James ‘Lik’ Mackenzie was born March 1946. He was one of the youngest of the SW surfing pioneers in the early 60s.
These are his surfing recollections:-
I grew up in the Scarborough area and having an early affiliation with the ocean wanted to join the Scarborough Surf Life Saving Club. The joining age was 14 and so, at the age of 12, I told them I was 14 and got in. Here I learned to stand up on one of the 17 foot rescue boards (plywood Toothpick Board).
I bought my first Malibu style board from an older club member at age 13. Due to the lack of Balsa wood from WW11, the board was made of marine ply and was hollow inside with ribs like a boat. It also had a bunghole in the nose to drain any water out.
My son Sol collects vintage surfboards. He located and purchased my original surfboard…see pic below.
Photos: Jim Lik’s 1958 Marine ply hollow surfboard at Dunsborough in 2012. Jim Lik pics.
Soon the era changed and my first fibreglass board was a Barry Bennett shaped in Brookvale, Sydney. Following this a mate (Brian Cole was the first board shaper in WA) made me my first custom board.
Growing up on Scarborough Beach and surfing the Perth beaches with a crew of grommets including Murray Smith and Geoff Culmsee was such a character building time. The surf culture had loads of colourful characters and with the other crews from City Beach and Cottesloe, many great surfers and stories came out of that time.
Photo: 1961 Grommets at Scarborough. L-R Pat Longley, Jim Mackenzie, Jim Breadsell, Warren Smith, Geoff Culmsee, B Sales & B Hunt. Photo courtesy of Murray Smith.
Back then I was too young to drive but luckily, through Rugby Union, I met some of the older surf crew who were starting to travel down South to surf Yallingup. Being a super keen grommet, I jumped a lift with them whenever I could. This crew of older guys became known as ‘The Wheels’ and held names like Mark Paterson, Brian Cole, Tony Harbison and Kevin Merifield. Over the past 50-60 years these guys have all had a huge influence on the surfing community.
In those days, upon arriving at Yallingup, we would set up camp in the Melaleuca trees at the top of the beach with hammocks and stretchers. This area now houses a surfing pioneer statue, children’s playground and picnic area.
Photo: 1960 Jim ‘Lik’ (age 14) camping under the melaleuca trees at Yallingup with Murray Smith & others in hammocks. Jim ‘Lik’ photo.
In 1961/62 the owner of the Yallingup Hotel, Bill Copley, let the ‘Wheels’ and later, the Cottesloe Board Club ‘Little Wheels’, build shacks to sleep and cook in the grounds of the hotel.
Photo: 1962 West Coast Board Club the ‘Wheels’ shack at Caves House Yallingup. L-R Jim Mackenzie, Gary Birch, Eric Hamer, Julie Paterson, Alan Hamer & Norm Silver. The American flag was souvenired from an US naval ship in Freo. Brian Cole pic.
Photo: 1963 Jim ‘Lik’ surfing Yallingup main break. Jim ‘Lik’ pic.
Photo: Early 1960s Moses Rock in the SW. L-R Howard ‘Ghost’ Kent, Jim ‘Lik’ Mackenzie, Kevin Merifield, Charlie Roper, Keith Campbell, Dave Williams & Terry Jacks. Terry Williams pic.
One of our favourite places to surf was a break known as ‘Gallows”. To get there we would have to drive through Dr Cullen’s property, where we would park and walk through the dunes. However, he eventually padlocked the gate to keep us out. This resulted in us pooling as much money as we could to get local farmer Butch Guthrie to bulldoze us a new road. Back then we didn’t wear wetsuits and there weren’t any leg ropes, so a wipe-out at the Gallows on a big day, meant a long swim back.
A few of the crew started to travel and surf the East Coast. This got me interested, so at the age of 17 I packed up and left for the North Shores of Sydney.
Photo: 1963 Leaving Perth for Sydney in Des Gaines Holden Station wagon. L-R Des Gaines, Jim Mackenzie, Rob McNab & Jim Farrell. (John ‘Dandaragan’ Robertson was picked up on the way). Jim ‘Lik’ pic.
While there I worked at Scott Dillion’s Surf Board factory at Brookvale and surfed with a lot of the top Australian surfers of the time. I fixed dings, sanded boards and made fibreglass fins.
Champion big wave surfer Bob Pike and WA’s Brian Cole also worked at Scott Dillion’s factory.
Photo: 1964 Scott Dillion surfboard showrooms under construction. Jim ‘Lik’ age 18 (holding surfboard) with Scott Dillion on wheel burrow. Jim ‘Lik’ pic.
Photo: 1964 completed Scott Dillion surfboards showrooms in Brookvale NSW. Ernie Potter pic.
In 1965 I was a member of the Scott Dillion Surf Team competing in the first Sydney Harbour to Manly wharf paddle race. Robert ‘Nat’ Young finished 1st in the paddle race and won a trip to the World Surfing Titles held in Lima Peru. I finished in 5th place.
Image: 1965 competitors relaxing prior to the Harbour to Manly paddle race. Jim Lik top centre. Manly newspaper cutting courtesy of Jim Lik.
Photo: 1965 Jim ‘Lik’ surfing Fairy Bower at Manly NSW. Photo courtesy of Jim ‘Lik’.
At age 19 I travelled back to Western Australia and worked on cray boats to earn money. Then at age 21 went to College in the United State of America on a sports scholarship to play Rugby Union. I spent five years in the States situated 2,000 miles from California where there was no surf. During that time Long Boards were taken over by the Shorter Board revolution. Upon returning to Western Australia with my Doctorate in Chiropractic, I moved to Yallingup and then the Gracetown area. I learned how to ride a short board and eventually rode a Surf Ski primarily at a break known as North Point.
Over the years there have been all kinds of tragedies that have impacted many people I know. The incident that touched me the most was the drowning of Jeff Dalziel while he was involved in a rescue in a huge swell at Yallingup on Easter long weekend April 1962.
The rescuers were honoured by the Royal Humane Society of Aust. Gold medals were awarded to Cliff Hills (19) of Cottesloe and posthumously to Jeff Dalziel (18) of Mosman Park. Kerry Davies (20) of Mosman Park was awarded a Silver Medal for his part in the rescue.
Three Boys Park in Mosman Park commemorates the three rescuers.
Images: 1962 Tribute to rescuers bravery. Images courtesy of WA Newspapers and Town of Mosman Park.
The children of early WA surfers were fortunate to be raised in this beautiful area and some have done exceptionally well on the Professional Surfing Circuit.
My son Sol was raised in South West WA. After spending 4 years surfing Maverick’s in California, he has become a gutsy surfer getting into some of Western Australia’s big waves like Cow Bombie and other Margaret River bombies.
Photo: 2005 Sol Mackenzie (age 32) surfing Cow Bombie in the SW. Sequence shots courtesy of Jamie Scott images.
Now the next generation of my grandkids are starting their own surfing journey.
Jim ‘Lik’ Mackenzie.
Editor’s note: Founded by Jim ‘Lik’ Mackenzie D.C. in 1972, Mackenzie Chiropractic Clinics have been servicing the South-West for over 40 years. Upon Lik’s retirement in 2000, the business was taken over by his son Sol Mackenzie D.C.
Social Photos by Loz Smith.
Top: (Left) 2004 YalMal 20th Anniversary Bowtie & Boardies Ball held at Surfside L-R Peter Dyson, Julie Angel & Jim ‘Lik’. (Right) 2014 Surfing Down South book launch at Vasse Felix Winery. L-R Kevin Merifield, Kevin Ager, Jim ‘Lik’, Peter Dyson & Ray Nelmes.
Bottom: 2016 ’60s Yallingup Board Club reunion held at Caves House Hotel Yallingup. L-R Rob Birch, Jim ‘Lik’, Mark Paterson, Brian Cole & Cliff Hills.