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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.

1960s-Collection-5-homemade-early-Skateboards-made-from-old-roller-skates.

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.

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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.

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1960s Elephants at City Beach

A scenic coast road ran along the beach front at City Beach from the 1950’s to early 70’s. The road started near the Floreat Beach Tea Rooms in the north and ended near the City Beach Tea Rooms at the south end. The coast road was used by beach goers and tourists.

Beach erosion was a problem with the coast road and the Tea Rooms so they were demolished during the 70s.

Photos: 1964 City Beach coastline. Photos courtesy of Cambridge Library Local Studies.
(Left) Coast Road looking south towards City Beach Tea Rooms.
(Right) Coast Road looking north towards Floreat groyne & Tea Rooms.

1964 City Beach coast road - Cambridge Library pics collage1_photocat

Members of the City Beach Board Club (CBBC 1953-57) and City Beach Surf Riders Club Inc (CBSR from 1961 onwards) used the City Beach Tea Rooms as their unofficial headquarters and beach hang-out.

Photo: 1965 CBSR crew outside City Beach Tea Rooms. L-R Kevin O’Dywer (dec’d), Jim King, Phil Henderson, Brian Brown (dec’d), Bruce King & Alan Cleaver (dec’d) & unknown sitting in front. Photo courtesy of Norm Bateman.

1965 City BeachTea rooms 6 NB pic (2)

Photos: 1966 CBSR grommets in the front of City Beach Tea Rooms. Photo credits Norm Bateman.

(Left) L-R Bruce ‘Lumpy’ King, Steve ‘Sheepdog’ Cockburn & Norm Bateman.
(Right) L-R Kevin ‘Dirty Odes’ O’Dwyer (dec’d), Lumpy King, Rob Farris, Sheepdog & Jim King.

1966 Sheepdog City Beach - NB pics collage_photocat

Elephants at City Beach

It was commonplace on weekends for CBSR members to hang on the wooden steps in front of the Tea Rooms and wave to passing tourists.

In the mid 60’s, some CBSR young guns took this social activity to a new level. Being well-hung young lads they performed an elephant impersonation to entertain passengers on a passing tourist bus. On a busy Sunday afternoon they stood out the front of the Tea Rooms waving to the passengers on a passing tourist bus. They flared out the pockets of their shorts like elephant ears and with their fly’s unzipped, they swung their “willy’s” in the breeze like elephant trunks. It was comical to see the busload of smiling oldies casually waving to them, then seeing their looks change to awe (or admiration) as their heads swivelled around to gawk at the elephant routine as their bus drove slowly past the Tea Rooms.

They may have been naughty boys, but they could surf.

Photos: 1960s CBSR crew surfing metro waves. Photo credits Trevor Burlsem & Ric Chan.

Top: Norm Bateman & Phil Henderson.
Middle: Howard Johnson (dec’d) & Sheepdog.
Bottom: Bruce King & Ronald Moss.

cbsr 8 collage_photocat

They were fun times (-:

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1960-70s Surfing Coolites at City Beach by Craig Blume

Craig Blume – Caveat before I start – I apologise now for missing out a lot of guys and events that occurred during the mid 60’s and early 70’s, but hopefully someone can fill in the holes so we get a great capture of the time.

These are my recollection of the early coolite days at City Beach from the mid 60’s-70’s.

What a fantastic time, free flowing spirits, evolution in the air with surfboard materials and sizes changing from wooden/balsa 10 foot plus down to Craig Bettenay’s 4’8” fibreglass, as mentioned in other articles. I think Craig also had a smaller green board made to trial which he referred to as the “Derringer”.

My first memory of surfing City Beach is as a 10-11yo in 1964/5. A mate and I would hitchhike from Wembley to City Beach along Cambridge Street /Oceanic Drive, hired inflatable rubber mats either off the beach or from the small blue kiosk in front of the old orange surf club, surf all day or until the nipple and gut rash became too painful.

In 1966 we moved to south City Beach, near Jeff “RE” Marshall’s place in Branksome Gardens. From that point on for the next few years I spent most of my time learning to surf a coolite near the groyne. I remember being in awe of the older guys surfing on fibreglass boards weaving thru kids on coolites and cheering the Surf Life Saving Club guys when they became unstuck on their wooden skis.

In the 60’s the City Beach coolite riders were a small close knit bunch of guys, extremely competitive and enthusiastic, with most attending City Beach Primary and High School, who were encouraged and mentored, at some stage, by equally enthusiastic members of the City Beach Surf Riders Club Inc. (CBSR).

Photo: Mid 70s Craig’s dog “Spike Milligan” guarding his coolites & foamies. Photo courtesy of Craig Blume.

1960s Coolites & Foamies guarded by Spike Milligan - Craig Blume

Surfing Coolites at City Beach Groyne

Most mornings around dawn, when there was surf, there would be a few CBSR crew on fibreglass boards and coolite riders, like the Howe brothers – Alan (Fagan) & Craig (Thurston), Bettenay brothers -Greg (Boris), Stewart (Big Silk) & Craig (Little Silk), Ross (Log) Lawrence, Ross (Duck) Craigie, Chris (Bum Dip) Warrener, David (Errol) Wishart), Grant (Shorty) Arnold, myself and other local school kids surfing off the groyne. (I believe ‘Pixie’ Moss gave some of these coolite riders the endearing title of – “Tiny Tits Little Shits” – that’s another story.)

Typically, the sequence of events was – the fibreglass board riders would tell us coolite riders to stop hassling and f!!k off and then, around 6am, the early morning “tubby club” would slowly arrived for their splash, chat and swim near the groyne and be given a whole bunch of profanities and encouraged to move away from the groyne to avoid being hit and giving all the surfers the shits. The same happened after school at 6pm when the Fremantle Doctor (sea breeze) was in.

I remember one time when there had been no surf for a while, so the north City Beach boys made a sacrifice to “Huey” to bring waves by burning a coolite. The surf eventually did come up, but unfortunately Stewart Bettenay burnt his foot badly during the sacrifice ritual on the molten coolite polystyrene foam and consequently was sidelined and out of action for some time.

Photos: 1969 surfboard riding City Beach groyne. Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.
(Left) unidentified. (Right) Stewart Bettenay.

1969 surfing City Beach groyne unknown & Stew Bettenay collage_photocat

Coolites, Skegs and Swimmers

The interaction between coolite riders and swimmers to my recollection was initially sort-of tolerated because they didn’t have skegs, only two small rounded foam 1” keels running along the bottom near the rail, which didn’t hurt if you got run over, although it made them difficult to control and ride standing-up. I am not saying there wasn’t the occasional conflict when a swimmer got hit by a coolite.

Initially, if my memory serves me well, there were two types of polystyrene foam surfboards – Hardies coolites, which were available to general public and another – a foamy for Surf Life Saving Clubs use.

Before either of these foam boards could be surfed without serious chaffing they needed to be painted with exterior water based paint, many a coolite was melted and wrecked by using oil based paint.

Next, installing skegs in coolites – fantastic innovation, it improved their performance and manoeuvrability, usually started with cutting up wooden plank from a fruit crate and shaping it to mimic the latest skeg designs being used in new fibreglass boards.

Then precisely measuring and cutting a slot in the coolite to just fit the skeg and pouring melted bees wax around the skeg to hold it in.

Installing skegs allowed surfers to experiment and pull-off more radical manoeuvres, tube riding, radical turns, re-entrys etc, and cultivated an environment of ultra-competitive aggressive surfing styles like Howie’s and the “Silks”, it also favoured the brave in front of the rocks, especially goofy foots like Howie, and defined pecking orders – rewarded the committed and wrecked the hesitant.

Photo: 1975 Craig Blume & Craig Howe with fibreglass surfboards at City Beach. Photo courtesy of Craig Blume.

1975 City Beach Craig Blume & Craig Howe - Craig Blume pic

“RE’s Law”

I remember hassling and guys dropping in on waves off the end of the groyne intensified to the extent surfers and surfboards were getting wrecked on the rocks. I don’t exactly remember when RE’s Law was proclaimed, but it established a surfers etiquette between the locals – 1st out had priority, 2nd out had the next wave, and so. Once you caught a wave you went to the back of the queue. This law, like all laws, worked if everyone knew it and abided by it, which was most of the time, but fell apart quickly resulting in an exchange of abuse and unnecessary tension in the surf and on shore. When it worked, there was great vibe in the water, guys would be cheering each other on, pushing each other to go harder and bragging how far they surfed down into the bay.

Surfboards and swimmers don’t mix

With the coolite’s increased manoeuvrability due to skegs, it allowed surfers to get closer and further around the nose of the groyne and inside most swimmers which escalated the conflict with swimmers to a whole new level. Because – on the one hand if the fin hit an obstacle, the groyne or swimmer, it would usually rip the skeg and surrounding foam out, resulting in time out the water for repairs. On the other hand if the obstacle was a person, they would be pissed off.

In these early days if you couldn’t get back on your coolite quickly and get away from the swimmer there would a confrontation usually on the shore, due to no leg ropes.

I remember one time my board supposedly hit this fat tubby club swimming obstacle. When I went to pick up my board this guy was going to punch my lights out, however Keith “Woolly” Hawkins (a Leederville surfer who went on to glass Energy Surfboards with Ken McKenzie at Margaret River) had other ideas and came to my rescue and reversed the situation. Thanks Woolly!

Beach Inspectors

The increase in surfboard rider/ swimmer confrontations saw the City of Perth introduce a “swimming area” and restrict surfing times near the groyne to before 6am and after 6pm and beach inspectors to manage it. The first beach inspector I encountered was Warren “Wonk” Somerford (dec’d), a guy not to be messed with, took his role very seriously, no surfboards in the swimming area near the groyne between 6am-6pm, one warning to get out, next time your board was confiscated for a time he thought was appropriate.

Another beach inspector was John “Harbo” Harbison (dec’d) who also took his role seriously, but practically, he strictly enforced no surfboards in the swimming area near the groyne between 6am-6pm, if there were swimmers in the area, otherwise you could surf.

Photo: 1973-74 Beach Inspector John ‘Harbo’ Harbison herding a topless girl off the beach. Photo courtesy of WA Newspapers.

1973-74 CB Beach Inspector John Harbo herding topless girl off beach

Restricted Surfing Times

Restricting surfing times meant you had to be in the water before dawn to beat the “tubby club” and Beach Inspector. This resulted in guys sleeping on beach near the groyne, in the surf lifesaving club’s boat shed (on the beach side of “West Coast Highway” which ran passed the City Beach and Floreat groynes to Scarborough), and camping under a clump of big melaleuca trees behind the City Beach Tearooms, colloquially referred as ‘The Pad’, to get into the surf early.

Many great times and yarns were had around these campfires. There would be someone with a story about their surfing ventures or romantic encounter etc. Whilst everyone was engrossed in these stories or asleep they would on some occasions be sprayed with the contents of canned food and soft drinking which were put in the campfire, as joke, without being pierced and explode.

Fishing off the groyne

Fishing off the groyne was another area of conflict for surfers. Sunrise and dusk are the normally the best time to fish and coincidently before 6am and after 6pm were the times we were permitted to surf coolites near the groyne. Most fishermen cast their fishing lines away from the surfers around the end of the groyne for obvious reasons. On some occasions, however, there would be a passionate European fisherman who would cast their hook, line and sinker over the guys in the water, which would result in a barrage of abuse and profanities coming from the surfers with the occasional assertive person snapping the line off as it came near them. Inevitably someone would get hooked up and on one occasion I was the unfortunate one, getting hooked in the thigh resulting with fisherman losing his gear to the surf, once I managed to snip the hook-eye off, push the barb through the skin with a lot of swearing while pulling the hook out.

Mentors – CBSR Club Members

Most of the CBSR members were incredible enthusiastic dedicated surfers who won many Interclub, State, National and International surfing competitions. Others helped the club function and enjoyed the camaraderie.

The world was our oyster with advice from members like:-

Ron (Pixie) Moss, talented surfer with many attributes – enjoyed pushing coolite riders off their boards in front of the groyne, teaching groms how to fill in time while waiting for the surf to happen by instructing us how to play poker, pontoon, slippery sam etc for money in the City of Perth SLSC boat shed and “Pad”, etc.

Timon (Tiny) McKay – Great story teller, instrumental in transporting the “Tiny Tits Little Shits” to surf comps and surf breaks, putting up with Howie and me dropping around to his and Browneye’s house in Hasting St, Scarborough unexpectedly etc

Brian (Browneyes) Mawby-Brown – for providing advice on cars, driving, surf spots and put up with us visiting unexpectedly, etc

Bruce (Lumpy) King, Kevin (DO) O’Dwyer, Phil Henderson etc – dropping around Tiny’s and Browneye’s house with stories about surfing trips, cars, girls and the night before, etc.

In finishing I would like to especially thank Jim King for having the drive and foresight to gather and publish stories of surfing history in WA.

** see related material**

1960-70s Coolite surfboards – Wednesday 2 March 2106

1970-80s Foamie surfboards – Saturday 5 March 2016

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1970s Craig Bettenay Profile

Craig Bettenay and his elder brothers Greg & Stewart were amongst WA’s finest surfers in the late 60s & 70s. They started their surfing careers at City Beach in the 60s and then moved down south in the 70s.

METRO SURF

Photo: 1969 Craig (age 12) surfing City Beach on a Blaxell Deringer surfboard. Photo credit Ric Chan.

1969 City Beach Craig Bettenay on Blaxell Deringer.- Ric Chan img064

At an early age, Craig & Stewart Bettenay were recruited into the prestigious Cordingley ‘Surf Team’.

Images: Early 70’s Craig at Cordingley Surfboards in Subiaco & Jolimont. Photos courtesy Country Surf Mag & Norm Bateman.

1970s Craig Bettenay at Cordingley surfboards collage_photocat

CRAIG’S SURF CONTEST RESULTS

Spring Titles:
1970 Juniors 1st (Stewart 4th)
1971 Juniors 1st (Stewart 4th)
1972 Juniors 1st (Stewart 3rd)

State Titles:
1970 Juniors 3rd
1971 Juniors 3rd
1973 Juniors 1st (Stewart 2nd)

WA State Teams:
1971 Juniors in Vic
1972 Juniors in NSW
1973 Juniors in WA (Stewart also in State Team)
1976 Open in Vic.

SOUTH WEST SURF

Craig (age 11) made his first trip down south in ’68 with his bros’s Greg & Stewart. They camped at Smiths Beach and surfed Smiths Reef and Yallingup main break on modified coolites.

At age 14,  Craig was surfing big North Point Cowaramup and Margaret River on a 4’8″ twin fin.

Click on this link to view Craig Bettenay surfing Marg’s on 4’8′ twinnie blog published 24 January 2014.

In the 70s Craig & Stewart settled at Yallingup and indulged in their passion of surfing big waves.

Photos: Craig surfing photos courtesy of Ric Chan.
Top: (Left) 1973 Injidup (Right) 1978 Spring Titles Trigg.
Bottom: (Left) 1980 Rottnest (Right) 1976 Margaret River

1970s Craig Bettenay surfing IMG_008

MIKI ‘Da Cat’ DORA

Stewart Bettenay recalls Craig met & surfed with surfing legend Miki Dora at Yallingup .

Stewart: “My brother Craig told me USA Malibu legend Miki Dora came through Yallingup in the mid to late 70s. Craig went surfing with him twice and said he was a cool dude, handsome, very smooth, well dressed and good company. Miki told Craig “You really can surf”. He also told Craig about a new thing called a ‘credit card’ which he was using to travel the world.”

SURFING WORLD MAGAZINE

In ’76 & 77 Australia’s Surfing World magazine published articles on Craig surfing in the SW.

Images: 1976 Craig SW surfing photos courtesy of Surfing World magazine.

1976 Craig Betetnay Surfing Word article collage_photocat

Images: 1977 Craig SW surfing photos courtesy of Surfing World magazine.

1977 Craig Bettenay Surfing World article collage_photocat

HAWAII

In 1977 Craig joined Ian Cairns in Hawaii for a stint in the big waves on Hawaii’s North Shore.

Image: 1977 ‘Top Surfer off to Hawaii’ article by journalist Robbie Burns (former Subiaco Footballer). Image courtesy of Daily News & photographer Kevin Davidson.

1977 Travel Hawaii - Craig Bettenay ex Sunday Times copy

SURFBOARD SHAPER

In the 70s Craig was a talented surfboard shaper for Cordingley Surfboards and also manufactured boards under his own name in the SW.

Clink on this link to view Craig Bettenay Surfboards blog published 29 July 2015.

WETSIDE NEWS SURF MAGAZINE

In 1993 Journailist Mark Thornley published the following profile of Craig in WA’s Wetside News surf magazine.

1993 Craig Bettany Wetside News article collage_photocat