2010 Gnaraloo surf camp. L-R Crystal, George & Lizzie Nunn with surf boards & jet-ski. Crystal Simpson pic.
Photo: 2000s Point Samson fishing. Crystal Simpson pics.
(Left) Port Samson fish catch on Leveque fishing boat. L-R Jacko, Peter Mac, unidentified, Jason & Crystal.
(Right) Crystal with jumbo cray.
In 2008 Crystal bought Yallingup Surf School with friend Lizzie Nunn. Crystal was just 22 and launching into her second business. The two formed a strong working ethic and ability to learn fast. They dug their way out of a dozen vehicle boggings on Smiths Beach before mastering the soft sand, created surf camps for women and even opened a surf shop in Yallingup called Vintage Surf. They added pink to the logo and focused on building their female clientele, which in turn brought even more children to the surf school.
Photos: 2009 freshly painted Vintage Surf Shop at Yallingup. Bruce King pic.
“They were good times. Surf coaching all summer, Gnaraloo in winter and running my own business”.
Two years later Crystal bought Lizzie out of the business. After 19 years of surf coaching Lizzie was off on new adventures. Yallingup Surf School now became Crystal’s life.
“It was my life and my baby and through it, I’ve met so many amazing people. The highlight being a woman who survived the Indian Ocean Tsunami in Thailand 2012.”
The woman had waded out with her body board and flippers 1km off the Thailand coast in what she thought was a low tide. Moments later, a great rumbling occurred and she was faced with the infamous tsunami. All she could do was mount her body board and hold on for dear life as the wave picked her up and tossed her back towards the beach.
As the wave crashed across a sea wall, it threw her high and she was left standing on the sea wall as the wave went on its path of destruction. She ran and clung onto a tree when the wave retracted.
All she had was her swimmers and one flipper, the body board long gone. She teamed up with several other tourists and managed to climb to higher ground and escape the following wave surges. The group hid from looters with guns whilst waiting to be rescued. It took two days before anyone got to them. She was eventually picked up by a rescue helicopter crew who could not believe she’d survived. They deposited her to the capital city in her bathing costume, one flipper in hand.
“And here she was, at my surf school, and me teaching her how to surf. She had such a zest for life and gung-ho attitude. She was totally inspirational!”
“Also, my husband Tim’s favourite band, the Claxton’s enrolled in our surf school for lessons at Smiths Beach. They enjoyed themselves so much they invited us their Southbound Concert in Busselton. The next day Tim took the boys sightseeing in the South West”.
Photos 200s Yallingup Surf School pics. Bruce King pics.
Photos: 2000s Crystal surfing NW & SW surf breaks. Crystal Simpson pics.
Left: Fencies at Gnaraloo. Right: The Cove at Yallingup.
“In periods of downtime I travel to dream surf destinations, including the Mentawai’s, Maldives & Bali.”
Photo: 2010’s Girls boat trip in the Maldives. Photo courtesy of Crystal Wallace.
Katie Coryell – I was on the boat trip. It was amazing. Lizzie didn’t come on that trip, she had just had Ruby a couple months before. It was Katie Carmichael, Jess Emory, Crystal, Arna Campbell, Amber Shanks, Tara Hawken and myself for the local girls and 3 girls from over east.
“In 2010 Katie Coryell & I stayed in Bali at Karma Kandara resort at Uluwatu with my father”.
Photos: 2010 Uluwatu surf break.
Top & Middle: Crystal riding a short board for the first time (normally she rides a mal).
Bottom: Katie surfing Uluwatu and Katie & Crystal leaping for joy in the resort’s Infinity Pool on Uluwatu cliff.
“In the 2000s I did some modelling for a John Millers Design jewellery brochure at Yallingup.”
Image: 2000s Crystal appearing in John Miller’s Design jewellery brochure. Image courtesy of Crystal Wallace.
In 2010, Crystal found love with childhood sweetheart Tim Wallace. The couple had known one another since early years, but love blossomed when Crystal was 25 years old. What appeared a whirlwind romance to some, was actually a deep seeded knowledge Crystal had harboured for years.
“I’ve known Tim since I was 16 and always had a crush on him. I had other boyfriends, he worked away, I travelled a lot and missed one another, but then finally, it all came together”.
The couple bought their current home in 2012, next door to the home where Crystal and her dad George had lived together and from where he’d taught Crystal to surf.
“In 2013 Tim & I got married on Yallingup Beach. Dad walked me down the steps onto the beach in front of the lagoon. It was everything I’d hoped for and I remember just feeling so blessed to be marrying this man, on my beach with all my friends and family bearing witness”.
Photos: 2013 Yalls beach Tim & Crystal wedding photos courtesy of photographers Becky Felstead & Freedom Garvey.
Photo: 2014 pregnant Crystal & Horrie the Chihuahua surfing Shallows at Yallingup. Photo courtesy of Luke Gerson and Busselton Dunsborough Times Newspaper.
Photo: 2014 A very pregnant Crystal surfing Point Picquet. Katie Coryell pic.
And then in 2014, Crystal and Tim’s first son Bam George came into the world.
Photo: 2014-15 Wallace family on the beach at Yalls. Bruce King & Crystal Wallace pics.
(Left) Tim, Bam & Crystal Yalls beach. (Right) 2015 Wallace family first portrait Tim, Horrie the Chihuahua, Bam & Crystal.
Photos: 2016 Crystal & son Bam working at the office on Yallingup Beach. Jim King pics.
The Wallace threesome continue to live in Yallingup where they run Yallingup Surf School and pack the car and caravan for Gnaraloo every winter.
If you require surfing lessons or information, Crystal’s contacts are:-
Crystal Wallace (nee Simpson) is the daughter of WA surfer/fisherman legend George Simpson. George is well known for discovering local waves in the South West, including Bears and pioneering The Billabong Challenge at Gnaraloo.
The Billabong Challenge took eight professional surfers from around the globe to the remote desert coast of West Australia to compete in a series of events which was ultimately filmed by Crystal’s uncle, Jack McCoy.
Aunt Kim and husband Patrick Leahy founded West Surfing Products in 1982.
Crystal could easily have faded into the shadow of her family’s achievements. However, this impressive Yallingup local with a mega-watt smile has carved out her own reputation as surfer, business owner/operator and now mother, to forge her own legendary status in the South West.
Born in the North West of WA, her early years were spent living on her parent’s 70ft prawn trawling boat called Westerly, working the Pilbara waters near Point Sampson.
Photo: 1990s George Simpson’s Westerly prawn trawling boat at Point Samson. Crystal Simpson pic.
At age two the family de-camped to Yallingup and spent the next decade between Point Samson for the prawn season and Gnaraloo or Yallingup in the off season.
In her teen years Crystal attended school at McKillop Catholic College, surfed the local beaches and rode horses.
Quitting school at 15, Crystal headed north for prawn trawling, touring the Kimberly and surfing her beloved Tombstones.
She returned south to Yallingup, running a surf shop at the beach before adventure took her to Byron Bay and the United States. The overseas stint was brief, and Crystal resettled back in Yallingup in 2008 as co-owner then owner of Yallingup Surf School.
In 2013 she married Tim Wallace, and the two of them have a son Bam George and live on Yallingup hill in the house next door to her family home.
This part of Crystal’s story covers the period 1985-2000. Part 2 will cover the period 2000-2016.
Crystal’s beach life – Part 1. 1985-2000
Point Samson and the commercial fishing boat Westerly were Crystal’s first homes during the 1980s. Her parents, George & Tracy, started a fishing business at Point Samson in the Pilbara.
For several years Crystal and her elder brother Jason lived between the boat and a tiny one room shed at the local caravan park.
Photos: Point Samson beach life in the’70s pre Crystal. George Simpson pics
Left: 1977 George Simpson, John Molloy, John Simpson & unidentified.
Right: (Top) 1975 Andy Jones, Loz Smith, George Simpson & Adrian. (Bottom) 1977 Loz Smith, John Molloy, unknown & George Simpson.
“As soon as I could crawl, I was on-board Westerly with my older brother Jason. He was actually born on the boat and we were both born during the prawning season” Crystal reminisces. We pretty much spent our babyhood nude on the boat’s deck in the sun and mucking around in fishing nets and playing on the coral reef at Nichol Bay”.
Photo: Late 1980s Crystal playing under fish nets at Nickol Bay. Crystal Simpson Pic.
As the siblings grew, Crystal’s parent’s entrepreneurial ways rubbed off on Jason and Crystal, who used to net bait by the bucket load and sell to the old folks in the caravan park.
“It was hot, dry, coastal existence up north and I loved it!” Crystal smiles.
When Crystal was age two, the family moved from Point Samson to Yallingup. From that point on, the dual North West/South West existence became a part of the Simpson clan who spent eight months in Yallingup surfing & fishing, two to three months at Gnaraloo & the rest, working the prawn season at Point Samson.
It was a dreamy and idyllic existence for any child!
Sisters Sunny and Gypsy were born later (1989 and 1992 respectively).
Photo: 1981 De Grey River. George Simpson with a large groper on the Westmore fishing boat. George Simpson pic.
In 1995, when Crystal was 10, her family helped to run the first Billabong Challenge. The Challenge featured eight of the world’s best surfers of the time, including Occy, Rob Machado, Kelly Slater, Luke Egan, Shane Powell, Margo, Johnny Boy Gomes and Sunny Garcia. Sunny famously refused to camp, opting to stay in Carnarvon, the closest town, and drive a four hour round trip each day!
It was a memorable time of Crystal’s life, watching the greatest surfers in the world at one of the most respected waves in the world, and a wave that was so loved by the Simpson family.
“I remember Kelly Slater gave me 50c and Peter King gave me an orange and said, ‘This is Gods candy’. It was my tenth birthday”.
The personal connection Crystal had with the surfers glows clear in her memory.
Occy lived with the Simpsons in Yallingup during his rehab stint, after which he won the 1999 World Title.
“Mum & dad put him on the Simpson diet of fish, rice & salad and took him surfing a lot”.
Photo: 1995 Billabong Challenge competitors at Gnaraloo surf camp. Crystal Simpson pic.
Crystal is in centre of photo next to Rabbit Bartholomew and her father George is sitting front left.
Photo: 1995 Gnaraloo surf camp. Billabong Challenge Comp. George Simpson pic.
L-R George Simpson’s family, Rob Machado. Kelly Slater & Jack McCoy’s family.
“In 1996 I met the pro surfing guys again at Gnaraloo at the next Billabong Challenge named the ‘Psychedelic Desert Groove’”.
Photos: 1996 Billabong Challenge at Gnaraloo. Crystal Simpson pics.
Top: (Left) L-R Luke Egan, Rob Machado, Occy & unidentified. (Right) L-R unidentified x3, Rabbit, Luke Egan & Jack McCoy.
Bottom: (left) Table tennis tournament Rabbit & Maurice Cole. (Right) George Simpson & the boys around camp fire.
Although introduced to the surf at age 10, it was in Hawaii in 1997 that Crystal really got bitten by the surfing bug.
“We surfed fun waves at Waikiki Beach. I was age 12 and knew then, that I wanted to be a surfer!”
Photo: 1997 Hawaii. Crystal (centre) with Kelly Slater & his partner. Crystal Simpson pic.
At the tender age of 13, Crystal was introduced to her local go-to-wave at Yallingup.
“Dad taught me to surf properly at the Cove surf break at Yallingup. On school holidays he took me surfing every day for 3 weeks and taught me the basics, like how to cover my head when falling off & don’t go straight, but to angle across a wave.”
After a family split, Crystal and her Dad lived on Yallingup hill and surfing became her escape and etched a bond between her and her father that is still evident today.
“We used to walk to the beach, head down the steps to the beach & paddle across the lagoon together. Me on an 8 foot Yahoo single fin. But after 3 weeks, I was on my own.”
Photo: 1990s Simpson family at Gnaraloo surf camp. Jason & Crystal with their catch of the day. George Simpson pic.
Photo: 1990s Simpson family at Gnaraloo surf camp. L-R Sunny, Jason, Gypsy, Crystal with George. Crystal Simpson pic.
Having camped at Gnaraloo with her family and watching the world’s best surfers at the famous Tombstones, it was in 1999 having only surfed for five months, Crystal tackled the more ‘gentle’ Centre Peak at Gnaraloo station.
“Dad took me out at Centre Peak in overhead waves. I caught 4 waves and still remember the feeding frenzy of whales and wild life in the water…it was by far my most memorable surfing moment growing up!”
Since that time, Crystal has 10 winter seasons at Gnaraloo under her belt and she is a formidable presence in the line-up, often picking off the more quality waves and her knowledge of tides and best take off spots is awe inspiring.
Back in the real world, Crystal’s statement of attendance, or lack thereof, came to a head at MacKillop Catholic College one day with a letter questioning her commitment to school work.
“School wasn’t giving me the answers to what I wanted out of life, so I dropped out at age 15 nearly 16 (the start of grade 11) and headed North”.
Photos: 1990s Simpson family at Blow Holes and Gnaraloo surf camp. Crystal Simpson pics.
“I went surfing at Gnaraloo, worked on the prawning boats at Point Samson and toured the Kimberley’s on the family prawning boat”, Crystal recollects.
She spent several months in the North West of WA before returning home to take on her first entrepreneurial project; owner of the Yallingup Surf Shack at Yallingup beach.
Photos: 2000 Gnaraloo surf camp. Crystal Simpson pics.
(Left) Crystal & George. (Right) sisters Gypsy, Sunny & Crystal.
Photos: 2000 Crystal & Jason Simpson prawning at Nickol Bay. Crystal Simpson pics.
Photos: 2000s Kimberley Tour. Crystal Simpson pics.
Left: Crystal with Red Emperor. Right: George, Crystal & unidentified investigating on old plane wreck on Kimberley tour.
If you require surfing lessons or any information, Crystal’s contacts are:-
Coming soon Crystal’s beach life by Elizabeth Nunn – Part 2. 2000-2016