Update 02 August 2017 – see Dave Aylett comments below.
Peter Docherty’s comment on Jeff Dalziel on SDS Facebook reminded me of the weekend we lost a great guy. A hero, who wasn’t wanting anything but to save the lives of some thoughtless, reckless surf club individuals who were warned but chose to scoff the advice of men who knew the peril.
These are my recollections of Jeff Dalziel (18) of Mosman Park drowning at Yallingup in 1962.
The weekend began with fun and great surf. Caves house bar was really rocking and spirits couldn’t be higher. From memory Glen Smith took off in his M.K.1 Ford Zephyr with George Godard and Vick Francis to have a look at the surf. It was really getting impressive. Returning from the beach up the ghost trail Glen got sideways a number of times and flipped. I think it was George or Vick who were in the back seat and while trying to untangle themselves from the upturned car heard an elderly couple who had taken cover from the gravel spraying Ford, casually walked past and said “I thought that would happen.” George and Vick walked the rest of the way to the bar and we all heard what happened PLUS the surf was humongous. I think it was Graham Booth and Rob Birch went to see what they could do for Glen with his upturned Zephyr. Returning to the bar to buy a drink for Glen, just to steady his nerves, they told us Yallingup was unrideable and we might as well head home. We all wanted to help Glen with his sorry Zephyr and decided to tow it with dad’s Holden panel van to Perth and the yard at the back of Ozone Hotel. We then had a number of night caps before repose. At dawn we were woken with the smell of salt in the air and the thunder of BIG SURF. Off we went to hook up Glens Zephyr. Entering the beach car park was a squeeze. It was packed with sightseers. The Surf was thunderous. We all knew it was suicide. The rip going out of the lagoon was bucking like a rapid. Some clown even asked me if he could borrow my board.
Ok back to Glen’s Zephyr. By the time I got there the boys had got it on its wheels. We hooked up with some very dodgy rope. Five of us in the Holden van towing a very sad Zephyr with no windshield , crushed roof and streaked with oil and sand. It was decided the better man for the job of driving the Zephyr was Graham Booth and Glen rode shotgun. Slowly we proceeded until we entered some downhill runs then Graham looked like he was wanting to pass me. He was running out of breaks. Being upturned caused the Zephyr’s brake fluid to escape and Graham was madly pumping to get a response. Somewhere on the way to Perth we bought some fluid and Graham found some feeble excuse for brakes. The scariest part of the journey was when a cement mixer truck in the causeway roundabout tried to get between our tow-er and the tow-ee. While uncoupling the Zephyr from the Holden the scary news of Yallingup was heard. We all raced home and on the spur of the moment decided to drive back to Yallingup. Dad and mum understood how we felt and dad said we could have his big Chev. Thanks dad. Next morning at daybreak we searched the cliffs but no sign of Jeff Dalziel our mate. Yallingup was a very sad place to be that night and beyond. Even harder to bear when Jeff’s body was found. The full heroic story at Mosman Park’s Three Boy Park.
Images: 1962 media coverage of Jeff Dalziel’s drowning at Yallingup courtesy of Cliff Hills.
A group of young Cottesloe surfers ventured to Rottnest Island for the Australia Day weekend in 1962. A weekend of surfing merriment away from parents was on the menu.
Davo Aylett’s recollection of the ’62 boy’s weekend at Rotto.
From memory there was Ron Allen, Len Dibben, Jeff Dalziel, Harold Gregory, Robby Birch, Brian Webster and me. Hope I haven’t left anybody out!
Well, as young blokes visiting the island, some for the first time, spirits very were high.
Disembarking the Islander ferry we just threw our stuff on the beach and headed straight for the legendary Quokka Arms and the day progressed from there. Bear in mind the drinking age was twenty one. After some time drinking jugs of Liquid Amber in the sunlight it was announced that soon there was going to be a fashion parade. Well we took our positions to get the best viewing. Well it started out with a bevy of beauties and the crowd responded accordingly, UNTIL, out strode proud as punch, our surfing mate Len Dibben. He appeared made up like something out of the Gidget goes Hawaiian movie, topped off with a straw pork pie hat. I think it was Harold who made that famous quote “OO BRUNG IM!!”
Night fell and we had organised nothing. Staggering to the beach we just flopped on the sand and crawled into our sleeping bags alongside our surf boards. A row of inebriated bodies. We were all fast asleep when suddenly there were voices and a blinding light. One of my mates responded with “BUGGER OFF WILL YA!” Slowly coming to our senses it must have dawned on us all at once. It was Sergeant Plod, the Islands constabulary. We were in deep and it was impossible to run in a sleeping bag. Starting from the nearest to the jetty the most noble, honorary, sir, started with a full-blown interrogation with a side kick writing everything down. “Now, what’s your name?” and “Where do you live?” and finally “how old are you?” Of course the answer to the last question, the officer repeated the age in a loud and astonished voice “17 ” and “19” and “18” and so on until he reached the end of the line. Poor Harold was the last to be interrogated. After giving the under-age answer and with a kick and a clank of bottles the Sergeant asked. “And what do you have at the bottom of your sleeping bag?” With that, all our reserve supply was confiscated and with a stern warning that if we spend another night on the beach, we will suffer the consequences.
After a slow recovery from the night time of terror, we became organised and civilised very quickly. Acting MOST adult from then on, we surfed the Transit Reef and took the Islander ferry back home.
Photo: 1962 Cottesloe surf mates at Rottnest on Australia Day weekend. Len Dibben pic.
L-R Brian Webster, Len Dibben (crouching on surfboard), Graeme Booth, Rick Skelton, Jeff Dalziel, Ron Allen, Bob Birch, Harold Gregory, in front unidentified girl with Dave Aylett.
Len Dibben’s recollections of the same ’62 weekend.
Len Dibben – I was on a Modelling assignment for Walsh’s Menswear store and some of my Cottesloe surfing mates were able to come over. I was flown over for the Gig and put up at a Chalet. The boys came over on the Islander on Saturday and moved in. As I remember, the swell was up all weekend and we surfed Transits. On the Sat night, the guys had a lot to drink and were doing Belly Bumps at the Quokka Arms.
Some of us were offered a passage back on a private launch. We tied our nine 9ft plus boards onto the roof of the cabin and set sail, but when we hit the open sea we discovered they were not tied on properly. So a few of us had to get up on the roof and do the job properly with waves breaking over the bow. As I remember, it was bloody dangerous!
Back in the day we would all meet at the Jeff Dalziel’s place in Mosman Park, I think on a Wednesday or Thursday night to watch the Wrestling on TV. Great days. We all played Rugby as well for Cottesloe.
Photo: 1972 Len Dibben fashion photo-shoot at Injidup. Ric Chan pic.
Tom Blaxell’s 2017 Rotto Fashion Parade
Miss West Coast beauty pageants were held on metro beaches from 1967-85.
In 2016 the pageant was revived as the local precursor to the Miss Universe Australia competition. The West Coast beauty contest is now held at Hotel Rottnest. Hotel Rottnest has been reborn out of the renowned Quokka Arms Hotel.
Photo: 2017 Tom Blaxell (with thumbs up bottom right) enjoying himself at the Miss West Coast beauty contest held at Rotto. Tom Blaxell pic.
Fun times at Rotto.