Former WA surfer Mal Leckie (now living in Queensland) has enjoyed reading the stories of the old Down South days on the SDS Facebook page. He considers it was a very important and memorable part of his growing up. His memories of that time are very strong. He thinks that may be because he left for the East Coast in 1974 and this cut that slice of time off neatly.
Photos of Mal Leckie in the 70s:
Left: 1973 Mal and friend Tony Hart in Nedlands WA. Photo credit Faye Hart.
Mal is the tall guy on the left. The other bloke is Tony Hart who never surfed down south. He was a Scarborough guy. He went to art school with Ashley Jones.
At the time, a lot of blokes down south called Mal “Leif” because he looked a bit like a character in the TV show “the Vikings”. Peter Mac had the beard and hair too and got called “Finn”, as Finn was another Character in the show.
Right: 1974 Mal at Burleigh (Qld) with surfboards. Photo credit Mal Leckie.
This photo was taken just after he left WA for the Gold Coast in 74. Mal is at Burleigh with two boards he shaped for local conditions, a 7’2” and 6’6”.
Mal heard recently that his old friend Paul Jacobsen had passed away and thought it was fitting to have him remembered in a Surfing Down South blog.
These are Mal’s Recollections and Tribute to his old mate.
“I have written a bit of a story that is in memory of my best mate at that time, Paul Jacobson, who passed away a few years back. Like most of the people I remember from the early 70’s who made the weekend trips to Yall’s, Paul was quite a character.
Like a lot of surfers back then, Paul bought a big bike, a Honda Four 750. Unfortunately, after a month-long ski trip to Europe, he returned on a very hot summer day, took his bike for a ride to the beach and then passed out from the heat near Lake Monger, crashing head-on with a car. He badly damaged his left arm and it never recovered from the nerve damage, so he had to stop surfing. I’m told that he never really recovered mentally from the loss of use of his arm.
This is the only photo I have of Paul. It was taken at his wedding to Helen McAllister in Perth in 1975. Photographer unknown.
Paul Jacobsen was a regular Down South in the 4 years from about the beginning of 1970 until late 1973. Paul wasn’t a competition surfer but he was a real contributor to the camaraderie that existed at the time among the regular crew who made the Friday night run down the Coast to surf. But he did love his surfing and would paddle into anything. His enthusiasm for fun was infectious.
Paul’s old split-windscreen Kombi was perhaps as memorable as he was, with it’s oversized engine, oversized tyres and throaty extractors. Lots of blokes, and some girls, called the Kombi their weekend home in the Yallingup carpark over those years. It had a platform from the back of the front seat to the engine hump and two mattresses that made a big sleeping space with room for boards and gear underneath. On one night when the fearsome winter weather made it impossible for some blokes to sleep out behind the old toilet block at Yallingup, Paul’s Kombi squeezed 5 fellas in, sleeping head to toe. Craig the Nedland’s postie was one of them I remember. (Craig could snore about as loud as the Kombi extractors at 5000 revs.)
I was a close mate of Paul’s for those years and a regular passenger/co-driver on Down South weekends. Everybody used to go to the Shenton Park Hotel (the Shent’s) on a Wednesday night and organise their lifts. (Later we went to the White Sands.) It paid to have a full car if you wanted to be able to get down many of the rougher tracks, and good for fuel costs too of course. (The Gallows track was the most notorious until the Three Bears track came into regular use.)
Paul was a dead-set chick magnet. He looked a bit like the actor Pierce Brosnan with blonde hair, but it was mainly his unusual personality and infectious sense of fun that seemed to do the work with the girls. It was uncanny how girls were drawn to him.
Here’s a weekend story that is a good illustration of how he seemed to be able to lure the ladies, even in the pitch dark.
“One Night at Injidup.”
We had gone away for the weekend on a low budget. Paul had fitted new tyres and I had picked up a new Cordingley single fin shaped by Pants, so we were both light in the wallet. We decided to pool our dough for fuel and food and stay away from the two places that normally soaked up most of our money, Caves House public bar and Surfside cafe. We grabbed a box of tinned stuff at the supermarket, bought a flagon of “claret”, a little frying pan and took off.
As we came into Yallingup we turned left down Caves Road instead of going straight into the pub carpark as we normally would for a few beer soaked hours of darts or skittlar. We drove through the dark and down to Injidup and pulled into the unofficial camping ground that was tucked under the tea-trees up near The Carpark. It was winter, so we were the only ones there.
We picked a level spot beside “the Spring” and got a fire going to warm up some baked beans. The Spring was one of the few places you could get fresh water away from Yall’s, Smith’s, Cowaramup or Prevelly. It was a dark, still, no moon night.
As we ate our beans off enamel plates we heard a car coming along the corrugated gravel road. The headlights came over the last rise and slowed down, then turned in to the camping ground. It was a VW Beetle and it lit us up in its dull headlights for a while before pulling in on the other side of the wooden spring trough. It had no boards on the roof which we thought was odd. A door opened and then closed and a figure got out.
“Hi” said a girl’s voice.
“Hello there”, replied Paul as quick as a flash. It was the first thing he said to nearly every girl he ever met I reckon.
The driver of the Beetle got out and was also a girl. They lifted the bonnet of the Bug and started putting up a small tent. When it became obvious that all the poles and ropes were a handful, Paul and I went over and held things in place until they had it pegged. After that they came over to use our fire to heat up a saucepan of mince and vegetables they had brought along with the lid tied on with string.
Once we had all eaten we shared our cheap claret with the girls in tin mugs and struck up the usual conversation. They were Bunbury girls and had decided on a whim to go camping for the weekend. They knew about the camping ground because they had been coming with their families at Christmas for years. They we’re less prepared than we were. I have no idea what their names were.
We made a fair dent in the flagon before the conversation started to fade and it was time to sleep. I volunteered to take the pans and plates over to the beach and wash them with wet sand. As I stacked them up the tallest girl offered to help, so we went over to the beach and scrubbed off what food we could see in the torchlight.
When we got back to the camp, I could see that the shorter blonde girl was sitting next to Paul on the log and they were “pashing” – actually, the term used a lot then was “sucking faces”. I rattled the plates a bit as we came into the fire-light. Paul got up and took me aside a bit and whispered, “You’re sleeping in the tent.” I wondered what the tall girl would think of that but she was whispering to her mate too and soon she waved me over to the tent. I took my sleeping bag and went.
When I woke at first light in the morning I was really keen to get my new board in the ocean. I climbed out of the tent trying not to wake the tall Bunbury brunette lying beside me. I was wondering how I would get my board and wetsuit out of the Kombi without interrupting anything but Paul was already out beside the van with the side door open. We got our wetsuits (long-johns and sleeves) on, I grabbed my new board, waxed it and we headed over to the surf.
We were the only guys there. We dodged the heavy shore break and paddled out over the weed to the peak for a half hour without anyone else out. It didn’t last long. Once the crowd got to about eight, we went in and walked back to camp. My sleeping bag was folded and resting on the log. The tent, the girls and the Beetle were gone. We checked our wallets, all OK. They weren’t Thelma and Louise.
Paul and I looked at each other, poked our bottom lips out, shrugged our shoulders and burst out laughing.
It was the start of another weekend and we were down south surfing. Perfect.”
Photo: 1976 Injidup car park. Photo credit Ric Chan.
Background on Mal Leckie
Mal Leckie is an Australian Landscape artist born in Perth Western Australia He now lives on the Gold Coast with his wife Louise, and his home beach is Coolangatta. View Mal’s artwork on www.malleckie.com.au.
Mal did this painting of an Injidup Sunset for an exhibition held at the Perth Concert Hall in 2009. ‘Painting – Collection of Steve Syme’.