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. 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
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.