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1976 Tony Hardy surfing Margaret River Main Break

In the mid-1970s, Tony and his wife Jacquie moved their young family from Scarborough and settled on a rural property in Margaret River. In 1976 Tony built a shaping bay and started making Hardy Surfboards on the property.

Click on this link to view 1976 Hardy Surfboards Margaret River blog posted 8 October 2014.

Photo: 1976 Tony country living on his Margaret River property. Ric Chan pic.

In the 1970s, goofy-footer Tony was arguably the best surfer riding Margaret River Main Break.

Independent newspaper surf journo Ric Chan captured these images of Tony surfing Marg’s Main Break in 1976.

Photo: 1973 surf photographer Ric Chan with his gold coloured kombi and ‘tools of the trade’ in the car park at Surfers Point.

Ric ChanIn this shot I was using an 1100mm catadioptric lens. It’s a mirror lens and is shorter with more power. It is not as long as a 600mm lens.

Photo: 1976 Tony Hardy surfing Marg’s Main Break. Ric Chan pic #1.

Photo: 1976 Tony Hardy surfing Marg’s Main Break. Ric Chan pic #2.

Photo: 1976 Tony Hardy surfing Marg’s Main Break. Ric Chan pic #3.

Photo: 1976 Tony Hardy surfing Marg’s Main Break. Ric Chan pic #4.

Photo: 1976 Tony Hardy surfing Marg’s Main Break. Ric Chan pic #5.

Photo: 1976 Tony Hardy surfing Marg’s Main Break. Ric Chan pic #6.

Photo: 1976 Tony Hardy surfing Marg’s Main Break. Ric Chan pic #7.

Photo: 1976 Tony Hardy surfing Marg’s Main Break. Ric Chan pic #8.

Margaret River surfing legend Tony Hardy still shapes the odd surfboard and surfs Margaret’s on his hand crafted single fin surfboards.

Tony’s granddaughter Willow Hardy is carrying on the family surfing traditional. Willow has won the 12-and-under-girls title two years in row at the Taj’s Small Fries Competition held in the Yallingup region. And in March 2017, Willow won her first State Title in the U/14 division held at Main Break Margaret River. Willow now joins her grandad Tony, father Gene and uncles Ryan and Brett in the record books, with all family members holding Surfing WA State Titles.

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1970s Arsemobile Images by Ric Chan

In the 70s young New Zealand expatriate Ric Chan was living on the beach front at Scarborough.

During this period Ric was experimenting with his photography.

This is a collection of Ric’s lesser known images taken in the Scarborough Beach car park in the 70s.

The purpose of the Limousine photo shoot with the early 70s Cadillac is unknown. The faceless male models are also unknown, but you may recognise some of the male models from aspects of their anatomy.

Ric Chan – muhahahaha I remember the pics, but ain’t got any idea of where and when they were shot. I wish I could remember, coz there has to be a funny story behind em – hee hee. Lemme think about it!

The images appear to have been inspired by natural forms and structures.

Photo: 1970s Arsemobile photo shoot #1 by Ric Chan.

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Photo: 1970s Arsemobile photo shoot #2 by Ric Chan.

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Photo: 1970s Arsemobile photo shoot #3 by Ric Chan.

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Photo: 1970s Arsemobile photo shoot #4 by Ric Chan.

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Let us know if you were at Ric’s photo shoot and remember anything about it!

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1970-80 Yallingup Beach car park

Update: 20 March 2017. According to Wardandi Elder George Webb’s book ‘Noonyabooghera’, Yallingup means ‘place of land falling away‘ referring to the limestone cliffs. The ‘place of love‘ myth was created by the people that opened up the caves and Caves House as a honeymoon destination. Source Melia Brent-White.

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Yallingup Beach car park has been a meeting place for surfers since the mid-50s.

The Wardandi aboriginal meaning of Yallingup is ‘Place of Love’. In 2011 a large bronze sculpture of a surfer was erected at Yallingup to recognise its role in ‘the origins of surfing in WA’.

Photos: 2011 unveiling of surf pioneer sculpture at Yallingup. Jim King pics.

2011 Yalls surf pioneer statue Jim King picscollage_photocat

Surfers used to camp under the melaleuca trees at the beach car park in the ’50s. Then in the 60-70s surfers used the old public toilets as overnight accommodation in inclement weather.

Things have certainly changed since those days, camping is now banned on the beach front, the public toilets have been relocated and the car park curbed & landscaped. Today’s surfers meet in the car park to check the waves & ‘chew the fat’ on surfing, footy, women……and more recently ailments issues.

This is a collection of car park images with a sprinkling of comments from surfers who frequented the Yallingup car park & Surfside Store back then, when times seemed so much simpler.

Photo: 1970 State Open Champion Tony Hardy in the car park at Yallingup. Ric Chan pic.

1970 Yalls State Titles Tony Hardy - Ric Chan img192

Peter ‘Mac’ McDonaldIn the 70s when we were working in the SW carting hay, about 10 of us (George Simpson, Ronny Ratshit, Grant Robinson, Gary Kontoolas, John Molloy & others) slept in our cars under the melaleucas at Yallingup and ate breakfast (tomato mince) & dinner with Bernie & Eve at Surfside.

Photo: 1970 Steve ‘Sheepdog’ Cockburn behind & in front of the camera in Ric Chan’s Kombi at Yallingup. Ric Chan pic.

1970 Yalls Steve Cockburn in Ric's kombi- Ric Chan img202

Peter Dunn (NZ expatriate) Yallingup regular John ‘Tex’ Branch arranged my first trip down south in 1972. Tex met my mates & I at the Cottesloe pub and we then headed to Yallingup in a convoy.

Photos: 1972 First trip Down South. Peter Dunn pics.

Left: Yallingup car park team photo. L-R Peachy, Paul, Renya, Murray, Tex, Keith, Wayne, Dick, Steve & Bow.

Right: Busselton pit stop. Bearded ‘Tex’ sitting on the roof of Prive’s former Holden panel van.

1972-yalls-car-park-peter-dunn-pics-1a-fotorcreated

Len DibbenThis Photo was taken by my wife Wendy in the Yallingup car park at the Australian Surf riding Championships, about July 1973. I was part of the Contest committee to run the 1973 Australia Surfboard Championships. At that time, I was Vice President to Ron Naylor president. I organized the Kombi to help run Contestants & Reporters to & from venues, if needed. The two children are my daughter Kim at 7 year of age & son Troy at 5 years of age. They are now aged 48 & 46. The gear I am wearing is a Baron wear striped t-shirt…very popular at that time, Levi Jeans & John Arnold Hararchi Leather Sandals from then Adelaide.

Photo: 1973 Aust Surf riding Championships contest official Len Dibben in the car park at Yallingup. Wendy Dibben pic.

1973 Aust Titles yalls contest marshal Len Dibben with daughter Kim 6 & son Troy 4

Laurie ‘Loz’ Smith (Quindalup surfer & photographer) – In 73-74 my brother Tony & I would sleep in his split screen Kombi in the Yallingup car park. At that time there were no rangers and camping was free. After an early surf, we used to have a brekkie of sausages & eggs on toast and a cuppa at Surfside for 60c. We would play table soccer for 10c a game while we were waiting for brekkie. We used to fill up the Kombi at Surfside using the hand pump Petrol Bowser. Surfside was the only place to eat brekkie besides the Bakery at Dunsborough. Sally Jones (nee Gunter) used to work at the Bakery and made the biggest milkshakes.

Photo: 1973 Yalls Lobster Pot Restaurant at Surfside. L-R Grant Robinson, George Simpson and Bernie Young at Sally Gunter’s 21st birthday party. Sally Gunter pic.

Photo: 1975 Yallingup car park during State Surfing Titles. Surfside Store is on the left and the old brick Toilets are under the melaleucas on the right. Ric Chan pic.

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Andy JonesWe used to kick the footy in Yallingup car park. It was an open area with few cars and was a good meeting place for surfers. Before technology (surf reports/web sites etc) we used to check waves conditions from the car park before heading off to the best surf destination for the day.

Photo: 1975 Mark Favell ex Bundaberg Qsld & Andy Jones in Yalls car park. Gina Pannone pic.

1975 Yalls Mark Favell ex Bundaberg Qsld & Andy Jones - Gina Pannone pic_0004

Julie FavellAndy Jones, Mark Favell, Neil Juster and myself all lived in Dunsborough. We all work in the Dunsborough Bakery. It was a hell of a time. We travelled to Bears along the old road following coast. One vehicle we had was an old VW with balloon tyres. We always made it through the dirt track. Neil had a blue heeler dog (sorry forgotten his name), Neil was always tying him up and that darn dog always got himself out, could climb ladders at a great pace. At this time there was a surfboard maker at Willyabrup Peter ‘Stumpy’ Wallace who made Pegasus Surfboards. And the beginnings of Creatures of Leisure leg ropes at Injidup by Helen & Dave Hattrick and John Malloy.

Photo: 1975 Yallingup Mark Favell & Southey the dog in front of old brick toilet block. Julie Favell pic

Bruce KingIn inclement weather we used to sleep in the old toilet block behind Surfside tea rooms/store. I never had a sleeping bag and used to sleep in thongs in keep warm as my feet used to stick out the end of the blanket.

Photo: 1976 unidentified surfers in Yallingup car park. Ric Chan pic.

1976 Yalls car park unknown - Ric Chan 006

Al Bean (Surfboard shaper) – I became Manager of Surfside & the Yalls Beach Caravan Park in 1977 at age 20 years. I learnt to cook and employed local girls to help at Surfside. Back then city surfers would sleep in cars in the car park and we would get up to 60 surfers waiting for breakfast each morning over the weekend. It was a different story during the week and we would be lucky to sell a choc milk & newspaper to Harbo at Hideaway Homes. So I would close the shop mid-week and go surfing.

Photo: 1978 an empty Yallingup car park with Surfside Store, Bali Hai surf shop & Surfside rental accommodation in the background. Vance Burrow pic.

1978 Yalls Bali Hai surf shop Yalls VB IMG

Ross UttingIt was always difficult to fill in long hot surf-less afternoons, particularly on holiday or contest weekends when there were a lot of high spirited people about. Fortunately there were a few blokes who fancied themselves as stunt drivers. These blokes would relieve our boredom by putting on a display of burning rubber and wheelies in the Yallingup car park.

On one occasion, two of these charismatic drivers in Bill “Big Eyes” McVeigh and Kevin “Odey” O’Dwyer fed off each other, with each stunt becoming more outrageous than the one before.  They ended up, each in turn, racing down the hill from the pub at high speed, over the bridge and throwing the wheel on full lock entering the unsealed car park, sliding and spinning wildly through the car park and coming to a halt in a cloud of dust in front of the cheering masses, leaping out of their cars and taking a bow.

Both brilliant drivers, but how none of the vehicles parked in the car park were not damaged or pedestrians killed still amazes me.  The owner of Surfside Tea Rooms with it’s petrol bowser out front wouldn’t have been amused either.

Photo: 1980 Parking spot with a view. Gary Gibbon’s Ford Cortina with protruding surfboard in Yallingup car park. Gary Gibbon pic.

1980 Yalls car park Gary Gibbon's Cortina - Gary Gibbon pic IMG_0018

Louie ‘Longboard’ CorkillI left school at age 13 and started hitchhiking down south. I used to camp in the old toilet block at Yallingup beach. I slept in a board bag made of quilt by my mother. The best camping spot used to be in the melaleucas just before the bridge on the right, as you come down the hill into Yalls. Brian Bell and I would set up our tent or sleep in the car next to the fresh water creek which flowed from the pub.

Photo: 1980 Ray Nott & Dave Seward preparing to go for a surf at Yallingup. Gary Gibbon pic.

1980 Yalls car park Ray Nott & Dave Seward - Gary Gibbon pic IMG_0025

Mal Leckie – Steve “Horny” Campbell used to do an interesting performance for tourist buses in the Yall’s car park when he pulled his boardies up as high as they would go, puff his stomach out like he was pregnant and do an emu walk. 

More than one dead snake arrived at speed into the Yall’s car park behind a car, tied to the back by fishing line and “whipped” into the entry area to Surfside.

Photo: 1981 Steve ‘Horny’ Campbell and hound installing electricity at Caves Caravan Park. Gary Gibbon pic.

Floyd IrvineIn the early 80s my mates and I used to pitch our tent on the lawn in front of the ugly old brick toilets at Yallingup. We had a friendly council ranger who would provide firewood for our camp fire and chat with us. Back then nobody gave a shit what you did!

Photo: 1980 Tony Harbison reading West Coast Surfer magazine at Yallingup car park. Tony and his wife Carol built and ran Hideaway Holiday Homes at Yallingup in the 70s. Ric Chan pic.

1980 Yalls Tony Harbison with West Coast Surfer mag - Ric Chan 065

Photo: 1980 surfboard shaper Greg Laurenson and Dave Kennedy from Star Surfboards in Yallingup car park. Sadly the surf industry legends are now deceased. Ric Chan pic.

1980 Yalls G Laurenson & D Kennedy - Ric Chan 069

Photo: 1980 Greg Laurenson, Dave Kennedy, Tony Harbinson and Mitch Thorson in Yallingup car park with Harbo’s dog Prince. Ric Chan pic.

1980 Yalls Harbo, Greg Laurenson, Dave Kennedy etc- Ric Chan 072

Yallingup Beach car park is still a meeting place for surfers in the South West.

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1971 Cactus surf trip by Mal Leckie

Update: Added Mal Leckie’s thongs on a star picket tale 11 March 2017.

Late in 1971 I drove across from WA to Phillip Island VIC. in Rod Slater’s FC Holden to surf their excellent summer waves. I think Rod took me for the petrol money haha! Sheepdog was over at Phillip Island on this trip and I think John Balgarnie was too.

The old car only went 70km/h so it took us 7 days. We had a string through the dashboard to the Carby that we would pull and tie to the Cigarette lighter when it was at the right speed. 1970’s cruise control? On the way back we stopped at a remote spot called Cactus at Penong in the central SA bight.

Image: This is a sketch in acrylic on canvas from the afternoon we arrived. Sketch by Mal Leckie.

There were NO facilities and no water. I think we had about 60 litres of drinking water and we camped there until it ran out. The next time I went there with another bloke, we took a Still to turn the salt water into fresh and lived like kings trading water for seafood. The still was made from a set of aluminium kitchen canisters with Rice, Flour and Sugar on the sides.

Image: Sketch of Still we used to turn salt water into fresh. Mal Leckie sketch.

We did some fly swatting at Cactus back in those days. Scary when I look back on it – no leg ropes, no phones, hours of driving to get medical help, Blue Water White Death playing at the cinemas.

There was a star picket banged into the edge of the reef at Caves and you put your thongs over it. If you lost your board you could put the thongs on to chase it across the sharp reef before it got into the current on the western side.

Mal Leckie is an Australian Landscape artist born in Perth Western Australia He now lives on the Gold Coast with his wife Louise and his home beach is Coolangatta. Visit Mal’s web site www.malleckie.com.au to view his artwork.

Jim King: In 1970 on the way back from the World Surfing Titles held at Bells and Johanna beaches in Vic, we called in at Cactus beach at Penong. I was with WA surfers Ian Cairns, Sheepdog, Giles Geiger and my brother Bruce. Ian had competed in the World Titles as a Junior, the rest of us were spectators at the event.

The boys surfed Caves and I took some Super 8 movie footage, before going for a surf myself. It was a short surf for me, as sharks chased us out of the water. I remember it was damn cold sleeping outdoors at night and damn hot during the day sheltering from the desert sun.

Click on this video link to view Super 8 footage of the boys surfing Caves. Music by Vance Burrow (run time 3.07 min).

Coming soon 1970s Phillip Island surf trips.

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TV star fades to black – but Down South mates’ memories last forever by Errol Considine

Chuck Morton-Stewart started out as a grommet on Scarborough Beach in the mid-1960s and later in his national TV persona as ‘Charles Stewart’ travelled the world surfing, skiing and covering water sports… being paid to drive fast cars…and even made “Cleo” magazine’s annual list of ‘Australia’s most eligible bachelors’!!

Photo: 1960s Chuck Morton-Stewart at Scarborough vs Warrain inter club competition held at Leighton. Brian Trainer pic.

From 1968/69 when members of our Scarborough crew started getting drivers’ licences, we clocked up thousands of kilometres in Holden panel vans and utes, and assorted other clapped out vehicles, making the Friday night trek Down South (often after a few beers at the White Sands pub in Scabs).

Chuck, Peter “PB” Bevan, John “Jake” Jacobs, me and a bunch of other surf nuts hunkered down in sleeping bags on air mattress’ on the lawn at Yallingup on Friday nights – unless it rained and we dragged them into the old dunnies, before waking with the rising sun on Saturday to see what Huey had dished up for us for the weekend. No internet swell and wind forecasts, or mobile phones back then – the only reliable test was being there and the naked eye.

One Saturday, Chuck, Jake and I woke to big Yallingup and a moderate sou’ easter blowing. Perfect for Injidup Point. In those days you could drive out on a track to just behind the point to a small parking area about adjacent to the break. [The track was later swallowed up by the giant sand dune which now spills into the waters of the bay]

It was firing that day. We were first in the water. The rest of the crew from Yalls soon followed. We surfed multiple sessions, all day, in great waves. We were last to leave. Unfortunately, John’s Holden ute was crap in the sand and we were soon bogged …and stuck there all night – arrggghhhhh!! Hungry, thirsty, salt-encrusted and taking sweltering refuge in sleeping bags, as whenever we put our heads out were attacked by hordes of mosquitos. It was a very, very long night

Rescue came next morning when we walked around Inji bay and found some mates checking out Carpark. They drove us back around the track. Together, we all lifted up the ute, shoved tree branches torn off trees under the wheels….and pushed the bugger out, with the wheels spinning in the soft sand.

By 1969/70, we started getting panel vans to sleep in during our almost weekly Down South treks. For a year, Chuck, Peter Bevan and I later rented a diary farmer’s old weatherboard cottage located on the road from Cowaramup town to the coast (he’d moved up the hill to a new house but left the power connected to the old place) for $52, paid in advance….i.e. for ONE YEAR (do the math = $1 a week!).

And we started dragging our girlfriends along (some which were later to become wives) for what would now look like pretty primitive living conditions…the hot water for showers in the old cottage coming from a pipe running through a wood-burning stove in the kitchen. One Friday night, I arrived with my lady (now the Missus) in a fierce winter storm to find a couple of pigs had broken in and were occupying one room!

…but it was all part of the great adventure we were having back then. And we were getting heaps of great, uncrowded waves when you knew pretty much everybody in the line-up – how lucky were us baby boomer surfing generation back then, eh??!

Fast forward to January 2016 and my old school, surfing and journalism buddy Chuck was out on Sydney harbour for his weekly group power surf ski paddling session led by close mate, the legendary ironman champion Guy Leech when… the lights went out

Chuck – non-smoker, fit, still trim – had a heart attack. Guy’s lifesaving skills kept him breathing until the ambulance arrived but he never regained consciousness in the hospital and a few days later the life support system was switched off. And he was gone. It was big shock and raw for me. But time heals a little …and now, just over a year later, it’s time to put down some stuff about his remarkable life, especially related to surfing…………..

Tom Blaxell recalled when they were at Hale School and he was making his first backyard boards at his family’s home on West Coast Highway at south Scarborough, 15-year-old Chuck was urging him to go commercial and make a career of it. Chuck laid out a vision for a bright future for ‘Blaxell Surfboards’. Tom says now that Chuck inspired him back then to have a go.

In 1968, he registered the business. Eventually Blaxell ended up with a workforce of 40 odd and making great boards and boats at the last of three factories he was to operate in Scarborough Beach Road, Osborne Park over the years. In 1987, Tom sold out to some investors from the big end of town.

In the 1968 State Schoolboys’ titles at Scarborough, I was captain of the Hale School team, which included Chuck. We both won our heats. I bombed out in the semis and Chuck went on to come fourth in the Final. Bunbury high school had some great surfers – like Lex Cornelius, Glyn Lance, Peter Roberts – and they kicked our butts to win the then coveted Schools championship.

Image: 1968 Hale School Cygnet magazine. Review of 1968 WA Schoolboys Surfboard Championship. Image courtesy of Errol Considine.

That same year Chuck, me and Jake piled in an FJ panel van owned by another school buddy Geoff Rankine-Wilson and well went south for the March long weekend State titles. The radiator kept boiling and we had to stop often. Its max. speed was about 50mph (80kmh). The suspension and tyres were dodgy. So, we couldn’t take the shorter Old Coast Road as part of it was unsealed with corrugated limestone which would have probably shaken the car body from chassis! So it was a long journey both ways on the South West Highway.

I remember the heats were held at Yallingup on the Saturday but the swell jumped on Sunday and the wind went onshore, so the Finals were moved to glassy and overcast Huzzas. There was a big crowd.

[I think it rained a little and there were people sitting under that big limestone overhang which was of course to be the scene of such a deeply-scarring tragedy decades later, when it collapsed during another competition.]

We were barracking for some of our home beach Scarborough mates – Robin ‘Skullcap’ Sutherland in the Open and Bob Monkman in the Juniors. They were both great surfers. Both were to later move down south to be part of the first generation of resident surfers on the Capes coast – Skully settled in Smiths valley at Yallingup and Bob at Quindalup and then Old Dunsborough, where they remain living today. Bob is still carving on the big stuff at Yalls – legend!

In January 1969, both Chuck and I landed jobs as cadet journalists with WA Newspapers – Chuck on “The West Australian” and me on the afternoon “Daily News”. Peter Bevan had started as a cadet Press Artist at WA Newspapers too.

Us three amigos chased waves and women together on weekends and if we weren’t working, drove down south. In those days we all wore suits or jackets and ties to work. Chuck was always the most stylishly suited. With his long blonde locks and twinkling blue eyes he never found it hard to attract the ladies.

In 1970, PB bought a good Holden panel van and had double bunks fitted in the back. Before dawn on cold Saturday morning in early May, the three of us loaded on the boards (them on Blaxell models and me with a new Laurenson) and we set off for Bells Beach and the World Surfing titles.

We drove non-stop, taking turns sleeping in the back and rotating on wheel duty. Although, I don’t think anybody slept on the long unpaved section on the Nullarbor Plain at night, as we dodged hordes of roos. And back then heaters were an ‘optional luxury extra’ in Holden cars, so it was pretty chilly too.

On the final overnight leg from Adelaide to Victoria, we encountered a mouse plague. On a section of country road in the backblocks of South Australia, there were thousands and thousands of mice scurrying across the road illuminated by the headlights. Their bodies being crunched and squished under the wheels, which was a little gut-churning for three city boys from Perth! But another unique experience of the natural phenomenon in our wide brown land.

We pulled up at Bells in the half-light of dawn Monday morning to see the world’s best surfers in the line-up putting on a show. They were all huddled in a clump. There was one lone rider on the other side of the bowl going backdoor ….as the sun came up and it got lighter, we realised that surfer was our mate Ian Cairns, who’d been included in the Australian team along with Michael Petersen as sort of junior wild card rookies. Kanga was already something special and always aggressive and ready to take on and stick it up anybody – so doing his own thing in the water regardless of reputations was nothing new.

We played pool with Michael Petersen at Torquay Hotel one night. He didn’t talk. Just sipped his beer and sort of grunted when it was our shot – we thought he was a bit strange but of course now know that he was fighting some inner demons.

Bells and Winky were pretty much off limits while the World titles were on, so we surfed Point Impossible a lot and had some great sessions. We even got about an hour session, with the tide just right, with great waves at Torquay Point!

We also visited the then pretty rudimentary Rip Curl factory and bought long-sleeved wetsuit vests from Doug ‘Claw’ Warbrick. They were the latest breakthrough in wetsuit design technology. Worn over our sleeveless long-john wetties it was a lot of rubber but welcome added upper body warmth to cope with the shock of the frigid Vic water.

One night we went to the Torquay movie theatre with the crowd cutting loose, with Jaffas being rolled down the aisles, lots of chatter and hootin’ and hollerin’, and everybody having a great time.

We didn’t stick around to see the end of the World titles. So, after about a week at Torquay we did an overnight run north up the Hume Highway, from Melbourne – including taking  a little detour into Canberra next morning to have a gander at Parliament House …it proved to be not great timing!

It was national Moratorium Day with the biggest street demonstrations ever seen in Australia, protesting against the Vietnam War and conscription ….some burly security guards nabbed us as soon as we got through the front doors and three scruffy surfers were unceremoniously booted out (literally!) and told to bugger off ….

Onwards to Sydney and we drove into Manly that afternoon with a big swell pumping and glassy conditions. Some mates from Scarborough had rented a beautiful but aged two-storey white weatherboard house right on the beach road opposite North Steyne break and had some spare beds on an enclosed veranda and let us move in for our Sydney stayover.

[Today there is a high-rise block of apartments on the site. Ironically, Chuck’s wake last January was held a short distance away at Queenscliff Surf Lifesaving Club – a big joyful-sad event with a who’s who of past and present Sydney TV and media attending]

That first afternoon in Sydney, the only spot we dared to try and get out was Manly corner. It was fun. We weren’t brave enough that first day to join the small crew at Fairy Bower, which had a fearsome reputation back then …although we did have a small-ish session out there some days later.

Next morning, we ventured up to Palm Beach corner – as the swell was still big and unrideable on the main beaches – for another fun session. PB had been across in 1968 to watch Wayne Lynch, Nat Young and crew in the Nationals with huge swell seeing some heats even held at a break inside the harbour Heads, when all the open beaches were maxxed out. So, he knew his way around to the northern beaches and did all the driving.

We also went out at North Narrabeen. We’d seen it in so many magazines and movies. The waves were good. But the locals had a well-earned reputation for protecting their home turf. They were not too friendly to three interlopers from the other side of the country trespassing on their break!

The swell settled down and served us up a week of all-day offshores and great overhead waves at North Steyne. We tumbled out of bed each morning, slipped into our wetsuits, walked across the road and stepped into great surf. Magic.

A big memory for PB was a session in the North Steyne line-up with surfing demi-god Gerry ‘Mr Pipeline’ Lopez in the water, on his way back to Hawaii from the Bells titles.

Mr Lopez was surfing on a board over a foot longer than ours, which paddled way faster. He snaked PB about six times. This was despite pumping swell, great left and right banks, and plenty of waves for everyone.

PB finally got jack of this and kept paddling onto a wave as the Hawaiian did his wave hog snake thing AGAIN …and he landed right on top of Lopez. They surfaced about a metre apart. Lopez just launched a king-hit ….PB left the water with blood streaming from his nose.

[PB was a good surfer – a goofy-footer who excelled in the big stuff down south, he was later named WA Surfer of the Year. He was not a hassler in the water and never involved in biffo, so this incident was right out of character. We all admired Lopez back then – and still do – but maybe his demi-god Zen state of mind was something less than Island mellow in the surf, back in those younger days when we were all a little more testosterone-charged?!]

We then headed north again and had a great late afternoon session at classic Angourie, with hardly anybody out. Then on to Byron and slept in the van to wake to an OK few waves at The Pass, and then a couple of really good uncrowded sessions at Broken Head.

Heading further north, we rolled in to Coolangatta on a Sunday afternoon and hit the beach at the fabled Greenmount and could see waves rolling through. But the traffic was heavy and we had to keep driving. Rounding the headland, our intention was to pull over as soon as we could, do a u-turn, and go back and surf Greenmount.

But around that bend was Kirra. And it was absolutely pumping with not many guys out. Wow!

It was one of those sessions you remember for the rest of your life. I got one of the barrels of my life. Chuck and PB were yelling their heads off and even some locals were hooting.

After some days of great waves at Snapper with OK crowds (and as I now recollect, generally a pretty friendly and hassle-free vibe in the water), we headed north again – to Noosa.

We got a week of perfect pumping Noosa points.

Back then, from memory, Noosa consisted of the surf club, a servo, pub and a couple of shops, and not much else. We camped in the panel van at Nationals carpark. The few locals didn’t seem to bother hitting the waves until about 10am. We were up at the crack of dawn. One morning, Chuck and PB surfed pumping Granites by themselves and I was alone at perfect Tea Tree, for about three hours. Those memories stick for a lifetime…

Back home in Perth to work – and both Chuck and I eventually moved on from newspapers to TV news. He joined Channel Nine and I went to Seven.

Through this period he was carving out quite a name and appearing on camera in news reports most nights. Quickly becoming the golden-haired boy – figuratively and literally!

We were all doing a lot of surfing together – day trips to The Spot (near Yanchep); up to Lancelin and paddling out to South Passage; occasionally to Avalon and Geary’s, or Long Point near Rockingham (if there was any north in the wind, in winter); Kalbarri; and of course hauling south down the then sealed Old Coast Road – hardly any traffic, no coppers or speed traps to be seen, and so we made some very fast trips to Yalls! During this period we surfed Windmills quite often and tasted new breaks like Three Bears.

Sometimes in summer, desperate for some good waves, would get up at 4:00am. Drive down to Yalls. Check out the conditions and pick a spot. Surf till we dropped. And drive home that same night – totally knackered but stoked.

PB had acquired a short wheel-base Jeep and sometimes if the summer conditions were right – i.e., hot and E/NE winds – we would just head straight to Left Handers or Big Rock, back of Cowaramup, or to Three Bears to get our wave fix.

Photo: 1970s Chuck with his Blaxell board in the keyhole at Rocky Point. Ric Chan pic.

And of course, back in Perth there was classic Trigg Point without the mega crowd dangers seen now…plus Scarborough, when it still regularly had good waves. Cottesloe and sessions at Cove and Isolated (NOT ‘Isolaters’ as it has more recently been misnamed!). And City Beach at night sometimes.

Around his time, as Chuck’s TV profile increased, surf photographer Ric Chan was featuring him in a lot of his shoots.

Chuck became a lifelong photo buff and always had a camera in his hands…I suspect that’s why he was mates with Ric Chan as he was probably get tips early on from Ric about what camera gear to buy, how to take shots etc.

Photo: 1970s Chuck with his camera at Scarborough. Ric Chan pic.

I went into TV news producing but Chuck was made to front the camera. Eventually, he went across to Sydney to take up a highly-prized gig as a reporter with the Nine Network’s “A Current Affair”. Then fronted by the legendary Mike Willesee, it was all ground breaking stuff and now part of Australian TV history.

Chuck did a lot of surfing around Sydney and up the NSW north coast.

He had become close friends too with Kanga Cairns, around the time I took off with my lady to South Africa, UK and Europe on a long working holiday, over 1974/75.

During this time, they took the ferry across to Rottnest to surf Strickland Bay and Chickens as those spots had opened up and become better known.

Chuck posted photographs to me in Durban, South Africa (where I was getting sensational waves with the likes of eventual World champ Shaun Tomson) of perfect surf at the new break, Strickos, with him and Kanga surfing it alone. [Ian last year told me they got back so late from the back of Rotto and had to run with their boards and barely made the ferry home.]

Photo: 1974 Rottnest Island.  Chuck surfing on his backhand at Strickland Bay. Charles Stewart pic.

Photo: 1974 Rottnest Island.  Kanga Cairns surfing Strickland Bay. Charles Stewart pic.

Chuck took the following photo of Kanga and wrote the caption.

Photo: 1976 Ian ‘Kanga’ Cairns surfing Margaret River main break. Chuck Stewart pic.

In 1976 Ian was the unofficial Aussie world champ and subsequently featured as the guest of honour in an episode of the hugely popular national Seven network show, “This is Your Life”. Hosted by Roger Climpson, each week it featured a famous Aussie who was lured to the TV studios on some false pretence and then shoved in front of the cameras and a live audience for the half-hour show. Family, friends and other people from the celebrity guest’s life came on and told stories about them and showed clips.

Chuck was one of those giving testimonials and anecdotes about Kanga, as well as brilliant WA surfer Barry Day (also a hugely-talented WAFL Premiership player, before crossing to Melbourne to play in the VFL for Essendon).

Photo: 1979 Kanga on This is Your Life TV show (7 Network).

L-R Ian Cairns, Chuck, Barry Day and show host Roger Climpson.

In the early 1980s, with the birth of national breakfast TV, Chuck moved from ACA to Nine’s “Today” show and became the ‘motoring correspondent’. This allowed him to indulge his love of fast exotic cars. And get to flog them around test tracks and get paid for it – heaven on a stick!

Photo: 1980s Nine Network publicity shot of Chuck – when he was the Motoring Reporter on the (then new) Today show. Photo courtesy of Nine Network & Errol Considine.

Peter Bevan reckon the board Chuck is holding in the following photo was an Ian Cairns ‘Bonza’. Tom Blaxell reckons it was an early thruster and dates some time from 1982 and before 1990, when fin boxes were invented.

Photo: 1980s Chuck with an Ian Cairns ‘Bonza’ surfboard at Scarborough. Photo courtesy of Errol Considine.

Later in the 1980s, Chuck moved to Nine Network’s “Wide World of Sports” and “Sports Sunday”, which were in their heydays. His WWOS Producer was another ex-Scarborough surfer, Steve Matthews (who had also competed against us in the ’68 State Schoolboys’ titles, riding for one of the Leederville Catholic boys’ schools, CBC I think).

Photo: 1966 Steve Mathews Boomerang Board Club Scarborough. Photographer unknown.

Apart from motor sports, and especially Grand Prix, Chuck covered anything that involved water for WWOS.

At the wake, Guy Leech said that Chuck’s passionate and graphic reporting on WWOS played a critical role in pushing triathlons and the Ironman event to becoming headlining, mainstream sports in Australia.

Chuck was the first to bring the Hawaiian Ironman to Australian TV screens, taking the camera into the heart of the action, up close and personal long before Go Pro.

His WWOS reporting work took him to the USA, Canada, England, Europe, Asia and the Pacific and included covering two Winter Olympics as part of Channel Nine’s Australian host broadcaster team.

When satellite TV and other technology and TV audience changes spelled the end of the WWOS regular weekend programs, Chuck set up his own production company. He made many corporate videos and DVDs on sports and famous sportsmen. He loved working with all sports, except for some in rugby league who he reckoned were blockheads and hard to deal with!

Click to view Charles Stewart Media Profile.

In 2011, he was on the broadcast production crew doing interviews for Fox Sports for the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro.

I think that was probably the last year (or second last year) the DAMRP was a Prime rated event, before getting full ASP CT tour event ranking – cos it was the last time I hosted the media conference and we had a good contingent turn up, including TV, because we had Kelly Slater – I remember me asking a series of questions to the surfers (probably with Joel Parkinson and Taj B on the front desk with Kelly)….anyway, I threw the floor open to the journos after my opening salvo …and the reporters all sat there like stunned mullets (mute and in awe of Kelly, I think) ….so Chuck quickly worked out what was happening and jumped in from the back of the room and fired off 3 or 4 good questions, which saved our bacon!

…would have been bloody embarrassing for Surfing WA and me, if it had all just petered out …at that stage I couldn’t very well jump back in with more ?s!

After that the ASP > WSL took over responsibility for pretty much all the media stuff – and I was put out to pasture!

Photo: 2011 surf journo Wayne Murphy, Chuck & Ian ‘Kanga’ Cairns. Loz Smith pic.

Chuck later took a year off to research and write a book about the true story of his father who passed away when Chuck was very young and he never knew. “The Rich Man” revealed a charming gentleman swindler who became the focus of an international manhunt and worldwide headlines. Amazing…

Click on this link to listen to audio of Chuck’s “The Rich Man’ book interview with Phillip Adams on ABC in 2010.

At Chuck’s wake, fellow Perth surfer and journo Brad Schmitt gave a eulogy (more like a celebrity roast) about their days working at TCN 9 and chasing parties and girls around Sydney, and hunting waves up the northern beaches and north NSW coast. They both also became accomplished skiers and surfing gave way in winter to weekends driving up to Perisher Valley in the Snowy Mountains. Later, they took skiing trips to New Zealand then the USA and places like Colorado and Utah, and tackling challenging ‘black diamond’ powder snow slopes:

Schmitty in his address to the wake crowd:Returning from a northern beaches party one late rainy night, Chuck –who always fancied himself as a rally driver – fanged the gold BMW …and went to do a left turn. “Hmm…bit fast”, I thought. And sure enough we continued to turn left and around and around, aquaplaning 360 degrees into the old timber bus stop. The bus stop exploded into a thousand pieces. We looked at each other – what the f+*# just happened?! Fortunately, the streets were empty. Both of us escaped unscathed and quietly we pushed the old Beamer down the road and left it parked in a side street. Chuck returned to retrieve his car a few days later and no one was the wiser.”

You Tube clips of his TV career, including the Olympics, were on the show reel which Chuck’s son Matt (now a highly respected and sought after cinematographer for big budget advertising and some TV shows) put together for screening at the wake last year.

Click to view Charles Stewart Memorial Wake video

While Chuck rarely surfed in his later years, he was often on the water doing hard-core surf ski paddling sessions…including from Sydney’s inner harbour, out into deep water and the open sea, around the heads, past Fairy Bower, and back into Manly. Hitting the snow slopes remained a passion.

He was 64 when he passed away January 2016.

Errol Considine.

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