1970s North Point surfing images by Ric Chan

Surf photographer Ric Chan captured these surfing images of some of the WA’s finest surfers including Adrian Wilson, Craig Bettenay, Shaun Atkinson, Steve Hannett & other unidentified chargers at North Point in the 70s’.

Phone: 1976 North Point swells.


Photo: 1970s Adrian Wilson.


Photo: 1970s Adrian Wilson.


Photo: 1973 Craig Bettenay.


Photo: 1973 Craig Bettenay.


Photo: 1975 Shaun Atkinson.


Phone: 1975 North Point seascape.


Photo: 1976 unidentified surfer elevator take-off.


Photo: 1973 unidentified surfer tucked-in.


Photo: 1973 unidentified surfer cover-up.


Photo: 1978 Steve ‘Hog’ Hannett.


Photo: 1979 North Point line-up.


Coming soon Ric Chan’s 1976 images of Kanga Cairns and Tony Hardy surfing North Point.



Lefthanders (or ‘Lefties’) surf break south of Grace town has been surfed since the early 70s. State Titles and rounds of the National Titles have been held at the break.

There is some debate about who was the first to surf the break. WASRA credits Peter ‘Spook’ Bothwell & Peter Dyson but Bob Monkman, Peter Mac, Micko Gracie & Bruce King also lay claims to being the first.

Murray SmithI remember in the mid 60s we were surfing Big Rock and Scarborough’s John Bartle walked up to Lefthanders and reported the break’s potential.

Living on the Beach

Lefthanders beach had some inhabitants in the early 70s. In 73’ Pat Bloomer and his American mates lived in a timber shack built on the beach and Frank ‘Little Big Eyes’ McVeigh lived in a beach cave for a whole summer. Both residences were located south of Lefthanders.

Beach Parking Facilities

In the early days, surfers walked along the beach from an old dirt car park located near the site of existing car park & amenities. Then in the early 1970s fisherman and/or surfers pushed through a sand track along the coastal sand dunes to Lefthanders. This dirt track and it’s rocky car park was closed by Dept of Conservation & Environment (DEC) in the late 70s for environmental reasons.

Bill GibsonI used to drive up to the break in my old Falcon. Sometime I would continue onto Ellenbrook. I wasn’t happy when DEC closed the dirt track to Lefties.
Murray SmithIn the 70s I used to drive right up to the break in my VW Beetle.
Pat BloomerAlthough the dirt track was primarily for 4wd, I used to drive my Kombi Camper up to Lefthanders.
Bruce KingSometimes we would drive to Lefties along the dirt track from Ellenbrook in Micko’s VW Beetle.

Today’s bitumen road & car park with toilets located north of near Lefthanders were built in the mid 70s. Surfers walk approx. 700 metres along the beach past a series of popular reef breaks to reach the waves at Lefties.

Photo: 1973 Chris ‘Feggsey’ Fullston and vehicle at former dirt car park located behind Lefthanders. Photo credit Ric Chan.

1973 Lefthanders Chris Fullston - Ric Chan IMG_0006

Photos: 1975 Lefthanders car parks. Ric Chan pics.

(Left) Original car park located north of surf break near Gracetown. (Right) Former dirt car park located behind Lefthanders line-up.

1975 Lefthanders caraprks 4 collage_photocat

Photos: 1975 Lefthanders wave line-ups. Ric Chan pics.

1970s Lefthanders waves 8 collage_photocat

Photos: 1973-75 topless beach girls at Lefthanders. Ric Chan pics

1973-75 Beach girls Lefthanders collage_photocat

Photos: 1973-76 Beach people at Lefthanders. Surfing Craig Bettenay top right and Chris Reynolds bottom left. Ric Chan pics.

1970s Lefthanders 7 collage_photocat

Photos: 1975-79 Surfing at Lefthanders. (Top) Steve Hannett & Bruce Smith. (Bottom) Unidentified surfers. Ric Chan pics.

1970s Lefthanders surfing 8 collage_photocat

Photos: 1976-77 spectator & surfing at Lefthanders. Ric Chan pics.

Top Right: Surfing Tony Hardy, other surfers unidentified.

1976 Lefthanders surfing misc 7 collage_photocat

Photos: 1978 Aust Surfing Titles held at Lefthanders. Vehicles are parked in former dirt car park located behind the surf break. Ric Chan pics.

1978 Lefthanders Aust Titles 5 collage_photocat

Photos: 1980s Surfing at Lefthanders. (Top) 1980 Chris Fullston. (Bottom) 1981 Dave Macaulay. Ric Chan pics.

1980-81 Chris Fullston & Dave Macaulay collage_photocat






1970-80s Surfing Reflections

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

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

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

1974 Mick Black Noiseys Ric chan collage_photocat

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

1974 Barry Day Guillotine Ric Chan collage_photocat

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

1975 Steve Hannet Injidup Ric Chan collage_photocat

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

1976 Rob Conneely Marg River Ric Chan 1 collage_photocat

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

1976 Ian Cairns North Point Ric Chan collage_photocat

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

1976 Tony Hardy Marg River Ric Chan 2 collage_photocat

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

1978 Craig Bettenay Triggs Ric Chan collage_photocat

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

1980 Mike McAuliffe Scarb Ric Chan collage_photocat

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

1980 Chris Fullston Lefthanders Ric Chan collage_photocat


1980 Cordingley Surf Team trip to Rotto

Colin Earle and the Cordingley Surf Team visited Rottnest in 1980. Surf photographer Ric Chan was there to capture the surf session at Strickland Bay.

Photos: 1980 Colin Earle surfing Strickland Bay #1. Ric Chan pics.

1980 Rotto Colin Earle 1 collage_photocat

Photos: 1980 Colin Earle surfing Strickland Bay #2. Ric Chan pics.

1980 Rotto Colin Earle 2 collage_photocat

Photos: 1980 Craig Bettenay surfing Strickland Bay #1. Ric Chan pics.

1980 Rotto Craig Bettenay 1 collage_photocat

Photos: 1980 Craig Bettenay surfing Strickland Bay #2. Ric Chan pics.

1980 Rotto Craig Bettenay 2 collage_photocat

Photos: 1980 Rotto pics by Ric Chan.
(Left) Damon Eastaugh & unknown surfing Strickland Bay. (Right) Mitch Thorson’s dad working at the Rotto bakery.

1980 Rotto Damon & unknown surfing & MItch's dad at bakery collage_photocat





1960-70s Coolite surfboards

**Updated 6 March 2016** by Ashley Jones.

Ashley JonesIn my original draft on Coolites, I stated that Chris Dermer and I started on Coolites in the early 60s, then much later it was with Chris Reynolds that I started modifying Coolites with the aluminium stringers and ply twins as knee boards. This then progressed pretty quickly into stand up modified Foamies.


Coolite is a generic Australian term for any one of a number of small, inexpensive polystyrene beaded-foam surfboards. It was the introductory board for thousands of pre-teen surfers in the 1960 & 70s.

Young surfers (or their parents) could buy a coolite for a fraction of the price of a conventional urethane foam/glass/resin board. The average coolite was five feet long and 20 inches wide, with one or two long, narrow finlike runners along the bottom. And they were allowed inside the surf club patrolled “no surfboard” zones.

Many grommets were broken-hearted after an amateur attempt to reshape and glass their coolite. The styrene foam reacted badly to polyester surfboard resin and would dissolve into a horrid white paste.


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 Yallingup Barry ‘Joe’ King with his homemade epoxy surfboard.

1958 Yalls Barry (Joe) King partner with Brian Cole in King & Cole Surfboards in 1961 - John Budge pic img591A


Young Cottesloe surfer Ashley Jones first started his obsession surfing coolites as a kid with his mate Chris Dermer in the early 60s.

Ashley Jones – We started with modified coolites or as they were originally called ‘Senior Board’. The first coolites we rode as kids had little marine ply twin fins and an aluminum stringer rebated into the bottom of the board. These we used as knee boards. ** see update 6 March 2016**

Photos: 2012 Ashley Jones surfing Smiths Beach on a Coolite slab during cyclone Iggy. Photos courtesy of Jim King.2012 Ash Jones surfing Smiths on Coolite Cyclone Iggy collage_photocat

In the late 60s & early 70s Craig Bettenay was one of WA’s greatest exponents of the Coolite foam surfboard.

Craig Bettenay – I was lucky enough to learn on a foamie because it was so much shorter and more manoeuvrable than a malibu. We shaved off the runners and put in wooden fins. They surfed much better than mals and I had my first surf at Yalls on a coolite in ‘68. I was 11 and I got caught out the back by what seemed like a monster wave. I threw my coolite away and started to panic before one of my brothers grabbed me and took me in on his coolite. (Source 1993 Mark Thornley Wet Side News).

Photo: 1967 Craig Bettenay (age 10) with a modified coolite at his City Beach home. Photo courtesy of the Bettenay family.

1967 Craig Bettenay Age 10 with modified coolite at City Beach home DSC00022

Loz Smith – I remember seeing young Craig ripping City Beach groyne waves on the remains of a broken coolite in the late 60s.

Stewart Bettenay – City Beach brothers Craig & Allan Howe and my brother Greg made the fibreglass fins for our modified coolites.

Craig Howe – The Coolite days were so much fun, I’m sure my brother Alan got one of the first coolites in W.A. When they arrived in Sydney, my aunt who lived in Manly, send one over to my brother for this birthday, I remember that I wanted one!

Ross Lawrence – Great times surfing City Beach groyne with Greg, Stew, Craig, Craig Howe and Craig Blume on coolites before daybreak until 6am when beach inspector Wonk Somerford would move us out of the swimming area. If we didn’t comply he would wait till you paddled in and then confiscate your Coolite.

Mal Leckie – My brother and I lived in Perth, right near the City so we had to take our coolites to City Beach on the bus. We had plywood single fins glued in. At first it was free, but then MTT decided that surfboards had to pay a second fare and their definition of a surfboard was whether it had a fin or not. So we made T shaped plywood fins that went right through from the deck and we could take them out and hide them in our bags for the bus trip to save the extra fare. That worked OK unless you were lying down on the board and hit the sand – some lower pain resulted haha. About that time we discovered the split pin.

Here is how I remember them. Measurements could be way off – you know how things you remember change size as you get older, like how big your house was etc.

Image: Drawing of 1965-66 coolite by Mal Leckie….thanks Mal!

1965-66 coolite drawing by Mal leckie1

Jeffrey ‘RE’ Marshall – Circa 1966 I put a sail on a Coolite. I used a piece of dowelling for a mast, secured with string from the top of the mast to nails pushed into the sides,back and front of coolite. My Mum made up two sails, a main sail and foresail. I laid down under the sails and sailed it from down the front of my place at City Beach about 2km south of the groyne to the north side of the groyne. I did it because I was bored. I made skegs from 5 ply marine grade for a few crew, used a red hot butter knife to cut a slot in the coolite, then fixed them in with Bees wax. We used to shape the bottoms of the coolites, take the two rungs off and shape a concave near the nose.

Bill Gibson – In late 60s I was known as ‘Backwash Bill’ at Scarborough. I used to ride the back wash way out to sea on my coolite. I remember my first coolite. Everyone was painting their coolites, so I decided to paint mine. I found some red ‘Kill Rust’ paint (turps based) in the shed. I didn’t know anything about coolite foam and got out the paint brush and was ¾ way through the paint job when I noticed it smoking up. I got out the water hose & sprayed the coolite. It finally dried with ‘critter holes’ all over it. It dried like a rock and the deck looked like hunks of ironstone. I got my first sea ulcers from that coolite. It took the skin off my knee & middle of my foot on both legs…my first sea ulcers. Coolites were so much fun!

Little Big Eyes

In the late 60s young Frank ‘Little Big Eyes’ McVeigh (dec’d) started surfing on coolites at City Beach before progressing to fibreglass surfboards.

Images: 1967 Frank with his coolite at City Beach. Still frame image from CBSR Super 8 Movie Film.

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

Ron ‘Pixie’ Moss

In the ’60’Ron ‘Pixie’ Moss of Floreat was a talented body surfer and board rider on Malibu & coolite surfboards. In 1977-78 Ron joined the City of Perth Surf Life Saving Club and rode a coolite to victory in a SLSC surfboard competition held at Trigg.

Image: 1972 Newspaper cutting ‘Coolites at Trigg Point’ article by surf journalist Doug White (dec’d). Image courtesy of the Sunday Times.

1972 Coolites - Jim King ex Sunday Times 1

** see related material**

1960-70s Surfing Coolites at City Beach by Craig Blume – Wednesday 2 March 2016

1970-80s Foamie surfboards – Saturday 5 March 2016