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Geoff Culmsee recorded his SW memoirs for the Surfing Down South book published by Margaret River Press in 2014. Excerpts from these memoirs where included in the book.

I first went to Yallingup in 1960 when I was 16 years old. I went with Murray Smith whose mate owned a car!! It was in January and there was a dozen or so surfers out…Kevin Merifield, Mark Paterson, Ray Geary and some whose names I can’t remember. They were a few years older than us and were probably the original surfers.

The first day was clean 4 to 5ft surf but coming from Scarborough, Yallingup was a whole different thing. I had never imagined waves with so much water and push in them. I think the first time I caught about one wave and was glad to get back on the beach. Things improved from then on. We only had a few days and went home full of enthusiasm.

With a few mates we formed a new surfboard club called the North End Board Club. It grew to around 25 members and we used Smithy’s place in Scarborough as the headquarters, as he lived right on the beach. All the members paid 2 shillings a week and we built up enough money to buy a block of land at Georgette Way in Prevelly Park in 1964.

Photo: 1961 North End Board Club at Scarborough L-R M Darcy, J Pinch, unidentified doing Quasimodo, Murray Smith, Geoff Culmsee & Gary Granery. Murray Smith pic.

1961 Scarborough North End Board Club M Darcy, J Pinch, unknown, M Smith, G Culmsee & G Granery - Murray Smith pic2

At age 18 I bought my first car… a Holden…and we started going down south once or twice a month. It was a bit of a trek then as the coast road was rough limestone from Miami to Australind so we travelled the Southwest Highway. We surfed mainly Yallingup and Injidup, most weekends with only 2 or 3 car loads of surfers.

We camped under the melaleuca trees at Yallingup where the playground is now, slinging hammocks up for the weekend. Most of the time, we didn’t even leave Yallingup. You could lie in your hammock and watch the waves roll in. There were old weatherboard change rooms on the beach where we left our Malibu boards…no-one ever touched them. Things were really good in those days! The old change rooms slowly fell down and finished up as firewood for the odd kegs we had on the beach.

When there was no surf we went exploring down the coast and one day some mates came back with reports of great right-handers at a place called Cowaramup…also Gallows was discovered and then Margaret River.

In 1963 the North End Board Club bought the block in Prevelly and our base became Margaret River. We started building a shack on weekends and holidays. Within 12 months we had a 3 room shack with a toilet and shower…luxury!! The shack only had louver windows which were pretty draughty in winter, but it sure beat hammocks!! The shack stayed in the board club for over 40 years and was sold to one of the members (Zac Kochanowitsch).

Photos: 1967 North End board club shack at Prevelly Park with Geoff’s Landrover on the right. Murray Smith pics.

1967 North End Shack Prevelly MS pics collage_photocat

With my wife and 3 month old daughter we shifted down south to live in 1969. We first lived in Prevelly in a caravan, but when our daughter needed more space we found an old farmhouse inland a bit on the Margaret River. In those days I surfed Margs on my own, sometimes because there was not many people around during the week, and many times I just waited hoping someone would turn up!

I started my first surfboard shop down south at the farmhouse. We shifted to an old farmhouse at Cowaramup, but didn’t stay too long because it was full of fleas and it was either them or us and we took the easy option!! We moved to a farmhouse on Caves Road next to where Driftwood Estate Winery now stands, which had a lot better exposure as far as selling surfboards went.  By this time there were a lot more surfers around and we were surfing most of the breaks that are surfed today. After a couple of years we shifted to Eagle Bay, living in a cottage on the Rocky Point track. I continued making surfboards in a shed that I built.

Photo: 2016 Mark Hills from Yahoo Surfboards with a vintage Geoff Culmsee single fin surfboard made in the shed at Eagle Bay 1971-73. Photo courtesy of Yahoo Surfboards.

2016 70s Geoff Culmsee surfboard at Yahoo collage_photocat

We didn’t have 240volt power at first because the power lines didn’t go that far, but we put some money towards the scheme to get it out there. We were the only ones out there until a local doctor built a house in the then new subdivision where the Eagle Bay shop was.

I teamed up with surfing mate Ralph Redman and started a fibreglass business in Dunsborough which operated for about 30years

Photo: 1970 Geoff-Culmsee surfing Big Rock beach at Gracetown. Jim Breadsell pic.

1969 Noiseys Cowaramup surfing Geoff Culmsee - Jim Breadsell pic.jpg

The Gallows track ran down between fences at Cullens Winery…a horror track in winter with creeks flowing over it which bogged most cars, if you were not careful! It stopped about 2 kilometres from the coast and you had to sneak through the bush past Cullen’s beach cottage to the surf break carrying heavy Malibu’s! One day a bulldozer happened to be working in the area and a couple of guys from the West Coast Board Club talked the driver into pushing a track the last 2 kms to the beach, through someone’s farm. The problem was that no-one thought to ask the farmer!! There was a bit of unrest for a while, but it all settled down and the track stayed open. It was also a hell of track in summer…going in wasn’t too bad, but it had some black sandy hills to climb coming out which meant getting out and pushing in sand that was as hot as hell!!….All good fun!! The tracks into Injidup and Left Handers were not much better.

John and Paul Witzig came over a few times bringing some of Australia’s best surfers…Wayne Lynch was one that that John was taking photos of for his surf magazine…Tracks. Paul was taking movies. This started a lot of eastern states surfers coming over.

Image: Renowned NSW surf journo/photographer John Witzig took this photo of Geoff Culmsee in front of an old farmhouse at Margaret River circa 1970. It has been shown in Surf mags and Photo Exhibitions around OZ. Geoff’s framed image has been signed by John Witzig.  Image courtesy of John Witzig & Geoff Culmsee.

1970 Cowaramup farm house Geoff Culmsee - John Witzig DSC_0310 (2)

A lot happened in the mid 70s with surfers turning up from all over Australia to surf. Some stayed and made the area their home. It was the hippy era with long hair and beards which didn’t impress the local farmers much. You had to prove to them that you were willing to miss a surf and turn up for work!

On a trip south a young George Simpson, his brother Mick and mate Mick Gracie walked the coast from Yallingup to Sugar Loaf and saw the wave at Bears. It was called MGM for a long time before being named 3 Bears. At first it was a walk from Sugar Loaf to surf it.

Around this time a very easy going American…Tom Hoye had moved down and was making surfboards in a shed next to the shop at Yallingup beach. He lived in a farmhouse near the Dunsborough Cemetery. The farm ran all the way to the coast so Tom could drive through the paddocks all the way to Bears. It was a bloody long way and not much of a track. A new track was needed, so with an old Toyota with a log tied on the roo bar a track was pushed through from Rabbit Hill Yallingup to 3 Bears.

In the late 70s to 80s Yallingup was declared a NO DOLE area as they were too many surfers not working and claiming the dole. As it happened…the early surfers changed the area by bringing in many tradesmen and guys like Tony Harbison who built the first Holiday cottages in Yallingup (Hideaway Holiday Homes).

When my daughter started school there were 43 children at the school in Dunsborough and now there are 2 primary schools at capacity. We sure had the best of life surfing back then and it was a great place to bring up kids.

It’s a pity that things change…but that’s progress…not always all for the good!!

Photo: 1989 Abrolhos trip Culmsee, Burrow & Redman families. Photo courtesy of Nancy Burrow.

L-R Nancy Burrow, Gina Pannone, Tony Cook, Vance & Taj Burrow, Justin Redman, Geoff Culmsee & Ralph Redman (the moustache bros), Wayne (red shirt), Natasha Culmsee (now remarried) and John Clemenger. Boat cook (crouching).

1989 Abrolhos trip Burrow, Culmsee & Redman families - Nance Burrow pic IMG_0001

Geoff is now a septuagenarian and shares his surfing time between SW and NW waves, similar to his mate Murray Smith.

Last year Geoff, Ralph Redman, Vance Burrow & Geoff Hewitt scored good waves on a boat trip in the Maldives.




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Historic Seymour family cottages in Dunsborough

Historical notes on the Seymour family cottages in Dunsborough

The Seymour family were early settlers in the Capes region. William Seymour arrived in Dunsborough 1845-1846 to work for Lionel Sampson and the ‘Castle Rock Whaling Company.’ The Seymour’s two original family dwellings designed in local vernacular style were located on Lots 1 – 17 in Dunn Bay Road, Dunsborough WA, before being relocated to Millbrook Farm at Yallingup. One of the cottages was made from stone and the other weatherboard. Source: City of Busselton Municipal Heritage Inventory 2013.

The Seymour’s family name is shown on the 1902 Lands Department map showing the Locality of the Caves between Capes Naturaliste and Leeuwin in WA.

Image: 1902 map of Capes region with the Seymour’s name in Dunsborough. Image courtesy of State Records Office of WA.

Image: Pre 1980s the Seymour’s stone cottage on Dunn Bay Rd Dunsborough. Image courtesy of the City of Busselton Municipal Heritage Inventory 2013.

Julie Favell (former SW resident): “In 1982 I took these photos of the historic Seymour cottage which used to be located at the end of Dunn Bay Road in Dunsborough just across the road from a car park and boat ramp on the beach.”

Photo: 1982 the Seymour’s weatherboard cottage on Dunn Bay Rd Dunsborough #1. Julie Favell pic.

Photo: 1982 the Seymour’s weatherboard cottage on Dunn Bay Rd Dunsborough #2. Julie Favell pic.

The Seymour’s family dwellings were relocated from Dunsborough to Kevin and Margaret Merifield’s Millbrook Farm at Yallingup in the 1980s.

Kevin Merifield: “My understanding is the Seymour cottages in Dunn Bay road were the first cottages built in Dunsborough around 1850, when Dunsborough was a whaling station.

The historic Seymour cottages were relocated to Millbrook from memory in the early 1980s, we purchased Millbrook at Yallingup in 1976.

At that time Malcolm Paine was operating a tourist business on our property at Millbrook, the Seymour cottages were about to be demolished and we decided to save them and relocate to Millbrook.

Ironically Margaret and I were intrigued when we first came across the cottages around 1958, we knocked on the door to see if we could have a look and Jack Seymour the owner obliged by showing us around and offering a cup of tea, little did we know we would become the proud owners some 25 years later”.

Photo: 2016 the Seymour’s stone cottage on Millbrook Farm at Yallingup. Kevin Merifield pic.

Photo: 2016 the Seymour’s weatherboard cottage on Millbrook Farm at Yallingup. Kevin Merifield pic.

Photo: 2016 the Seymour’s cottages on Millbrook Farm at Yallingup. Kevin Merifield pic.

Left: Stone cottage, Middle: Jack Seymour’s cottage, Right: Weatherboard cottage.

Julie Favell: “I am ever so pleased about the Seymour cottages being relocated to Kevin and Margaret Merifield’s property. It is nice to know someone took the time to preserve a beautiful piece of Dunsborough’s history.”


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Living in the South West in the 70s & 80s by Julie Favell

Queensland surfer Mark Favell made his first trip to WA with Jeff Carroll and his brother Steve in the early 70s. The lads settled in the South West at Dunsborough.

Julie Wakefield moved from Queensland to WA in 1973. Initially she lived in Scarborough, but only six weeks after arriving, she moved down South where she met and subsequently married Mark Favell.

These are Julie’s 70s & 80s South West recollections and photos….

In the early 70s we lived at Mark’s dad’s place in Beach Road at Dunsborough with Andy Jones. We all worked at the Dunsborough Bakery.

The house is still there, we checked it out when we visited the South West in 2015.

Photo: Early 1970s Mark’s dad’s house in Dunsborough. Julie Favell pic.

L-R Jack Farrell, unknown, Andy Jones, Mark Favell and Kerri.

This photo was taken around early to mid-70s, it was taken in Dunsborough in one of the many other houses we lived in. North Street I think!

Photo: Mid-70s Julie Favell in North St Dunsborough. Julie Favell pic.

We used to work night shift until dawn in the Dunsborough Bakery then Mark, Andy Jones and Neil Juster would go surfing. In the next shot, ‘Granite’ the dog was named after ‘Granites’ surf break at Noosa Queensland.

Photo: 1973-74 Neil Juster & Mark Favell on Yallingup Beach with Granite the dog. Julie Favell pic.

Photo: 1970s Mark Favell surfing solid Yallingup. Julie Favell pic.

Mark is surfing in the slot on the first wave on the left.

Photos: Early 70s Mark Favell surfing Yallingup. Julie Favell pics

Mark had a 1958 VW Beetle, which from memory was a fully imported vehicle from Europe, supposedly as the story went. I think it was purchased off one of the Vidler boys. Photo does not show the larger tyres we used to drive up the dirt track to Three Bears.

Photo: Mark’s 1958 VW Beetle at Eagle bay. Julie Favell pic.

Photos: 1970s Mark Favell surfing Three Bears. Julie Favell pics.

Photos: 1970s Three Bears surfing pics. Julie Favell pics.

Top left: Peter Wallace. Other surfers unidentified.

Bottom left: small day Bears Bombie with Cape Clairault (Injidup point) in the back ground.

Photo: mid 70s Mark Favell surfing Injidup Car Park. Julie Favell pic.

This surfing shot of Mark is labelled Rocky Point, but it was actually the Farm.

Photo: mid 70s Mark Favell surfing the Farm at Bunker bay. Julie Favell pic.

Photo: 1970s dammed creek behind The Farm surf break at Bunkers Bay. Julie Favell pic.

In the late 70s we managed a property at Eagle Bay on 40 acres which now is an estate. The old house we lived in was up a bit on the hill, with three cottages on the water’s edge, no electricity, kero fridges, kero lamps, wood stove.

Photo: Late 70s our house and Mark’s VW beetle at Eagle Bay. Julie Favell pic.

Photos: Late 70s Views from our house a bit up the hill at Eagle Bay. Julie Favell pics.

Left: view over Geo Bay from our house verandah.

Right: bush walk from our house down to cottages at Eagle Bay.

Photo: Late 1970s one of the cottages at Eagle Bay and Southey the dog. Julie Favell pic.

Jerry and Claire Guinness owned and managed Dunsborough Store/Post Office. Claire also did a Newsletter for Dunsborough for many years. Jerry was a Councillor for Busselton Shire. Mark & I worked for them in the store, on their Eagle Bay property and their farm on Commonage Road.

Photos: Late 70s Guinness property on the hill at Eagle Bay. Julie Favell pic.

Left: view of the only house on the beach at Eagle Bay and Jerry & Claire Guinness’s new home on the hill to the right.

Right: view over Eagle Bay from Guinness property on the hill.

This photo shows Mark with Andrew Jones and his new Ducati motor bike. I think from memory, Andrew had at least two bikes (both Ducati’s) during that period.

Photo: Late 70s Mark Favell and Andrew Jones with his new toy on the Guinness farm Commonage Road Dunsborough. Julie Favell pic.

In the late 70s Mark and I worked at the Dunsborough Bakery and Caves House Hotel.

Goog was still alive then and he was the owner of Caves House. Well it was two brothers, but we never meet the other brother, as he had passed away before I started working there. Caves pub was managed by Wendy & then Em.

I remember at the same time we had offered to purchase the Bakery in Forrestfield from Colin White. Em was going to retire. Not sure how many knew this, but Em approached me to manage Caves House, I was honoured to have been asked, love that place. Sadly I had to decline as we had already agreed to purchase Forrestfield Bakery.

It was a shock to me when visiting Caves House in 2015. The road no longer goes around Caves House anymore, plus all the other additions. Inside the pub was two separate rooms, main bar and lounge, both had separate external entries.

We use to love listening to Nancy and Vance Burrow’s band with lead vocals by Gina Pannone at Caves Hotel sessions.

Circa 1980 Mark & I built a house, which I designed in Chester Way, Dunsborough. It is still there today. This photo was taken in 2015 when I finally got back to visit the SW after all those years.

Photo: 2015 the house Julie designed and built (circa 1980) Chester Way Dunsborough. Julie Favel pic.

Circa 1984 we lived at Smiths Beach on top of hill in a double A frame house which is still there, I checked it out last trip to the SW. It was then owned by Colin and Marion White which was another property we looked after, as Colin and Marion sold Dunsborough Bakery and moved up to Forrestfield as they purchased another Bakery, which eventually Colin sold to us and Dave Dwyer.

Claire Guinness has since passed away, Jerry last I heard, when he dropped in a few years ago was living at Tea Gardens, NSW. Colin White has passed away. Marks Dad is still with us and now lives in England. Mark has one brother Ray lives in Queensland. Marks mother passed away a few years ago (lived in Queensland).

Mark passed away on 5 November 2006. A ceremony (Jeff Carroll did the ceremony) was held at his other favourite beach Mudjimba Beach on the Sunshine Coast and his ashes spread over the ocean by our two sons Adam and Connor. They were joined by many friends forming the traditional surfing circle, equally we sent some ashes to WA where Mark’s Dad John Favell, Andy Jones and a SW crew spread his ashes at Yalls, with an ending note “Eternally surfing East to West”.

Mark and I have two sons. Adam was born in 1983 Busselton Hospital and Connor born in 1990 Nambour Hospital. Adam now lives in Lithgow NSW and Connor did until 2 years ago, but now lives in Scarborough WA.

Photo: Dec 2016 Julie & Mark’s sons Adam & Connor Favell.

Currently I am living just on western edge of Blue Mountains at Lithgow in NSW. I have lived there for 15 years with my husband Chris. We are both involved in the Lithgow Environment Group which was started by us and a few others concerned for the natural areas and coal mining here. The Group had its 10 year anniversary last year.





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Yallingup beach images by Giancarlo Pieri

Giancarlo Pieri is the father of Chiara Pieri from Shaana Café at Yallingup. Giancarlo and his wife Angela are holidaying in the South West from Italy and looking after granddaughter Shanti during busy periods at the Café.

Giancarlo is a keen photographer and popular with the surfing community at Yallingup.

These are some of Giancarlo’s photos from his South West photo album.

Photos: 2015 Yal Mal contest at Yallingup. Giancarlo Pieri pics.

Womens and Mens Yal Mal finalists. Mens finalists include son-in-law Alfonzo ‘Fonzie’ Puzzarini, Adam Lane and other Longboard hotshots.

Photos: 2016 granddaughter Shanti surfing Geographe Bay. Giancarlo Pieri pic.

Photos: 2017 daughter Chiara surfing at Yallingup. Giancarlo Pieri pics.

Photos: 2017 son-in-law Alfonso surfing at Yallingup. Giancarlo Pieri pics.

Photo: 2017 Sally and Salty Sea Dogs in Yallingup carpark. Giancarlo Pieri pic.

L-R Sally Greirson, Lou Corkill, Baz McKinnon, Adam Lane, Andy Jones and Gary Greirson.

Photos: 2017 girls surfing Yallingup. Giancarlo Pieri pics.

Top: Chiara Pieri & Jessica Waters.

Bottom: Loza & Doctor Sally.

Photos: 2017 boys surfing Yallingup. Giancarlo Pieri pics.

Top: Bruce King & unidentified

Bottom: Ross Utting & Jack Medland.

Photos: 2017 Giancarlo and Angela frolicking in the lagoon at Yallingup with the King Bros, Bruce & Jim. Bruce King pics.

A slideshow featuring Giancarlo & Bruce King’s images can be seen at Shaana Café.

Ciao, Giancarlo. Grazie per la felice foto e ricordi.




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1980s Bali Photo Gallery by Ric Chan with comments from Peter Neely #3

Perth based photo-journalist Ric Chan started going on surf trips to Bali in the early 80s. In 1985 he was lured to Bali to help set up and run Cheaters Night Club in Kuta’s entertainment strip, near the famous Peanuts Club.

Ric lived in Bali until ’91 and then returned to his native NZ after his wife Sami passed away. Ric and his sons Taron & Tao settled in NZ’s North Island.

This is a glimpse of Ric’s 80’s Bali photo gallery and a taste of quieter times in Bali.

Ric ChanPeter Neely is an old mate who was in Bali when I was there.

Peter runs the web site INDO SURF and LINGO  and has provided background comments on some of Ric’s Bali pics.

Photo: 1985 Poppies Lane Kuta Bali

Peter Neely –  This is on the corner of the main road Jalan Legian. You’d often see ritzy older tourists from Sanur being dropped by taxi there, on their way to Poppies Restaurant, but looking confused and a little bit scared at how small and dark the lane is.

Back in 1975 the owner of Poppies ran a power lead 100 metres from the restaurant to this corner, then placed a neon “Peter’s Icecream” sign on the ground. It was the only bright light in the entire village. It was the only safe place to eat icecream as they had electricity before any other cafes which still used metre-long blocks of ice which were delivered every other  day from the city’s Denpasar iceworks. Rumours said the ice was made with polluted water direct from the filthy Denpasar river, so everyone was told “Don’t put ice in your drinks”.



Photo: 1985 The Doggies Bar & Restaurant Kuta


Photo: 1985 The Pub & Bali Indah Restaurant Kuta


Photo: 1980 Sri Lanka surf break just north of Nusa Dua, on the south coast of the Benoa peninsula.


Photo: 1980-83 Bali Nusa Dua aerial pic.

Peter NeelyA small day with Outside Nusa Dua reeling off at around 6 foot, but hardly breaking at the secret Nikko reef in the foreground. Now overbuilt with hotels and breakwaters.


Photo: 1980 Balinese surfer at Kuta


Photo: 1980 Balinese surfer at Kuta

Peter Neely – The curly hair makes me think this is Bali’s first official “champion” surfer Wayan Sudirka. He stood out with a smooth flowing style, learnt from Gerry Lopez and his Hawaiian buddies.


Photo: 1985 Sami & Ric Chan Jimbaran Bay


Photo: 1985 Uluwatu surf break & warungs


Photos: 1980s Uluwatu cave. (Left) Steve ‘Hog’ Hannett descending bamboo ladder.


Photo: 1980 Uluwatu wave on low tide.


Photo: 1985 Uluwatu surf break view from Warung on the cliff.


Photo: 1985 Bali sunset through palm trees


Coming soon 1980s Bali Photo Gallery by Ric Chan with comments from Peter Neely #4

You can inquire on the SDS Web & Facebook sites to view Ric’s previous Bali photo galleries.