In the early 60s Cottesloe Beach was dominated by three buildings, The Cottesloe Hotel and Manly Hostel on the corners of John Street and Marine Parade and the Seacrest Restaurant (now Indiana’s) on the ocean side. The lawns on each side of the Seacrest Buildings were the gathering spots for surfers
The Cottesloe Groyne was built in 1959 and this changed the sand pattern along the beach, creating several beach breaks.
Image #1. 1961 Cottesloe Beach winter.
In winter, with a big swell, there was a left hand break at the end of the groyne which (depending on the sand bank would run across to the pylon. There were two other reef breaks between the groyne and the pylon, one at the pylon and another further north known as “Slimy Reef”.
Image #2. Cottesloe Beach with groyne in the background.
After the groyne was constructed a concrete board walk linked the footpath near the Seacrest building (now Indiana) to the groyne. During winter the waves would break right up to the boardwalk creating an additional hazard to surfers.
Image #3. Surfing Cottesloe shore break in front of the pylon.
This is a collection of memories from members of the Cottesloe Board Club in the early 1960s. The memoirs have been collated by former CBC member Mike Bibby.
Some preliminary email chatter between Mike and former CBC President Victor Kailis follows: –
From: Mike Bibby
To: Victor Kailis
Subject: Cottesloe in the early 1960s.
Good to make contact with you after all these years. Great surf history photos which we will add to the collection. Do you still fit into the board club shorts?
What I would like to nail is the story of how the Cottesloe Board Club started. You were El Presidente as I remember, but I don’t know when it was founded and who the original members were. (ie Terry James, Dave Aylett etc). Surfing Down South has done a great job with the Yallingup Board Club story, but the Cottesloe story has yet to be told. It is probably more interesting than the City Beach mob, as we were by far the better surfers! (Sorry CBSR mob!).
One of the lasting memories, I have is how good you older guys with cars were to the younger crew, carting us around with our boards.
From: Victor Kailis
To: Mike Bibby
Subject: Cottesloe in the early 1960s
Great to hear from you too. The board shorts fit one thigh now, sad fact of life!
You’re correct we were the chauffeurs, Carl Schumacher (Schuy great surfer) used to beg on his knees for rides. I think the most profound experiences were: No wet suits in the winter or ever, not uncommon to witness someone paddle out with a cigarette in their mouth, dropping in was a serious crime, surfing for extended periods up 4 to 5 hours with no sunscreen! Heavy wipe outs in the deep (no one was afraid of rips), we seemed to swim forever, the principal diet was a huge jubilee twist with thick pink icing and butter washed down with large 750ml coke, beautiful! The bullshit between members was epidemic, which was the best of all!
I recall an American named Hank Palou (not certain of the surname spelling) named the Cottesloe Cove surf break.
Vic is no more, its Victor or in your case Victorious…. What a wonderful surprise to think a historic record will be established of our unique surfing life.
The Great VGK always going left…………..
My surfing career began in the late 1950’s with Colin Morris on inflatable rubber mats, we then graduated to Malibu surfboards, my first being made of balsa wood. These boards were very heavy, very absorbent when dinged and had fixed single fins.
The next boards were the classic single fin long boards, wooden stringers to give them strength. Cordingley Bros and Len Dibben were the local manufactures and the Eastern States brands, were also popular.
I rode to the beach on my bike with a trolley attached to carry the board. As the boards were around 9’6” and weighed 15+ kgs it was an effort to get up Grant Street Hill (and even more dangerous on the way down). A lift to the beach from our parents or an older neighbour was very much appreciated.
Images #4. 1960s Mike Bibby surfing at the Cove. Mike Bibby pics.
Image #5. 1961 Mike Bibby and Colin Morris at Cottesloe. Mike Bibby pic.
My recollection of the story is vague, but I believe it was formed to demonstrate to others we were the power of surfing on the west coast, especially to the Scarborough club. We won the majority of random held competitions.
Comradery was the focus for all and the ability to surf regularly as a team at our favourite jaunts was paramount. All meetings were held at Meg Sheen’s (Craig’s mum) house in Dalkeith and we were serious with our agendas!! I think Hume was treasurer, Peter Dyson vice president (a mandatory appointment), Craig was club spokesmen on all matters regarding sex with chicks in the sand hills, our hero!
Image #6. 2017 Victor Kailis’s Cottesloe Board Club Shorts. Vic Kailis pic.
Images #7. 1965-66 Victor with surfboard at Scarborough (left) and Surf Beach (right). VG Kailis pics.
Images #8. 1967 Victor in full flight at the Cove. VG Kailis pics.
I recently had a conversation with Vic Kailis about this very subject. Vic remembers the American guy that named “the Cove” among other valuable recollections and the early days of his tenure as president of Cottesloe board club. He still has a pair of the canary yellow board shorts with the black stripes on the left leg…. see Image #6.
I remember guys like “peanuts” (Jeff Umberhaun) and Carlhiens Schumacher (whose dad used to throw empty cans at Vic Morrow in the “Combat series” every Tuesday night, he was a Lt in the panzer tanks during WW11, Carl, his mum, Hume Heatley and I wouldn’t be there on a Tuesday night) where huge parts of the culture, a few others I could add where John Pozzi, Bill Oddy, Allan Mac, Kim Standish, Terry James, “Roy Heffener” alias “Roberta Scary” Burch, Dave Aylett, Dave Beamish, Terry Jacks, Bill Brehney, Dave Sutherland, Bill Gates who had the panel beaters nightmare (Mayflower), he used to throw kegs at his house for us guys after a surf and pay for it. Other guys I remember from those days and the list goes on were, Howard “The Ghost” Kent, “Boonga” Smith, Dyso, JD’s the hamburger guy who introduced that sort of fair in his shop near the Cott hotel, “Fredlegs” Lohovich the Bob Dylan lookalike who could play harmonica just like the man. We all had our preferred micro groups within the greater number, but it was the early days of culture when the naughtiest thing we did was crack a king brown or two on the weekend and the glue that held the identity of this new culture together was surfing. Every edition of “Surfing World” and “Surfer” magazines was reading at its best over and over.
Image #9. 1965 Yalls Board Club members at Yallingup. (Image includes former CBC members) – Sonny James pic
L-R Mark Waddell, Fred Lochowitch, Bill Oddy, John Pozzi, Peter Bothwell, Terry James, Craig Brent-White, Kim Woods, Geoff Berry and Trevor Baskerville.
The first interstate surfers to arrive between 1960 and 1965 where “Smithy” who shaped for Joe Larkins boards in QLD and his crew, “Box” Waldeck and “Kiwi” White from Adelaide; both outfits had kombi vans and made us curious about surfing further afield. “Box” lives on a remote island with unbelievable surf North of Manado in the Philippines and regularly shares his Facebook page called ‘myoho surf”. Still surfing and “Kiwi” visits him to share those great waves. I still stay in touch with them.
Julian Mazzetti from Sydney who lived in North Cottesloe and used to come surfing with John Balgarnie and myself to Ray Gearys’ shack break often. Dave Condon was a Sydney guy who lived in Cottesloe for years and hung around the Cove. I knew Kerry Harmanis from school, not the Cove or Cottesloe beach. A lot of females surfed and were very much a part of the beach crew as anybody else.
Maybe it doesn’t matter what we represented over the period, we were people of that time, we all enjoyed the same thing and that was the development of the surfing culture. There was no admission fee, only board clubs sought identity in a small group by association, no lock on the gate; if you surfed you hung out.
Guy Leyland, Johnny Venturas, Alex Chobanov, Rob Burch, Cliff Hills were there…the list goes on. Bill Gates was there in 1964, John Pozzi, Bill Oddy, Vance Cocks, John Staley was a sausage maker from Bunbury who won the state title around then. Dick Leonard, Joe Wilson, Tina Daly, Stefanie Meyer (Miss West Coast) and Jeanie Abbott, these last three girls used to go out at Cottesloe in winter when the sand bank was right.
So many great memories we all had of those days, good idea to share now before old-timers sets in.
Peter ‘Di-Ri’ Dyson
In the mid-60s I lived in Dalkeith and was a junior member of the Cottesloe Board Club.
Images #10: 1960s Peter Dyson and his Cottesloe Surf Board Club membership card. Peter Dyson images.
In the early ‘60s I purchased my first polyurethane and fibreglass surfboard from former wooden boat builders Colin and Rex Cordingley in Stirling Highway, Mosman Park. The board cost 39 pounds and 10 pence and was expensive due to the cost of imported Bennett blanks. The board was a white colour with a red and black stripe. It weighed approx. 30lbs and had a bullet proof fibreglass and resin job. I used to drag it down to Slimys at North Cottesloe for a surf. Cordingley’s purchased adhesives and paint brushes from Dysons, my family’s business in Perth.
Images #11: 1960s Peter surfing the Cove at Cottesloe on his surfboard with wooden nose block. Peter Dyson Pics.
Colin Morris – Reflections of a grommet
My family moved to Cottesloe in the mid 1950’s which was to be a life changing thing. My first memory of Cottesloe beach was hiring a rubber blow up surf mat and feeling that thrill of catching a wave. My family booked me into Christ Church Grammar School (CCGS) and as the fifties turned into the sixties a number of boys at the school were interested in the new revolution of surfing on so called short boards.
My good friend Michael Bibby was also a CCGS student and being that we lived a few houses from each other, was my surfing buddy. In the summer of 1960 after scrounging up the money required, I became the proud owner of a Cordingley Brothers hollow wooden board 9’3” long. I was made! We both constructed wooden board carriers which we towed behind our push bikes. These boards were heavy and being that Grant Street was the only way west the journey was a struggle. I did have a state of the art 3 speed Sturmy Archer 3 speed gears on the bike, but crashes and hard peddling were still required.
Image #12. Colin Morris with his new wooden Cordingley surfboard. Colin Morris pic.
We both spent a great deal of time surfing the Slimy Reef. The sand shift has now pretty much ended that spot, but it provided endless amusement to us. I would need to come into the beach at regular intervals and take the cork out of the front of the board to empty out the water. Cott main and the Dummy were of course in full swing when a good swell arrived. Winter was the most likely time and to ward off the cold we used to wear our school footy jumpers! This did stop the wind but was also a great handicap for swimming after your board.
At some point we discovered the Cove and at first used to paddle around the groyne as beach access was very difficult owing to the bush on the hill.
Also, at some point we did surf and name the surf break Isolated. This was a difficult place to get too. All the grassed area we now see is reclaimed land. The beach scrub came right up to the road along that part of coast opposite the golf course. In the late sixties from memory, the area at the bottom of Pearce Street was filled and access to the beach was a lot easier. Isolated was named because it was Isolated! The nearest shop was the Dutch Inn which was about the same distance as the Cott shops.
After surfing our crew always hung out on the grass on the north side of the Tea rooms, which was a different building then. There was a shop on the northern corner for the necessaries. Norm’s was the shop hang out and was in a building where the ice cream shop is now. Norm made the best hot chocolate and also had a jar of filter tips near the till so cash strapped groms could buy one fag at a time.
On the corner of Marine Pde and John St was the regulation red phone box with the regulation Bakelite phone. You could dial the number you wanted and shout down the earpiece and let Mum know you were setting off home. These were without doubt dream days.
I lived in Applecross and would hitchhike to the beach on weekends. My surfing days began as a cadet life saver at Leighton SLSC along with John Pozzi and Vance Cocks. In 1961 we won the State cadet R&R competition at Scarborough. We left the surf lifesaving club after being disciplined for surfing instead of training. We left our boards at John Pozzi’s house in Stirling Hwy, Leighton and walked to the beach from there.
Initially Leighton and Cable Station were our surfing spots and we gradually moved north to Cottesloe.
In addition to those already mentioned there were others such as Guy Quackenbush, Tim Burns, Digby deBruen, Jon Meyer, Rob Malcolm of course, Chris Dermer. Was Kerry Harmanis there around 1965? Perhaps it was 1966 when he had his driver’s licence, flogging around in the 2 ton Studebaker Lark. Kerry still holds the land speed record between Yallingup and Dunsborough – before the road was straightened – with car full and boards on top. You would not want to contemplate the likely possibilities!
Judge David Williams and Victor Kailis took us young’uns surfing south of Perth to spots such as Surf Beach, Avalon, Gearys’ Shack, Miami and sometimes beyond to Yallingup.
Our boards were generally stored either at the rear of the BP garage on corner of Marine Pde and Overton Gardens or at the rundown, dark, spooky Queen Anne style house in Forest Street, a few doors up from Il Lido. It is now well restored and gentrified, but I suspect in those days it was a doss house for ‘alkis’ and social misfits, as was much of John Street and the immediate area.
Image #13. 2017 the Queen Anne style house on Forest St Cottesloe where Theo and the boys stored their surfboards. Google pic.
For those of us who lived in nearby suburbs, transport home was via our parents or siblings after a phone call from the phone box. We had worked out that if you tapped the receiver piece up and down quickly and yelled into the mouth piece, our drivers would be alerted that we wanted to be picked up – “necessity is the mother of invention”.
There was the boarding house on the corner of Marine Parade and John Street where all manner of odd characters came and went – often within the hour. We were not exactly sure what was happening there, but we later suspected that Norm who had the shop on Marine Pde was running a string of girls upstairs – he was a colourful character.
After a surf, there was nothing better than popping into Norm’s for a cup of hot soup and a chat. He used to sell cigarettes individually to us – so nice of him, knowing we couldn’t afford a whole packet.
My great uncle Emmanuel Kalaf created the Seacrest Restaurant on the Cottesloe oceanfront above the surf lifesaving club that had been built in the early 1900s – the predecessor of Indiana’s. At the time it was one of only two A la carte fine dining venues in Perth, the other being Loui’s in Sherwood Court Perth CBD.
The Seacrest was generally a night time venue and the doors were closed doors most of the time while we were surfing. Next door however was Mario’s fish and chippery. The cost effective option for us was the ‘chip butty’ – chips in a buttered roll – yum. There was occasionally the poverty option of the ‘crispy bun’ – all the floating bits from the hot oil in a buttered but. Perhaps not recommended by the Heart Foundation, but it filled the gap. I remember that was a favourite of Carl Schumacher, who I now can understand came from a pretty tough background.
I remember Dave Condon from Sydney, who appeared to have no visible means of support and we suspected lived on the proceeds of petty crime. Dave is remembered for his insistence when taking us on surf tours that we pay ‘upholstery miles’ as well as our share of fuel.
There was a strong contingent of Cottesloe surfers from Christ Church Grammar School. John Balgarnie, Colin Morris, Mike Bibby, Hume Heatley, Don McDonald, Craig Brent-White, Theo Matthews, Guy Leyland, Ashley Jones, Lee Verios, and Phil Hayes were all keen Cottesloe surfers.
The Christ Church team went on to win the inaugural State Schoolboys Competition in 1965.
Image #14. 1965 Christ Church state school boys surf team at Scarborough Beach.
L to R Theo Matthews, Craig Brent-White, Guy Leyland, Mike Bibby (with trophy), Hume Heatley, Phil Hayes and Ashley Jones. (young Murray Smith is standing behind Ashley). Mike Bibby pic.
In regards to inception of the Cottesloe Board Club – other board clubs had already formed up the northern beaches and I guess it was the older guys who suggested we needed to represent our patch. They had the experience and organizational skills to set up the structure and the image. It was around the same time that the Beatles has smart suits, we had smart yellow and black spray jackets – clearly identifiable as our tribe.
There was a rather grubby end to the Club, when there was a vote to wind up the Club with the members to take a share of the funds in the bank. Of course, everyone thought that was a great idea. The steam had gone out of the Club by then anyway.
Many, many great memories of those times
The First Schoolboys Surf Championships…..as I remember it!
Christ Church Grammar School had a strong team, as most of us were in Yallingup or Cottesloe board clubs and / or Cordingley Surf team.
We won the teams event and on the Monday, we thought we would take the jarrah trophy up to the headmaster (Peter Moyes) Office, hoping he would display it in the lobby with all the other school trophies.
He basically said “piss off, surfing is not a school sport, take it away”
I would like to think we did our bit for surfing, as I believe surfing became a school sport in some cases.
I think Di-Ri (Peter Dyson) surfed for Hale School and won the individual trophy and I was placed second. I’m not sure who was third.
I still have the trophy which was donated by Hawke surfboards.
Image #15. 1965 Don McDonald’s Hawke Surfboards trophy. Don McDonald pic.
The Cottesloe Board Club was formed in the mid-sixties with Victor Kailis being the first president. The Club’s colours were yellow with two black bands on the legs.
The spell that surfing has had over us for about 55 years, still cannot be matched or beaten by anything else, no matter how hard we try. Most people reading these stories will understand what I mean.
It was an amazing time of our lives.
These stories bring back great memories of the friends we made and the things we did.
Kim ‘Dish’ Standish, from Yallingup Board Club mocked us, constantly calling us the Canaries, because of our Yellow Parkas and board shorts, he did it with a high pitch, birdlike squeal. I remember us all being impressed with Victor’s white EH, especially if you were privileged to ride in it. Vic’s style as President was Presidential in the extreme, nobody else got a word in, which was fine by us, he was brilliant and spoke with great authority, style, panache, and most of all, he made sense. Not like some Presidents. The winding up meeting of Cottesloe Board Club was a sad affair, but the money exciting. The last stand spokesperson was Rod Bothwell, pleading to reinvigorate the club, it fell on deaf ears, we were already spending the money, could have been $60+ each, good for purchasing beer and cigarettes.
As for Kerry Harmanis, it was maybe 1966, check with him, we loved the Lark, I think we nearly died in it twice, and every time I drive a slow off-camber, downhill spot on Caves Road. I think of it as our collective possible exit spot.
Image #16. 1964 Ashley Jones and Theo Mathews with repaired surfboard at Mosman Park. Theo Mathews pic.
Life was great growing up in Cottesloe during the sixties, we had a horse in the back yard, ducks and chickens with surf breaks on our door step and no crowds. In the early days I struggled with a ply board with a bung to drain the water and being held together with copper nails. Pretty happy to get my first balsa and resin board, but its weight carrying it a mile to the beach on my head became a bit of an effort.
Image #17. Early 1960s Rob Malcolm with his first resin board.
The bike trolley overcame the problem and was a great way of getting around. Also, for dragging my brother around the back yard.
Image #18. Early 1960s Rob Malcolm towing his brother in the bike trolley.
Times, they were as changing when Theo Mathews and Lee Verios walked down the beach with the first polyurethane and glass board everyone was keen to try and became their best friends.
Nose riding was popular after the release of “Surfer Joe” with his toes on the nose of the Malibu. With the longer light weight boards this was all possible, Dave Beamish was a guy everyone watched as well Schuey who showed no fear.
This was the era of the stomp, Johnny Young having stomp parties on Swanbourne beach which was a big social event. Boards became more refined and lighter and some of us were ordering boards from over east, my 3 stringer Dale from Brookvale took a lot of saving for but was a prized possession and lived in the house.
Being asked to join the Cottesloe board club meant sharing a lot of great surf experiences including planning the first trip down south in Kim Jones’s Morris Minor. Continually stopping to let the motor cool down and watching the road pass under you through a hole in the floor and arriving 6 1/2 Hrs later.
The trip down south became faster and I remember going down with 6-8 boards in Kerry Harmanis’s v8 Studebaker Lark, not sure how we survived those trips, but thanks to Kerry years later he forfeited his place to me in the legends Malibu Classic and when the comp was over, I took home the great legends trophy made by the legend himself Bob Monkman.
The love of the ocean has stayed with me having lived in Yallingup for 42 years.
Image #19. 1998 Rob Malcolm’s Yallingup Malibu Classic trophy.
For more memories of growing up on Cottesloe beach click on the following links:-
Many, many great memories of those times for the Cottesloe Board Club boys & girls.