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1960s Cottesloe Beach – A trip down memory Lane

Former Cottesloe surfers Michael Bibby, Tina Wilson (nee Daly), Jeanne D’Arcy (nee Abbott), Dave Aylett, Dave Simmons and WA Surf Industry legend Len Dibben have recorded their memories of beach life at Cottesloe Beach in the 60s.

Cottesloe beach front by Michael Bibby (with assistance from Kim ‘Dish’ Standish)

The Cottesloe beach front was dominated in the 60’s by the Hotel Cottesloe on the northern corner of Marine Parade and John St and the Hostel Manly on the Southern side.

The pub and its beer garden were the main attraction in the evenings and days when there was no surf. On Fridays it was the meeting place for those lucky enough to be going down south for the weekend. Darts were the favourite pastime for many of the crew with Mark Paterson and Arty Shaw being the main hustlers. The younger guys were also competitive with Hume Heatley, Mike Bibby, Don McDonald being in the A team. The boys were busted when a photo of Mike Bibby winning a State schoolboys comp appeared in the West. As the drinking age was then 21, they then had to rely on the older guys like Terry James and Rob Birch to buy beers.

Image: 1995 Hotel Cottesloe. The Hotel Cottesloe opened its doors in 1905.Originally a wooden building on the corner of John Street and Marine Parade it was designed by C L Oldham. In 1937 it was remodelled in the Art Deco style. Courtesy of The Grove Library image number CPM00990.

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The Hostel Manly was a 2 story 40 bedroom 3 bathroom “guest house”. On the street level of Hostel Manly the Tearooms were called Norms after the owner. What went on upstairs is better left to the imagination. It was very run down and was finally demolished in 1971.

On the ocean side of Marine Parade there was the Centenary Bathing Pavilion that is now the Indiana Tearooms. That building contained the Seacrest Restaurant, Steak Cave, Mario’s fish and chip shop and the Cottesloe Surf Lifesaving Club.

In the late 60’s Cottesloe surfer Joe Wilson ran the WIPEOUT nightclub there (see Tina Wilson’s recollections below). Next to that building, the crew would sit on the lawns when not in the water, trying to impress the chicks and eating Mario’s chips.

Next to the Hostel Manly was the Lido dance hall. After it closed down, it was later owned by Cottesloe surfers Alan and John MacGilvray.

Image: c 1965 Centenary Bathing Pavilion before its demolition in 1982. Hostel Manly can still be seen in the background before it was demolished in 1971. Courtesy of The Grove Library image number CPM01960.

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There were 4 surf breaks at Cottesloe with winter being the best.  Depending on the sand banks the wave at the end of the groyne was by far the best being a long (for the city) left, then there was a reef between the groyne and the pylon, another at the pylon and then Slimey’s reef break.  All would end in a dumping shore-break which ripped out a number of fixed fins. As they were glassed in, the damage to the boards was often serious.

Sometime in the mid 60’s surfboards were banned in summer from the main beach due to conflict (and injuries) to swimmers, Despite the ban a few would risk their boards being impounded by the beach inspector just to get a couple of good waves.  It was fine if you didn’t fall off as the beach inspector would only grab the boards when they washed in. If leg ropes had been around in those days things would have been very different! The reef breaks to the south of Cottesloe (Cove, Isolated, Dutch Inn and Cable Station) then became popular.

For more historic images of Cottesloe beach & buildings click on The Grove Library.

WIPEOUT Nightclub by Tina Wilson

My husband Joe Wilson was approached by the Camp Association to see if they could hire the venue once a month on a Wednesday night. Joe approached the owner who was a very respectful gentleman, can’t think of his name at present, but he said that was great. Thinking it was the Boy Scouts. They all got a shock when it was the gay association. The people who ran the Camp Association were the nicest people you could ever wish to meet. They turned up in suits and were so respectful, etc. In those days the early 1970’s gay people were not really acknowledged. The Wednesday nights turned out a great success and the most alcohol ever consumed in the club. Therefore a very big money earner. They had a stripper called Jason who needed someone like me to talk to, as he would get very nervous before performing. Because his tiny weeny leather outfit was so precious to him, he asked me to stand in the front, so he could throw it to me as he knew I would return it to him.

The club was very popular with the SAS guys as it was close to Swanbourne army barracks. One of the bouncers Rick, was an ex Golden Gloves boxing champion and he loved a fight. But then Rick did a total turnabout from being an enthusiastic bouncer and turned to religion. Rick ended up trying to convert everyone and would come up to Jurien Bay and baptise us in the ocean, until it all got too much and Joe had to have a word to him. Unfortunately Rick died in the Philippines doing mission work. I could tell you so many stories, but they may not go down too well. Outrageous days for us all.

Photos: 1964 Joe Wilson with Smokey the dog and his two door Austin A30 sedan at the Cove Cottesloe. Photo courtesy of Arthur Sherburn.

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Photo: 1964 A collection of Cottesloe and City Beach girls in the Cottesloe Beach car park. Bert Moriarty pic.

L-R Nola Smith, Glenda Higgs, Stef Meyer, Tina Daly, Jeanne Abbott, Andrea Spence, Sue-Ellen Anderson (in front), Deanne Smith and Gail Spence.

Glenda Higgs was killed in a car accident in Cambridge Street a short time after this photo was taken. The ‘City Beach girls’ in fact all came from Floreat including sisters Nola and Deanne Smith. Andrea & Gail Spence are also sisters.

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Cottesloe beach girls by Jeanne Abbott

In the 60’s my cousin Tina Daly, Stef Meyer and myself and some other girls lived and surfed at Cottesloe.

We managed to save our money and ordered our own custom built surfboards from Colin and Rex Cordingley who lived in Stirling Highway, Mosman Park. Their father was a boat builder and the boys made surfboards. The boards were 9’2” with one stringer and one fin. The cost of these boards was approximately £35.

The original long boards were quite heavy and we used to carry them on our hips from Tina’s house in Cottesloe to all the beaches along the coast within walking distance. Sometimes the guys used to give us lifts and we used to put in for petrol.

Photo: 1963 Cottesloe beach girls L-R Tina Daly, Jeanne Abbott & Stef Meyer. Courtesy of WA Newspapers.1963-cottesloe-tina-daly-jeanne-abbott-stef-meyer-wa-newspaper-pic-img_001

It took a very long time before the local guys would have anything to do with us, as girls were not really accepted as they are now, but because Cottesloe was our home base, they finally came good and we became good friends especially in the winter months as we surfed all year round, come rain or shine.

When I was old enough to get my licence, my father purchased a Morris Minor convertible and this made our lives a lot easier to get around to any beach we wanted.

One day a beach inspector from Cottesloe came up to me and ordered me off the beach because I had bikinis on, I was shocked because they were cute little pink and white bikinis and he told me to put a t-shirt on and cover up as he said I looked indecent.  A far cry from the bikinis of today.

Norms Tearooms were directly across the road from the Cottesloe pavilion. He made the best pasties and hot chocolate drinks and we used to work & hang out there after many hours surfing.

We were lucky in those days as drugs had not hit our scene and our lives were content with surfing and attending the Swanbourne Stomp each Saturday night.

Photos: 1960s Cottesloe beach scenes. Photos courtesy of Tina Wilson (nee Daly).

Left: 1963 Stef Meyer and Tina Daly (age 15) eating our chips and coke from Mario’s around our fire at The Cove. Stef’s board, Karl Schumacher & others Cottesloe lads are in the background.

Right: 1965 Jeanne Abbott and Tina Daly (age 17) outside Tina’s parents’ house at Cottesloe getting ready to hit the surf.

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Surfing Cottesloe in the early days by Len Dibben

When I first started surfing in the late 50’s & through the 60’s even into the 80’s & 90’s Cable Station reef used to break really good, a great right hander. What stopped that break from working was the building of Cottesloe Groyne, Dutch Inn Groyne, Sand Tracks, the lengthening of the North Mole, City Beach groyne & Floreat groyne, just to name a few.

Those were the days when North Mole was a secret spot. Also before the Cottesloe groyne was built in 1959, there was no surf to speak of at Isolated, Seconds or Cove. We surfed Cottesloe beach at the Dummy (formerly the Loom), the Bell (also known as the Pylon) & Slimys reef, Dutch Inn (pre Groyne) & Cable station in the winter.

The beach at Dutch inn was quite wide as local fishermen used to leave their wooden clinker boats on the sand all year round and we guys at Cottesloe used them as a wind breaks when we came in from a surf. In a south west wind we would build a fire to warm ourselves in between surfs.

There were no wet suits, maybe footy jumpers & our swim costumes. Surfers back then were Terry James, Bob Birch, Gary Birch, Cliff Hills, Ron Allen, Jeff Dalziel & Kerry Davies. There were about 10 – 15 of us that were regulars at all these breaks. I was the only guy not from Cottesloe, I was from Beaconsfield.

Click on this link to view Len’s web site  www.lendibbensurfboards.com.au

Photo: 1968-9 Len Dibben’s surf shop on the side of former church North Freo. Len Dibben pic.

Just a wavering, stagger home by Dave Aylett

I lived just down the road from the Cottesloe Hotel. Just a wavering, stagger home. Summer and no swell would see the BOYS playing darts and hanging over the pubs balcony wall, offering ourselves to anything in a bikini.

Image: 1995 Hotel Cottesloe on Marine Parade. Courtesy of The Grove Library image number CPM00991.

One day, returning home after dragging myself up the stairwell steps, I negotiated my path to what I thought was my front door. BLOODY KEY wouldn’t fit would it! I gave up trying and gave the door a bit of a bang. The door opened and I tripped in over the threshold and was confronted by Mrs. Young senior. Peter Young’s mother. She was in the WRONG place! She supposed to be down stairs. OOPS! I may have taken a wrong turn somewhere. “VERY SORRY” about turn and hearing MY FATHER’S voice loudly saying “DAVID COME UP HERE!!!”

After finally finding home dad dragged me in behind closed door and said “It’s useless talking to you now, l think we’ll leave it till tomorrow“. Then with dad’s help I made it to my room.

Next thing I know is my rooms ceiling and light fitting are rocking and I had a sudden urge to throw up. Real lucky my windows fly screen had been removed. Must have been something I ate. Boy did I let loose. Next thing I hear are voices. Dad once again interrupts me trying to get some sleep. “DAVID! Were you just sick out your window?” I said “No….l don’t think so”.

In the morning things were very quiet and tense. It was just TOO MUCH for dad not to say anything and I got a lecture on drinking too much and how I had disturbed Mrs Young, who really was a lovely elegant lady and Mrs Commley the tenant of the dress shop ground floor who accused me of spewing on her.

After all that SURF’S UP, I’m GONE. Ain’t life grand?

Isolated & the Cove by Dave Simmons

I remember Isolated and the long row of cars parked along the wall. I swear there were great waves all the time in those days. And one morning while I walked out over the reef at Isolated a friendly voice asked me if I’d like to join Southern Surfriders….it was Arty Sherburn.

Photo: 1967 Dave Simmons and Giles Geiger at Dave’s place at Cottesloe. Dave Simmons pic.

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I had some beautiful sessions with one of the Callaghan brothers at the Cove, he was only very young then, but what a great surfer. Every time we went out, the sun was shining with beautiful light off shore breezes. And the Cove used to peak right over on the inside. I remember seeing the City Beach guys going out at the Cove lots of times.

One afternoon at the Cove, it was a beautiful day with great waves, my sister Liz actually swam out to me where everyone was taking off. So funny, she nearly got dumped. It was actually a fair size that day.

And Jeff St John and Copperwine were playing at the Cott Surf Club. They were just so good!!  When I heard them that night, I couldn’t believe it. From memory, I think Rob Gardiner from West Coast Surfboards (I rode WC boards heaps in those days) used to know Jeff St. John.

I also remember watching Ian Mitchell surf really well on a twin fin at Cottesloe Main Beach on a glassy winter’s afternoon.

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  • Kevin

    Interested in daly family .napier st cottesloe