KIDS IN PARADISE – Surfing City Beach in the 1960’s by Ross Utting

Ross Utting grew up in Floreat & surfed City Beach with his mates from a young age. In the late 60s, early 70s he was a Blaxell Surfboards team rider and State schoolboys & State open men’s finalist.

These are Ross’s ‘Kids in Paradise – Surfing City Beach in the 60s’ recollections.

Its school holidays in December 1962 and there are a bunch of kids, surfing all types of coolites off the City Beach groyne. The kids are aged between 9 & 12 years and are burnt black by the sun. Some are lying prone on their boards angling across the nice shaped waves, while others are trying to stand up but are spinning out. There is Norm (Dot) Kitson, Mick (Midge) Semple, Barry (Baz) Day, Craig (Ern) Henfry, Steve (Simmo) Simpson (dec’d 2010), Ross Sarson, Phil Moriarty and heaps of others. After a while the “stand ups” get tired of spinning out and try to glue homemade wooden fins into their coolites, only to see them get eaten away by the glue. Eventually we jam the fins into the coolites and hold them in place by pouring melted wax into the gaps and “we are away”.

We “survive” our days at the beach by collecting bottles and cashing them in for the deposit at Johnson’s kiosk in front of the old surf club. On days when there are no bottles, we troop the 200 metres up to Simmo’s place in Branksome Gardens and his Mum makes us bread and jam.

Photo: 1939 City Beach surf lifesaving club and Johnson’s kiosk in foreground. Photo courtesy of Cambridge Library – Local Studies.

1939 Old Surf Club with Johnson's Shop to the left - Cambridge Library pic

Some of the boys leave their coolites under the City Beach Tearooms, but this is fraught with danger, as Norm Kitson found out when “little Eric” (son of tearooms proprietor Eric) took to his board with a kitchen knife in a moment of boredom.

I lived in Floreat, with Baz Day originally at the back of us and Peter Docherty (co-founding member of City Beach Surf Riders Club) next to him. The Moss Brothers were a few houses up our street and Norm Kitson a couple of blocks away. In 1963 Peter Docherty built boards for Baz Day and his brother Bill. Baz’s board was coloured yellow & was a balsa 7’6” and Bill’s 8’, incredibly short for the time. Bill didn’t surf much so I got to use his board a fair bit.

In that year we saw our first surf movie at the Regal Theatre, “Gun Ho”. Unbeknown to us, on the other side of the world, Brian Cole, an old City Beach boy, is sharing a six pack with surf movie star and legend Miki Dora, on the beach at Malibu.

Photos: 1986 Malibu California. Photo credits Ross Utting.
Top: Miki Dora wall at Malibu Beach California.
Bottom: Malibu Point & Pier

1986 Malibu California USA Ross Utting pic collage_photocat

Photo: 2009 City Beach surfing legends Ron Moss (CBSR Life member) and Peter Docherty (CBSR co-founder) holding the Docherty/Cordingley perpetual trophy at City Beach. Photo credit Jim King.

Editor’s notes: The trophy was shaped from surfboard stringer timber by Dave Ellis at Cordingley Surfboards in Subiaco. Baz Day won the Docherty Trophy a couple of times, but Ross was the last to win it in 1969. He claims to have been undefeated for 46 years.

2009 Ron Moss Peter Docherty with Cordingley Trophy

In 1964 I got my own board, a 9’8” Bill Wallace, and shortly thereafter all the boys got boards. Mine cost 25 pounds at Cordingly Surf Shop in Hay St Subiaco. We used to leave our boards in the black dirt under Simmo’s house and drag them across Jubilee Park to the beach because they were too heavy to carry. Simmo used to piss on them regularly so we shifted them across the street when the resident (Chapman) built storage racks for us in his backyard.

During summer we rode our bikes to the beach at 3.30am to be ready to hit the water at first light. We had to do this because the early morning swimmers came at about 6am and from then on mostly we weren’t allowed to surf off the groyne. Sometimes between 7 & 8am we could get back in the water for a while. In those days wave quality off the groyne (pre alterations) was excellent and very consistent.

Also, in those days the beach between the 2 groynes (City Beach & Floreat) was more of a bay, and in the afternoons when the sou-wester was strong, there was a good wind wave in the middle of the bay.

Once the summer passed we virtually got the beach to ourselves and Warren (Wonk) Sommerford (dec’d), the beach inspector, used to allow surfers next to the groyne as long as there were no swimmers. But we used to push the boundaries and he was always running out of the old surf club building shaking his fist at us.

Photo: Mid 60s surfing City Beach groyne. Norm ‘Dot’ Kitson & Ross Utting entering the water. Photo credit Tom Collins.

mid 1960s City Beach Norm Dot Kitson & Ross Utting Tom Collins pic

During the non-summer school holidays we got incredible surf at times and whenever it got good Terry Jacks (dec’d) was always there. He was an incredibly powerful surfer and was our idol. I recall one day of perfect conditions at a solid 6’ and breaking way out past the groyne. Terry just tore it to shreds. He was virtually taking off on the south side of the groyne and passing well in front of it. We had never seen anything like it. It was just Terry and us kids, he was a legendary surfer, one of the best in Australia at the time & looking back, probably world class. I don’t think Terry ever worked. His parents had a house just off the Boulevard near Floreat Forum Shopping Centre.

My greatest moment in surfing came years later, must have been 1969/70, I was sitting on the steps back at Yallingup contemplating a morning surfing perfect 8-10ft Margaret, when Terry came & sat next to me & said “you surfed well this morning, handled the size no trouble at all”. Wow! After that I fancied myself as a big wave rider for a while, that is until Fred Annersley dragged me & a couple of others out at Margaret on a solid 12ft day, I survived, but after that I resolved “Nah, you can leave me out of that”.

When the waves were no good at City Beach we used to try & get a parent to take us to Scarborough. Threepenny Reef (North Scarborough) and Brighton were our favourites. My Mum used to hate having 6 or more boards stacked on the car. These were simple times, surfing was an incredible adventure and was never better fun.

In late 1966 Brian D’Arcy (deceased early 1970’s) conned his Dad into taking Phil Moriarty, Craig Henfry and me to Yallingup for a few days. We camped under the melaleuca trees and Brian’s Dad cooked on an open fire. We surfed on our own at Yallingup the whole time. We saw only 2 other people in 3 days, Mark Waddell and Brian (Beast) Boynes. They surfed elsewhere but slept at Yallingup.

Photos: 1967 Floreat Park. Photos courtesy of Utting family.
(Left) Glen ‘Roy’ Carroll, Ross & David ‘Bull’ Moss Yallingup bound in Bull’s Morris Minor. (Right) Ross with new 8’10” Cordingley stringer-less surfboard at his Floreat home.

1967 Ross utting CBSR pics collage_photocat

After a time, us young blokes became aware of the City Beach Surfiders Club, primarily through the distinctive red board shorts of its members. Eventually we were recruited. I think Ron Moss and Baz Day nominated me. After serving 3 months’ probation, I was accepted into the Club in early 1967, at age 15. Couldn’t wait to get my Club outfit of board shorts and parka in the distinctive red with white and black trim. Cordingleys had the design of the various Clubs outfits and you simply placed an order through them.

Club meetings were held on Sunday nights at various members homes, in a storeroom under Floreat Forum Shopping Centre and for a short time at Mathews Netball Centre. We were expelled from the Netball Centre for making too much noise after a meeting deteriorated into a game of British Bulldog on the slippery wooden indoor netball court. Meetings were always undisciplined affairs, with the highlight being the showing of surfing footage of members on the Club’s projector.

The gathering place for Club members was the City Beach Tearooms and the young blokes used to hang around the shop waiting for a lift to the best waves in the metro area. Joining us juniors in the Club were the Waddell brothers Gerard (Spewy) and David (Goona), Michael (JJ) Martino, Geoff (RE) Marshall, Glen (Roy) Carroll and a bit later the Bettenay bros.

Photo: 1966 City Beach Tea Rooms with ‘Simmo’ drying himself in front of Rob Halliday’s Fiat while talking to Russell Hately . Photo credit Trevor Burslem.

1966 City Beach Tea Rooms - Trevor Burslem

“Oldies” in the Club included the King bros, Moss bros, Cleaver bros, Franks siblings, Steve (Sheepdog) Cockburn, Rob Farris, Norm Bateman, Bob Halliday, Reg Gillard, Phil Henderson, Duck Craigie, Russell Stranger, Howard Johnson (dec’d), Kevin O’Dwyer (dec’d) & Brian Brown (dec’d). Although they were only a couple of years older than us, at that age it seemed like a generation. They taught us a lot & not all of it good, let me tell you.

Ultimately, the popularity of the Club scene faded & by 1968/69 many of us were heading to the South West waves around Yallingup at every opportunity. The wave quality and power of the south west made surfing exciting again.

Baz Day and I are still surfing Yallingup Main Break on yellow boards after more than 50 years. That first yellow Docherty board from 1963 must have left an indelible impression.

Photos: 2015 Yellow surfboards at Yallingup L-R Baz Day & Ross Utting. Photo credits Bruce King.

2015 Yalls yellow boards Baz Day & Ross Utting collage_photocat

Ross has travelled & surfed widely. He has a holiday home in the South West and surfs Yallingup regularly.





1974 State Surfing Titles held at Guillotine Surf Break

In the early 1960s members of the West Coast Board Club used a rough old fisherman’s track to access the Gallows. The WC boys dobbed in 10 shillings each and paid 20 pound to local bulldozer driver ‘Boodge’ Guthrie to upgrade the track. They later got Boodge to extend the track to Guillotine and they started surfing there too.

For more history on the West Coast Board Club and the discovery of Guillotine refer to Surfing Down Surf book.

A round of the State Surfing Titles was held at the Guillotine surf break in 1974. Photo-Journalist Ric Chan covered the event for the Independent Newspaper and took these images. However, Ric cant remember being there, so we can’t ask him for the results!

Did Baz Day or Kanga Cairns win the blue ribbon Open Div?

Photo: 1974 WASRA President Doc Naylor & competitors meeting at Gracetown turn-off on Caves Rd. Ric Chan pic.

1974 Guillotine State Titles Cowaramup Rd img098

Photo: 1974 Guillotine line-up. Ric Chan pic.

1974 Guillotine State Titles Guillotine img094

Photos: 1974 State Title officials. Ric Chan pics.

Top: (Left) Doc Naylor. (Right) Len Dibben. Bottom: Len Dibben with judges and assistants.

1974 State Titles Guillotine officials collage_photocat

Photo: 1974 unidentified surfing in State Titles. Ric Chan pic.

1974 Guillotine State Ttiles unknown - Ric Chan

Photo: 1974 Barry Day surfing in State Titles. Ric Chan pic.

1974 Guillotine State Titles Barry Day img 097 (3)

Photo: 1974 Ian Cairns surfing in State Titles. Ric Chan pic.

1974 Guillotine State Titles Ian Cairns - Ric Chan 018

Photo: 1974 Chris Fullston surfing in State Titles. Ric Chan pic.

1974 Guillotine State Titles Chris Fullston img097 (4)

Photo: 1974 Russell Catto surfing in State Titles. Ric Chan pic.

1974 Guillotine State Titles Russell Catto img086

Photo: 1974 Trevor ‘Kenmac’ Kenyon surfing in State Titles. Ric Chan pic.

1974 Guillotine State Titles img097 (2)

Photos: 1974 competitors & spectators at State Titles. Ric Chan pics.

1974 State Titles Guillotine spectators 2 collage_photocat



1970-80s Surfing Reflections

Have you ever wondered what you would look like surfing in reverse stance?

This is a collection of Ric Chan surfing images showing some of our top surfers in the 70-80s. Ric’s normal images have been matched with a reversed image of the same wave.

Photo: 1974 Mick Black (natural foot) surfing Noiseys near Gracetown. Ric Chan pic

1974 Mick Black Noiseys Ric chan collage_photocat

Photo: 1974 Barry Day (natural foot) surfing Guillotine. Ric Chan pic

1974 Barry Day Guillotine Ric Chan collage_photocat

Photo: 1975 Steve Hannett (natural foot) surfing Injidup. Ric Chan pic

1975 Steve Hannet Injidup Ric Chan collage_photocat

Photo: 1976 Rob Conneely (natural foot) surfing Margaret River. Ric Chan pic

1976 Rob Conneely Marg River Ric Chan 1 collage_photocat

Photo: 1976 Ian Cairns (natural foot) surfing North Point. Ric Chan pic

1976 Ian Cairns North Point Ric Chan collage_photocat

Photo: 1976 Tony Hardy (goofy foot) surfing Margaret River. Ric Chan pic

1976 Tony Hardy Marg River Ric Chan 2 collage_photocat

Photo: 1978 Craig Bettenay (natural foot) surfing Trigg. Ric Chan pic.

1978 Craig Bettenay Triggs Ric Chan collage_photocat

Photo: 1980 Mike McAuliffe (goofy foot) surfing Scarborough. Ric Chan pic

1980 Mike McAuliffe Scarb Ric Chan collage_photocat

Photo: 1980 Chris Fullston (goofy foot) surfing Lefthanders near Gracetown. Ric Chan pic

1980 Chris Fullston Lefthanders Ric Chan collage_photocat


1975/76 Red Hot Sticks

In the mid-late 60s Ian Cairns surfed the Cottesloe area & Down South with his mate Arty Sherburn. He soon established a reputation at the State & National level for surfing big waves in the SW. In the ‘70s he became a pro surfer and earned a world-wide reputation for big wave riding on Hawaii’s North Shore.

For a full profile on Ian click on

In 1975/76 Ian designed & rode Red Hot Stick surfboards in WA. The boards were sold from a Red Hot Sticks surf shop in Bicton. This short term venture was a stepping stone along the road to success.

Photos: 1976 Ian providing customer service at the Red Hot Sticks surf shop. Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.

1976 Red Hot Sticks surf shop Bicton 1 collage_photocat

Photos: 1975-76 Red Hot Stick designs.

Top: (Left) 1976 Red Hot Stick ‘Loose Goose’ design by Ian Cairns for Loz Smith. Photo credit Loz Smith.
Other 3 images: 1975 Red Hot Sticks 6’11” x 21” single fin pintail shaped by Ian Cairns for Barry Day. Photos courtesy of Barry Day.

1975-76 Red Hot Sticks Baz & Loz collage_photocat

Photos: 1976 Adrian Wilson surfing Margaret River Mainbreak on a 6’8″ Red Hot Stick surfboard. Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.

1976 Marg River Adrian Wilson on 6'8 Red Hot Stick collage_photocat

Photos: 1975 Ian surfing North Point on a Red Hot Stick surfboard. Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.

1975 North Point Ian Cairns Red Hot Sticks collage_photocat

Photos: 1976 (Left) Ian surfing Margaret River Main Break on a Red Hot Stick surfboard in WA Spring Surfing Titles. (Right) Ian free surfing North Point on a Red Hot Stick surfboard.. Photo courtesy of Ric Chan.

1976 Ian Cairns MR Spring Title & North Point Red Hot Sticks collage_photocat

Photos: 1976 (Left) Ian surfing Injidup Car Park on a Red Hot Stick surfboard in WA Spring Surfing Titles. (Right) Ian’s sponsored vehicle in car park. Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.

1976 Injidup Ian Cairns 2 collage_photocat


1960s-70s West Coast Surfboards

In the late 60s & 70s West Coast Surfboards in Fitzgerald St West Perth was run by surfboard craftsman Bob Gairdner and partners Mick Dalziel & Eddie Warner.

West Coast Surfboards attracted a stable of fine surfers in Peter ‘Spook’ Bothwell (dual State Open Champion), Ian Cairns (dual World Champion), Barry Day (Duke Kahanamoku Trophy winner) and Craig Howe (NW surfing pioneer).

Photo: 1973 West Coast Surfboards showrooms in West Perth. Photographer unknown.

1973 West Coast surf shop - unknown A

Photos: Vintage West Coast Surfboards (Left) 1969 surfboard logo & (Right) 1970 single fin surfboard. Photos courtesy of Phil Woods Collection.

1969-70 West Coast Surfboards Phil Woods Collection IMG_001

Bob Gairdner shaped all of ‘Spook’ Bothwell’s West Coast surfboards.

’Spook’ Bothwell: “My introduction to Bob Gairdner was through David Beamish with whom I was friendly with. It was after I won the 68 State Title on my John Arnold which Malcolm Loch organised for me, that Beamish introduced me. Bob made me a board to ride in the Australian Titles, in Sydney. The board was based on Midget’s pintail which I rode when he was at Yallingup in 68.
Bob Gairdner made every board I rode for years. Terry Jacks also rode them. Mick Dalziel who was an original Southern Surfrider was also a partner and an influential design collaborator.
Other surfers who surfed the Coasters were Al Fixter, Neil Peacock and Dave Plaisted to name a few.
The thing about Bob was he was interested in the process, the surfers themselves, surfboard design and everyone respected him for it.
Northbridge was a different place back then”.

Photo: 1972 ‘Spook’ Bothwell surfing a West Coast side slipper shaped by Bob Gairdner at the back of Cowaramup Bay in the SW. Photo credit Ric Chan.

1972 Moses Peter Spook Bothwell on West Coast side slipper - R Chan img530

West Coast’s surfboard construction team was comprised of master shaper Bob Gairdner, Eddie Warner (Cottesloe) glasser/sander. In 1972 Barry Day (City Beach) glassed, sanded & polished boards. State Surfing Champion Ian Cairns (Cottesloe) also shaped some boards for West Coast in the 70s.

Barry Day: “In 72 Ian Cairns shaped me a slide slipper surfboard based on his own blue coloured Midget Farrelly slide slipping surfboard. It was a wonderful board and we had a lot of fun together“

Photo: 1972 Barry Day at Yallingup with his Ian Cairn’s shaped slide slipper board with platypus nose and red colour design. Rod Slater is crouching next to Barry. Photo credit Ric Chan.

1972 Yalls State Titles Barry Day & Rod Slater - Ric Chan img095

Barry Day rode an Ian Cairn’s shaped West Coast Surfboards 6’2” area rounded pin with twin fins when he won the Duke Kahanamoku Trophy at the 1972 Australian Titles held on NSW beaches.

Photo: 1972 Barry Day’s Duke Kahanamoku trophy back home at Yalls. Photo credit Bruce King.

1972 OZ Titles NSW Duke Kahamoku Trophy B Day CBSR IMG_8308

Photo: 1973 surfer Craig Howe & Bob Gairdner inside the West Coast factory. Photo courtesy of Craig Howe.

1973 Craig Howe & Bob Gairdner West Coast Surfboards - Craig Howe A

Ian Cairns rode a West Coast Surfboard to victory in the 73 Smirnoff World Pro-Am Surfing Championships (de facto professional World Championship) held at Laniakea in Hawaii.

Barry Day: “Either Bob or Ian shaped Ian’s blood red coloured board and I glassed and sanded it”.

In 1974 Ian Cairns shaped Barry Day a 6’8” x 19.5” single fin swallow tail board at West Coast Surfboards.

Barry Day: “I made the fin, glassed, sanded, gloss coated, polished and then waxed & surfed the board”.

Photos: 1974 Barry’s West Coast swallow tail surfboard shaped by Kanga. Photos courtesy of Jim King.

1974 West Coast Surfboard by Ian Cairns collage_photocat

Image: 1974 Barry Day footballer/surfer working at West Coast Surfboards. Image courtesy of The Daily News.

1974 Barry Day - profile ex Daily News A

Photo: 2010 Old boys reunion at Marybrook function. L-R Loz Smith, Barry Day & Bob Gairdner. Photo courtesy of Loz Smith.

2010 Loz, Baz & Brian Gairdner West Coast Surfboards Busso Loz picA