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.




The last beer at Caves House

Yallingup’s Caves House hotel was closed for renovations in 2003/4. The reno’s took some time and there were complaints when it was still closed for NYE 2004/05. It seemed to drag on forever.

Former Surfboard Manufacturer and Surfing WA President Tom Blaxell was there with his mate Martin Dempsey to enjoy the last beer before the bar was closed for reno’s.

These are Tom’s ‘last beer’ recollections.

The builders had moved in and Martin Dempsey and I were fortunate to know the caretaker, who let us stay in the old wooden Annexe out the front of Caves House. The builders were going to hoe into the bar the next day.

The following picture features Dave Williams riding in 69 State Titles held at Yalls. The original photo appeared on the front page of the West Australian from memory. It was poignant to me because I met Dave as a member of the Dolphin Surfriders around 1966 and of course the pic features a dolphin.

Photo: 2003/4 Tom in the front bar on the night before bar renovations. In the background is the painting of Dave Williams & the surfing dolphin at Yallingup. Photo courtesy Tom Blaxell.

2003-4 Yalls Caves House the very last beer at the old Caves House bar - T Blaxell 0002

Dolphins Surfriders Club had some movie footage of Dave and friends surfing Trigg Point in 59 on what would have been some of the first fibreglass boards imported into WA .

Dave sadly recently passed away, but will be fondly remembered by the many he touched with his ever abundant enthusiasm for life.

Photo: 2003/4 Tom and Martin on the same night in the front bar. It shows the last scratching’s on the darts blackboard before the bar was closed down for reno’s. Photo courtesy Tom Blaxell.

2003-4 Yalls Caves House Last scratchings from the Caves house darts blackboard proir to renovations - T Blaxell2

The Caves House caretaker, Woodsy, also put the shivers up me by telling me the ghost story of a lady called Molly, who apparently hung herself in a room upstairs. The story goes that she was there for her honeymoon, but became aware of her groom cheating on her and overcome with the grief of betrayal took her own life.

We went upstairs to the room, which overlooks the beer garden and I was overcome with a palpable haunted feeling. I didn’t get a lot of sleep that night because down in the deserted Annexe there were a lot of creaks and noises and my imagination was on high alert!

The other story of course is regarding the ghost track, which I have to say hasn’t given me the same feelings. Then there were the séances with Doc Naylor down in the Surfside cabins, seemingly communicating with Mick Henryon, the guy who drowned out at Yalls. A little spooky as well.

I remember there was a lot of annoyance from the locals about being displaced from their watering hole.


Bali Hai Surf Hut at Yalls

In 1975 Alan & Hattie Mills the lease holders of Surfside suggested to John Malloy and David & Helen Hattrick that they would fund the building of a surf shop if John & the Hattrick’s helped with construction and run the surf business. The deal went ahead and the Mills contributed $5k for materials while the others assisted with the construction phase.

The new surf shop was built in front of the two small cottages on the south side of Surfside. Steve Carroll was the builder, Tony Harbison did the roofing and Michael Simpson built the internal loft and staircase.

In 1975 Helen Hattrick and John Malloy created the Bali Hai Surf Hut name & stocked the shop with surfboards, ugg boots, women’s clothes & boardies. A lot of the items were made by Helen & John at Wyadup. Helen crocheted bikinis and sewed board shorts.

Photos: 1970s Bali Hai Surf Hut at Yalls (Left) 1975 Bali Hai Surf Hut. Photo Credit Helen ‘Spotty’ Hattrick (Right) 1978 view of Bali Hai surf hut and Surfside complex across beach car park . Photo courtesy Vance Burrow.

1970s Bali Hai Surf Hut IMG_021

Simultaneously John Molloy & David Hattrick set up a Pipelines Legropes business at Wyadup. In 1976 there was a partnership disagreement and David & Helen kept Pipelines and John retained Bali Hai.

In 1976 John worked up north on the Dampier to Tom Price railway for two years. During this time he ran Bali Hai from Boxing Day to Easter then would close the shop for winter and head back up north.

After 2 years on the railways John started roofing work with the Simpson bros (George Michael & John).

Photo: 1976 Bali Hai surf hut advt. Image courtesy of WASRA Spring Title Program.

1976 Bali-Hai Surf Shop advt WASRA Spring Title Prog IMG_0001

In 1981 John Malloy handed the Bali-Hai Surf Hut to Tom Hoye. Tom ran his retail surfboard business at the shop until Drew Brent-White took over circa 1985.

In 1988 Tania Hills and her son Mark took over Bali Hai Surf Hut and changed the shop name to Hillzeez Yallingup Beach Surf Shop. They ran Hillzeez Surf Shop from 1988-92.

Photo: 1990 Hillzeez Yallingup Beach Surf Shop. Photo credit Tania Hills

1990 Hillzeez Yalls Beach Surf Shop - Tania Hills pic IMG_01

There were Fashion Parades and parties held at Hillzeez’s Yallingup Beach Surf Shop.

Photos: 1990 party outside Hillzeez’s Yallingup Beach Surf Shop. Mark Hills bottom right. Photos courtesy of Mark Hills.

1990 Hillzeez surf shop party compilation IMG_003

After Hillzeez left the premises, the shop name changed to Treasures on The Beach, Yallingup Surf Shop and Surfside Beach Shack.

Photo: 1993 Yallingup Surf Shop advt. Photo courtesy of Wet Side News.

1993 Yalls Surf Shop Advt Wet Side News

Subsequent surf shop managers were Jim & Liz Watts, Lisa Costello, Lisa Krasenstein, an English woman, Chrystal Simpson and Chris & Lesley Fullston.

Lisa Krasenstein managed Treasures on the Beach. She recalls “it used to be a ‘man feast’ watching the surfing guys stripping & changing in the beach car park.”

Photo: 2005 Yallingup Beach Shack managers Chris & Lesley Fullston. Photo credit Loz Smith.

2005 Yalls Surfside Beach Shack Chris & Lesley Fullston Loz pic IMG_001

In 2006 developers demolished the Surfside Beach Shack and the rest of Surfside complex to make way for up-market holiday accommodation on the site.

Photo: 2006 Surfside Beach Shack prior to demolition. Photo credit Peter Mac.

2006 Yalls Surfside Beach Shack colour - P Mac pic

Photo: 2006 Surfside Beach Shack after demolition. Photo Dave Ellis.

2006 demise Surfside D Ellis pic


1960s Yallingup Surf Board Club – History (part 1 of 2)

The original Yallingup Surf Board Club (YBC) ran from the early 60s to mid-69. This history of YBC was compiled by former club member Michael Bibby.

Club History

YBC was formed in the early 60’s by a group of 25 mainly Cottesloe based surfers following a suggestion to surf pioneers Cliff Hills and Rob Birch to build a shack in the Hotel grounds by the then Caves House publican Bill Copley,. Each member of YBC put in £5 which was used to build a clubhouse in the grounds of Caves House above the bowling green near the West Coast Board Rider’s (Wheels) shack. The shack was built by the boys using a timber frame and asbestos cladding. There was no plumbing, just electricity for a light and a fridge, a table in the corner and 15 or more shearer style beds. The conditions were primitive but provided a great base to stay whilst surfing in the SW.

Inaugural YBC Club president was Colin Cordingley, vice president Terry James, Bill Oddy secretary and Rick Skelton treasurer.

The older members, particularly Colin Cordingley and Terry James were very active in recruiting new blood to the Club in the early 60’s.

Membership was by invitation only and the numbers grew to 43. Up and coming surfers were poached from other metropolitan clubs. Peter Bothwell, Mick Lindsay, Brian Boynes and Mark Waddell came from the original City Beach Club. Hume Heatley, Alan MacGillvray, Colin Morris, Karl Schumacher, Mike Bibby, Don MacDonald & Joe Wilson from the Cottesloe Board Club. Plus the boys from the Leighton Cable Station, Bill Oddy, Vance Cocks and John Pozzi. It was a diverse group with a mix of occupations including builders, mechanics, printer, fisheries inspector, schoolboys, property developers, salesmen etc.

Club meetings were held at Colin & Jenny Cordingley’s house in Beagle Street Mosman Park with the obligatory 5 gallon keg followed by a race to the Van Eileen burger van on Marine Parade Cottesloe. There were a wide range of cars from hotted up FJ and FB Holdens panel vans to go with the Ford Falcons, a Toyota corolla, Simca and an Isuzu Bellett.

Photos: 1960s YBC automobiles;
Top Left: Colin Cordingley’s Toyota Corolla on Rocky Point track. Photos courtesy Tina Wilson
Top right: John Harbinson & Joe Wilson leaving YBC shack to go cray fishing in VW. Photo courtesy Tina Wilson.
Bottom Left: Joe Wilson’s 2 door sedan & Smokey the dog at The Cove. Photo courtesy Arty Sherburn
Bottom right: Unidentified in FJ Holden on SW track. Photos courtesy Tina Wilson.

1960s YBC automobiles compilation IMG_004

The club was unbeaten in inter-club surf board riding competitions held in both the metropolitan area and down south from 1964 to 1966. Sponsors were JD’s and radio station 6PR provided parkas and board shorts. The colours were black with a blue border and the 6PR logo in yellow on the seat of the board shorts.

Photo: 1964 YBC club photo taken at Izzy Orloffe’s Studio in Freo after an undefeated run of comps between 1962 and 1964. This club photo now hangs in the front bar at Caves House Hotel. Photo courtesy of Izzy Orloffe Studios.

1964 Yalls Board Club - A Orloff Studio Frem  picA

Absent from photo shoot: M Bibby, D McDonald. J Pozzi & Vance Cocks

There were many fund raising events from raffles to stomps including a concert at Canal Rocks that was hugely popular but the proceeds mysteriously disappeared.

Club members were issued with YBC membership cards.

Images: 1960s YBC membership card. Images Courtesy Colin Morris

1960s YBC Membership Card - Colin Morris IMG_001

The Club shack was a focal point for after-surfing activities with some memorable parties. It was also the beginning of many long term friendships with interstate surfers who would stay there.

The shack was demolished in 1967 when Bill Copley sold Caves House Hotel to the Emmett brothers, farmers from Dowerin. They didn’t want the shack on the grounds, so the decision was made to demolish it. A request to the Shire of Busselton to lease some other Shire land to relocate the Club shack went unanswered. On the weekend of shack demolition Alan MacGillvray brought down the Macs supermarket Bedford truck with the crew in the canopy covered back (with 5 gallon keg for the trip). The shack was demolished over a weekend with the timber and asbestos being dumped in the sand hills behind the Surfside restaurant on the beachfront.

Photos. Yalls YBC Shack. Left. L-R YBC & West Coast Board Club shacks at Caves House. Photo courtesy of Ernie Potter. Right. 1964 remains of YBC shack front door step on demolition day. Photo courtesy of Peter Bothwell.

1960s YBC Club Shack compilation IMG_001

The club records were lost during that weekend. Sometime after leaving the Mandurah stomp on the way down, someone threw Bill Oddy’s briefcase containing the records out of the truck. Many months later someone from Wokelup rang Bill to say they had found the briefcase but unfortunately most of the contents were destroyed.

As the first and second tiers of members disbanded Colin Cordingley maintained his passion for the club and recruited more up and coming surfers such as Kevin Ager, Ashley Jones and Peter Bevan.

The club was wound up in 1969.

There have been two subsequent reunions courtesy of Bill Oddy, the first in the late 80’s at the Newport Hotel in Fremantle and the second in 2002 at the Rivervale Hotel. Following the recent presentation to Caves House of the framed YBC club photo by Peter Dyson, it is hoped an annual reunion at Caves House can become a fixture.

Photos: 1988 YBC reunion Newport Hotel Freo. Left: YBC Reunion poster. Right: L-R Tina Wilson, Trevor Baskerville & Tanya Hills. Photos courtesy of Tina Wilson.

1988 YBC Reunion compilation IMG_001

See part 2 Yallingup Board Club – Recollections blog for recollections from former Club members .