Update 17 November: 1967 Herbie Wiegele was awarded a Silver Medal for bravery by the Royal Humane Society of Australia – see media report below.
Note: The Royal Humane Society also awarded Certificates of Merit to six boys who rescued five people when two boats capsized at the Bunbury Cut on 4 June 1967. The rescuers included top Bunbury surfers Lex Cornelius and Peter Roberts.
Swanbourne surfer Malcolm ‘Mick’ Henryon age 18 drowned in big seas at Yallingup on 3 June 1967.
Mick and three mates Herbert ‘Herbie’ Wiegele (16) of Wilson and John ‘Paddy’ O’Donnell (19) and Gary Kontoolus (15) of Floreat arrived at Yallingup about noon on the Saturday. Mick, Herbie and Paddy went for a swim and quickly got into difficulties. O’Donnell swam back to shore but Mick was caught in a rip.
Mick’s mate Herbie Wiegele made two attempts to rescue him but was unable to get him back to shore in the rough conditions. A subsequent search by surf board riders was unsuccessful and Mick was lost at sea.
Image: 1967 Media coverage of the tragedy courtesy of WA Newspapers.
Herbie Wiegele – This is my recollection of the incident involving Mick Henryon. We were teenagers and bulletproof in those days, the loss of a friend in such circumstances was a shocking experience. Mick was a kind and gentle soul who did not deserve to go early in such a tragic event.
After arriving at Yallingup, we sat and watched the large storm swell rolling through the Yallingup main break totally unrideable as it was breaking into the bay away from the reef. Keen for a surf, we noticed a 1-2 metre clean wave breaking on the inside section of the main break and Paddy, Mick and I decided to give it a go. We paddled out with our flippers and bodyboards and were immediately swept into the bay, not aware of the strong side rip coming off the reef.
We had surfed Yallingup and other local breaks in the past and had never experienced Yallingup under those conditions. We all decided that we needed to catch a wave to shore and headed in towards the huge shore break. Paddy and I caught a wave and made it to the beach. We could see Mick behind the shore break and decided to try and swim a lifebelt out, but the strong side current and weed made that impossible. I was able to get out with my board and met Mick behind the break. At this time we were down towards Rabbits. Mick no longer had his board and was tiring. I gave him my board as we swam towards the shore break and our plan was to catch the same wave to shore. When a breaking wave came we went for it. I remember being thrown across a section of reef and made it to shore. I was surprised Mick was not there on the same wave. Shortly after that we could no longer see Mick in the water and someone made it out on a surfboard shortly after and could find no sign of anyone in the water.
Herb Wiegele 7/11/2017.
Mick’s homemade bodyboard was washed up in the surf at Yallingup beach.
Mick’s bodyboard will be on display at the WA Surf Gallery – Exhibition #1 which will be open to the public from 3 December 2017 at Aravina Estate Yallingup.
Photos: 1967 Mick’s home-made 40” x 19” wooden bodyboard with full length wooden keel. Photos courtesy of Shirley Swayn (nee Henryon).
Top: waxed deck with hand grip.
Bottom: full length wooden keel
Mick was a member of the Bombora Surfriders. Club members wore black parkas and boardies with white horizontal stripes and mainly rode bodyboards and kneeboards.
Bombora Surfriders Association and friends erected a plaque in Memory of Mick Henryon on a white post on the beach front at Yallingup.
Photo: 1960s plaque in memory of Mick Henryon erected by Bombora Surfriders Association and friends on a white post. Photo courtesy of Shirley Swayn (nee Henryon).
The original plaque on the post is now missing and another plaque has been erected on a limestone base at the bottom of the steps to the beach.
Let us know if you know the whereabouts of the original plaque!
Photo: 2017 plaque in memory of Mick Henryon erected by Bombora Surfriders Association on limestone base. Jim King pic.
Photo: Mid 1960s Bombora Surfriders on the vintage timber train at Margaret River.
Standing: Gary Kontoolus (Dec’d), Nick Thomas (Dec’d), Harley Scott, 3 children unidentified, Roger Sheridon, unidentified and Herbie Wiegele.
Sitting: Malcolm ‘Mick’ Henryon and Graham Nunn.
Photo: Mid 60s Bombora Surfriders on vintage timber train at Margs.
Photo: Mid 60s Bombora Surfriders posing on vintage timber wagon at Margs.
Photo: Mid 60s Bombora Surfriders on Three Bears dirt track at Yallingup.
Photo: Mid 60s Bombora Surfriders in club outfits camping in the South West.
Photo: Mid 60s Bombora Surfriders warming up around campfire in the South West.
Photo: Mid 60s Bombora Surfriders Club meeting at Cottesloe.
Photo: Mid 60s Bombora Surfriders human pyramid at Cottesloe.
Photo: Mid 60s Bombora Surfriders wave search at Cottesloe.
Photo: Mid 60s Bombora Surfriders team photo at Cottesloe.
Photo: 2017 Mick’s sister Shirley Swayn (nee Henryon) with Mick’s homemade bodyboard at Dunsborough. Jim King pic.
Many thanks to Mick’s sister Shirley and Herbie Wiegele for sharing their memories of Mick and the tragedy.