1970s Craig Howe NW surf pioneer **Updated 21 & 25 January 2016**

**Update 21 Jan 2016** Added Craig’s account of how he & Charlie Konstantinidis discovered Gnaraloo surf break in 1975.

**Update 25 January 2016**Added photo of Lynette, Anastasia and Charlie Konstantinidis with Ualay the dog.

Craig Howe & his elder brother Alan grew up surfing coolites and surfboards at City Beach & Floreat groynes in the late 60s & early 70s.

Stewart Bettenay recalls: “Craig Howe’s dad Allen ‘Bubs’ Howe was my first footy coach at City Beach. He was a great guy & very, very funny. Craig didn’t play footy and went surfing instead which created a lot of humour at training.

Kevin Merifield told me Bub’s was a very good league football player at Subiaco in the late 50’s and a comedian. Kev reckons Craig Howe is a good surfer and an interesting character too. He always calls in to see him when in Kalbarri.

The Howe’s are a great part of City Beach history”.

Photos: (Left) 1969 Craig with new twin fin at his City Beach home. (Right) 1970 Craig surfing Floreat groyne. Photos courtesy of Craig Howe.

1969-70 Craig Howe twinfin & Floreat Groyne collage_photocat

Talented goofy footer Craig left City Beach in the early 70s and moved to the North West coast to follow his surfing dreams.

Photos: (Left) 1972 Craig leaving City Beach for the NW. (Right) 1973 Craig with Bob Gairdner at West Coast Surfboards. Photos courtesy of Craig Howe.

1970s Craig Howe metro 2 collage_photocat

Craig has lived in Kalbarri and surfed Jakes Point since the early 70s. He has also surfed many other breaks in the region including the Abrolhos Islands and Gnaraloo.

Images: (Left) 1975 Ron Moss & Craig with Kalbarri snapper. (Right) 2003 Craig & Alan Howe article in Kalbarri newspaper. Images courtesy of Ron Moss & Kalbarri Newspaper.

1975 & 2003 Craig & Alan Howe Kalbarri collage_photocat

Photo: 1980 Craig surfing Jakes Point at Kalbarri. Photo credit Craig Howe.

1980 Craig Howe Jakes Pt Kalbarri #2

Photo: 1980 Craig surfing Jakes Point at Kalbarri. Photo credit Craig Howe.

1980 Craig Howe Jakes Pt Kalbarri #1

*** update 21 Jan 2016***

This is Craig’s account of how he & Charlie Konstantinidis discovered Gnaraloo surf break in 1975.

Charlie Konstantinidis, Lynette and their child Anastasia, Lynette’s younger sister Susie and I travelled up from Kalbarri in Charlies VW Kombi van to search for waves north of Carnarvon. There was also a dog in the Kombi on the trip from Kalbarri, Charlie’s dog named Ualay (pronounced YOU-LAY).

This surf adventure was planted into my brain, by a man named “John Julian” who was the top salesman at Faull’s Land Rover dealers just passed the subway in Subiaco. John Julian sold me that Land Rover you see in SDS blog photo. John Julian was the man that told me about waves north of Carnarvon. He saw waves there while on one of this missions to test drive Land Rovers. His mission was to test drive Land Rovers by driving around the coast of Australia. This was way before Toyota 4WD arrive in Australia. John Julian is the man that told me about waves north of Carnarvon.

We drove the Kombi down many tracks that ran off to the west of the main Gnaraloo road, to look for waves and we did get bogged a few times. Eventually we got to the Gnaraloo station home stead, where we asked for permission to camp the night somewhere on the coast. A station worker (who was the first really live cowboy I had ever met) said we could camp, but if we have a camp fire to be very careful and don’t knock down any fences. It’s was then that I asked this station worker “if he had ever seen other surfers in the area” his reply to me was “no”. He had never seen anyone surfing at Gnaraloo, only fisherman that explore for good fishing spots.

We set up a camp down close to the beach. In the SDS blog photo of Charlie and baby Anastasia and myself sitting on that sand hill, we were naked in that photo (it was the hippy thing in the 70s), it was then I said to Charlie “look down there Charlie, looks like a left hander.” The next morning we drove back south and turned the Kombi down this fence line track and drove to the coast. There it was, this long left hander, we were very excited even though it was only small and we paddled out and surfed this new wave on our single fin surfboards.

“We were the first surfers to surf Tombstones & Gnaraloo, Charlie and myself”.

I never named the Gnaraloo break Tombstones, I did name it Tablet Reef because of the tablet rock that sits on the shore in front of the take-off area, it reminded me of the biblical days when man wrote on rocks…

Dappa (David Plaisted made “SUNRISE SURFBOARDS” in the SW) got up to Gnaraloo station about 1 year after us. Dappa was the first to surf the break named “Turtles” but after the Gnaraloo station owner found out Dappa was growing pot on the station, he got told to leave. So Dappa left Gnaraloo, but he did name the Turtles break.

It was a few weeks or months after the Gnaraloo adventure that I went down south to enter a surf comp and while there I told Craig Bettenay, George Simpson and Tom Hoye that I had surfed this wave on Gnaraloo station. Wish I never had told them, but I was young and silly.

That was also the time I decided that surf comps were not for me as I did not like being told when I could surf and how long you were allowed to stay in the surf. Free surfing up in the warm water at Kalbarri was far better and more fun.

*** update 25 Jan 2016***

Photo: 1976 Konstantinidis family cooling off down south after Gnaraloo adventure. L-R Lynette, Anastasia and Charlie Konstantinidis with Ualay the dog. Photo courtesy of Craig Blume.

1976 SW Lynette Anastaisa Ualay (dog) and Charlie Konstantinidis

In 2001 Australia’s Surfing Life magazine credited Craig with being the first to surf Gnaraloo waves in 1975.

Image: 2001 Extract from Surfing Life article. Image courtesy of Surfing Life Magazine.

1975 Craig Howe Desert Pioneer Surfing Life 2001

Photo: 1975 Empty Tombstones line-up at Gnaraloo. Photo courtesy of Craig Howe.

1975 Tombstones at Gnaraloo lineup - Craig Howe

Photo: 2011 Board Club reunion held at City Beach. L-R Norm Kitson, Craig Blume, Craig Henfry, Chris Warrener, Craig Howe & Craig Bettenay. Photo courtesy of Bruce King.

2011 CBSR Reunion - Bruce King 177

In recent years Craig has been surfing uncrowded waves in the Philippines.


1960s City Beach memorabilia

Students Peter Docherty and Viv Kitson started the City Beach Surf Riders Club (CBSR) in 1962. The Club is still running today.

Photo: 1963 Charlie Roper & Ernie Potter at CBSR Intra Club competition at Scarborough. Photo credit Ernie Potter.

1963 CBSR Charlie Roper & Ernie Potter Scarboro

Image: 1963 Terry Jacks (age 18) CBSR’s ‘favourite son’ surfing City Beach. Image courtesy of the Daily News.

1963 City Beach Terry Jacks surfing ex newspaper

Photo: 1963 CBSR young guns hanging out at Trigg Beach. L-R John Harbison, Lennie Kochanowitsch, Wayne Lynch & John Hanley. Photo courtesy of John Harbison.

1963 John Harbison, Lennie Kochanowitsch, Wayne Lynch and I think John Hanley at Trigg

Photo: 1964 City Beach Tea Rooms. CBSR’s unofficial head quarters. Photo courtesy of Robyn McDonald.

1964 City Beach Tea Rooms - Robyn Mac IMG_0003a

Photo: 1965 Ron Moss doing a head stand at City Beach. Ron is a Life Member of CBSR and it’s longest serving member. Photo credit Trevor Burslem.

1965 Ron Moss head stand City Beach T Burslem pic



WA surfing legend Dave Williams passed away 18 May 2015 after an illness. His funeral service and ‘celebration of life’ wake took place at the North Beach Rugby Club at North Beach on Friday 29th May. After the service, family and friends reminisced and farewelled Davo with a release of balloons in his favourite colour into the sky and an open mic session that reminded all of his renowned larikin sense of humour.

Surfing Down South 1950s City Beach clubbies Ron Drage, Dave Williams, Cocko Killen, E Mickle - John Budge pic img366

Surfing Down South 1950s City Beach clubbies Ron Drage, Dave Williams, Cocko Killen, E Mickle. Image courtesy of: John Budge

In the 50s Dave was a member of City of Perth SLSC and represented the State in National paddleboard races.

In the early 60s he was a member of West Coast Board Club and Dolphins Board Club and represented the state in National surf riding contests.

Dave was a big strong lad and a talented surfer, helping to pioneer surfing in the SW along with his closest mates. Dave has been credited with finding & naming Guillotine surf break with Kevin “Legs’ Merifield & Terry “Horse’ Williams.

Surfing Down South - 1957 Yalls Dave Williams & malibu balsa board. Photo: John Budge

Surfing Down South – 1957 Yalls Dave Williams & malibu balsa board. Photo: John Budge

INTRODUCTION TO SURFING: “My initial introduction to surf came at age 8 riding inflatable rubber “Surf Shooters” which were rented out at a kiosk at City Beach.

I joined the City Of Perth Surf- Lifesaving Club at age 15 as a cadet early 50’s along with several other mates.

My first surf-board was purchased while at Geraldton at a surf Carnival.

The board was made of ply & obviously a long way away from today’s sophisticated boards & I learned the hard way although it gave me a sound foundation to build on & most of my time was surfing at City Beach North side of the rock groyne.

As time progressed the initial structure of boards changed from 16-foot racing type ply through to the timber shorter boards which provided more precise manoeuvre ability.

The 1956 Olympic Games did not include Surf-Lifesaving on this occasion. I was fortunate to be included in the Western Australian surf team R & R [reel and rescue] where we came 2nd in the event.

On arrival at Torquay where the Surf carnival was held we got our first view of the original Malibu which the USA teams brought across to Australia & how it surprised us noting the extreme difference to our obsolete boards provided. i.e 16′ Planks. This was the new revolution & was hotly pursued through the following years.

We chased up several of our surfing friends sometime in early 1960’s & held our 1st general meeting at “The Orient Hotel” Adelaide Terrace Perth where we appointed Kevin Merifield President & formed our 1st Board Club name – West Coast Board Riders Club. There was a very good reason for this action as there were increasing incidents on our beaches with swimmers getting hit by loose surfboards at an increasing rate. We had no voice at the time & Leg Ropes were not in existence & we were getting into a situation where board surfing would be put under threat & the situation was getting pretty strong what with newspaper editorials & media attention. This was another reason why we ventured south where we had no problems with complaints.”

TRAVELLING SOUTH TO YALLINGUP: “We of course had never seen such surf in the metro area. Only the occasional storm locally would avail us of a more exciting wave here or there.

It was no surprise to call in to nearly every Pub on the Friday afternoon or evening & enjoy a round of beers & continue south again. Stop-offs at the following venues e.g. Armadale Pub, North Dardanup Tavern, Pinjarra, Harvey, Wokalup, Bunbury & onward to Busselton (time permitting). If time permitted we might have an odd jug at “Caves House” Bar, I do hear that at one time several travel signs appeared at our favourite camp area overlooking the Yalls-Lagoon.”

Refer to the Surfing Down South Book by Sue-Lyn Aldrian-Moyle for more of Dave’s surfing recollections and antics.

Condolences to the Williams family.


1950s Bert’s Shop at City Beach

Tea Rooms History

The City Beach Tea Rooms were located on a foreshore road at City Beach from the 1930s to 1970s. It is assumed the Tea Rooms were built in the 30s around the time the City of Perth SLSC Club building and rock groyne were built in 1935.

The beach formerly known as Ocean Beach was named City Beach by the Perth City Council in 1928 (after acquiring the Lime Kilns Estate in 1917). Access to City Beach was by plank road from Wembley from 1918 to 1951.

In the mid-70s The Perth City Council demolished the wooden Tea Rooms building and replaced it with a concrete kiosk. Sometime later the foreshore road was also removed due to constant beach erosion.

Photo: 1930s photo of City Beach. This image shows the foreshore road, rubber surf mat hire shed in foreground, two beach kiosks and the Tea Rooms in the background. Image credit Cambridge Library – Local Studies.

1930s City Beach foreshore road, kiosks & shop- Cambridge Library-Local Studies

Tea Room Leaseholders

Late 50s- 62 Bob & Bert
1962 Fred
1963-64 Eric (ex England)
1965-67 Colin
1968-70 Mario

City Beach Board Club

In 1953 Ray Geary (age 16) from Wembley started the City Beach Board Club (CBBC) with Graham Killen, Johnny Budge, Brian Cole & some keen surfing mates.

Ray Geary: “The leaseholder of the Tea Rooms gave the Club approval to dig out sand below the building and make an enclosure for Club Meetings and surf board storage.”

In the late 50s the local surfers referred to the Tea Rooms as ‘Bert’s shop’ (after the lease holder at the time).

Photo: 1958 Bert’s Shop (aka City Beach Tea Rooms).  Photo credit Brian Cole.

1958 City Beach Bert's Shop - Brian Cole

Bert’s shop was the unofficial base for surfers in the area. Grommets from CBBC used to ‘hang out’ on the steps of the shop.

Photos: 50s hanging out at the shop.

The photo on the left was taken in the winter time as many of the boys are wearing bears suits (WW2 flying suits) to keep warm.

Left: 1956 Ian Scott, Don Roper, Ray Geary, Ian Chapple and others.  Photo credit of John Budge.
Right: 1958 (sitting) Garry Stewart, John Harbison & unidentified, (standing) Charlie Roper & Terry Jacks. Photo credit Brian Cole.

1950s City Beach grommets compilation 01

Photos: 50s surfing at City Beach #1.

Top left: 1956 Ray Geary riding 16ft toothpick plywood board. Ray Geary pic.
Top Right: 1957 Brian Cole on hollow 10ft Malibu plywood board. WA Newspaper pic
Bottom Left: 1957 Ken Hamer on plywood surf ski made by Brian Cole. WA Newspapers pic.
Bottom right: 1957 John Peterson on toothpick plywood board. WA Newspaper pic

1950s City Beach surfing IMG_002

Photos: 50s surfing at City Beach #2.

Left: 1958 Peter Docherty (13) with 12 ft plywood board near rock groyne. Peter Docherty pic.
Right top : 1958 Colin Taylor & Dave Williams surfing south side City Beach. Brian Cole pic
Right bottom: 1959 John Harbison (15) surfing 13 ft plywood board. WA Newspaper pic

1950s City Beach surfing IMG_006








1967 Big Eyes Bros.

Leederville brothers Bill & Frank McVeigh surfed the South West in the late 60s to mid-70s. The boys had large eyes and the older brother Bill was nick-named ‘Big Eyes’ and young Frank was known as ‘Little Big Eyes’. Their father owned a holiday shack in the Miami area (now Falconer) near Mandurah.

Older brother Bill fancied himself as a world class rally driver in his FJ Holden and used to entertain the punters with burn-outs in the old gravel car park at Yallingup.

City Beach surfer Ross Utting was age 17 when Bill assisted him & his surfing mates Gerard Waddell & Norm ‘Dot’ Kitson on two trips down south in ’69, putting himself at some inconvenience.

Ross Utting: “First time Gerard Waddell’s FX Holden panel van broke down in Australind late on a Friday night. Big Eyes stopped, diagnosed the problem & got us going within an hour. We were only 17 and had no idea. Then about 2 weeks later we hit a tree head-on near Guthrie’s farm on Caves Road. Wrecked our car & needed hospitalisation. Bill was first on the scene heading to Moses Rock for a surf. He towelled up our wounds, took us to Margaret River Hospital & stayed with us til we were discharged. Bill then found us all a place to stay at Eagle Bay Cottages & then drove us back to Perth the next day after he had a surf at Yallingup. What a guy“.

Images: 1967 Big Eyes (Bill) doing a wedgie at Yallingup. Images ex CBSR Super 8 Movie film.

1967 Bill McVeigh 'Big Eyes' at Yalls - ex CBSR movie film

Young Frank started surfing on a coolite at City Beach before progressing to a surfboard. He surfed well down south, but with red hair, fair skin with freckles and sun damaged eyes it was difficult to spend  a lot of time in the sun. When he surfed on hot days, he would wear a large hat pulled down over his face with two eye holes cut out so he could see. He loved his surfing and lived in cave south of Left Handers for a whole summer.

Frank suffered from kleptomania and would take anything he could, but he was a good guy and popular with other surfers. He rode a big old motor scooter around Dunsborough/Yallingup and on the dirt track to Rocky Point with his surfboard.

Little Big Eyes lived a tragic life and his life ended prematurely in India in the mid 70s.

Images: 1967 Little Big Eyes (Frank) with his coolite at City Beach. Images ex CBSR Super 8 movie film.

1967 Frank McVeigh 'Little Big Eyes' at City Beach - ex CBSR movie film