NSW surfer Ralph Redman (a former office worker and builder’s labourer) migrated to WA in 1970 after an exploratory visit in 1967-68.
Ralph: “In 1967 I left my girlfriend Jill in NSW and with my mate Ray ‘Cactus’ Boyle travelled to WA on route to Portugal. We surfed good waves at Esperance in WA and then aborted our planned Portugal trip. Instead we headed to Geraldton and worked on wheat silos for 12 months. Then I moved to the SW and surfed for 6 months. I remember meeting Peter Mac at Yallingup but can’t recall the others. After that I boarded the cruise ship ‘Northern Star’ at Fremantle and headed home to NSW in 1968.”
In 1969 Ralph & Jill married and moved from the Sydney area to the NSW coastal towns of Angourie & Brooms Head for 12 months.
Photos: Left: 1967 Ralph surfing Esperance beach break on his nose rider board. Right: 1969 Ralph with home-made surfboards at Manly NSW. Photo credits Ralph Redman.
In 1970 Ralph & Jill left NSW and migrated to WA. They settled in the SW near the Smiths Beach turn-off before moving to a place at Yallingup.
Ralph: “My dad was always moving our family around because of his job and we were used to living in different places. In 1971 Jill & I moved up to Geraldton to escape the cold SW winter and our first son Patrick was born (Dec 1971). I found good waves from Geraldton to Kalbarri and enjoyed my time in the Mid-West region. The family still holidays at Kalbarri.”
In 1972 the Redman family left Geraldton and returned to the SW. They settled in Eagle Bay with the Culmsee family before moving to a place in Dunsborough and then the D’Espeissis property. The Redman’s continued building their brood. Next came daughter Melanie in 1975 and second son Justin in 1977.
The talented goofy footer settled into the solitude of free surfing and skin diving in the SW. He didn’t get involved in competitive surfing.
Photos: Left: 1972 Ralph & son Patrick at Jakes Point in Kalbarri. (Note: The Toyota Land Cruiser in this pic was later used to push through a coastal track from Yallingup to Bears). Photo credit Ralph Redman. Right: 1972 this image of Ralph surfing Margaret River featured on the front cover of Tracks Magazine. Image courtesy of Tracks Mag.
Ralph has surfed Three Bears surf break since the early 70s with his mate Geoff Culmsee.
Ralph: “In 1973 I strapped a steel railway line on the front of my Toyota Land Cruiser and pushed a coastal track through to Bears from Yallingup. It connected with an old air strip Budge Guthrie had made on top of the cliffs using an overgrown mineral exploration track. Earlier Tom Hoye had put through a track to Bears from Yallingup, but it was no good as it was high on the hill and too rocky.”
Ralph ran a Dunsborough Fiberglass business for 30 years with Geoff Culmsee. He also ran the Dunsborough Surf Cat hire business in Geographe Bay during the summer holiday period. It was during this period that Ralph took up windsurfing. Ralph was a talented windsurfer and this rubbed off on his son Patrick who went on to win a National Windsurfing title.
Vance Burrow “I spent years windsurfing Margaret’s, Yallingup, Gallows, Augusta and Dunsborough with Ralph.”
Photos: Left: 1976 Dunsborough Surf Cat Hire Ralph with Patrick & young Melanie. Right: 1992 Ralph with jumbo cray at Quindalup. Photo credits Ralph Redman.
Ralph designed his own surfboards & windsurfers and made his own fibreglass windsurfing fins.
Vance Burrow recalls Ralph was a surfing innovator: “Ralph made a scoop-deck surfboard for his daughter Melanie when she was pregnant and designed a foam chin rest for his surfboard.”
In 1980 the Redman family moved to a new house that Ralph built in Quindalup.
Ralph: “At an early age I gave Justin & Melanie their own surfboards (Patrick already had a board) and introduced them to surfing. Justin (age 9) and Melanie (age 11) then started surfing SW waves with Taj Burrow (age 8). The kids had to learn to fix their own boards.”
Photos: Redman kids at the beach.
Top left: 1987 Yallingup Justin & Melanie and Ralph’s surf trailer.
Top right: 1987 Yallingup Melanie age 12, Jake Centa, Daniel Wake, Justin age 10 & Taj Burrow age 9.
Bottom left: 1987 Yallingup Taj & Justin. Photo credits (3) Nancy Burrow.
Bottom right: 1991 Scarborough surf contest mum Jill & Justin. Photo credits Ralph Redman
The family then spread their tentacles and went on surf trips to the Mid-West and North West WA and Indo.
Photos: Left: 1990 Gnaraloo surf trip Ralph, Patrick & Justin playing cards in caravan. Photo credit Ralph Redman Right: 1989 Abrolhos Island surf trip with the Burrow & Culmsee families and SW friends. Photo credit Nancy Burrow.
This created a strong family surfing background and the Redman kids excelled on the surfing scene.
Son Patrick was Australian Windsurfing Champion, four times State Windsurfing Champion & twice won the Lancelin Classic Wave contest.
Daughter Melanie is a renowned West Australian professional surfer (runner up to World title twice to Layne Beachley), twice World Junior Champion (age 15 & 17) and multiple winner of Margaret River contest.
Son Justin is a multiple National Longboard Champion and 10 times winner of Yal Mal Longboard comp.
Photos: Left: 1990s Quindalup Justin and Patrick in the backyard surfboard shaping bay. Right: 1989 Quindalup Melanie & Justin with H20 surfboards. Photo credits Ralph Redman.
Ralph has created a surfing dynasty in the SW. He hopes his grandchildren Curren, Josh & Raff (Patrick’s sons), Willow, Poppy & Wyatt (Melanie’s children) and Madison (Justin’s daughter) will continue the family surfing tradition.
Ralph lives in the SW with wife Jill and is still surfing.
Footnote: Ralph has a dry sense of humour. When Ralph found out we were doing a SDS blog on him, he said “don’t tell em I’m a nice guy, tell em I’m a bastard in the water and I might get more waves”. Ed.