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Jim McFarlane’s 1960s SW surfing recollections

Jim McFarlane lives at Yallingup and is a veteran South West surfer.

These are Jim’s recollections of surfing in the SW in the 1960s.

First SW Trip

My first trip to Yallingup was in 1963, with my father, 2 brothers and Peter Eakins (later to be a great WAFL & VFL footballer). I was 13 years old and we camped under the melaleucas in hammocks above Yallingup Beach. It was Easter and there was a range of surf craft, ranging from Malibu’s, long timber toothpicks, skis and surf boats. We headed down to Cowaramup Bay to check out the surf at South Point. Today it reminds me of a scene from the “Endless Summer’ surf movie. After walking through the bush and across the sand dunes we arrived at the point to find no surf at all, so we headed back to Yallingup to find out one of the guys had been attacked by a shark.

Editor’s noteBrian Audus age 25 was surfing on chest board at Yallingup when he was bitten on the arm by a shark. It was not fatal.

Dolphins Surfriders Club

In 1964 I joined the Dolphins Surfriders (or hairy backs). A great group of the original surfers of WA. Names like Alan Robbins, Ron Drange, Ray Geary, Ray Nelmes, Keith Smith, Ray Smith, Dave Campbell & Kevin Merifield. My first trip away on a Dolphin comp weekend was with Don Campbell & Don Glenister when I was about 16. We were picked up by Don Campbell about 8.30 pm on a filthy, stormy Friday night. I remember mum wasn’t too happy about us going down south on such a foul weekend. Three in the front of Don’s Falcon Ute. We slept in the Dolphin’s board shack built on land behind Caves House Hotel. We woke on Saturday morning to find the wind had dropped but the swell was huge. The old ‘Hairy Back’s’ decided the Farm would be good, so we checked it out and found out it was also too big. Tony Harbison was there and said Cape Piquet might be ok. We arrived to find perfect waves running off the point. “The comp was on!” The wind was freezing and the water just as cold. A fire was lit on the point and we spent most of the day surfing the best section I can remember there, to this day! The only wet suits available were clumsy dive wetsuits – usually with arms cut off, which gave you a hell of a chaff. I surfed in my father’s old West Perth jumper.

Dolphins Club Shack at Yallingup

The Dolphins were mainly contract carpenters, builders & small business men. They got together and built a shack on Yallingup Hotel land – with the Publican’s approval. It had one big room, with a kitchen at the end and a bathroom at the side. It was fitted out with triple bunks, which made it quite cosy. Because some of us were under age and couldn’t go to the bar, the oldies would sometimes bring us back a few beers. It would get quite interesting for us young ones, when the guys and their wives/girlfriends got back to the shack after closing time, all jolly & horny. Enough said!!

Photo: 1964 Dolphins Club Shack at Yallingup. Photo courtesy of Ernie Potter.

1964 Yalls Dolphins shack Caves House #2 - E potter pic

Demise of Dolphins Club Shack

The shack had to be removed from the hotel land in 1966 because the State Government had sold the hotel to a couple of local farmers, who didn’t have any time for surfers. We decided to go down, cut the shack into pieces and store behind Surfside Store, with the hope of being able to re0asemble it somewhere else, in the future. The outgoing publican of the hotel was a great bloke, he was very apologetic and plonked a 10 gallon keg in the middle of the shack for the workers. Needless to say, the shack came down pretty quick smart. That night we were invited to the hotel for a farewell dinner. It was a great night with fantastic servings of prawns, crays etc. Scarborough’s Murray Smith was serving behind the bar and the publican said we could have what we liked. Harvey Wallbangers were the go until some other guests arrived. The cops from Busselton were also invited and when they saw underage drinkers they started asking questions. The publican came out and told them we were guests and to leave us alone. And so that was what happened! The shack was never rebuilt and it is suspected that Tony Harbison used the timbers to build one of his Hideaway Holiday Homes at Yallingup – better him than the white ants!

Editor’s note: In the early 1960s Bill Copley the lessee and licencee of  Caves House Hotel, Yallingup allowed the West Coast, Yallingup and Dolphins board clubs to build club shacks on the hotel grounds. In 1966 Caves House was sold by the State Govt to the Emmett brothers and the new owners reclaimed the West Coast shack (old laundry) and wanted the other two shacks demolished to make way for paid accommodation.

Before the Dung Beetles

Early summer was hell in the SW, with bush flies breeding up to plague proportions. I remember many walks from the gravel down to Gallows when the track had become impassable to 2WD. Bags on our backs, mals on our head and towels wrapped around our face, like something out of Lawrence of Arabia, to keep the buggers away. Often we arrived at the surf, coloured black from the ilmenite sand only to find a howling onshore wind.

Kevin Merifield’s Merc

Kevin Merifield spent a lot of time surfing Gallows and Guillotine. As we sometimes walked down the track, boards on head and towels wrapped around our faces, we could hear Kevin roaring up the dirt track in his Mercedes. He seemed to be able to get up & down the track in almost any conditions.

Photo: 1968 Kevin Merifield’s Mercedes 280SE on the Gallows dirt track – Jim McFarlane pic

1968 Gallows track Kevin Merifield's Merc 280SE- J McFarlane img623

Bare Bears

I used to surf Three Bears a lot over summer – in the nude! Not only did it feel free, but not many other surfers dropped in on me!

Editor’s noteunfortunately we don’t have a photo of bare Jim surfing Bears!

Photos: (Left) 1966 party wave at Rocky Point. (Right) 1967 Jim McFarlane in boardies surfing Lighthouse near Cape Naturaliste – Jim McFarlane pics.

1966-67 Rocky Point & Lighthouse JIm McFarlane collage_photocat

Boodge Guthrie

A few locals didn’t take kindly to the influx of surfers. Boodge Guthrie was one such local. The sign on his gate of his farm on Caves Road read “No fuel, No phone, No tow”.

Harbo & the Bikies

Tony ‘Harbo’ Harbison and some of the senior surf crew had a few run-ins with bikies who would cause trouble at the Yallingup pub. After a heated discussion, Harbo told the bikes that if they were so tough they should come down to Yallingup Beach and try surfing. He offered to lend them some boards. They turned up the next morning and headed off in their jeans to attempt the waves. After floundering around for an hour, they handed back the boards and thanked Tony, shook hands and left friends.

Jim’s Surfmobiles

Photos: (Left) 1966 Ken Fletcher & Jim’s Holden panel van at Yalls. (Right) 1973 Jim’s VW 2 door station wagon on Yalls hill – Jim McFarlane pics

1966 & 73 Jim McFarlanes cars at Yalls collage_photocat

House on the Hill

Jim and his wife Margaret built a house on Yallingup hill in 1973-75.

Photos: 1973-75 construction of McFarlane residence – Jim McFarlane pics

1973-75 McFarlanes residence Yallingup Hill collage_photocat

Photo: 1983 Jim McFarlane surfing Three Bears in a wettie – Jim McFarlane pic

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Jim is retired and a regular in the surf at Yallingup.

The McFarlane’s live in their house on the hill when they are not chasing the sun around OZ & NZ.