In the 1950s Cottesloe Beach and the reefs south of Cottesloe with long rolling waves were popular surfing venues for metro surfers riding plywood toothpick surfboards.
WA Surf Industry legend Len Dibben recalls his early days surfing at Cottesloe.
Len Dibben: “When I first started surfing in the late 50’s & through the 60’s even into the 80’s & 90’s Cable Station reef used to break really good, a great right hander. What stopped that break from working was the building of Cottesloe Groyne, Dutch Inn Groyne, Sand Tracks, the lengthening of the North Mole, City Beach groyne & Floreat groyne, just to name a few.
Those were the days when North Mole was a secret spot. Also before the Cottesloe groyne was built in 1959, there was no surf to speak of at Isolated, Seconds or Cove. We surfed Cottesloe beach at the Dummy (formerly the Loom), the Bell (also known as the Pylon) & Slimys reef, Dutch Inn (pre Groyne) & Cable station in the winter. The beach at Dutch inn was quite wide as local fishermen used to leave their wooden clinker boats on the sand all year round & we guys at Cottesloe used them as a wind breaks when we came in from a surf. In a south west wind we would build a fire to warm ourselves in between surfs. There were no wet suits, maybe footy jumpers & our swim costumes. Surfers back then were Terry James, Bob Birch, Gary Birch, Cliff Hills, Ron Allen, Jeff Dalziel & Kerry Davies. There were about 10 – 15 of us that were regulars at all these breaks. I was the only guy not from Cottesloe, I was from Beaconsfield”. For more information see Len’s web site www.lendibbensurfboards.com.au
In 1952 the remains of the original timber jetty at Cottesloe was blown up to make way for a rock groyne. The Cottesloe groyne was built in 1959 to stop erosion and extends 100m out across Mudurup Rocks. Mudurup Rocks (named by Nyungar people & meaning ‘the place of the yellow finned whiting’ ) is the limestone promontory on the sea side of the Cottesloe Surf Club.
Photo: 1947 Swimmers at Cottesloe Beach pre groyne with Mudurup Rocks and Fremantle Port in the background. Photo credit King Family.
Photo: 1957 Brian Cole (second from right) and his City Beach surfing mates heading to Cables Station reef for a surf. The Morris 10 sedan is loaded with plywood toothpick surfboards and a surf ski. Photo credit Brian Cole.
Photo: 1959 Young Cottesloe surfers Alan McGilvray and Keith Campbell surfing Dutch Inn at Cottesloe. Photo credit Keith Campbell.