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







Vintage South West surfing images.

This a collection of late 50s & early 60 South West surfing images from various photographers in the Surfing Down South archives. It features a pod of WA surfing pioneer legends.

Photo: 1957 Bernie Huddle & Keith Kino riding plywood toothpick boards at Yallingup. Water photography by John Budge.

1957 Yalls Bernie Huddle & Keith Kino surfing wooden toothpick surfboards - JB pic img568

Photo: 1958 Yallingup Main Break surfer John Budge on home-made balsa board. Water photo courtesy of John Budge.

1958 Yalls John Budge - John Budge pic IMG_0005

Photo: 1962 Gallows outside break Jim Keenan & Puppydog (NSW) riding Barry Bennett boards from NSW. Jim Keenan pic.

1962 Gallows outside break J Keenan & Puppydog on NSW Barry Bennet boards - J Keenan pic

Photo: 1960-61 South Point Cowaramup Bay unidentified surfer. Steve Mailey pic

1960s South Point Cowaramup - Steve Mailey img343

Photo: 1962 Yallingup Main Break surfer Murray Smith. Photo courtesy of Glen Campbell (Dolphins Board Club).

1962 Yalls surfing Murray Smith - Glen Campbell Dolphins Board Club pic IMG_6348

Photos: 1962 Surfing legends at Gallows. Time ravage images courtesy of Brian Cole.

Top: (Left) Bob Keenan. (Right) Brian Cole.

Bottom: Dave Williams both images.

1962 Gallows surfing Brian Cole pics collage_photocat

Photo: 1963 North Point Cowaramup Bay unidentified surfers. Tom Collins pic.

1963 Cowaramup Bay North Point unknowns - Tom Collins pic img235

Photo: 1963 Bunker Bay ‘The Quarries’ unknown surfer. Tom Collins pic.

1963 Bunker Bay The Quarries unknown - Tom Collins pic img219

Photo:1963 Terry ‘Rat’ James doing a ‘quasimoto’ at Gallows. Photo courtesy of Sonny James.

1963 Gallows Terry James - unknown photograher_0001

Photo: 1963 former City Beach surfer Mick Lindsay surfing Gallows. Mick now resides in NSW. Photo courtesy of Geoff Berry.

1963 Mick Lindsay Gallows SW3

Photo: 1964 Margaret River Main Break surfers L-R Murray Smith & Jim Keenan. Photo courtesy of Jim Keenan.

1964 Marg River Murray Smith & Jim Keenan surfing - J Keenan pic1

Photo: 1964 WA’s first State Mens Champion Alex ‘Zac’ Kochanowitsch surfing Margaret River Main Break on his ‘Rising Sun’ surfboard. Ernie Potter pic.

1964 Zac Kochanowitsch Marg River - Ernie Potter pic

Bonus Images.

These 1950s images were sourced from pioneer WA surfer/photographer John Budg’s vintage photo collection. The actual photographers are unknown.

Image: 1950s unidentified pin-up girl.

1950s unknown pinup girl - John Budge pic img367

Image: 1950s unidentified Eastern States surfers riding plywood Toothpick surfboards at an unknown location. .

1950s Aust Surfing toothpicks unknown - John Budge pic img357.jpg A

Thanks to the various photographers for providing the vintage pics.




Origin of skateboarding in WA by John Harbison & Charlie Roper

Skateboarding was probably born sometime in the late 1940s, or early 1950s, when surfers in California wanted something to do when the waves were flat. No one knows who made the first board; it seems that several people came up with similar ideas at around the same time. Source: Wikipedia.

Photo: Early homemade skateboards courtesy of Skateboard Hall of Fame USA.


WA surfing pioneers Terry ’Horse’ Williams and Brian ‘Blackballs’ Cole introduced the concept to WA on their return from California in the early 60s. They had seen skateboards in action while touring the west coast of USA.

Former City Beach surfer and City of Perth Beach Inspector John ‘Roo Dog’ Harbison witnessed the first skateboard in WA. He documented the moment for a Board Club reunion held at City Beach in 2011.

John is the brother of surfing legend Tony ‘Harbo’ Harbison and Peter Harbison.

Sadly John passed away in May 2014 at Dunsborough.

Photos: 1958-74 City Beach pics. Photos courtesy of Harbison family.

Top: (Left) 1958 City Beach shop L-R Garry Stewart, John Harbison, Charlie Roper & Terry Jacks (Right) 1959 John Harbison surfing City Beach on plywood toothpick surfboard.

Bottom: (Left) 1967 John Harbison sweep on City of Perth surf boat. (Right) 1973-74 Beach Inspector John Harbison herding topless girl off City Beach.

1958-67 John Harbison City Beach.collage_photocat

First WA skateboard by John Harbison.

Back in the early 60’s, I think 1963/64, Terry Jacks, Charlie Roper, Ernie Potter & Brian Cole produced what would have to have been the 1st skateboard to appear in WA.

Skateboards were unheard of in WA at the time and I don’t know where they got the idea from, but they turned up at City Beach one weekend with this piece of equipment they’d made out of the side slat of a wooden fruit case with half a roller skate at the front, the other half at the back

We all spent the afternoon having turns riding it down the road in front of the shop. That night everyone else was digging out old roller skates and getting slats of wood to make their own. Next day they took it up to Scarborough for the Scarborough crew to try out and the following week down to Cottesloe. Before long you had all these homemade skateboards appearing about the place.

A year or so after that skate boards were being produced commercially by Midget Farrelly.

City Beach surfer Paul Meink who was good on them & won a big radio station sponsored skateboard competition held at the Floreat Forum southern car park. Place getters at that competition were Floreat boys Ross Sarson, Mike Schafer and John ‘Viz’ Fletcher.

John Harbison

Photo: 2011 City Beach Surf Riders Club 50 Year reunion. L-R Brian Cole, Keith Campbell, Zac Kochanowitsch & John Harbison. Bruce King pic.

2011 Brian Cole, Keith Campbell, Zac Kochanowitsch & John HarbisonCity Beach CBSR 191 - Bruce King

Wembley lads Charlie Roper & Brian Cole made the first skateboard in WA.

Photos: 1963 Scarborough Beach. Ernie Potter pics.

(Left) Charlie Roper & Ernie Potter. (Right) John Harbison & Charlie Roper surfing.

1963 Charlie Roper Scarborough Ernie Potter pics collage_photocat

First WA skateboard by Charlie Roper.

In the early 60s WA surf pioneer/Subiaco footballer Terry ‘Horse’ Williams bought the idea back from California where he had been travelling. He described what was happening with skateboards and what the kids were doing with them.

I thought I could make one of them. So in 1962, Brian Cole and I got an old piece of pine timber and attached wheels from my sister’s roller skates (unbeknown to her). We made the first WA skate board at Coley’s King & Cole Surfboard factory in Roydhouse Road Wembley.

I kept the old skateboard in my garage and my sons Jamie & Brett learnt to skateboard on that piece of equipment.

Photos: Charlie Roper & Brian Cole’s original skate board. The photos were taken in 2016 outside Charlie’s parents place in Wembley. Photos courtesy of Roper family.

1960s WA 1st skateboard Roper family pic collage_photocat

Photo: 2009 City Beach Surf Riders Club reunion. L-R Keith Campbell, Charlie Roper & Zac Kochanowitsch. Bruce King pic.

2009 CBSR Reunion Keith Campbell, Charlie Roper & Zac. Bruce King pic IMG_8461

Other 1960s WA skateboard recollections.

Craig Henfry I remember Paul Meink pulling off a jump trick on his skateboard in the car park at Floreat Forum, a trick I practiced until I got it too, once or twice. The last time I got on a skateboard I lasted about 2 secs and nearly cracked my skull, oh to be 16 again.

I had a Midget Farrelly skateboard up until a few years ago when I gave it to a mate’s son who then proceeded to trash it. I saw similar ones on some collectors show on TV and immediately regretted my generosity. A quick search on google turned up one that looks exactly like the one I had, I was also staggered to see what sort of money people pay for stuff like that.

Photo: Mid 1960s Midget Farrelly 26” timber deck skateboard sold Sept 2008 for $1200. Source: Von Weirdos

1960s Midget farrelly skateboard dscf4988

Bruce KingI remember the skateboard exhibitions at Floreat Forum car park, we were part of the Midget Farrelly competition team. There was a slalom course, high jumping and walking up and down stairs.

“Ollies” (today’s jumps) weren’t thought of then, we used to go barefooted and wrap your toes around each end to make the board jump. Paul Meink, Dave Condon were the jets, they even had Farrelly team t-shirts and parkas, I unfortunately came in to the team at the back end and missed out on getting my “Team Farrelly” gear.

Another time I went skate boarding down Mount Street in Perth, it was about the steepest street and I thought would be a good challenge.  This was before the freeway was there & the street went straight through and joined up with St Georges Tce. Anyway about half way down I got the wheel wobbles up and couldn’t bail out, I ended up in the Terrace dodging buses and cars.

Ross UttingAfter a while of skateboarding on the gently sloping carpark at Floreat Forum Shopping Centre some of us were looking for more of a challenge than just doing tricks. Ok, so we just couldn’t compete with the likes of Paul Meink, Ross Sarson etc in the tricks department! Then we found “Brookdale Entrance”. Brookdale Entrance was the eastern entrance to Perry Lakes Stadium & was short but seriously steep. It was the big wave equivalent of skateboarding. You had to do 2 or 3 big turns to keep your speed down before sweeping down to a final turn at the bottom. If you made a mistake you were dead meat.

One time we were at The Entrance when Glen “Roy” Carroll’s older brother Lindsay turned up big noting himself. Lindsay was a seriously fit guy & at the time was playing full forward for Claremont in the WAFL. He grabbed a board & took off but couldn’t turn & hit the bottom absolutely flying.

He smashed the security grills around the turnstiles off their hinges. We were too scared to laugh in case he came after us, but the episode added to the Brookdale Entrance legend.




1963 Brian Cole’s Overseas Surf Trip 1963.

WA surf pioneers Brian Cole & Barry ‘Joe’ King started making King & Cole surfboards with Bennett blanks in 1962. Their surfboard factory was located at the corner of Station St & Salvado Rd in Wembley. Later they moved to an old dairy in Harbourne St Wembley.

In 1963 Brian got the travel bug and headed to Europe on a ship with his surfing mates ‘Joe’ King and Bob Keenan.

Brian documented his surf travels in White Horses Magazine Issue 12 – Life of Brian in 2015. This is an extract of Brian’s article in White Horses Magazine plus some additional holiday snaps.

We parted company while hitch hiking through Europe, but joined up again in England where Joe & Bob had purchased a Kombi van. We toured Spain, Portugal & Morocco and checked surf beaches before returning to France.

Photos: 1963 France Cote de Basque (left) Kombi & boys on wall (Right) Biarittz Beach & top French junior surfer John Marie Lartigau – Brian Cole pics.

1963 France La Barre line-up & the mob on beach - Brian Cole collage_photocat (4)

In France we met a fellow from Barton Surfboards. He allowed us to make boards for ourselves in his factory & we showed him how to improve his glassing techniques. He bought the boards off us when we left Europe.

While in Biarritz we met US film star Deborah Kerr’s husband Peter Viertel. Peter was the original surfer at Biarritz. We became friends & mixed socially. At the time Peter was a script writer for a US film on bull fighting and we helped teach the bullfighters how to surf.

Photos: 1963 France La Barre wave line-up & the mob on the beach – Brian Cole pics.

1963 France La Barre line-up & the mob on beach - Brian Cole collage_photocat (1)

The French held an International De France De Surf competition at Biarritz and we were invited to compete against surfers from France, Hawaii, USA and Australia.

Photos: 1963 France Biarritz International Competition competitors (Left) Brian Cole & Hawaiian Jan W Lee. (Right) Brian Cole – Brian Cole pic.

1963 France La Barre line-up & the mob on beach - Brian Cole collage_photocat (3)

Australia’s Peter Troy won the event. Bob Keenan came third and I came fifth in the final. I stayed on in Biarritz for a while with Peter Troy.

Image: 1963 France Biarritz International Surf Comp newspaper report – Brian Cole image.

1963 France La Barre line-up & the mob on beach - Brian Cole collage_photocat (2)

From France I caught a Yugoslavia tramp steamer to USA. The ship was relatively small (6500 tonnes) and was tossed around the Atlantic in a hurricane. The ship docked in New York & I travelled across the US in a Volkswagen beetle with a fellow I met on the trip. His VW had shipped from France as deck cargo and was badly salt damaged on the journey.

On the US West Coast I teamed up with Bruce Shooper, a wealthy American surfer I met in France. We spent a week in Loz Angles driving round in his Porsche and then he showed the coastline up to Santa Barbara. Bruce knew Miki Dora and we shared a six pack of beer with Miki on Malibu Beach.

Next I travelled down the coast to San Clemente & stayed with guys from Hobie Alter Surfboards. I was astonished to discover Hobie was making 150 boards a week, as that was considerably more than any OZ board builder at the time.

While there I met Jon Severson, the editor of The Surfer Magazine, and film maker Bruce Brown. I told Bruce to contact Cordingley Surfboards when filming ‘The Endless Summer’ in WA. I was happy to hear later that the Cordingley boys showed him around WA. Unfortunately the surf was poor during Bruce’s WA visit.

I left the West Coast, flew to Hawaii and stayed at Velzyland on the North Shore in an old military hut I shared the hut with boys from Seal Beach California.

Photos: 1963 Hawaii Velzyland (Left) Brian’s shack & red Jack Haley surfboard (Right) sunset view from verandah – Brian Cole pics.

1963 Hawaii Velzyland - Brian Cole collage_photocat

In Hawaii I purchased a second hand 10’2” red colour Jack Haley surfboard (ex Seal Beach California) for $90 US off American Arthur Crump. I bought this board home to WA with me.

Image: 1963 Receipt for second hand Jack Haley surfboard. Image courtesy of Brian Cole.

1963 Hawaii receipt 2nd hand Jack Haley surfboard - Brian cole img677

For six weeks I toured the North Shore stretch and mainly surfed Haleiwa.

Photo: 1963 Hawaii North Shore beaches (left) Sunset Beach line-up from the hill (Right) Waimea Bay with elephant rock in foreground – Brian Cole pic.

1963 Hawaii Sunset & Waimea Beaches - Brian Cole collage_photocat

Banzai Pipeline didn’t agree with 10ft Malibu’s!

Photos: 1963 Hawaii Banzai Pipeline (Left) uncrowded waves (Right) Bill Fury USA – Brian Cole pics.

1963 Banzai Pipeline 2 - Brian Cole collage_photocat

At the time Bob McTavish was on the run from US immigration for stowing away on a ship from Australia to Hawaii. We sheltered Bob from immigration officials on several occasions, but he was eventually caught and flown back to Australia.

I late 1963 I caught a ship from Hawaii, back to Perth in WA and ended my adventurous life when I married Rhonda in 1964!

Rhonda & I live in the South West and I still enjoy fun waves and great companionship with other mature board riders.

Photos: 2015 Brian (age 76) surfing fun waves at Yallingup on his home made triple stringer Malibu board. Bruce King pics.

2015 Brian Cole surfing Yalls - Bruce King pics collage_photocat

2006 Len Dibben Award

In 2006 Surfing WA awarded Brian the Len Dibben Award for his outstanding service towards the development of surfing over an extended period of time.

Image: 2006 Len Dibben Award to Brian Cole. Image courtesy of Brian Cole.


Clink on this link to view Brian Cole’s East Coast Surf Trip 1959-1961



1960s Jim ‘Lik’ Mackenzie

James ‘Lik’ Mackenzie was born March 1946. He was one of the youngest of the SW surfing pioneers in the early 60s.

These are his surfing recollections:-

I grew up in the Scarborough area and having an early affiliation with the ocean wanted to join the Scarborough Surf Life Saving Club. The joining age was 14 and so, at the age of 12, I told them I was 14 and got in. Here I learned to stand up on one of the 17 foot rescue boards (plywood Toothpick Board).

I bought my first Malibu style board from an older 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.

My son Sol collects vintage surfboards. He located and purchased my original surfboard…see pic below.

Photos: Jim Lik’s 1958 Marine ply hollow surfboard at Dunsborough in 2012. Jim Lik pics.

1958 Jim Lik Mckenzie first surfboard 1_photocat

Soon the era changed and my first fibreglass board was a Barry Bennett shaped in Brookvale, Sydney. Following this a mate (Brian Cole was the first board shaper in WA) made me my first custom board.

Growing up on Scarborough Beach and surfing the Perth beaches with a crew of grommets including Murray Smith and Geoff Culmsee was such a character building time. The surf culture had loads of colourful characters and with the other crews from City Beach and Cottesloe, many great surfers and stories came out of that time.

Photo: 1961 Grommets at Scarborough. L-R Pat Longley, Jim Mackenzie, Jim Breadsell, Warren Smith, Geoff Culmsee, B Sales & B Hunt. Photo courtesy of Murray Smith.

1961 North End Board Club Scarb P Longley, J McKenzie, J Breadsell, W Smith, G Culmsee, B Sales & B Hunt - J Breadsell pic

Back then I was too young to drive but luckily, through Rugby Union, I met some of the older surf crew who were starting to travel down South to surf Yallingup. Being a super keen grommet, I jumped a lift with them whenever I could. This crew of older guys became known as ‘The Wheels’ and held names like Mark Paterson, Brian Cole, Tony Harbison and Kevin Merifield. Over the past 50-60 years these guys have all had a huge influence on the surfing community.

In those days, upon arriving at Yallingup, we would set up camp in the Melaleuca trees at the top of the beach with hammocks and stretchers. This area now houses a surfing pioneer statue, children’s playground and picnic area.

Photo: 1960 Jim ‘Lik’ (age 14) camping under the melaleuca trees at Yallingup with Murray Smith & others in hammocks. Jim ‘Lik’ photo.

1960 Yalls camping under melaleucas James 'Lik' Mackenzie (14) & Murray Smith in hammock - Lik IMG_0001

In 1961/62 the owner of the Yallingup Hotel, Bill Copley, let the ‘Wheels’ and later, the Cottesloe Board Club ‘Little Wheels’, build shacks to sleep and cook in the grounds of the hotel.

Photo: 1962 West Coast Board Club the ‘Wheels’ shack at Caves House Yallingup. L-R Jim Mackenzie, Gary Birch, Eric Hamer, Julie Paterson, Alan Hamer & Norm Silver. The American flag was souvenired from an US naval ship in Freo. Brian Cole pic.

1962 Yalls WCBC shack J McKenzie, Gary Birch, Eric Hamer, Julie Paterson, Alan Hamer & Norm Silver - Brian Cole pic img267

Photo: 1963 Jim ‘Lik’ surfing Yallingup main break. Jim ‘Lik’ pic.

1963 Yalls James 'Lik' Mackenzie (16) - Lik IMG_0002

Photo: Early 1960s Moses Rock in the SW. L-R Howard ‘Ghost’ Kent, Jim ‘Lik’ Mackenzie, Kevin Merifield, Charlie Roper, Keith Campbell, Dave Williams & Terry Jacks.  Terry Williams pic.

1960s Moses Ghost, J Mackenzie, K Merifield, C Roper, K Campbel, Dave Williams & T Jacks T Williams pic

One of our favourite places to surf was a break known as ‘Gallows”. To get there we would have to drive through Dr Cullen’s property, where we would park and walk through the dunes. However, he eventually padlocked the gate to keep us out. This resulted in us pooling as much money as we could to get local farmer Butch Guthrie to bulldoze us a new road. Back then we didn’t wear wetsuits and there weren’t any leg ropes, so a wipe-out at the Gallows on a big day, meant a long swim back.

A few of the crew started to travel and surf the East Coast. This got me interested, so at the age of 17 I packed up and left for the North Shores of Sydney.

Photo: 1963 Leaving Perth for Sydney in Des Gaines Holden Station wagon. L-R Des Gaines, Jim Mackenzie, Rob McNab & Jim Farrell. (John ‘Dandaragan’ Robertson was picked up on the way). Jim ‘Lik’ pic.

1963 Leaving Perth for Sydney in Des Gaines Holden Station wgn D Gaines, J Mackenzie,R McNab & J Farrell (Dan Daragan missing)- Lik IMG_0003

While there I worked at Scott Dillion’s Surf Board factory at Brookvale and surfed with a lot of the top Australian surfers of the time. I fixed dings, sanded boards and made fibreglass fins.

Champion big wave surfer Bob Pike and WA’s Brian Cole also worked at Scott Dillion’s factory.

Photo: 1964 Scott Dillion surfboard showrooms under construction. Jim ‘Lik’ age 18 (holding surfboard) with Scott Dillion on wheel burrow. Jim ‘Lik’ pic.

1964 NSW Brookvale James 'Lik' MacKenzie (18) working with Scott Dillion Surfboards - Lik IMG_0009

Photo: 1964 completed Scott Dillion surfboards showrooms in Brookvale NSW. Ernie Potter pic.

1964 Scott Dillion Surfboards NSW - E Potter

In 1965 I was a member of the Scott Dillion Surf Team competing in the first Sydney Harbour to Manly wharf paddle race. Robert ‘Nat’ Young finished 1st in the paddle race and won a trip to the World Surfing Titles held in Lima Peru. I finished in 5th place.

Image: 1965 competitors relaxing prior to the Harbour to Manly paddle race. Jim Lik top centre. Manly newspaper cutting courtesy of Jim Lik.

1965 Manly Paddle board Race Jim Lik IMG_002

Photo: 1965 Jim ‘Lik’ surfing Fairy Bower at Manly NSW. Photo courtesy of Jim ‘Lik’.

1965 NSW Fairy Bower Manly James 'Lik' Mackenzie - Lik IMG_0003

At age 19 I travelled back to Western Australia and worked on cray boats to earn money. Then at age 21 went to College in the United State of America on a sports scholarship to play Rugby Union. I spent five years in the States situated 2,000 miles from California where there was no surf. During that time Long Boards were taken over by the Shorter Board revolution. Upon returning to Western Australia with my Doctorate in Chiropractic, I moved to Yallingup and then the Gracetown area. I learned how to ride a short board and eventually rode a Surf Ski primarily at a break known as North Point.

Over the years there have been all kinds of tragedies that have impacted many people I know. The incident that touched me the most was the drowning of Jeff Dalziel while he was involved in a rescue in a huge swell at Yallingup on Easter long weekend April 1962.

The rescuers were honoured by the Royal Humane Society of Aust. Gold medals were awarded to Cliff Hills (19) of Cottesloe and posthumously to Jeff Dalziel (18) of Mosman Park. Kerry Davies (20) of Mosman Park was awarded a Silver Medal for his part in the rescue.

Three Boys Park in Mosman Park commemorates the three rescuers.

Images: 1962 Tribute to rescuers bravery. Images courtesy of WA Newspapers and Town of Mosman Park.

1962 April Jeff Dalziel drowning Yallingup - WA Newspapers

The children of early WA surfers were fortunate to be raised in this beautiful area and some have done exceptionally well on the Professional Surfing Circuit.

My son Sol was raised in South West WA. After spending 4 years surfing Maverick’s in California, he has become a gutsy surfer getting into some of Western Australia’s big waves like Cow Bombie and other Margaret River bombies.

Photo: 2005 Sol Mackenzie (age 32) surfing Cow Bombie in the SW. Sequence shots courtesy of Jamie Scott images.

2005 Sol Mackenzie age 32 Cow Bombie Jamie Scott 1 collage_photocat

Now the next generation of my grandkids are starting their own surfing journey.

Jim ‘Lik’ Mackenzie.

Dunsborough WA.

Editor’s note: Founded by Jim ‘Lik’ Mackenzie D.C. in 1972, Mackenzie Chiropractic Clinics have been servicing the South-West for over 40 years.  Upon Lik’s retirement in 2000, the business was taken over by his son Sol Mackenzie D.C.  


Social Photos by Loz Smith.

Top: (Left) 2004 YalMal 20th Anniversary Bowtie & Boardies Ball held at Surfside L-R Peter Dyson, Julie Angel & Jim ‘Lik’. (Right) 2014 Surfing Down South book launch at Vasse Felix Winery. L-R Kevin Merifield, Kevin Ager, Jim ‘Lik’, Peter Dyson & Ray Nelmes.

Bottom: 2016 ’60s Yallingup Board Club reunion held at Caves House Hotel Yallingup. L-R Rob Birch, Jim ‘Lik’, Mark Paterson, Brian Cole & Cliff Hills.

2000s Jim Lik Mckenzie social 8 collage_photocat