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Smiths Valley – Living in the 70s by Peter Jebb

In the 1970s some city based surfers and their friends moved into old farm buildings in Smiths Valley at Yallingup.

City Beach surfer Peter Jebb & his partner Mary Anne lived in a wooden cow shed before moving into a limestone house in the Valley. They lived in the Valley from 1972-76.

Photos: 1970s Peter & Mary Anne family pics. Photos courtesy of Peter Jebb.

Top: (Left) Peter & Mary Anne with son Charlie. (Right) Peter & Mary Anne on a visit to Perth.
Bottom: Peter’s mum in chair, Peter & Mary Anne at Peter Dyson’s place in Elsegood Ave Yallingup.

1970s Peter & Mary Anne Jebb 2 IMG_001

These are Peter’s recollections.

Cow Shed

In the early 70s my girlfriend (later wife) Mary Anne and I lived in an old wooden cow shed in Smiths Valley. There was no water or electricity in the shed. We stored water in containers filled up at Yallingup.

We had an old food safe that used to get raided by possums. The night after I possum-proofed it, one of the little buggers took umbrage to that and bit the hell out of my toe during the night.

There were no beds or bunks, we slept on a mattress on the floor. It was a dark and lonely place at night, but also very quiet. Bit romantic really, candlelight, bush noises, young and in love…not too many cares in the world!

The cow shed had a big opening rather than a door and windows, it was pretty much open to the elements.

In those days there were still sawmills operating just out of Busselton and they had huge waste piles of jarrah, including planks that were uneven thickness and sizes. I remember grabbing a pile of these planks and enclosing the shed a bit in a very slap-dash way.

We accessed the cow shed via a dirt track which came off Caves Rd and weaved around behind a coffee rock cottage and ended at our place.

The following photos taken in 2015, show that the wooden cow shed has had a serious upgrade from the time we were there. The rough weatherboard cladding looks great, but that’s been added to the shed since our time.

Photos: 2015 upgraded wooden cow shed. Photos courtesy of Jim King.

2015 smiths valley cow shed collage_photocat

Limestone House

In 1972 we moved into a limestone house in Smith’s Valley located approx 300-400m north of the old Coach House. We took over the house after an old school mate Lloyd Zar (RIP) and Amber Crossland moved on.

We inherited Lloyd’s goat Rada Rani which he used to walk into Busselton on a lead. The goat would chase me around the verandah!

Not sure how long they’d been there, but they may have taken it over from previous occupants George Simpson, Christine Brennon & others.

You would probably remember Amber (and her boobs) floating around on her surf mat out the back at Yalls with her sparkly eyes and big smile. Sister of Robbie from Victoria who the older guys knew.

We just rented the place – it was owned by a mineral sands mining company who bought it to allow access to potential mining in the valley. We tried a couple of times to buy it but they weren’t interested in selling at the time. Pity. At least the mining didn’t happen!

Our limestone house was a bit rough with no running water. When it was last painted, whoever did it, left the photos from surf mags taped on the walls and painted around them!

There was a huge fig tree on the southern side of our house. The tree was very old and had occasional small fruit.

Photos: 1970s limestone house in Smiths Valley. Photos courtesy of Barry Middleton & Peter Jebb.

(Left) 1971 Previous occupants George Simpson, Chris Brennon, Geoff & Owlie. (Right) 1972 Peter & Mary Anne’s rental house.

1971-72 limestone house smiths valley 1 collage_photocat

At the time there were only four places on that side of the road between Canal Rocks Rd and the top caravan park: the mud brick ‘Lobsterpot’ restaurant run by Hans Kopp (cnr Caves Rd and Canal Rocks Rd), the old Coach House, our place and a coffee rock house further north near our old cow shed.

Some of the crew living in the coffee rock house during my time were John ‘Boy’ Malloy, Jack Kotala and his girlfriend Lee, Helen (Spotty), Dave Hattrick – always a pretty busy place.

When we first moved there, Tom Hoye was making surfboards in the wooden shed at the side of the old Coach House, that’s now very flash after Craig Brent-White spent a lot of money on it and did it up. Craig’s brother Drew lived with us in our old limestone house for a while.

Editor’s Note: Craig Brent-White & Peter Kidd lived in the limestone house in 1970.

David ‘Dapper’ Plaisted, Al Fixter, Dave Seward lived across the Valley in the old Coach House.

On a still day you could hear Dapper and the boys in the Coach House talking crap and laughing across the valley. When the surf was up they’d just whistle and I’d grab my stuff, trot over and off we’d go (Dapper, Al Fixter, Dave Seward & others).

In the following photo taken in 1972 from the front veranda of our place, you can see the shed where they made boards and also Canal Rocks Rd in the background.

Photos: 1970s Smith Valley & Smiths Point. Photos courtesy of Peter Jebb & Jim King

(Left) 1972 Smiths Valley photo taken from Peter & Mary Anne’s front verandah. (The board making shed & Coach House are top left). (Right) Mid 70s Surfing Smiths Point.

1970s Smiths Valley & Smiths Point 2 collage_photocat

My first son was born in Dec 1974 and we kept living there for a while after that but it got a bit hard washing nappies and stuff with no running water so we moved to Vasse in ’76 and then to the Kimberley.

I can’t remember what happened to the house when we left. I wish we’d bought the place which was owned by the Mining Company. Great spot.

Editor’s notes:
1. The limestone house is now a private residence. It has been renovated and is still in use..
2. The coffee rock house was purchased by Doc & Carol McDermott in 1976. They have renovated and still live in the house. The McDermott’s remember Peter & Mary Anne from the 70s.

Al Fixter

In 1975, Pete Bothwell, my sis Robyn, Mary Anne, Charlie and I went to NZ where Pete and I did Horticulture Diplomas at Massey University in Palmerston North. I’ve still got the Diploma certificate which, unfortunately, had a typo in it which omitted the ‘c’ in ‘Faculty’ in the heading ‘Faculty of Horticulture’! So we left the farmhouse in the capable hands of Al Fixter who was happy to get out of Dapper’s place where there was a whole lot of smoke coming out of the chimney that had a decidedly green tinge. Anyway, Al’s preferred way of relaxing was to meditate and do yoga and, left to his own devices, got into some concerted practice while we were away. When we came back, you should have seen the guy: his eyes were so clear they shone and he was just so calm and happy. The serious yoga practice saw him supremely flexible on top of his natural fitness from surfing regularly. He was already a pretty good surfer, but I can remember watching him at Car Park after we got back and he’d taken it to another level, so smooth and graceful and looking like an extension of the waves – beautiful!

Photos: 1976 Al Fixter at Injidup Car Park. Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.

(Left) Al Fixter surfing solid Inidup. (Right) Al Fixter with Sunrise Surfboard made by Dapper.

1976 Al Fixter & Sunrise surfboard at Injidup collage_photocat

EJ Holden station wagon

When we took over the house, we also inherited an EJ automatic station wagon (I think abandoned by Lloyd’s brother John) which looked in good nick, it started but wouldn’t go. It took me a while to work out that there was a hole in the hydraulic line to the transmission. I replaced the line and away she went! I was so rapt I foolishly celebrated by taking it for a run (without plates!) to surf a beach break south of Margaret River main break. On the way back out I almost ran head-on into the Ranger coming the other way. He straight away put on his flashing light and turned around in pursuit. Due to the narrow road it took him a while to do a U-turn and I gunned it into the car park at Margaret’s and promptly bailed out, grabbing my board, wetsuit and toolbox and mingled with the crowd. The Ranger must’ve been no fool and realising nobody would be fessing up, just went back up the road and waited as it was the only way out. I realised this so just got a lift back to Yalls, cursing my foolishness. I went back to the Margaret River shire yards the following week and spied the lovely old EJ sitting in the compound. Fearing repercussions, I didn’t make any moves to recover it. Bummer!

Creek surfing

One winter after some heavy rain, a mate and I jumped on foamie surfboards and shot the creek (Gunyalgup Brook) all the way out to Smiths Beach. Good fun, especially frightening the shit out of the cows peacefully grazing near the creek!

Photo: 2013 Gunyalgup Brook running out to sea at Smiths Beach. Photo courtesy of Bruce King.

2013 Smiths Beach 14 Jun 2013 Bruce King 050

Sunrise Surfboards

Dapper made Sunrise Surfboards in a wooden shed near the Coach House. I had one of Dapper’s old pintails. They were typically 6’10”-7’6″ long x 20″ wide with narrow tails suited for SW reef break peaks – good for the bigger stuff.

I reconnected with him when I moved to Esperance in 1981-82, he was making surfboards. His partner in the business, Alex Peterson, was a tuna fisherman and Dapper may have gone out on the odd trip with him. It was just like old times – bouncing around in Dapper’s car as he wildly sought out the best surf in the area.

I fished for tuna and shark in Esperance for about two years up until sometime in 1983 when I went back to University in Perth.

I love the little Sunrise Surfboard advert – they didn’t quite get the subtlety of the spelling and I’m not too sure what the sentence means!

Images: 1976 Sunrise Surfboards. Images courtesy of Mark Dumesny & WASRA Spring Titles Program.

1975 Sunrise Surfboards compilationB

For more material on living in Smiths Valley in the 70’s see George Simpson’s recollections in the Surfing Down Surf book.