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Elton John’s 1971 Australian Tour – Perth concert images by Ric Chan

Our principal surf photographer Ric Chan is a man of many talents.

He was the lead singer in a popular NZ Band before heading to the East Coast of OZ to pursue a surf photography career in the late 60s.

During the 70s in Perth, he was a journalist for Independent Newspaper, a DJ at Gobbles Night Club, surf photographer for West Coast Surf Magazine, a fashion model, and even a Voiceover talent for Jeans West and a number of other Perth companies.

Photo: 1970s dapper Ric in Perth City with his red jaguar. Ric Chan pic.

Ric Chan produced weekly Surfing and Music columns in the Independent Newspaper.

Image: 1971 Ric’s music column dated 10 October 1971 in Independent Newspaper. Image courtesy of Ric & Independent Newspapers.

Elton John’s first tour of Australia and New Zealand started in Perth, Western Australia on 16 October 1971 at Subiaco Stadium.

Local radio station 6KY promoted/sponsored the Perth concert and Perth band Mark IV was the support band.

Photo/Journo Ric Chan covered Elton’s Perth concert for the Independent Newspaper.

These are some of Ric’s photos of the Elton John’s Perth media reception and Concert.


Photo: 1971 Elton John Concert media reception. L-R Elton John, Nigel Olssen & Dee Murray. Ric Chan pic.

Ric Chan:Nigel and Dee were Elton’s backing group”.

Photos: 1971 Elton John Concert media reception. Ric Chan pics.

Photo: 1971 Elton John Concert media reception. Ric Chan pic.

Photo: 1971 Elton John Concert media reception. L-R 6KY DJ’s unidentified and Dennis Commetti. Ric Chan pic.

Editor’s note: “Dennis Commetti went on to become a renowned AFL Football Commentator. He announced his retirement from AFL football commentating at the end of the 2016 football season”.


Ric Chan: “I was allowed free movement around the stage, but the best position was from where I shot from. I think I was the ONLY photographer to shoot that concert”.

Photos: 1971 Elton John rocks at the Perth Concert. Ric Chan pics.

Photos: Elton John’s Perth Concert drummer Nigel Olsson with drum kit. Ric Chan pics

Ric Chan: “Nigel and I spent some time together and I recall him telling me he had his drums custom made.”

Photos: 1971 Elton John performing Perth Concert. Ric Chan pics.

Photos: 1971 Elton John rocking at Perth Concert. Ric Chan pics.

Back in the ‘70s, Ric photographed many of the International artists visiting Perth, including the Rolling Stones, Bee Gees, ACDC, Nina Simone, Deep Purple, Santana, Beach Boys, Led Zep and John Mayall.

Surfing Down South plans to feature Ric’s photos from some of those music concerts in future blogs.


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1977 Arty Sherburn first WA surfer to win an Australian Title – Updated 10 May 2017

Update 10 May 2017. See Arty Sherburn’s comments below.

Hi Jim, thank you for the article on the 1977 Aussie Titles. It brings back some fond memories.

If I remember correctly, Australia experienced its first Pilots Strike just prior to us departing.

WASRA and our Team Manager, Tony Harbison organised at very short notice a number of Hire Cars in lieu of the cancelled flights. We all met on a Wednesday morning at Trigg Point Car Park (great to see some of Ric’s Photos covering the departure) and left in convoy (sort of!) at about 11am. I remember in our vehicle(a Falcon Stn Wgn) we had Tony Hardy, Peter Davison, Blair Mikeljohn and myself. We shared the driving except for Pete who was a Junior Grom in the back whose main contribution to the journey was continually asking “are we there yet Dad?”

Thankfully the Nullarbor section was mainly sealed and we drove continuously stopping only for fuel, something to eat and the necessary “lightening of the load so to speak”. We must have thought that all the road maps were out of date because we all seemed to have a different idea of  of the short cuts and “this way is quicker” routes. As the Titles started on Saturday we were under the pump to get to Sydney by Friday so we decided to head north from South Aust up through Cobar, fuel up and beat the rest of the Crew into Sydney.Great idea except by thetime we got to Cobar (what a God forsaken place!)the town was closed including the Servo and we were out of Fuel! We had our first sleep for the trip on the forecourt of the Garage waiting for them to open, and from memory it was about about as comfortable as the floor of the Dunnie’s at Yall’s on a winters night in the early 60’s. Finally we arrived at our destination, a Caravan at North Narra Beach at around 2pm Friday, after leaving Trigg about 48 hrs earlier.

We all had a surf and were  ready for the Contest to start the next morning. Not the sort of Pre Competition preparation I would recommend but we got there on time.

Thankfully the Pilots Strike ended and the Association were able to fly us back after the Contest.

Regards Jim, keep up the good Work with the Site. Arty Sherburn.


1977 State Team Departure

The West Australian Surf Riding Assoc (WASRA) arranged a media event at Trigg Point car park prior to the departure of the ‘77 State Team to the Australian Surfing Titles in NSW.

Surf photographer Ric Chan was there to record the Team’s departure.

Photo: 1977 WA surf team members and officials at Trigg Point car park. Ric Chan pic.

Photo: 1977 WA surf team officials & sponsors at Trigg Point. Ric Chan pic.

Photo: 1977 WASRA President Tony Harbison speaking to the media at Trigg Point. Ric Chan pic.

Photo: 1977 WA judge Greg Laurenson & competitor Colin Earle at Trigg Point. Ric Chan pic.

Photo: 1977 Media and sponsors at State Team departure. Ric Chan pic.

Photo: 1977 Sponsor’s representatives at State Team departure. Ric Chan pic.

1977 Australian Surfing Titles held in NSW

Contest heats were held in stormy conditions at Warriewood, Palm Beach & Collaroy. The finals and grand finals were held in near perfect 6-8ft Narrabeen lefts and rights.

WA’s Arty Sherburn won the Senior Men’s division of the Australian Surfing Titles.

He avenged his second placing in the same event the previous year and became the first West Australian surfer to win an Australian Title after 14 years of National competition.

Photo: 1977 WASRA President Tony Harbison presenting the National Senior Men’s Title trophy to Arty Sherburn (WA) in Sydney NSW. Photo courtesy of Arty Sherburn.

Arty’s surfing mate Barry Young finished 6th in the Senior Mens and WA’s Ross O’Brien came fifth in the Kneeboard division.

In the Open division WA surfers Tony Hardy and Bruce Hocking made it into the second round semi-finals and Chris Fulston was unlucky to miss out on a berth in the final.

WA judge Greg Laurenson was rated the fourth best judge at the Titles.

Contest Results:

Open: 1. Col Smith (Sydney) 2. Col Smith (Newcastle) 3. Andrew McKinnon (Vic)

Junior: 1. Chris Bryne 2. Tom Carroll 3. Steve Wilson (all NSW).

Senior: 1. Arty Sherburn (WA) 2. C Coulsen (Vic) 3. G Black (Qld).

Kneeboard: 1. Peter Crawford 2. J Waterworth 3. G Wilson (all NSW).

Women: 1. L Goebels (Qld) 2. V Burke (NSW) 3. G Couper (Vic).

WA surf journo Randell Owens covered the National Titles in his West Coast Tubes surf column in the Sunday Independent Newspaper on 29 May 1977.

Image: 1977 Randell Owens’ coverage of the National Surf Titles. Courtesy of Arty Sherburn.

Photo: 1977 WASRA Annual Award Presentation at Karrinyup Tavern. Adrian Wilson is presenting an award to Arty Sherburn. Tony Harbison is the MC in the background. Ric Chan pic.

Arty is now retired and lives in Cowaramup in the South West. He is still a talented surfer.



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1960s SW surfing recollections by Wayne Mclaughlan – Updated 6 May 2017

Update: 6 May 2017. Added 1960s Social life in Bunbury by Davo Aylett and Wayne Mclaughlan see below.

Former Busselton surfer Wayne Mclaughlan recalls surfing down south in the 1960s.

Surfing Down South is a great book and bought back wonderful memories of the sixties down south -campfires, baked beans, Irish stew, screaming flatulence, endless swells, Caves pub with duffle coat on, Tony Harbison riding 8 metre swells etc.

I fired up my first campfire around 1967, so these boys were the pioneers. Thanks for leaving the powder dry for the next batch of nomadic surfers!

Photo: 1967 uncrowded Yallingup waves. Photographer unknown.

I rode a 9 foot 4 inch Len Dibben long board. Interestingly, I had no wetsuit and used my Grandad’s WW11 green jumper.

Also the tempers fried a bit with us using the fisherman’s tracks, especially at Injidup.

Sometimes when we were leaving the Caves Pub the gutters outside were flowing full with rain water. The next morning we would head around to the Farm knowing full well the creek would be flowing strong, setting up the left and right surf break. It was always pleasant to say good morning to the cows strolling across the paddock, sometimes in pea soup fog.

Photo: 1968 Yallingup Beach. State Surfing Titles judges stand & spectators. Jim King pic.

Women were always on one’s mind especially after laying on a plank all day. But pussy was a rare commodity in the sixties down south. You could go into the Caves Pub on a Friday or Saturday night and see 4 birds to 100 blokes – if you could see through the smoke (Dope, wood fire and Capstan)!!!

Busselton was no good either, a drive in to search for girls resulted in nothing but a dog scratching his genitals outside a pub.

1960s Social life in Bunbury

Davo Aylett (SW surf pioneer and lead singer in Young Blaydes Band) – Chasing skirt back in the early sixties (1962-62) was always a topic of conversation. On long weekends Sunday night at the stroke of midnight began the Midnight Dance at the Railway Institute Hall Bunbury. It would begin with Trad. Jazz from the (I think they were called) the Old Port, or something like that, Band and I think Ray Hoff and the Hoff Beats played rock once. It was a sell out every time I remember. Packed with Bobby Soxs and short skirts. Generally what happened would be two blokes in a car would travel from Yallingup to Bunbury to attend the dance. If one of them got lucky he would get the car keys so he could take the prize beauty home. The other would just mope around the car park until his friend came back for him with wild and unbelievable yarns. Once I remember I stayed till close with a mate. We both got lucky and we stayed till the music stopped. When we spilled onto the car park a lot of blokes I knew, some I didn’t, wanted a lift back to Dunsborough, Yallingup and Busselton. Fortunately I had borrowed dad’s FC Holden Panel Van. So we left Bunbury packed to the gunnels. My mate and I with our chicks in the front seat and wall to wall hitch hikers about 10 in the rear spilling off the tailgate. Everything was going fine with a careful top speed of about 30mph until just outside I think Dunsborough when a fight erupted in the back. Panic stop, at just on dawn, Monday morning, in the middle of the bush.”Bugger”. We didn’t get out of the front seat. We stayed put until it all died down and then continued. Next day saw a couple of black eyes and a bit of bark off. Nothing like a glassy session to make everything right again.

Wayne MclaughlanWe used to drive back to Bunbury from Yallingup to go to Little Pinocchio’s-the ol Burly. From memory, never successful in the feline chase. Slept on the beach at Hungry Hollow on Bunbury back beach in sleeping bags and in the morning the fisherman would walk past and calls us drunken bums from this new age surfing fraternity-not respectable surf club members, but no good surf bums.

I used to have a good head of hair then and in the morning the frost gave me a Maggie Tabberer hair set that they paid big bucks for in Sydney.

Photo: Mid 1970s Yallingup with Hideaway Holiday Homes in the foreground and Surfside Store & shacks and beach car park in the background. Brian Trainer pic.


Wayne is now retired and lives in the big smoke. He still likes to dabble his toes in the ocean.



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1950s Toothpicks, Okanuis and Malibus

In the early 50s WA surfers used hollow plywood 16ft Toothpick and 10ft Okanui surfboards to surf metro waves.

Surfboard designs changed in 1956, when a visiting American surf team put on a surfing display in conjunction with the Olympic Games held in Melbourne. The American boys (including famous big wave surfer Greg Noll) impressed Aussie on-lookers at Vic and NSW beaches on their light weight balsa Malibu boards.

WA surfers then started importing balsa boards from NSW manufacturers while others made balsa boards in their backyards.

In the late 50s surfboard innovators Brian Cole and Barry ‘Joe’ King made themselves 9ft triple stringer surfboards out of coolite foam glassed with epoxy resin.

This is a collection of 1950s surfboard images with comments from SW surf pioneers Terry Williams and Brian Cole.

Terry ‘Horse’ Williams:From 1958 Yallingup was visited on a fairly regular basis, I must have still had the Hillman Minx. I continued surfing on various types of belly board. The most popular type of stand up board after the 16 ft toothpick was a ply Okanui board about ten feet long. Also around at that time, there were ply double (Jim Keenan & Cocko Killen) and single skis. They were all hand-made and were beyond my very limited wood working skills. Occasionally someone would arrive with one of the old canvas covered stand up skis. They didn’t last long in the Yallingup surf. The people who paddle today’s stand up boards (SUPs) think they have something new, but they were around back then”.


Photos: 1950s Ron Drage & Dave Williams with Toothpick surfboards at City Beach. John Budge pics.

Photo: 1954 Ray Geary with his Jasper design surfboard at City Beach. Ray Geary pic.

Photos: 1955 Ray Geary & Rob Wakefield with Toothpick surfboards. Ray Geary pics

Left: Rob Wakefield & Ray Geary with Rob’s new 16’6” board.

Right: Rob with old 13’ and new 16’6” board.

Photo: Mid 1950s City of Perth clubbies Ron Drage, Dave Williams, Cocko Killen and E Mickle with plywood Toothpick paddle board at City Beach. John Budge pic.

Photo: 1956 Tony Harbison with broken toothpick board at Yallingup. Brian Cole pic

Note: old Yallingup timber change rooms in the background.

Photo: 1956 Ray Geary’s homemade four man surf ski at City Beach. Ray Geary pic.

L-R Ray Geary (19), Neil Chapple (17), Rob Wakefield (18) & Colin Taylor (17).

Photo: 1958 Dave Williams with toothpick surfboards at Miami Beach near Mandurah. John Budge pic.

Photo: 1958 Peter Docherty (age 13) with his 12ft plywood surf board at City Beach. Peter Docherty pic.


The following material on Okanui surfboards was sourced from History of Okanui Surfboards in Australia by Bill Wallace published in Pacific Long Boarder Magazine 3 April 2012.

In the early 1950s world renowned surfing industry legend Bill Wallace was making four Toothpicks a week as well as wooden skis for clubbies throughout Sydney. During this period Bill and his mates where known to surf 20-foot waves off Bronte, Bondi and fairy bower on 16′ to 20′ toothpicks. The toothpicks weighed around 30KG – this would be thought of as ludicrous to the big wave surfers of today as the toothpicks had no fins!

In 1956 Greg Noll and other surfers from the USA brought the Balsa Malibu to Australia, when Bill and others saw the board in the water they couldn’t believe how a board could ride across the wave and turn so easily. Bill set out to replicate that board, but at that time you could not buy Balsa wood in Australia. So he made it like the toothpicks from the ’40s – hollow in the middle and chambered with Marine Ply. These boards would be known as the “Okanui.”

Bill Wallace:Most people think the Okanui was a Hawaiian word, but I think Bluey Mayes came up with it. ‘Oka’ Meaning Aussie and ‘Nui’ meaning new, the new Aussie surfboard!”

Photo: 2012 NSW Bill Wallace with a 1957-58 Wallace 9’6” Okanui surfboard. This hollow board is made out of Marine ply and has Hope Pine and Surian Cedar rails. It is the last Okanui made by Bill Wallace.

Jim ‘Lik’ MacKenzie: I bought my first Malibu style board from an older Scarborough Surf Club member at age 13. Due to the lack of Balsa wood from WW11, the board was made of marine ply and was hollow inside with ribs like a boat. It also had a bunghole in the nose to drain any water out. It was the Australian marine ply version of the USA balsa Malibu surfboard and was called an Okanui.

My son Sol collects vintage surfboards. He located and purchased my original Okanui surfboard for his collection…see pics below.

Photos: 1958 Jim ‘Lik’ MacKenzie’s original 10ft marine plywood Okanui surfboard. Jim MacKenzie pics.


Terry ‘Horse’ Williams: “The board that really shook up the surfing scene then was when Laurie Burke arrived back in Perth with a nine or ten foot balsa Malibu board. That had everyone amazed. My first board was a balsa board made by Danny Keogh in Sydney. I can’t remember the price of the board but I remember the cost of air freight was pretty steep. I know my board arrived pre-dinged. The airlines had no idea how to carry them, there was no bubble wrap then. I must have used that board for a year or two. The trouble was that when they got dinged they soaked up water like blotting paper and became very heavy”.

Photos: 1957 Bernie Huddle with his homemade balsa board at Yallingup. John Budge pic.

Brian Cole:Light weight Balsa surfboards were introduced to WA in the late 50s to replace the heavy plywood toothpicks surfboards. The boards were light weight but the balsa sucked water in if the fibreglass coating was damaged.

Most of the balsa boards were imported from eastern states surfboard manufacturers Gordon Woods, Bill Wallace & Bill Clymer. Pioneer NSW surfboard manufacturer Joe Larkin did his apprenticeship with boat builder Bill Clymer. Bill Clymer had a one man surf boat at Manly. He would row out into the waves and use the sweep oar to steer back to the beach.

Some of the balsa boards were homemade in back yards from balsa blanks purchased from Boans Department store in Perth city.

The balsa was purchased in lengths 9ft x 4” square. Then they were glued & clamped together prior to shaping with electric & hand planners. A spoke shave was used to take shave off rough edges of the timber. Resin & fibreglass cloth was purchased from Monsanto in Subiaco. The shaped balsa was glassed with a single coat of 10 ounce glass…it was difficult to wrap the glass around rails! A filler coat was added, but no gloss coat. Fins were made out of plywood & glassed with a bead on the edge. The fin was glassed onto the board.”

Photo: 1957 Dave Williams with his monogrammed balsa board at Yallingup. John Budge pic.

Photo: 1958 Bob Keenan (on pogo stick) shaping a balsa board in his backyard surfboard studio at Subiaco. The balsa blank was purchased from Boans Department store. Photo credit Bob Keenan.

Photo: 1958 homemade balsa surfboards at Yallingup. John Budge pics

L-R John Budge & Don Bancroft.

Photos: 1950s Balsa surfboards.

Left: 1957 Bruce ‘Moonshine’ Hill with balsa board at Miami Beach near Mandurah. John Budge pic.

Right: 1959 Brian Cole with balsa pig board at Coolangatta in Qld. Brian Cole pic.

Photo: 1959 surf pioneers with balsa surfboards at Mettams near Trigg Beach. John Budge pic

L-R Colin Taylor, Dave Williams, Cocko Killen, Bruce ‘Moonshine’ Hill & Artie Taylor.


In the late 1950s WA surf pioneers Barry ‘Joe’ King and Brian Cole rode homemade 9ft triple stringer polystyrene (Coolite) surfboards glassed with epoxy resin.

Photo: 1958 Barry ‘Joe’ King with his homemade three stringer epoxy surfboard at Yallingup. John Budge.

Brian Cole’s homemade 9ft three stringer epoxy board can be seen in the following photo. (Brian is second from left).

Photo: 1959 a quiver of epoxy, Okanui, and Malibu surfboards at Yallingup. Brian Cole pic.

L-R Ray Nelmes, Brian Cole, Jim Keenan, Des Gaines, Laurie Burke, John Budge & Artie Taylor.

Coming soon 1960s Surfboard Designs






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Rod Slater living down south in 1967 – Updated 29 April 2017.

Correction 29 April 2017: Rod Slater was born and bred at Triggs and went to Scarborough High because that was the closest high school.


Scarborough surfer Rod Slater and his surfing mates Buttsy and Choko shifted down south in 1967.

These are Rod’s SW memories and photos.

I finished 5th Year at Scarborough Senior High School in 1966 and in the autumn of 1967 shifted down south with David ‘Buttsy’ Purcell from Watermans and ‘Choko’ (not sure of his real name) from either City Beach or Cottesloe (I think).

We rented a few rooms at the back of an old house in Busselton. The only work we could get was picking up sticks and cleaning paddocks.

We had some good uncrowded waves with the likes of John Balgarnie, Terry James and Alan McGilvray.

When we couldn’t afford to live in the South West any longer, we went back to Perth in early 1968. Back in the big smoke I laboured to raise funds to go surfing over East.

I have included a few photos from our brief attempt to live down south.

Rod Slater

Photo: 1967 David ‘Buttsy’ Purcell at the back of the rental house in Busselton. Rod Slater pic.

Photo: 1967 the boys on Yallingup Beach with surf boards #1. Rod Slater pic.

Photo: 1967 the boys on Yallingup Beach with surf boards #2. Rod Slater pic.

Photo: 1967 Buttsy with Choko and his Vee-Dub sedan in Yallingup Beach car park. Surfside Store holiday accommodation units are in the background. Rod Slater pic.

Photo: 1967 Buttsy and John Balgarnie in Yallingup Beach car park. The historic Hammond cottages are in the background. Rod Slater pic.

Photo: 1967 Buttsy and SW surfing pioneer Terry ‘Rat’ James in Yallingup Beach car park. An undeveloped Valley Road is in the background. Rod Slater pic.

In mid-1968 Rod got on a train in Perth and headed over to the East Coast chasing waves.

Coming soon Rod Slater’s memories of surf trips to Phillip Island in Vic.