1973 Australian Surf Titles #2 Media coverage by Errol Considine

1973 Nationals at Margs

Trying to shut the door Down South …. too late!

The 1969 Australian Nationals held at Margaret main break in pumping power waves, the like of which had never been seen at the titles before was the pivotal moment in the history of WA surfing – when the door was flung open to the world and the secret of the Capes coast’s waves was out.

People like Len Dibben who had been there at the birth of modern surfing in Western Australia has said that ’69 was the turning point – and nothing Down South would ever be the same again.

That iconic Ric Chan shot of the legendary Wayne Lynch high-lining a main break left at the ’69 titles said it all – that WA could match it with famed Australian east coast, Hawaiian and Californian breaks which up till then had dominated surf magazines and movies.

We were in awe of the boards Nat Young, Lynch and the crew were riding and wanted to follow them too – although we parochially claimed our mate Greg “Thunder” Laurenson was at least equal with the best board shaper craftsmen and designers on the east coast…and we reckoned WA surfers like Ian Cairns, Peter Bothwell and Kevin Agar were up there too.

The ’69 titles also brought the ‘flower power’ thing to WA – the long hair, beards, beads, floppy felt hats, bell bottom dacks – the new surfing cool was here. And we were all ready to follow…

But in the aftermath came some other changes that weren’t so cool.

Surfing pilgrims from across the Nullarbor, and even from across the world, bought new progressive influences …and also, for the first time, more crowded waves at times Down South [‘crowded’ in relative terms to what we knew up till then!]

There was also something of a loss of innocence as the downside from a new drugs and dole culture began to be felt – not everybody was mellow and ‘cool’ – man!

Boards could no longer be left on cars outside pubs or at mates’ houses in Scarborough ‘cos stuff started betting stolen, for instance.

TRACKS MAGAZINE – ‘Paradise Lost’

In the February 1973 edition of Tracks magazine (really more a non-glossy, black and white newspaper format at that time), I wrote an article titled “Paradise Lost” which appeared in the “news & opinions” section and hit like a bombshell sending shock waves coast to coast

It provoked a storm with string of letters to the editor in the following edition of the magazine – which unfortunately I have not kept – which just smashed me!

Richard Harvey – third at the ’69 championships and would go on to win the May ’73 titles at Margs – labelled me as a total dickhead. It was chastening and more than a little embarrassing.

Image: 1973 Tracks Magazine Errol’s “Paradise Lost or How the West Was Won” editorial – page 1. Image courtesy of Errol Considine.

Image: 1973 Tracks Magazine Errol’s “Paradise Lost or How the West Was Won” editorial – page 2. Image courtesy of Errol Considine.

Image: 1973 Tracks letter and payment to Errol for “Paradise Lost” editorial. Image courtesy of Errol Considine.

All I can now say now is that our intentions were good and naked self-interest came first …but we were totally naïve and it was all too late. The tide could not be turned back.

In my article, I related how amazing the 1969 titles had been, but on a “cold Saturday night late in winter ’72 some friends and I go and see Tom Hoye (expatriate American and builder of good sticks at Yallingup) and get to talking about contests”.

Now Tom had fled California to get away from the crowds and reckoned he’s found Nirvana at the Margies coast.

He talked about having had it all in southern California – surfing had provided him with a good income, place to live, good car, great stereo (dunno why but I recall that detail!) …and he got to go surfing. But SoCal polluted, too fast, and the water was a crowded nightmare and had all gone to crap.

As I wrote in my two-page feature in Tracks: “He put to us a question: ‘WHY DO WE WANT ANOTHER NATIONALS IN OUR SURF…”

“Good question…no real answer…

“Only abstract notions like pride in our surf and surfers.

“Look at the realities …surfing everywhere is strangling itself with its own success and the contest will ensure the much quicker death of our crowd-doomed southern surf.”

We got fired up. You also have to put this in the context of the times. It was age of the rising power of the young & the power of protest action …”the times they are a changin’…”

At the next monthly meeting of WA Surf Riders’ Association (the forerunner of Surfing WA) I put a motion which was seconded by my mate Peter Bevan (who was also WASRA Publicity Officer) for an “extraordinary general meeting to be held for the first time in local history to “discuss” the national titles…really to cancel them.”

Well, it hit the fan – BIG TIME!

The special WASRA meeting saw battle lines drawn with the pro and anti Nationals factions lined up.

The pro team had something we didn’t – money! Some developers who were building the caravan park at Yallingup wanted to bankroll the titles. Their main man pulled out a wad of $20 notes and said he would put up $500 for the winner’s purse at the Nationals.

Bear in mind, we were earning less than $100 a week – I had never seen that much cash in my life!!

Anyway, the vote is taken and we won. The May ’73 Nationals in WA were off. Cancelled.

Now it hit the fan across the Nullarbor.

Surfing Australia President Stan Couper wrote WASRA a nasty ultimatum letter “generally calling us shitheads and coming on heavy and about how we should reconsider…”

So at WASRA’s next monthly meeting another extraordinary general meeting is called – and the vote was reversed. The ’73 Nationals were back on at Margaret River.

The Tracks feature also ran nearly a full page on the written submission we’d put to the WASRA special meeting…including:

“This monster of our own making is coming back to WA…Our frontier will inevitably be destroyed by the pressures of too many surfers and has obviously already begun to tread that path to destruction….”

I guess our attitude was – if we’re going to head down this path, then go hard!!

We were defeated. Surfing life moved on. We thought then, well we may as well enjoy it?!

I was working as a journo at TVW 7 news and conned my boss into letting me go down to Margs for the week with a film cameraman and send back reports.

That meant sending cans of undeveloped 16mm black and white film by overnight courier back to the station at Tuart Hill. With scripting copy enclosed pounded out on my little Olivetti typewriter!!

‘Surfing Down South’ has a Ric Chan shot of me somewhat sheepishly interviewing Richard Harvey amongst a group in the car park at Surfers’ Point at the ’73 Nationals. I think I mumbled my name and he didn’t work out that he was being questioned on camera by the dickhead from Perth who he’d vilified in the national surf media a few months earlier. Phew!

Photo: 1973 Aust Titles contest meeting in Marg’s car park. Ric Chan pic.

L-R competitor Doug ‘Claw’ Warbrick (Vic), competitor Richard Harvey (NSW), Channel 7 News cameraman Bryan Dunne, 7 News reporter Errol Considine, media Ric Chan (NZ) and unidentified.…you can see the Channel 7 Holden news van in the background …

TRACKS MAGAZINE – ‘Main Report on the ’73 Nationals at Margies

Fast forward to June’73 – and I accepted an invitation from Tracks to write the main report on the May Nationals at Margies.

Image: 1973 Telegram from Tracks magazine editor Frank Pithers to Errol requesting coverage of ’73 Nationals. Image courtesy of Errol Considine.

The surf was good. I wrote about how our worst fears weren’t borne out.

“The only real hassle was the hassling. Hassling in the water like I’ve never seen before. Everyone (including the worst hasslers) seem to be complaining about it so it must have been worse than usual… Tony Hardy and Rod Brooks…nearly came to blows early in the piece. But in a pattern that seemed to be typical, it was friends on shore; kills, kill, kill in the water.”

The same Rod Brooks, from Victoria, took me aside for chat about my previous little surf media storm and explained why guys like Richard Harvey had gotten so angry at me:

“…the east coast boys look forward to two contests on the Australian surf circuit…the annual Bells and the triennial or quadrennial Margaret rip. It puts surfers into the juice and sorts them out and is a nice adventure cum holiday.”

It was indeed a simpler time with narrower horizons!

I did let rip in the article at the then Surfing Australia president Stan Couper “giving a few guys the shits with his …dictatorial…attitude and rulings” about where rounds of the event were to be surfed.

“The guy doesn’t surf, he doesn’t know the coastline, the report comes in from the world’s most experienced Margaret River rider (Murray Smith) that it’s 6 to 8 foot and great, everybody wants to go there…but Stan says “NO”…we’ll check our Cowaramup and Redgate. It ended up at Margaret but Stan, it seemed, just had to have his way.”

You have to remember that back then, Australian sport was notorious for being run by inflexible, uptight officials and the interests and wishes of the athletes came second to nit picking process and procedure…

Anyway, I digress. Back to the contest.

I wrote how the first round was held at “South Point Cowaramup in fair to good 4 to 6 foot surf”.

George Simpson beat Queensland’s reigning champion Michael Peterson, and Tony Hardy did well. The WA flag flew high and we were all pretty stoked.

In the Juniors, Craig Bettenay and Bruce Hocking did well. But Ian Cairns was a shock loser.

Round two was “Big Wednesday” at Margaret main break – not perfect quality but “sure big 10 to 12 foot”.

I reported there were some surprise losers like Simon (“that guy’s got muscles on his muscles”) Anderson, but Terry Fitzgerald killed it.

After a lay day, it was on at good Redgate. Richard Harvey, Michael Peterson and Peter Townend got deep in barrel after barrel.

The final day surfed off on the Sunday, back at Main break. While smaller than the Wednesday, the shape and conditions were better.

Richard Harvey ruled in the Open final, beating Peter Townend, with Michael Peterson third. WA’s Tony Hardy came fifth, which was a disappointment as he was just such a master at Margie’s.

A young fella named Mark Richards from NSW won the Juniors – he went on to do pretty good in Hawaii and the big leagues a few years further down the track! WA’s Craig Bettenay came in fourth.

In the Senior Men’s, Tony Harbison placed fifth.

I also noted to round off my report, that great WA surfer Barry Day, who’d won the coveted Duke Kahanamoku trophy for the best up-and-coming rider at the Nationals in Sydney the year before, could not compete Down South in 1973 as he was “playing league football.” A gifted player, Barry starred in the 1974 grand final for West Perth and later played for Essendon in the VFL. He would have been a rider to be reckoned with if he’d been able to take part in the ’73 Nationals held here…one of those ‘what ifs’…

I wrote a brief comment in my Tracks report about an event in the Open final:

“There was a hassle about an alleged drop-in against Peterson that would have changed everything had it stood. Michael hassled the judges afterwards about the drop-in (or “interference” as it’s now called) and got a few to change their minds in a pretty strange decision. The ruling was reversed.”

In Surfing Australia’s “A Complete History of Surfboard Riding in Australia”, published in 2012, author Phil Jarratt revealed the full details of what really happened and Michael Peterson’s epic meltdown:

“By this time, Peterson’s drug use was becoming more noticeable to most surfers and officials…and often his behaviour on land was hard to fathom, even though in the water his drug haze seemed to be no impediment to his performance. Until Margaret River.

“In big, powerful waves the defending Australian champion was a contender all the way to the final where he was up against consistent Peter Townend and the powerhouse goofy-footer Richard Harvey. Agitated beyond belief, Peterson paddled up and down the line-up, snaking and hassling his rivals with a manic intensity. He was probably never going to beat the smooth, calculating Harvey, but a drop-in call by the judges put that beyond doubt. Furious, Peterson confronted the judges with a tirade of profanity-laden abuse, delivered in a rainstorm of white spittle.

“No one had seen anything like it in an Australian championships since Nat Young’s famous dummy spit at Greenmount in 1970…Peterson’s invective stopped as suddenly as it had started, and within seconds he was spinning wheels in the car park and on this way to the airport.”

Wow. Never knew that. The officials covered it up well for us working media back in ‘73!!

Image: 1973 Tracks Magazine coverage of ’73 Aust Titles by Errol Considine – Page 1. Image courtesy of Errol Considine.

Image: 1973 Tracks Magazine coverage of ’73 Aust Titles by Errol Considine – Page 2. Image courtesy of Errol Considine.

…and one more thing. An ironical post-script to my naïve idealism all those years ago and trying to stop the Nationals from over-exposing our surf! At the start of last year, I ended a six-year term serving on the Board of Surfing WA as Vice Chairman. During that time I played a role in helping Mark Lane and the team to move at the right time to get the MR Pro as ASP/WSL world championship event …and then helped with running of some of the media stuff…exposing and promoting the Cape Coast to millions of surfers around the world! …go figure!

My Tracks front cover – Poem

During my “Tracks” phase in ’72 & ‘73 I broke into verse – something which just came to me out of the blue to me one day during a surf – and the Editor liked it so much it made the front cover of the August 1972 edition…bit hard to read in the scan, so here’s the lines, as published:

I feel the waves;

The waves feel me.

We both feel each other:

We both feel free

Not sure now about my mysterious use of punctuation with the semi-colon and colon!

Taking a bit of a revisionist backward view of that time in our surfing history, the vibe is definitely an after-glow of the ‘tune in, turn on and drop out’ mantra from the San Francisco ‘summer of love’ hippie thing.

Even if you weren’t doing the ‘turn on’ bit, it was important in peer image terms back then to try hard to at least appear to be a cool and mellowed-out ….and not risk the mortal sin of being deemed to being uncool – shock, horror!!

…my little stanza doesn’t quite join Bob Dylan in the Nobel Prize for Literature league but I’d like to think it does say something about the stoke we all felt back then in that unique and blessed era as we spent our weekends and holidays Down South surfing uncrowded waves with our mates, progressing with the developments in surfboard design, and feeling part of Australian surfing taking on the world…the ‘hot generation’ and the swagger of ‘we’re tops now’. It was all happening.

Some people assumed the picture on the Tracks cover was me – unfortunately no …don’t think I ever looked that good on a wave! But the Tracks’ editor did find a great visual image which matched the spirit of what I was trying to say.

No idea who the surfer captured in the shot was but I reckon it looks to me like it could have been Keith Paul?

The yellowed Tracks cover is now framed and hangs in a little personal surf memorabilia man-cave in my garage at home…

Image: 1972 Tracks cover (August edition) containing Errol’s poem. Image courtesy of Errol Considine.

Image: 1972 Tracks payment letter to Errol for poem and an inside article. Image courtesy of Errol Considine.

Footnote: In 2004, I interviewed George Simpson for a feature profile piece which was published in the first ‘Summer 04/05’ edition of “Longbreak” surf travel magazine (now published online: ) …

George related about his first trip to an undeveloped Bali in 1973 and stayed six months. They travelled to Indo by boat from Singapore and slept amongst reed beds on the beach at Kuta.

Local bemo drivers would charge the surfers the equivalent of about $1 to take them out to Uluwatu.

One day at 8 foot Ulu’s, George was surfing with the very same Richard Harvey.

The NSW goofy spotted white water further up the unexplored coast and decided to take off and have a look to see whether he could find any more surfable waves.

The way George tells it, Mr Harvey paddled off by himself carrying just a bottle of water and a joint to keep himself provisioned for the journey into the unknown!

In that one day, George told me, Richard Harvey discovered and surfed Bingin, Padang Padang and Impossibles by himself. It’s hard to imagine how mind blowing that must have been.

Harvey arrived back at Jimbaran Bay after dark that night bubbling with excitement about these great new spots ….which today are just so well-known across the world. Bloody amazing!


Click on this link to view 1973 Australian Surf Titles #1 Contest Images by Ric Chan







1973 Australian Surf Titles #1 Contest images by Ric Chan

West Australia hosted its first Australian Surf Titles in 1969. Contest rounds were held at Scarborough, Margaret River and Yallingup.

In 1973, WA hosted its second Australian Surf Titles. Contest rounds were held in the South West at Left Handers, Redgate and Margaret River Main Break.

Queensland sent a strong team which included reigning Aust champion Michael ‘MP’ Peterson and Peter ‘PT’ Townend, Richard Harvey and Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew in the Mens divison and Kim McKenzie in the Womens divison.

NSW had Terry Fitzgerald and Col Smith in the Mens division and Mark Richards in the Juniors. They were very good surfers.

WA was well represented. The WA team included Ian Cairns and Tony Hardy in the Mens division, brother’s Craig and Stewart Bettenay in the Junior Mens and Kevin Merifield and Tony Harbison in the Senior Mens.

Stewart Bettenay (WA Junior) – Round one heats started at Margs, but when the swell dropped, the remaining heats and finals were held at Left Handers. In the Juniors, my brother Craig came 3rd behind Mark Richards NSW 1st and Bruce Hocking WA 2nd.

Round two heats were held in good waves at Redgate, but I don’t remember the results.

The Finals were held in very good waves at Margaret River main break. In the Mens division Tony Hardy surfed well and placed 4th overall. In the Juniors Craig came 3rd behind Mark Richards NSW 1st and Peter McCabe NSW 2nd. However, when results from the second round were taken into account, Craig was relegated to 4th place in the final results.

Overall Contest Results

Mens: 1. Richard Harvey Qld, 2. Peter Townend Qld, 3. Michael Peterson Qld, 4. Tony Hardy WA.

Junior Mens: 1. Mark Richards NSW, 2. Peter McCabe NSW, 3. Dave McDonald Qld, 4. Craig Bettenay WA.

Womens: 1. Kim McKenzie Qld, 2. Gail Couper Vic, 3 Mary Flynn Vic,

Senior Mens: 1. Brian Austin QLD, 2. Ted Harvey NSW, Doug Warbrick Vic.

Surf photographer Ric Chan was there to capture the action for the Independent Newspaper.

Round 1. Left Handers surf break

***Update 29 June 2017 *** Tom Blaxell recognises his F100 4wd and has dated the following Left Handers pic as 1978 and not 1973 as posted. Thanks Tom.

Photo: 1973 Aust Titles contest competitors in the old dirt car park behind surf break at Left Handers. Ric Chan pic.

Photos: 1973 Aust Titles competitors surfing at Left Handers. Ric Chan pics.

Top: (Left) Chris Fullston (WA). (Right) Tony Hardy (WA).

Bottom: (Left) Terry Richardson (NSW). (Right) Col Smith (NSW).

Photos: 1973 Aust Titles unidentified competitors surfing at Left Handers. Ric Chan pics.

Photos: 1973 Aust Titles unidentified competitor getting a cover-up at Left Handers. Ric Chan pics.

Photo: 1973 Aust Titles – Film West camera crew at Left Handers. Ric Chan pic.

Finals – Surfers Point at Margaret River

Photo: 1973 Aust Titles contest meeting in Marg’s car park. Ric Chan pic.

L-R competitor Doug ‘Claw’ Warbrick (Vic), competitor Richard Harvey (NSW), Channel 7 News cameraman Bryan Dunne, 7 News reporter Errol Considine, media Ric Chan (NZ) and unidentified.…you can see the Channel 7 Holden news van in the background …

Photos: 1973 Aust Titles contest officials at Marg’s. Ric Chan pics.

Top: (Left) unidentified) (Right) contest director Trevor Burslem (WA).

Bottom: (left) unidentified), (Right) competitors, contest judges and officials including John Balgarnie (WA) and Richard Harvey (NSW) ….

Photos: 1973 Aust Titles competitors surfing Margaret River main break. Ric Chan pic.

Top: (Left) unidentified surfer. (Right) Craig Bettenay cover-up.

Bottom: (Left) Michael Peterson. (Right) unidentified surfer.

Photos: 1973 Aust Titles personalities in Marg’s car park. Ric Chan pics.

Left: Qld competitor Peter ‘PT’ Townend. PT went onto to become the first IPS/ASP World Surfing Champion in 1976.

Right: spectator Steve ‘Sheepdog’ Cockburn and surf photographer Ric Chan.

Photo: 1973 Aust Titles celebrities at Marg’s. Ric Chan pic.

This photo features legendary Australian surfer Michael ‘MP’ Peterson (Qsld), Rip Curl surf co-founder Doug ‘Claw’ Warbrick (Vic) and a host of WA surfing heavy weights.

MP (in wetsuit) is making his way through contest spectators to enter the water for his heat. Doug ‘Claw’ Warbrick (Vic) is on the far right in the hat. Amongst the spectators at the back of the pic are WA boys Len Laskewicz, John Balgarnie, Trevor Burslem, Tom Blaxell and Errol Considine. On the right are Fred Annesley and Colin Ladhams. Dave Ellis is at the front in the cap with his back to camera.

Len DibbenI was one of the contest organizers ie comp Marshall at the 1973 Aussie Titles in the South West. I was WASRA Vice President to President Ron ‘Doc’ Naylor at that time. I also had the task of transporting the media reporters around the venues ie Trevor Burslem & Doug White, as well as anyone else that needed transport. In 1974 I took the state team to QLD for the AUSSIE titles.

In the following photo I am wearing 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 Titles. Contest official Len Dibben with official car (Kombi) in Yallingup car park. Len is with his daughter Kim and son Troy. Photo courtesy of Wendy Dibben.

Mark Hills – I was living Down South when the ‘73 Aust Titles were on. Lots of people came down to watch the event. Back then Bill Oddy was running Cordingley’s and the Titles were a big deal in WA. I acquired my first surf board after the Titles. It was a West Coast single fin left under Hideaway Homes at Yallingup by a contest competitor or spectator.

Coming soon 1973 Australian Surf Titles #2 Media coverage by Errol Considine.





Design of movie ticket for 1969 ‘Evolution’ surf film.

In 1969, John Arnold Surf Machines in Adelaide got in touch with New Zealand photo-journalist Ric Chan. At the time, Ric was touring the East Coast of Australia in his gold coloured Kombi. John Arnold commissioned him to travel from Adelaide to Western Australia, to cover the first Australian Surfing Titles held in WA and design a movie ticket for Paul Witzigs’ 1969 Evolution surf film.

Click on this link to view Ric Chan’s coverage of 1969 Australian Surf Titles in WA

Ric’s photos and article covering the Title events held at Scarborough, Margaret River and Yallingup, were then featured on the poster sized movie ticket for Paul Witzigs’ Evolution surf film. Ric’s commentary is accompanied by reviews from surf legends Bob McTavish and John Arnold. The ticket doubled as the movie poster and was published by John W Robertson in Adelaide, June 1969.

The front of the poster shows a John Arnold Surf Machine logo and is accompanied by a well-known image of Wayne Lynch from Victoria. The photo by lensman John Pennings, was taken at the 1968 Australian Surfing Titles at Palm Beach, on the NSW coast.

Image: 1969 front of Evolution surf film ticket. Wayne Lynch photo by John Pennings.


The back of the Evolution surf film ticket features reviews by Bob McTavish, Ric Chan and John Arnold with surf photos by Ric Chan.

Image: 1969 back of Evolution surf film ticket. Photos by Ric Chan.


Image: Bob McTavish’s ‘Evolution film and it’s maker’ review on Evolution surf film ticket. Photos by Ric Chan.


Image: Ric Chan’s ‘1969 Australian Surf Titles’ report on Evolution surf film ticket. Photos by Ric Chan.


Image: John Arnold’s ‘Wayne Lynch’ review on Evolution surf film ticket. Photos by Ric Chan.


In 2014, Ric Chan presented an original edition of the Evolution surf film ticket to Surfing WA. The ticket, now a collector’s item for surf history buffs, was placed in Surfing WA’s history collection.





Ric Chan’s coverage of 1969 Australian Surf Titles in WA.

In 1965 young New Zealand surfer and photographer Ric Chan moved from New Zealand and landed in Brisbane Australia seeking adventure.

RicI brought my Pentax camera & second hand £26 600mm lens to shoot surf. For a couple of years I toured the East Coast of OZ chasing waves, women & adventure in my gold coloured VW Kombi van, which I built behind Jack Knight’s parent’s apartment in North Steyne. I earned $’s taking surf photos and selling them to Surf Magazines. I may be Australia’s first Chinese surfer/surf photographer.

Photo: 1968 Ric Chan’s gold Kombi outside Bob McTavish property in Northern NSW. Ric Chan pic.


RicOn one of my surf trips, I met top surfers Wayne Dale and Lane Habib (South Australia). It was Lane who talked me into going to South Australia. I was a free spirit and thought why not! In Adelaide I met John Arnold who commissioned me to travel from SA to WA to cover the 1969 Australian Surfing Titles and design a movie ticket/poster for Paul Witzigs’ Evolution surf film.

Photo: 1968 John Arnold Surfboards brochure, compliments of Gasworks Surf Shops WA.


The following images are Ric Chan’s photographic coverage of the ’69 Australian Surfing Titles. The design of the poster sized Evolution movie ticket is covered in the next SDS blog.


Western Australia hosted the Australian Surf Riding Titles for the first time in May 1969. The contest was blessed with offshore conditions and plenty of swell. Championship rounds were held at Scarborough and Margaret River and finished with finals at Yallingup.

Contest Results

Mens: 1. Nat Young NSW 2. Peter Drouyn QLD 3. Richard Harvey NSW.

Junior Mens: 1. Wayne Lynch VIC 2. David ‘Baddy’ Treloar NSW 3. Butch Cooney NSW.

Womens: 1. Josette Largardene QLD 2. Nola Shepherd SA 3. Judy Trim NSW.

Senior Mens: 1. Ted Harvey NSW 2. Alan Robins WA 3. Dave Williams WA.

WA surfers Peter ‘Spook’ Bothwell & Ian ‘Kanga’ Cairns were finalists in the Open & Juniors respectively

Image: 1969 newspaper clipping featuring Ric Chan and eastern states surfers at the ’69 contest. Image courtesy of Independent Newspaper. L-R Shane Stedman NSW, Ric Chan surf photographer NZ, Richard Harvey NSW & Glen Richie NSW.


Ric was/is a flamboyant surf photographer. He infamously rowed out into the oversized Margs Main Break line-up in a row boat to shoot the surf contest.

RicWA contest official Trevor Burslem (dec’d) would call out the giant sets over the PA, to warn me of any big sets in-bound. I was only 26 years old at the time and had no fear back then!

Photo: 1969 surf photographer Ric Chan at Yallingup. Photo courtesy of Ric Chan.



Photo: 1969 Margaret River line-up for the contest. Contest official Trevor Burslem is walking down the track in his parka. Ric Chan pic.


Photos: 1969 Contest officials & photographers at Margaret River. Richard Harvey NSW (3rd from right top pic) Ric Chan pics.


Photos: 1969 Contest spectators at Surfers Point at Margaret River. John Balgarnie WA bottom right. Ric Chan pics.


Photos: 1969 competitors preparing for heats at Margaret River. Right: Richard Harvey NSW. Ric Chan pics


Photo:  1969 David ‘Baddy’ Treloar NSW competing in the Junior Mens division at Margaret River. Ric Chan pic


Photo:  1969 Ian Cairns WA competing in the Junior Mens division at Margaret River. Ric Chan pic.


Photo:  1969 Wayne Lynch VIC competing in the Junior Mens division at Yallingup. Ric Chan pic.


Photo: 1969 Robert ‘Nat’ Young NSW in the Mens division at Margaret River. Ric Chan pic.


Photo: 1969 Peter Drouyn NSW in the Mens division at Margaret River. Ric Chan pic.


Photos: 1969 unidentified surfer in the Mens division at Margaret River. Ric Chan pic.


RicI liked what I saw in WA during the ’69 Titles and after finalising commitments in Adelaide I returned to WA later in the year. This time I drove my gold kombi across the Nullarbor, which was an unpaved road of bull dust. I surfed Cactus on route and saw a giant shark in the line-up and paddled straight in as I was the only person out. Then my kombi broke down after I hit a pot hole which was at least 3ft deep. The Kombi came to a grinding halt…nothing I did would make it go! An hour later a young guy stopped & asked if he could help…..he told me the carbie was flooded and to wait a while. We tore down some trees & lit a fire to keep warm & about another hour later, he told to fire up the motor and it worked! I continued on towards Perth.

Photo: 1969 Ric Chan posing on his gold Kombi during his passage across the Nullarbor Plain. Ric Chan pic.

Ric In WA I scored a job as a DJ in the Sheraton Down Under Disco. After that I joined Independent Newspapers as a photo journalist. I also did voice overs, modelled and presented for Jeans West and DJ’d at Gobbles Nightclub until 1985, then I headed to Bali to manage the Cheaters Night Club on the Kuta entertainment strip. But that’s another story…….

I’m like a flower in the wind and like to spread pollen all over the place!

Coming soon Design of movie ticket for 1969 ‘Evolution’ surf film.







1969 Australian Surf Titles in WA – Marg’s images by Gavin McCaughey

In May 1969 the Nation’s best surfers competed in the Australian Surfing Championships held in WA.

These were the first Oz Titles held in WA and the first opportunity for WA surfers to see World Surfing Champion Nat Young and the cream of OZ surfers competing in metro & SW waves. Prior to that time, WA surfer’s exposure to the top OZ surfers was mainly through surf magazines and surf movies.

Like a lot of other WA surfers, young Scarborough surfer Gavin McCaughey followed the contest from Scarborough to Margaret River & then Yallingup in the South West.

These are Gavin’s photos and comments on some of the Eastern States surfers competing in the ’69 Oz Titles at Marg’s.

GavinWorld Champion Nat Young (NSW) broke his big wave surfboard in the solid waves at Marg’s Main Break. Nat changed to his other surfboard and went onto win the Open Men’s division.

Photo: 1969 World Champion Nat Young leaving the surf with broken surfboard at Marg’s. Gavin McCaughey pic.


GavinIn this photo NSW team mates Nat Young & Ted Spencer are repairing Nat’s replacement surfboard on the beach at Marg’s. In the background watching the process are L-R WA representative Kevin Ager, Steve ‘Sheepdog’ Cockburn, unidentified, WASRA President Ronald ‘Doc’ Naylor (striped shirts were his signature) and a couple of unidentified eastern states surfers.

Kevin Ager – I do have a clear memory of the event surrounding this photo which Nat alludes to in his autobiog. “Nat’s Nat and that’s that” but it (my memory) is not as dramatic as Nat’s narrative. Talk about authors licence, but it does make for a good read!

In fact what Nat had done, prior to Gavin’s pic, was extend the hard edge further into the softer leading main rail section, as the board had little grip in the more powerful waves. Remember it was a Dewie Webber 7ft something, quite full Californian influenced design. Nat was struggling for drive and speed compared to Drouyn and Richard Harvey in the early heats when it was pumping.

After the bog mix gelled he placed it under a car exhaust to promote a quick cure. Unfortunately the mix had been over-primed and the heat of the exhaust made the bog mix ignite, badly burning the board.

The photo actually captures Nat and good mate Ted repairing the damaged section.

As mentioned before, Nats version is more sinister rather than hilarious, which it was during the rescue amid too many trying to help.

Photo: 1969 Nat Young, unidentified & Ted Spencer repairing Nat’s burnt surfboard at Marg’s. Gavin McCaughey pic.


GavinThis pic shows the back of Paul Witzig (NSW surf journalist/photographer) whilst he checked out Marg’s main break.

Photo: 1969 Paul Witzig heading out for a surf at Marg’s. Gavin McCaughey pic.


GavinThis pic shows Peter Drouyn (Qsld) with the surfing priest (whose name escapes me) at Marg’s. Peter finished 2nd to Nat in the Open division.

Photo: 1969 Surfing priest & Peter Drouyn chatting in Marg’s car park. Gavin McCaughey pic.


Gavin – Wayne Lynch from Vic was one of the best junior surfer in World at that time and went on to win the Junior Title.

Photo: 1969 Wayne Lynch in the car park at Marg’s. Gavin McCaughey pic.


The 69 Oz Surf Titles exposed the quality of SW waves to the world and many national & international surfers followed thereafter.

Coming soon Ric Chan’s coverage of the 1969 Australian Surfing Titles in WA.