1950s Surf Mobiles

WA surf pioneers had a fine array of surf mobiles in the 50s. They travelled with their large wooden boards to metro & south west surf destinations in their motorised chariots.

Photo: 1955 Ray Geary’s Essex ‘Super Six’ at Wembley with plywood wave ski tied on the roof. L-R Mark Whittome, Barry ‘Stretch’ Gallon & Ray Geary. Photo courtesy of Ray Geary.

1955 Wembley Essex 'Super six' Mark Whittome,Barry Gallon,Ray Geary

In 1956 Ray Geary (19) and three young Wembley lads Neil Chapple (17), Colin Taylor (17) & Rob Wakefield (18) spent 5 weeks (and £49) making a 24ft plywood four man wave ski.

Refer to Surfing Down Surf book for images of the four man wave ski and other old automobiles.

Photo: 1956 Ray with his Sign Writing work ute & homemade 4 man wave ski on roof rack.
Photo courtesy of Ray Geary.

1956 R Geary work ute picking up 4 man ski - Ray Geary1

Photo: 1956 Rob Wakefield’s Holden ute at City Beach with homemade 4 man wave ski on roof rack. L-R Colin Taylor, Neil Chapple, Ray Geary & Rob Wakefield. Neil & Rob are wearing City Beach Board Club parka’s designed & printed by sign writer Ray Geary. Photo courtesy of Ray Geary.

1956 City Beach 4 man ski on Ray's Holden ute C Taylor, N Chapple, R Geary, Rob Wakefield - Ray Geary1

Photo: 1956 John Budge’s Morris minor & surfboards in Yallingup car park (outside Surfside tea rooms). John Budge pic

1956 Yalls car park outside tea rooms J Budge's Morris minor & boards - John Budge pic img358

Photo: 1957 Owen Oate’s Holden FX ute, Brian Cole’s Morris Minor & Laurie Burke’s Mayflower at City Beach. Photo credit Brian Cole.

1957 City Beach Owen Oates Holden FX ute, Brian Cole Morris Minor & Laurie Burke Mayflower - Brian Cole pic

Photo: 1957 Ian Scott’s Austin A40 at City Beach. L-R Ian Scott & Brian Cole with hollow ply surfboards (Brian’s 10ft Malibu & Ian’s 14ft Toothpick) & WW2 flying suit on the car roof. Photo credit John Budge.

1957 City Beach Ian Scott & Brian Cole with Austin A40, hollow ply surfboards (Brian 10ft Malibu & Ian 14ft Toothpick) & WW2 flying suit - JB pic img586

Photo: 1957 City Beach crew including Brian Cole (2nd from right) heading to Cable Station for a surf in a Morris 10 . Photo credit Brian Cole.

1957 City Beach Brian Cole & crew Morris 10 heading to Cable Stn - Brian Cole pic

Photo: 1958 City Beach Board Club members with an assortment of autos on a day trip to Avalon Point. Photo credit Brian Cole.

1958 Avalon Point Brian Cole & City Beach crew - Brian Cole pic




1950s Balsa Surfboards

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.

Pioneer WA surfer Brian Cole: “Most of the balsa boards were imported from eastern states surfboard manufacturers Gordon Woods, Bill Wallace & Bill Clymer. Veteran 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.”

Photo: 1959 Team photo of WA surf pioneers with balsa surfboards at Mettams beach near Trigg. L-R Colin Taylor, Dave Williams, Graham ‘Cocko’ Killen, Bruce ‘Moonshine’ Hill & Artie Taylor. Photo credit John Budge.

1959 Mettams C Taylor, D Williams, C Killen, Moonshine & A Taylor - John Budge pic

Some of the balsa boards were home made in back yards from balsa blanks purchased from Boans Department store in Perth city.

Brian Cole recalls the balsa board making process: “The balsa was purchased in lengths 9ft x 4” square. Then the boards were glued & clamped together to meet required dimensions. A ‘spoke shave’ was used to take shave off rough edges of the timber prior to shaping with electric & hand planers. 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 wooden fin was glassed onto the board.”

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.

1958 Subiaco Bob Keenan on pogo stick shaping balsa blank from Boans - B KeenanA

Photos: Homemade Balsa Boards

Left: 1955 John Budge with Nirvana balsa board at Yalls. John Budge pic.
Middle: 1958 Don Bancroft with homemade balsa board at Yalls.
Right: 1959 Brian Cole with balsa pig board at Coolangatta Qld. Brian Cole pic

1950s Homemade balsa boards IMG_002

Pioneer surfer Bernie Huddle meticulously looked after his balsa board.

Brian Cole: “One weekend at Yallingup in 1958 Bernie put his balsa board in the shade under the melaleuca trees while he was sunbaking. A church group come along and set up a picnic and started singing hymns on the beach front. Surfer/musicians Don Bancroft & Colin Taylor started accompanying the hymns with their instruments (trumpet & trombone). The Rector got upset with Don & Colin and asked for “a bit of decorum”. Then some of the church kids started jumping on Bernie’s balsa board and were putting holes in it….when Bernie saw what was happening he let forth a blasphemous tirade. The church group quickly packed up & left the beach within 2 minutes. Afterwards Dave Wiiliams said “Everybody got a piece of watermelon at the picnic. Hellelujah.”

Photo: 1957 Bernie Huddle with balsa surfboard at Yalls. Photo credit John Budge.

1957 Yalls Bernie Huddle & board - JB pic img600

Image: 1960 Dave Williams riding his imported Bill Clymer (NSW) round tail balsa board at City Beach. Image courtesy of WA Newspapers.

1960 City Beach Dave Williams on Clymer Balsa Board - West Aust IMG_01




1958 Flaking out at Yalls

Surf Pioneer Brian Cole captured this image of Moonshine & the boys flaked out near their camp site at Yallingup Beach in 1958.

The sun lovers were listening to traditional jazz music played on a wind-up gramophone. The gramophone (and cover) and their 78 RPM vinyl records can be seen in the foreground. Brian made the early hollow plywood Malibu surfboard on the left.

Photo: 1958 L-R Colin Taylor, Dave Williams, Keith Kino & Bruce ‘Moonshine’ Hill. Photo credit Brian Cole.

1958 Yalls Flako at Yalls Col Taylor, Dave Williams, Keith Kino & Bruce Hill. Old BC hollow ply malibu - Brian Cole pic 009

Barry ‘Joe’ King was Brian Cole’s partner in King & Cole Surfboards established 1961 in Roydhouse Street Wembley. Barry was multi skilled. He had a pilot licence and was a talented boat builder and registered builder.

Photo: 1958 Barry’s Morris Minor ute & camp site under the melaleuca trees at Yalls. L-R Ken Hamer, Barry ‘Joe’ King and Owen Oates is up the tree with his camera taking a photo of the photographer (others unidentified). Barry homemade the plywood canopy on his Morrie ute. Photo credit Brian Cole.

1958 Yalls camp site Ken Hamer,  Joe King & Owen Oates. Joe's Morris Minor ute with home mdae plywood canopy - Brian Cole pic img145

Transistor radios were introduced into Australia in the late 50s. The lads in the following image may be listening to an early transistor radio…see portable radio & aerial bottom right.

Photo: 1956-57 Jim Cavendar’s FJ Holden ute loaded with plywood boards at Yallingup Beach L-R Mark Whittome, Brian Bradley, Rod Phillips & Jim Cavendar with Brownie Camera. Photo credit John Budge.

1956-57 Yalls Mark Whittome, Brian Bradley, RodPhillips & Jim Cavender with FJ ute & hollow wood boards - John Budge pic img571

Refer to Surfing Down South book for more vintage SW photos from Brian Cole and Budgie.


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








Mid 1950s Inaugural City Beach Board Club reunion

In the mid 1950s members of the City Beach Board Club (1953-1957) held their inaugural reunion at the Pagoda Ball Room in South Perth. The revellers are L-R John Budge, Colin Taylor, Jo, Alma, Artie Shaw, Mark Whittome, unknown, Sandra, Barry ‘Stretch’ Gallon, unknown, Ray Geary & Helen.  Photo courtesy of John Budge.

1950s Pagoda Ballroom Sth Pth CBBC crew 1st Reunion John Colin Jo, Alma Artie Mark unknown Sandra Stretch unknown Ray Helen- John Budge

1956 Surfing City Beach north side of the groyne on hollow ply Toothpick surfboards and a wave ski. L-R Ray Geary, Neil Chapple, Keith Kino & Tony Harbison. At this time there was a coast road but no groyne at Floreat Beach. Photo courtesy of Ray Geary.

1956 City Beach surfing R Geary, N Chapple, K Kino, T Harbison & M Whittone - Ray Geary

1956 Ray Geary’s home made 24ft plywood 4 man ski at City Beach. (left) Ray Geary (19) & Neil Chapple (17). (right) Rob Wakefield (18) & Colin Taylor (17). Photo courtesy of Ray Geary.

1956 City Beach 4 man ski R Geary, Neil Chapple, R Wakefield & C Taylor - Ray Geary