Mal Leckie was born in Perth WA and surfed the SW in the early 70s before moving to the East Coast in 1974.
Mal’s note – This photo was taken on my VERY first trip down south as a toddler, which I reckon is 1953. I am on mum’s lap in the front. It is my dad’s Vauxhall Tourer and I think (guess???) it is outside the shop-petrol station that was just over the original bridge at Mandurah. Obviously the days before the folding cot or pram was invented haha!
Photo: 1953 Mandurah WA. Stu & Rena Leckie with young Mal on her lap. Photo courtesy of Leckie family.
Mal’s note – The following is a selection of random recollections of the 1970-73 years which I hope will act as triggers to other people’s memories of the time so they might pick up the pen and fatten-up these sketchy stories. Read these memories to the sounds of Santana, Cream, Cat Stevens, Iron Butterfly, Three Dog Night, Moody Blues etc. Or maybe recall trying to roll your car down the Cape Naturaliste road, out of gear, from near the Meelup turn-off to Dunsborough – did anyone ever make it?
The Drive Down to Yallingup.
Nearly everyone who surfed down south came from Perth, and went down each weekend. Only in 1972-3 did surfers I knew start to live in the area or start making property purchases. Tony Harbison was already an owner of cabins at Yall’s of course and there was a place on Caves Road above Smith’s that had a random crew in it. It was known simply as “The House”. Steve “Horny” Campbell was the first guy I knew to buy a block.
We lined our lifts up mid-week at the pub on a Wednesday night. At different times there were different pubs where everyone would meet. The main ones I remember were the Shenton Park Hotel, the Cott and the White Sands. Guys would just hustle around the pub until they had a crew, or if you were looking for a lift, until you had a seat booked. People took it in turns to take their cars but some blokes preferred to take theirs every week.
Most of the cars were Holdens, Falcons and VW’s. The only 4WD’s available then were old school box Land-Rovers but they were so slow, noisy and uncomfortable on the bitumen that it was better to go in a normal car and get a good run down to Yallingup then suffer a bit on the tracks than the other way around. Until the Range Rover arrived, I only remember one 4WD from Perth that went down south regularly.
Some of the cars I remember from 1970-74 were these. Ian Cairns and Micko Gracie had mustard coloured Beetles, Trevor Anderson and Re Marshall had HD or HR Holden PV’s, Rod Slater had an FC sedan, Craig the Postie had an HK PV, Johnny Fox had an HR Wagon, Paul Jacobson had a Kombi and later a Holden HQ PV with V8 motor. George Simpson had a Valiant ute with pipe racks, Bill Oddy had a 144 Volvo sedan that was surprisingly good in the sand, Peter Mac and Greg ‘Pants’ Laurenson had XY Falcon Panel Vans. A guy named Gary Randall had an old late 30’s-40’s Plymouth that was hand-painted in pink house paint. Big Barry Green had an early model low roof Falcon PV. One regular was named Monaro Ross because of his car. I never travelled with him and mostly he came down alone I think. He was a roofer and I think his surname was Wilson. He had a bad head-on in the blue Monaro one wet night near Busselton, not his fault. I also remember a few EH utes but can’t recall the owners’ names – one was from SA. Tex Branch of Cottesloe had a VW station wagon. Tony Hardy had a Holden EJ or EH station wagon, as did Sheepdog. Murray Smith had an EH too.
Peter Mac had the first set of twin speakers mounted in the back panels of his van and coupled to a cassette player that blew everyone away when we first saw and heard it. Before that, cars were lucky to have a radio with one speaker.
Photo: 1971 Injidup car park. Re Marshall’s panel van is on the left and George Simpson’s Valiant ute is on the right. Photo Credit Ric Chan.
Nearly everybody got on well and I don’t remember any animosity between regulars at all. Everyone was friendly and good mates. Coming away with different people every now and then made the weekends even more interesting and built a tremendous camaraderie.
The idea was to get away from Perth as soon as possible after work on the Friday arvo. Whoever owned the car would fill it up with fuel and then meet their crew at someone’s house. Then it was on to Fremantle and East Street, High street, Hampton Road past the gaol then straight ahead past the old Power station, Naval Base and on to Mandurah. That first part of the trip was when you would catch up on everybody’s news from the week because there was no mobile phones or social media of course.
When you hit Mandurah it was time to grab a burger and buy beers for the run down the old Coast Road There was a pub just north of Mandurah that was the favourite stop. Might have been called the Sundowner, not sure. It was somewhere near Stewart Street, which had good sand banks in those days.
The other regular stop was just after the Bunbury turn-off, a petrol station a mile or so towards Capel. It had cheap fuel so some cars would fill up again so they could try to get through the weekend without the more expensive fill-ups at the top shop at Yall’s.
You had to be careful through Capel because the local cops were very enthusiastic about speed limits. After that it was Busselton and then a run to get to the pub at Caves House. Pants used to enjoy driving behind someone as you approached Dunsborough and then turning his lights off. The “victim” car would think that he had turned into Dunsborough but he would be right up close behind them along Caves Road. After a mile or so he would pull his lights on with high beam and sound his horn. I was in the victim car one night and it was more frightening than you might think.
Everyone would be at the pub and by 9 o’clock it was shoulder to shoulder as everyone downed beers, laughed a lot and played darts or a table game I’m pretty sure was called Skittlar. Bob Monkman was a burglar on this table.
Dart Board and Skittlar Table images courtesy of Mal Leckie.
Once the pub closed we would head down the hill to the carpark at Yallingup beach and park near the top of the stairs and around Surfside.
Some guys slept in the cars and vans but not everyone would fit of course, so lots of guys ended up in sleeping bags against whatever wall of the old toilet block gave protection from the wind. I never slept well like that so I got a string hammock that hung between the trees for nights when I drew the short straw and missed out on a spot inside a van.
Photo: 1970s Yallingup uncrowded line-up. Photo credit Ric Chan.
Because we were in the surf nearly all day, most of us didn’t need showers. People would carry a bottle of “Old Spice” and sprinkler it on themselves if they thought there might be girls around. It was known as a “surfers’ shower”. But occasionally the salt build-up would get too much and we would take a wash in the small “waterfall” in the creek that was just south of the Yallingup car park. Very cold sometimes!
Background on Mal leckie
Mal now lives in Queensland on the Gold Coast with his wife Louise. His home beach is Coolangatta and he is an Australian Landscape artist.
Visit Mal’s web site www.malleckie.com.au to view his artwork.
Photos: Old & new Queensland photos courtesy of Mal Leckie.
(Left) 1975 Tugun L-R Mal Leckie, Richie Herbert (top hat) & Gavin Cooper. (Right) 2015 Gold Coast Mal & Louise Leckie.
Mal’s note – Richie Herbert was a Cronulla guy who was one of the standout tube riders at Kirra in Kirra’s late 70’s heydays. Richie sanded surfboards most of his working life and unfortunately died a couple of years back. His wife says it was the sanding.
Gavin Cooper was in Perth for a long while in the late 60’s and early 70’s and he had a ding repair business. He also ran a vegetarian cafe at UWA in about 1972. He was a strong personality and I think there will be people who will remember him.”