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1960s Gallows surf break & dirt track

History

Cattle farmer, vigneron & ex Busselton GP, the late Dr Kevin Cullen purchased a rural property at Wilyabrup in the early 50s. A powerful left hand reef break in front of the Cullen family beach house was appropriately named Gallows.

Tony HarbisonDr Cullen’s dentist friend Ron Rankin-Wilson from North Cott SLSC was invited down to the beach house for a weekend. He walked to the beach and saw the wave going-off. Ron was the first to paddle out on his 16ft single ski and surf Gallows.

As word spread about this hot new wave, the dirt track to the house (Cullen Rd) became a main thoroughfare. The track stopped approx. 2 kilometres from the coast and surfers had to sneak through the bush past the Cullen beach cottage to the beach lugging their heavy Malibu’s. The surfers would often disturb Dr Cullen’s attractive daughter sun baking nude in the back yard.

Photo: 1961 Gallows bush walk pre-dirt track. Steve Mailey pic.

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In the early 60s the West Coast Board Club used all the money they had in their bank account £20 to pay local cattle farmer Boodge Guthrie to bulldoze a rough dirt track through the remaining bush to the coast (Gallows and Guillotine).

The track’s black ilmenite sand was very hot in summer & there were bush flies in plague proportions. But the popular reef break was now accessible to all SW surfers.

For more background information on Gallows refer Surfing Down South book published 2014 by Margaret River Press. (Reprinted 2015). See early Gallows anecdotes by Tony Harbison, Geoff Culmsee, Kevin Merifield & Jim McFarlane.

Gallows Line-up

Gallows initially breaks 500 meters out to sea, before reforming and breaking on the inside where the take-off zone is. Tow-in teams use the outside break as a practice ground.

Bigger waves wash all the way through from the outside and the inside is best ridden on a smaller swell. The inside reform has a shifty peak and in bigger swells has a sweep that drags you north.

Gallows can be a fun wave and it doesn’t get too crowded.

The old dirt track off Cullen Rd in no longer in use. Surfers now access Gallows & Guillotines from Juniper Road.

A collection of surfers anecdotes and photos follow:-

Dave Williams – In the late 50s there was a surfer at Yallingup called John ‘Red’ Abbott, we used to call him ‘Brer Rabbit’. He would come to Yalls with a sleeping bag, a hammock, a piece of ply 6” x 6” (which he used as a hand board), a towel, his money & clothing. He was very microscopic as far as the gear he took down south.

Photo: 1958 John ‘Red’ Abbott surfing on his plywood hand board at Gallows. Photographer unknown.

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Jim Keenan – In March 1961 I went to Yalls for a two month holiday with Puppy Dog Paton a talented surfer from Manly NSW. It was the summer that fires ripped the South West apart with many mill towns like Karridale wiped out. We were also nearly wiped out at the Gallows on a very big day. The bomboras were working for what seemed miles out to sea. We were stupid enough to try out the fourth break and it was there that we were threatened by the relentless swell. Puppy was only about 17 years of age and I was fearful of losing him in the surf. We chose our wave with respect and managed to make shore a little out of sorts.

Photo: 1961 Gallows outside break. L-R Jim Keenan & Puppy Dog from Manly NSW. Photo courtesy of Jim Keenan.

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Brian Cole – Howard ‘The Ghost’ Kent was a keen SW big wave rider in the early 60s. He got his nickname from the white zinc cream he plastered on his face.

Bill Gibson – In the 60s ‘The Ghost’ was always surfing at Gallows. He was the furthest one out chasing the big ones!

Photo: 1961 Howard ‘The Ghost’ Kent surfing at Gallows. Photo credit Brian Cole.

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Zac Kochanowitsch My first trip down south was quite by accident. In the summer of 62 I travelled to Avalon (near Mandurah) with my mates John McGuire and Boz Cummins in John’s mum’s new Morris Minor 1000. When we got there the surf was too small so John said “bugger this, we are going to Gallows”. John immediately dismantled the car’s speedometer cable as he was told to go no further than Avalon and his dad always took a speedo reading to check how far we travelled that day.

To save time we headed off down the Old Coast Road on a rough dirt track between Lake Preston Road House and Australind. Finally we found our way to the The Gallows. To our surprise we were the only ones there, it was offshore wind and a perfect head high wave. We surfed for 2 hours then John said “we have to go home now as I have to have the car home before 6pm”. So we headed home to wash the car & reconnect the speedo and pretend Avalon was as far as we went.

Photo: 1962 Gallows close-out set heading towards surfer Brian Cole. Photo courtesy of Brian Cole.

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Mark Hills – My dad (Cliff Hills) was one of the early pioneers to use the dirt track to the Cullen property to access and surf Gallows.

Photos. 1962 various surfers at Gallows. Photos courtesy of Brian Cole.

Top: (Left) Bob Keenan. (Right) Bob Keenan & Brian Cole.

Bottom: (Left) Dave Williams. (Right) Brian Cole.

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Photo: January 1963 Scarborough Board Club lads surfing Gallows. Murray d’Arcy pic.

Photo: 1963 Terry ‘Rat’ James performing ‘Quasimodo’ maneuver at Gallows. Photo courtesy of Sonny James.

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Geoff Berry – In the early 60s Merv hart, Mark Waddell, Martin Pardoe, Brian Boynes & myself bought a Hudson Pacemaker sedan to save our own vehicles and use as our ‘Surfari Wagon’. It was big enough to sleep full strength across the back seat. We even took it down the gallows track.

Unfortunately it made its last fateful trip to Yallingup circa 1964. Refer Surfing Down South book for more details.

Image: 1964 Hudson Pacemaker similar to the boys ‘Surfari Wagon’. Image courtesy of Geoff Berry.

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Extract from Arthur Sherburn’s Surf Diary – Gallows Sunday 2 Jan 1966. Courtesy of Arthur & Surfing Down South book.

One of the best sessions we (Rex, Bartle & I) have ever had here. Fantastic tubes. Rainy, cool water and air. We had half of the session to ourselves. ‘TOO MUCH’. Then 3 Yallingup guys came Droppin’ In. Session started!!!

Photos: 1964 Gallows vehicles on water logged Cullen Rd. Arty Sherburn pics.

Left: Bruce Brown’s FC Holden bogged.

Right: Ford Anglia & FJ Holden on soggy track.

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Geoff BerryFormer Cottesloe surfer/photographer Dave Condon took these pics of Ken ‘Kiwi’ White, Mic Lindsay & myself at Gallows in ’65.

Kiwi (retired tuna spotter) now lives at Port Lincoln in South Aust. His home beach is Cactus and he travels OZ and the surfing world chasing waves.

Mic (former City Beach surfer) now lives on the NSW mid north coast with his wife Wendy. He surfs and swims many kilometers per day.

I now live on the NSW mid north coast with my wife Julie. During the 70s & 80s I surfed Indo, Fiji & Hawaii. These days I surf the East Coast from Manly to Crescent Heads.

Photos: 1965 Gallows photos by Dave Condon.

Top: (Left) Geoff Berry’s trusty VW Beetle on Gallows track. (Right) Gallows beach car park. L-R Ken ‘Kiwi’ White, Mic Lindsay & Geoff Berry

Bottom: (Left) Geoff Berry. (Right) Mic Lindsay.

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Jim King – My first surf trip to Gallows was ‘66-67 with Colin Cordingley and the Cordingley Surf Team. The team included Kevin Ager, but I can’t remember the other surfers. The left was big & unruly so we surfed a punchy right north of the main break. (I think it is now called Hangman’s). The right hand peak was a challenge on our heavy Malibu boards.

In the late 60s Yallingup Board Club surfers Brian Boynes & Mark Waddell used a Morris Mini-Moke as a beach buggy to traverse the Gallows track. They would leave Yalls car park suited up in scarfs and racing goggles to protect themselves against the elements on the trip to Gallows. When they returned from Gallows, they were covered in black dirt and looked like coal miners after a long shift underground. The only clean spots were around their eyes after they took their goggles off.

Photo: 1968 unidentified surfer at Gallows. Jim McFarlane pic.

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Mike BibbyMy only recollection of Gallows is the black sand which was bloody hot in summer and going with Bill Oddy in his Simca sedan. Being the fastidious Mr Clean we had to wash the sand off our feet after a session in a bucket provided by Bill otherwise we weren’t allowed in the car. No photos unfortunately!

Photo: 1970 Gallows track unidentified surfer’s XL Falcon panel van. Jim McFarlane pic.

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Photo: 1968 Murray Smith surfing Gallows. Photo courtesy of Murray Smith.

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Jim McFarlaneKevin 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.

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Coming soon 1970s Gallows surf break & dirt track.

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Update: 13 April 2017 added Wayne Murphy comment.

Peter Donaldson from Westoz Productions has produced a short doco on the history of surfing on Rottnest Island. It includes interviews with veteran surfers.

Click on this link to view the video Rottnest Island – Strickland Bay Surfing Pioneers

Wayne Murphy (journalist/author Ireland) – Nice little production. Would have also liked to seen some recognition of the fencing and dune rehabilitation work undertaken by Rottnest ranger Charlie Hansen (RIP) and the Offshore Board Riders at Strickland Bay included as well. Charlie was the driving force for getting the environment back in good order. By the 1980s the surrounding cliff area was almost fully denuded of local shrubs because of surfers, myself included, traipsing everywhere and stashing our boards in the bushes. Now the local flora is flourishing despite all the extra human traffic. Empty waves are the endangered species there now, ha! 

I actually grew up on Rottnest in the 1960s and went to school there. My Irish parents were the licensees of the Quokka Arms. We lived out back of the pub. I began surfing Strickland in 1973 after graduating from Mary Cove and inside Salmon Bay.  Strickos was my first proper reef break to learn about power and waves of consequence.  In the late 1970s I disappeared to Cactus and the Eastern states for ten years or so. When I returned to WA in the late 1980s I resumed working at the Quokka Arms, then with the Rottnest Island Authority. The changes at Strickland Bay were most noticeable. That’s when Kieran Glossop and a few of us formed the Offshore Board Riders. The dune rehab work there commenced not long after.  Strickland Bay is a special place for many people. Long may it be.

Photo: 1976 Mike McAuliffe surfing Stark Bay at Rotto. Ric Chan pic.

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Museum of Surf – Ric Chan images

Our resident surf photographer Ric Chan now has some of his vintage surf photos featured on the Museum of Surf web and Facebook sites.

For a sneak preview of Ric’s images click on either of the following links.

Museum of Surf Web site            http://www.museumofsurf.com/ric-chan/

Museum of Surf Facebook           https://www.facebook.com/museumofsurf/

Ric took the photos in New South Wales, South Australia and West Australia during the period 1968 to 1976.

Photo: 1970 Ric Chan covering the WA State Surfing Titles at Yallingup. Ric pic.

Ric lives in Auckland NZ and still loves snapping pics.

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1975 Oceans surf contest at Trigg Point

Oceans Surf Shop in Perth City ran a surf contest at Trigg Point in 1975.

Surfboard shaper/fashion model Gary Greirson was head honcho at Oceans Surf Shop at the time.

High profile WA surfers competed in the surf contest. Surfers included Ian Cairns, Barry Day, Russell Catto and Colin Ladhams.

Surf photographer/journo Rich Chan covered the action for Independent Newspapers.

Photo: 1975 Trigg Point car park and wave line-up for the contest. Ric Chan pic.

Photos: 1975 Trigg Point unidentified contestants #1. Ric Chan pics.

Photos: 1975 Trigg Point wave line-up and spectators in car park. Ric Chan pics.

Photos: 1975 Trigg Point unidentified contestants #2. Ric Chan pics.

Photos: 1975 Trigg Point water action. Ric Chan pics.

Left: unidentified contestant.

Right: Trigg SLSC surf boat splitting the peak.

Photos: 1975 Trigg Point beach action. Ric Chan pics.

Left: Peter Davidson and unidentified contestant.

Right: Official photographer John Shanahan.

Photos: 1975 Trigg Point unidentified contestants #3. Ric Chan pics.

Photo: 1975 Contest judging panel at Trigg Point. Ric Chan pics

L-R former WASRA President Ronald ‘Doc’ Naylor, Barry Day, Pat Cairns, Linda Milner (Pat Cairn’s sister), Colin Ladhams and Steve Thomas.

Photos: 1975 Trigg Point contestants. Left: Ian Cairns. Right: Peter Bevan. Ric Chan pic.

Photos: 1975 Contest award presentations in Trigg Point car park. Ric Chan pics.

Left: Ocean’s Gary Greirson in black top at rear of Land Rover (bottom left), handing out contest prizes.

Right: L-R Pat Cairns, Barry Day, Ian Cairns and Russell Catto.

Contest results are unknown. The now aging participants can’t remember who won the contest!

Let us know, if you know the contest results.

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1970s Surfside memoirs by Angie Cannon (nee Young)

In the late 60s Bernie and Eve Young took over management of Surfside Tearooms at Yallingup from Jock Henderson. The Young’s previously managed the Caves Park Store near Caves House at Yallingup. They provided hearty meals, holiday accommodation and petrol to surfers, tourists and the Yallingup community until the mid 70s, when the Surfside leased expired and they moved on.

Bernie and Eve lived and worked on the premises with their daughter Angie and Gran.

Photo: 1970 Bernie Young with daughter Angie, Gran, wife Eve and unidentified outside Surfside Tearooms. Photo credit Peter McDonald.

Bernie Young’s daughter Angie Cannon (nee Young) has contacted Surfing Down South and shared her memories of Surfside.

Angie:I was fortunate enough to spend my early teenage years in Yallingup and my parents Bernie and Eve Young would have fed most of you at Surfside in the late 60’s and early 70’s. My fondest memories are of my extended family, always looking out for me painful as I could be sometimes. George Simpson was my surrogate big brother and used to, on occasion, let me tag along generally to carry his board to some of the greatest surf spots on the coast. My daughter Sarah now sends me this info as it comes through and it always brings back memories, including the SDS Blogs on Three Bears. I remember when the boys found the break and for a while it was MGM. It was right up there with discovering gold in the pub and the stories only grew in proportion to the amount of beer consumed at the Caves House. It was the hidden secret that few could reach. Lost a lot of humour when I returned in later years with my kids and a 4WD. I have lots of pictures taken in those early years, most are of parties we had at Surfside and some, I feel sure, would rather be forgotten!! I’ll dig out some of my photos and scan them for you (see pics below).

I now live in Townsville in Queensland and both Mum and Dad have passed on, Mum at a ripe old age of 91 only four months back”.

Photos: 1971 Peter Mac’s Falcon panel van parked in front of Surfside. Photo credit Helen ‘Spotty’ Smith.

Angie:Your SDS articles have stirred up so many memories and stories, I only wish that I had had the opportunity to share them with Mum before she passed on.

If you are still in touch with Ronnie “Ratshit” Jeffrey, ask him about the “tomato” plant he left in my Grans care whilst he went to, Indonesia, I think. My Gran would make homemade wine out of anything animal or vegetable and as inevitably would happen once a month there would be an explosion from her bedroom that meant a bottle had slightly over fermented.  Gran probably holds dibs for the first wine maker of the region!!  I went to help with the clean-up mission only to find Ronnie’s “tomato” plant flourishing in her wardrobe.  Bless her she had no idea, but tended it lovingly for Ronnie until he returned.

Gran would sit on the back steps of the kitchen peeling spuds faster than anyone alive.  Hans Kopp finally retired her for a more sanitary mode of spud bashing in the kitchen of the Cray Pot.

Hans did the best Crayfish Thermidor in the world as we knew it.  Brandy was his friend in the kitchen. 

Hans was an enigma, a soft and gentle man who would turn into some kind of manic chef as soon as he donned his whites.  Many a waitress was bought to tears from one of his legendary tirades in the kitchen.  He wasn’t adverse to the occasional upending of a pot or the throwing of a knife.  I was 14 and copped my fare share.  He would wake up the next morning, go for a surf and get on with his day as if nothing happened. 

My folks did a great job at Surfside and their trusting nature bought them unstuck eventually.  My Dad very much believed in the honour of the handshake, and unfortunately having put in years of hard work at Surfside, he was bought undone as the lease was sold out from under him.  He established the caravan park and worked tirelessly, doing battle with the council, hand sewing grass seed, digging trenches and overseeing the work as it became a reality.  As with all things, it was time to move on.  Mum and Dad only went back a couple of times and were always amazed at the changes.  Dad often spoke of being offered 3 blocks on the top road by Kevin Merifield for $800 each.  Dad was no fool, why would he buy something with no water or services for that sort of money!!!   

They both spoke of their time in Yallingup with great humour and love.  The old man could be a bit of a lunatic, but he was an incredibly hard worker and meant well.  Mum worked tirelessly in the kitchen from six in the morning till late at night in the tourist season.  She would share a grill with George, which meant walking around the immoveable object, serving good basic food for a never ending stream of hungry surfers.

All of this whilst being ostracised by the then civilised locals who were sure that we were a family of drug barons living and mixing with the great unwashed, long haired dole bludgers of the 70’s. They even had a mention in the Melbourne Truth once, with questionable comments as to their REAL motives for being involved with those bludgers on society. The truth be known, they were incredibly naïve and just enjoyed the lifestyle and peace that Yallingup bought to them for 8 months of the year.

Thanks for the memories. Please keep the stories coming”.

This is a collection of Angie’s Surfside social images from her scrapbook.

Angie: “the images are a little worse for wear after all those years!”.

Image: 1971 Eve Young, unidentified and Helen ‘Spotty’ Smith outside Surfside . Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Image: 1970s Vicki Jago working in the Surfside kitchen. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Image: 1970s Sam the surf dog on the rocks. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Image: 1970s George Simpson and others at the back of Surfside. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Image: 1970s George Simpson in kids play pen entertaining Gran at Surfside. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Angie: ‘Enough said!”

Image: 1970s Safety conscience trio enjoying a smoke near the fuel pump outside Surfside. L-R unidentified, George Simpson and Glynn Lance. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Angie: “Always safety aware!”

Image: 1971 Bruce King and unidentified girl at Surfside party. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Image: 1971 George Simpson’s 21st party at Surfside’s Lobster Pot Restaurant. L-R Barry Day, Amber, Lulu & Spotty. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Image: 1973 Sally Gunter’s 21st Birthday Party at Surfside’s Lobster Pot Restaurant. L-R Grant Robinson, George Simpson & Bernie Young. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Image: 1976 Angie’s wedding in Perth. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Angie: The Yallingup crew came up to Perth for the occasion.  It was the last time we were all together!”

Angie: “It’s quite bazaar as I can’t imagine anyone or anything changing but its 40 odd years ago!!!  An old photo of ‘Jingles’ (a long haired surfie dude) made me smile. When he left Yallingup and returned to the East Coast, he gave me a bell that I wore around my neck until I got married, mum made me take it off as it didn’t go with my dress.  It’s been on my key ring ever since.

Oddest thing about Yallingup, I’ve never quite felt at home since I left and I have lived all over Australia.   Many years ago I bought a block on the 2nd road down in the middle of the hill.  Sold it in the 1980 for $16k thought I’d done really well.  Makes me a property genius huh!”

Thank you for sharing your photos and memories Angie.

Click on the following web links for more history of Surfside.

Surfside at Yallingup – History (Part 1 The early years)

Surfside at Yallingup – History (Part 2 The later years)

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