1963 Surfing images by Murray D’Arcy from North End Board Club

Murray d’Arcy a foundation member of the North End Board Club at Scarborough took these vintage WA surfing photos in 1963 .

Photo: January 1963 Murray d’Arcy (surfer/photographer/cook) cooking brekkie at Lancelin. Murray d’Arcy pic.

Metro Beach Images

Photo: June 1963 south Scarborough Beach wave line-up. Murray d’Arcy pic.

Photo: November 1963 the boys at Scarborough. Murray d’Arcy pic.

Front: Jim Breadsell standing with his foot on Garry Grannery.

Back: L-R Bill Stephenson in white t-shirt, Peter McGuire in black, Warren Smith scratching his leg, Peter Longley in great coat, John Pinch looking over Peter Longley’s shoulder, others unidentified.

Photo: June 1963 Murray Smith surfing Scarborough Beach. Murray d’Arcy pic.

South West Beach Images.

Photo: Easter 1963 surfers with Morris Minor sedan loaded with Malibu surfboards at Yallingup car park. Murray d’Arcy pic.

Alex ‘Zac’ Kochanowitsch on the left with hands in pockets and John Bartle with arm in car window, others unidentified.

Photo: January 1963 the lads campsite set up under melaleuca trees at Yallingup Beach. Murray d’Arcy pic.

Photo: Easter 1963 Murray d’Arcy with camp gear and surfboards in Yallingup car park. Murray d’Arcy pic.

Photo: November 1963 the lads doing a swell check from the creek at Cowaramup Bay. Murray d’Arcy pic.

Photo: Easter 1963 John ‘The Mess’ Stevens at the top of the Gallows track. Murray d’Arcy pic.

Photo: January 1963 summer wave line-up at the Gallows. Murray d’Arcy pic.

Photo: January 1963 flotilla of Malibu’s at the Gallows. Murray d’Arcy pic.

Photo: November 1963 the North End Board Club lads at Bunker Bay. Murray d’Arcy pic.

L-R Peter Longley, unidentified, Bob Spence in red, Geoff Culmsee, John Pinch, Jim Breadsell, Garry Grannery, John Townsend, Peter McGuire, Murray Smith with Bill Stephenson kneeling in front.

Photo: 1963 November 1963 the North End Board Club lads waxing their boards at The Farm surf break in Bunkers Bay. Murray d’Arcy pic.

Many thanks to 1960s North End Board Club member Jim Breadsell for sharing Murray d’Arcy’s vintage surf images with Surfing Down South.





1970s Gallows surf break & dirt track

Gallows surf break at Wilyabrup has been surfed since the late 1950s. Just getting to the waves via the notorious dirt track has been part of the adventure.

This is a collection of anecdotes and images from surfers who used the Gallows track to access waves in the region during the ‘70s.

This post continues from 1960s Gallows surf break & dirt track

Jim McFarlane (Yallingup) – Early summer was hell with bush flies breeding in plague proportions. I remember many walks from the gravel road down to Gallows, when the track had become impassable in two-wheel drives. Bags on back, boards on our heads and towels wrapped around our face, like something out of Lawrence in Arabia to keep the buggers away. Often we arrived at the surf black from ilmenite sand only to find a howling onshore. (Extract from Surfing Down Surf book published 2014).

Photo: 1975 Gallows wave line-up. Jim King pic.

Ronnie Jeffrey (Yallingup) – My mate Albie used to take me surfing at Gallows in his old Holden. The track was boggy black sand and the car wheels used to spin in the large ruts and tear up the track for anyone following us. We would park the car in the dirt car park and walk through the sand hills to the beach. On the trip back, we used to get a good run up at the track but always needed a crew in the car to push through the boggy bits.

In the 70s it was a fun crew surfing Gallows. Regulars included Horny Campbell, Mahdu Anderson, Kim ‘Boonga’ Hunter, Bruce King, Micko Gracie, Barry Green & Andy Jones. John Balgarnie & John Pozzi were always there too.

Editor’s note: Ronnie ‘Ratshit’ Jeffrey has lived at Yallingup since 1971. Initially he slept in George Simpson’s old Chrysler sedan abandoned outside Surfside Café, then he moved onto farm houses in Smiths Valley and Millbrook.

Photo: 1976 Gary Gibbon and hound, Sue Ware and hound with Ronnie ‘Ratshit’ Jeffrey at Peter Dyson’s place on Yallingup hill. Gary Gibbon pic.

Stewart Bettenay (Dunsborough) – In 1971 surf movie maker Bob Evans (NSW) came to WA to film his surf movie Family Free (1971). He bought eastern states surfers Mark Warren and Col Smith with him and was joined by WA surfers Ian Cairns and Craig Bettenay at Gallows. All surfers rode twin fins except Ian Cairns. Bob Evans accessed the Gallows dirt track in his Jaguar (aka Kevin Merifield in his Mercedes).

Image: 1971 Craig Bettenay (age 14) surfing Gallows on a twin fin surfboard. Bob Evans pic. This image appeared in Surfing World magazine.

Jeffrey ‘RE’ Marshall (Augusta) – We used to go down the Gallows track in my HR Panel Van. Around 1970 to 1973. We would drop the tailgate and three guys would sit on it, if we started bogging down they would jump off, shut the tailgate and push. The reason for sitting on the tailgate was to get weight behind the back wheels. On the Gallows Track there was what we called the Sump Eating Rock and The Rack Eating Tree.

Photo: 1971 Guinea pig race at Wilyabrup farm. Ric Chan pic.

L-R. RE Marshall, Stewart Bettenay, unidentified and Vin Nolan.

Gary Gibbon (Margaret River) – Andy Jones and I would quite often try and head down there on summer’s afternoons, to make good use of the afternoon sea breeze glass-offs and the higher tides, which Gallows always likes.

The Gallows track in the 70’s was always hideous. I learnt my lesson way back in the mid 70’s attempting a weekday solo sojourn in a VW beetle and got thoroughly bogged on the way down, on a day when there weren’t too many other takers. After fruitlessly waiting for others to come by and hopefully give me a hand, a local farmer (unfortunately I forget his name) thankfully hauled me out with his tractor, quietly admonishing me to “take a bit more care next time young fella”. I took his advice and from then on, unless I happened to be with someone in a 4 wheel drive, usually left my vehicle near the top of the track and took the long, dusty walk in.

I was always a bit surprised when occasionally, usually on Sundays down at Gallows upon kicking back after a session, I would see Trevor Anderson’s gang arrive … in this old banged up FC. Trevor and a bunch of his mates from around Dunsborough at the time, who frequently included people like Trevor McKinnon, Steve ‘Horny’ Campbell, Tall Tex, and Howard Johnson often used to get together for Sunday surf trips and head off in various directions in this old FC, which I think was Trevor’s and which I’m sure, he being a fine mechanic, kept in very good working order. The thing that got me, is that I never heard of them experiencing any bog issues on that track. From memory, coming back in particular, there was a really steep, sandy, shifty hill to negotiate, which TA’s FC apparently had little trouble (at least none that I heard about) in conquering. Though curious, I never did get around to asking him what the secret was. May be it was just good track driving skills, or a case of every one get out and push up this next bit.

My brother John now lives in Bali, he sent me these photos of a bogging of his car on the Gallows track circa 1979, in his little Datsun 120Y, which we used to take (or try to take) everywhere back in the day. To be honest, I don’t remember this one as well as the one I outlined in earlier correspondence, but John assures me I was there and he said some “nice winery guy” got us out.

Photos: 1979 John Gibbon’s Datsun 120Y bogged on the Gallows track. John Gibbon pics.Steve ‘Horny’ Campbell (Yallingup) – I loved going to Gallows with my surfing mates Trevor ‘Yip Yip’ Anderson and John Fox. We got stuck on that track so many times, particularly in the water/mud hole when water ran across the track after rain.

On the afternoon of my wedding to Wendy, I went surfing at Gallows (surfing’s good for the nerves!) with Trevor Anderson, Tex branch and Howard Johnson. We were worried we may get stuck on the dirt track and not make it back to the wedding ceremony on time.

Photo: 1970s Steve ‘Horny’ Campbell and Alf Burley walking up the sand hill from Gallows beach. Steve Campbell pic.

JohnTex’ Branch (Yallingup) – Horny Campbell, Trevor ‘TA’ Anderson , Howard Johnson and I purchased a FC Holden as a track car to be used at Gallows and Bears. On the day of Horny’s wedding, we were late back from our surf at Gallows and had to quickly shit, shower and change for the wedding and reception at the Dodd’s place in Meelup Hills.

Photo: 1980s Horny accepting his wedding gift (surfboard) from Capel Surfboard maker Peter Mercer. Steve Campbell pic.

Mal Leckie (Coolangatta Qld) – It was undoubtedly the most notorious track around 1971-2. I deeply regret not taking more photos in those days but I have a fairly vivid memory of one section of the track that turned tightly to the left (as you were coming out) around a tree with a low branch that would clip the roof racks off if you didn’t swing wide enough.

For a while, there was an old pipe-style rack bar hanging on the offending branch, bent in half. I guess it was wrapped there in frustration by someone and left as a warning.

That section of the track was the worst because you had to have speed up and turn hard left at the same time. Most cars would let their team out so they were ready to push at the right time. Sometimes several carloads of blokes were needed to get a car through. Everyone ended up covered in dust as cars bounced violently up the hill.

Nearly everybody drove ordinary cars too, so it was no easy job getting back up the track. I went south with Paul Jacobsen most times and his Kombi was at great risk on that bend so we tended to avoid the Gallows track. I remember going down there in John Fox’s HD Holden station wagon once or twice and I think we even went down in Bill Oddy’s Volvo 144 once to. It was a surprisingly good track car.

The best cars were VW Beetles because they had the flat floor that skidded across the bumps and you could get a couple of fellas standing on the back bumper to keep weight on the rear wheels.

I do remember being down there one day when goofy footer Col Smith from Sydney was there and we were all amazed at how small and light his boards were. We considered them unsuitable for WA waves but he had no trouble getting them to work.

Although I am a long time gone from the west, I love the place heaps and your bits and pieces sort of help keep me there.

I have drawn up that memory of the dusty bend around the tree at Gallows. It’s very sketchy but I hope it will do the job and maybe jolt other memories. I tried to give it a feel of dirt and black dust, and put a towel over one guy’s head to maybe remind us of all the flies. I’m reasonably happy that the ‘feel’ is right although the detail might be lost in 45 years of memory haze.

This bit of the track I remember best because it was a tight uphill turn around a tree that had a thick low branch with a reputation for tearing off roof racks. There was an old roof rack bent over the offending branch, as a warning to others I guess.

I am thinking of doing the sketch up as an ink drawing and maybe running a small edition of prints. For what it’s worth, I think the wagon I remember was John Fox’s, but not sure. My apologies to Holden fans for what I have done to that HD’s front.

Image: 1972 Gallows track drawing by Mal Leckie. Image courtesy of Mal Leckie.

Ric Chan (Auckland NZ) – There were lotsa flies and it was very, very dusty. I actually took the red Jag in there once and had to have it pushed out!

Photo: 1970s unidentified surfers pushing a surf wagon loaded with boards back up the hill at the notorious Gallows track. Ric Chan pic.

Phil Usher (Gold Coast Queensland)Nev Hyman and I went to school together at Bentley High School. We started Odyssey Surfboards in Leederville in 1976. I also shaped with Murray Smith at HotBrewz surfboards for a while in the mid 80s. Nev and I teamed up again on the Gold Coast in Queensland for several more years along the way followed by many shaping stints in many countries worldwide.

Back in the 70s we went down south regularly, one year we went 51 out of 52 weeks. Gallows was a favourite surf spot. The dirt track was horrific and we used to choke on the flies. We wore straw hats with double fly nets with elastic bands around the bottom of the nets and our necks to keep the flies out. Despite the hats and nets, flies would be all over our faces and we couldn’t swat them because we had boards under one arm and wetties on the other. The walk was a killer but the waves were worth it, No crowds and great lefts, particularly on a small swell. We got sick of the walk, flies and summer heat.

To the rescue. Nev had a 64 Kombi and I had a 67 Ford Anglia. We used Nev’s Kombi for the Gallows track because my Anglia couldn’t do it! Nev would gun the Kombi and four of us would stand on the back bumper bouncing the Kombi all the way there and back. Dedicated and diligent with a touch of crazy was the order of the day. Poor Nev had a few repair bills along the way, but it was way better than the alternative.

The waves at gallows on a small day were great for fun and on the right larger days it had plenty of grunt. The best thing back in the 70’s was no crowds. Back then, some people had not even heard of it.

When asked what I remember most about Gallows, it is not the surf I recall, it is the taste of fresh fly in abundance. That never leaves you. All jokes aside, it was a cracker secret spot back in the day.

The following Smith Beach shot has me second from right with Blair Mieklejohn to my left and Bill Mieklejohn to my right and Nev with the fuzzy top leaning on the driver’s door.

Photo: 1970s Nev’s surf mobile bogged on the back track to Smiths Beach. Wayne Murphy pic.

L-R Lee Potter, Nev Hyman, Rod Hernaman, Blair Miekeljohn, Phil Usher and Bill Miekeljohn.

Gary Greirson (Dunsborough) – I’ve been bogged many times in the black dirt on that track. It was always hot and there were lots of flies as we only surfed there in the summertime. Our VW had the most trouble under the peppies on the first hill back from the beach, there was a bend like a dog’s hind leg.

Many times we were struggling back up the track and Kevin Merifield would drive past in his Mercedes sedan.

Photo: 1970 Max Hickson, unidentified girl and Les Wright at Gallows. Ric Chan pic.

Jim King (Dunsborough) – In the early 70s I used to go to Gallows with the late Lindsay Thompson in his VW kombi. The rigid chassis of the Kombi wasn’t suited to the big ruts & black dirt of the Gallows track. One of the Kombi’s wheels was nearly always off the ground and a lot of pushing was required to get back up the track.

At other times, my wife Kath & I would tackle the track in our 2wd Toyota Corona. While surfing I would be wondering how we would get back up the sandy track, as they weren’t many people around in those days to help push us out, if required. Driving back up the track, the engine would be screaming and rear wheels spinning in a cloud of black dust….but as long as we were moving forward it was all good! The sight of old car bodies rotting in the bush next to the track wasn’t reassuring!

Photo: 1970 Gallows. Blaxell team rider Jim King.  Tom Blaxell pic.

Ross Utting (Metro)Of all the trips I did to Gallows, I can only remember three cos they were bad trips. The first two were in Morris Minors owned by David Moss & Glen Carroll. Who in their right mind would even contemplate taking a Morrie into Gallows! They were gutless and their tyres were about 2 inches wide. Both times we made it to about a 20 minute walk to Gallows & then got heaps of help to manhandle us out. After that we sacked the Morris & tried an FJ Holden panel Van owned by Gerard Waddell.

Made it all the way, but going back up the hill after our surf was a real battle. We had blokes all around the car pushing as well as four blokes standing on the rear bumpers bouncing the FJ to get traction each time we hit a hollow. Just got out, but Gerard was real worried about the toll it had on the fragile FJ.

Our Gallows strategy was never be the last to leave, cos there was only one way out and if you got stuck, those behind you had to help or they couldn’t get out.

Photo: 1976 Ross Utting with his Blaxell orange flyer single fin surfboard at Gallows. Jim King pic.

Steve ‘Sheepdog’ Cockburn (Metro) – I didn’t go there a lot!  But I have had Gallows & Guillotine surf really good. I remember surfing Gallows with John Balgarnie and having left hand waves, overhead height, that were cylindrical tubes & very fast.

Another time Peter Bothwell and I surfed Gallows on Tracker surfboards from West Coast Surfboards and the surf was hollow & amazing.

The dirt track was by far the worst track I’d experienced down south. The first part being flat but extremely boggy, then it weaved & winded steeply down between trees that were very close together.

At one State Surfing Contest Murray Smith & Terry Jacks surfed off in the Final at Guillotine. The waves were small at first, less than shoulder high, but soon they picked up to twice the size, with long lefts & short rights. There were some great rides, but I don’t remember who won. Because the surf conditions changed so much during the Final, it made it very hard for the WASRA judges scoring that event!

Photo: 1970 Sheepdog surfing Guillotine right hander in his multi coloured wettie. Ric Chan pic.

Craig Blume (Metro)The Gallows track back in the 70’s was a place to perfect and hone your dirt track driving skills, it was unforgiving and a great money earner for local mechanics and businesses.

I remember one day ‘Springhead / Grimmie’ (Graeme Lesley) took a bunch of us for a surf at Gallows in his EH Holden sedan.  ‘Springhead’ negotiated down the track to the surf like a true veteran even though it was badly rutted with lots of loose dirt and rubble where guys had been previously bogged. The return was somewhat different. He started off well picking good lines through the deep ruts until about the half way up the hill where the track detoured around a couple of big trees.  At this point he slipped off our line, because of all the bouncing, bottomed out and got stuck – couldn’t move forward or backward.  We were there for hours trying to free his beloved EH but with each attempt the car slipped closer to becoming impaled against a trees.  Finally exhausted, pissed off and sweaty and black from all the digging, pushing and dust from wheels spinning, not to mention the flies relentlessly attacking our eyes, getting up your nose and in your mouth, ‘Springhead’ decided he’d go and ask a farmer for help. At that time the rapport between some farmers and surfers wasn’t too good.  Well, after waiting for an hour or so with the sun slowly setting in the west and the boys getting more agitated by the minute we heard and saw the cavalry – ‘Springhead’ in the distance driving a tractor coming to retrieve his beloved EH before it was sacrificed to Huey.

Photo: 1975 Craig Blume and NW surf pioneer Craig Howe with their Cordingley surfboards at City Beach. Craig Blume pic.

Brian Bell (Dunsborough) – I remember turning off the gravel on Cullen Road and heading into the bend at the top the hill that leads into those huge ruts and black sand that became hot as hell in summer!

Photo: 1970s unidentified surfers recuperating after successfully negotiating a sandy section of the Gallows track. Ric Chan pic.

Mark Hills (Quindalup) – In ’81 I nearly drowned in a Surfside Board Club competition at Gallows. I was on the inside and my Pipelines leg rope got caught around a rock. I couldn’t release it. It was only 3ft deep, but I was held under water in the swells and couldn’t make it to the surface for a breath.

Photo: 1980s young Mark Hills. Hills family pic.

Theo Mathews (Margaret River) – The following photo was taken by Ashley Jones around 1977 of yours truly on a 5’3″ modified foamy (stringer, fins and leg rope) at Gallows. The board was shaped by Chris Reynolds and finished by Ashley with acrylic house paint that lasted for years. They conceived the idea for small shore-break surf but ironically we rode fair size waves with late take-offs, including Margs main break, Injidup carpark, South Point, Uluwatu in Bali etc.

Photo: 1977 Theo Mathews surfing on modified foamie at Gallows. Ash Jones pic.

Black dirt, bush flies, waves and fun times at Gallows…….





Tom Blaxell’s Gallows recollections

Tom Blaxell is one of the pioneers of WA surfing. He was involved in the surf industry from the 1960s to 1990s. He is a past President of Dolphins Surfriders and was made a Life Member of the club in 1975. Tom is also a Life Member of WASRA (1982) and served as President of WASRA from 1995-97.

These are Tom’s Gallows recollections:-

My first introduction to the Gallows was with the Dolphin Surfriders in the mid 60’s. The Dolphins were largely a group of down south surfing pioneers who had originally banded together in the 50’s as the West Coast Board Club nicknamed the Big Wheels… because they had cars!

This older crew included Kevin “Legs” Merrifield who I consider to be the spiritual Grand Master of surfing in WA today, Ron “Jungle” Drage who was one of the first to ride Yallingup, Dave “Globehead” Williams who led the discovery of Guillotine as a surf spot, Ray Geary who Gearys surf break is named after, Tony Harbison who went on to build Hideaway Cottages at Yalls, Ray Nelmes the ultimate hairy back amongst hairy backs, Alan Robbins, Stan Duffy, Don Campbell, Rob Wakefield, Keith Smith, Glen Marshall, Ken Gimm, Alan Cough and several others.

It was they who had earlier organised South West farmer Boodge Guthrie to bulldoze the Gallows track skirting away from the Cullen cottage right down to the beach for 15 quid. The West Coast Board Club ended up fading out when they were made to pull down their shack in the grounds of Caves House, some went over east, others went overseas, most ended up getting married, going into business and headed off in all different directions.

The reform in the 60’s as Dolphins gave us younger guys including Garry Nicholas, Johnny Wynne, Geoff House, Jim McFarlane, Bruce Elliott and Steve Fordham the privilege of a fantastic mentor peer group because not only were they fearless trail blazing adventurers who lived and enjoyed life to the full, with a real sense of humour, but by that time were mostly successful trades men, business men and go getters who gave us great examples to follow on all sorts of levels in life.

“Legs” for example at that time was in partnership with Kerry Stokes and could have gone to the very top of the Australian corporate ladder, but later chose to turn south and apply his talents there, as well as soak up its natural blessings on a daily basis.

Photo: 1970s Kevin Merifield with his Blaxell Surfboard at Trigg Point. Ric Chan pic.

Later on in the 90’s I asked him if he would become the patron for Surfing WA. He asked me what that entailed so off the cuff I said “Well it means you have to keep surfing!” (as a bit of a joke, because I already knew that he did!)…He responded “What on a short board?” (He wasn’t getting any younger and I could sense a little bit of strain in his voice, so I kept the pressure on)… “Yeah of course!”… “Well it’s not getting any easier, but I think I can keep it up !”… “Great you’re in!”

Deal done. To this day he’s still out there most days, even if he can’t stand up any more, post inner ear and hip replacement operations.

The other good thing about the old guys was that they had wheels. My first trip down south was in Ken Gimm’s Falcon station wagon. We stayed in a Caves House shack that was still standing at the time, where I was introduced into the wonders of a blue flame competition and the supposed risk of abdominal explosion if you happened to suck in by mistake.

In those days the “search” was still on in full force to explore for new uncrowded perfect waves and to learn what breaks worked best in the various conditions and swells. Dirt tracks and bush bashing featured heavily in these explorations and our original search engines were 2 wheel drives. Looking back from today’s cruisey four wheel drive viewpoint, it really is amazing the places we used to pump our 2 wheel drives through. Some of course didn’t make it and there was always the odd dead wagon that had died and been abandoned.

Dirt tracks are an embedded facet of West Australian surf trips and Gallows was just the start. Places like Rocky Point, the Farm, the Other  Side of the Moon, Injidup Point, Wilyabrup, South Point, Lefties, Big Rock, Ellenbrook, Grunters, Conto’s, Booranup, Black Point and Bears all had their challenges.

Photo: 1972 Tom’s ‘Blaxell Surfrider’ HK panel van negotiating the boggy Gallows track. Jim McFarlane pic.

The Gallows track was always a major challenge because of its deep soft sand, steep hills, creek beds, valleys and wooded with trees, sometimes hot n dusty, other times wet n muddy and there was always the ever present danger of getting seriously bogged.

The first time I hit it, I was actually reasonably conditioned for it. I had been rattled around in the back of Graeme Pateman’s Vauxhaull ute on the Long Point track many times by then. He was a madman at the wheel and the ride was like being on a roller coaster in a bumper car, and just so much fun!  Pity about the boards that sometimes got knocked around.

Don Campbell brought down a brand spanking new Ford ute one time to put to the test and feeling a bit concerned about it I said “Don’t you worry about scratching and messing up your brand new pride and joy ?”  His wizened response was “Tom, cars are made for using, not for looking at.”

So from that day on I adopted the same attitude and when not long after I got my own first pride and joy, a FC Holden ute, I didn’t hold back either, and to this day I still wear scratches with a sense of pride. There’s no St Georges Terrace tractor for me.

Photo: 1967 Tom Blaxell, Garry Nicholas & Johnny Wynne in the back of Tom’s FC ute at Miami just around the corner from Gearys. Tom Blaxell pic.

The FC ute was later repainted bright Kodak yellow and became known as the Yellow Submarine.

On one memorable occasion in 1968 I was back at Long Point in my FC ute when the Meckering earthquake struck. It was a big deal and everyone was pretty freaked out about it but I didn’t feel a thing or even know about it because I was doing the roller coaster along the track when it struck. I thought that was pretty cool.

Another moment in the FC ute came at Salmon Beach out past Windy Harbour with Garry and Johnny. I had been giving it a fair bit of stick getting through the sand when I got the red light on the dash… followed by steam coming from under the bonnet. So in typical silly teenage fashion we decided to take the radiator cap off and have a look.

That of course allowed the last remaining coolant to burst out to the heavens.  Then we were faced with the prospect of no water to replace it, out in the middle of nowhere and no one else around. We were stranded. Then came the light bulb moment.  Piss in it! The three of us took turns to empty our bodily fluids into the radiator. We didn’t manage to fill it, but with a bit of gentle motoring along the track we did make it back to town.

Going back to the Gallows, getting down to the surf was always very refreshing. It was a reliable wave that caught the swell easily and even handled the sea breeze reasonably well because of the protection from the reform.

Photo: 1968 Tom Blaxell surfing Hangman’s at Gallows. Tom Blaxell pic.

It also had a bit of a mystical fairy tale atmosphere about it with the little Cullen’s cottage that you could see from the water out at Hangman’s, set amongst the wooded hills and even complete with a damsel!

Photo: 1969 Tom Blaxell on a Hangman’s sparkler at Gallows. Tom Blaxell pic.

Recently by chance I discovered that a friend, Dr Cullity’s daughter Jude, 50 years ago planted the very first premium grape vine in the Margaret River region at his property across the road from Gallows at Vasse Felix in Autumn 1967.

For more information on Vasse Felix click on The Weekend West 25-26 February ‘Age makes fine wine and fond memories’ by Wendy Barrett.

Jude tells me that the Cullity’s and Cullen’s were both vineyard pioneers across the road from each other and that the local folklore is that some previous owners of the Cullen property ran an unofficial abattoir and used to hang the stock from the trees which led to the property being nicknamed the Gallows.

If this is true, then this may well be the reason that Dr Cullen’s friend Rankin Wilson (who is said to be the first to surf Gallows) named it Gallows, rather than for the characteristics of the break. Interesting!

Tom now works in the Marine Industry at Hillary’s and still enjoys surfing.

For more Gallows history watch out for 1970s Gallows surf break & dirt track (Parts 1 & 2) on Saturday 20 May 2017.




1960s Gallows surf break & dirt track


Cattle farmer, vigneron & ex Busselton GP, the late Dr Kevin Cullen purchased a rural property at Wilyabrup in the early 50s. A powerful left hand reef break in front of the Cullen family beach house was appropriately named Gallows.

Tony HarbisonDr Cullen’s dentist friend Ron Rankin-Wilson from North Cott SLSC was invited down to the beach house for a weekend. He walked to the beach and saw the wave going-off. Ron was the first to paddle out on his 16ft single ski and surf Gallows.

As word spread about this hot new wave, the dirt track to the house (Cullen Rd) became a main thoroughfare. The track stopped approx. 2 kilometres from the coast and surfers had to sneak through the bush past the Cullen beach cottage to the beach lugging their heavy Malibu’s. The surfers would often disturb Dr Cullen’s attractive daughter sun baking nude in the back yard.

Photo: 1961 Gallows bush walk pre-dirt track. Steve Mailey pic.


In the early 60s the West Coast Board Club used all the money they had in their bank account £20 to pay local cattle farmer Boodge Guthrie to bulldoze a rough dirt track through the remaining bush to the coast (Gallows and Guillotine).

The track’s black ilmenite sand was very hot in summer & there were bush flies in plague proportions. But the popular reef break was now accessible to all SW surfers.

For more background information on Gallows refer Surfing Down South book published 2014 by Margaret River Press. (Reprinted 2015). See early Gallows anecdotes by Tony Harbison, Geoff Culmsee, Kevin Merifield & Jim McFarlane.

Gallows Line-up

Gallows initially breaks 500 meters out to sea, before reforming and breaking on the inside where the take-off zone is. Tow-in teams use the outside break as a practice ground.

Bigger waves wash all the way through from the outside and the inside is best ridden on a smaller swell. The inside reform has a shifty peak and in bigger swells has a sweep that drags you north.

Gallows can be a fun wave and it doesn’t get too crowded.

The old dirt track off Cullen Rd in no longer in use. Surfers now access Gallows & Guillotines from Juniper Road.

A collection of surfers anecdotes and photos follow:-

Dave Williams – In the late 50s there was a surfer at Yallingup called John ‘Red’ Abbott, we used to call him ‘Brer Rabbit’. He would come to Yalls with a sleeping bag, a hammock, a piece of ply 6” x 6” (which he used as a hand board), a towel, his money & clothing. He was very microscopic as far as the gear he took down south.

Photo: 1958 John ‘Red’ Abbott surfing on his plywood hand board at Gallows. Photographer unknown.


Jim Keenan – In March 1961 I went to Yalls for a two month holiday with Puppy Dog Paton a talented surfer from Manly NSW. It was the summer that fires ripped the South West apart with many mill towns like Karridale wiped out. We were also nearly wiped out at the Gallows on a very big day. The bomboras were working for what seemed miles out to sea. We were stupid enough to try out the fourth break and it was there that we were threatened by the relentless swell. Puppy was only about 17 years of age and I was fearful of losing him in the surf. We chose our wave with respect and managed to make shore a little out of sorts.

Photo: 1961 Gallows outside break. L-R Jim Keenan & Puppy Dog from Manly NSW. Photo courtesy of Jim Keenan.


Brian Cole – Howard ‘The Ghost’ Kent was a keen SW big wave rider in the early 60s. He got his nickname from the white zinc cream he plastered on his face.

Bill Gibson – In the 60s ‘The Ghost’ was always surfing at Gallows. He was the furthest one out chasing the big ones!

Photo: 1961 Howard ‘The Ghost’ Kent surfing at Gallows. Photo credit Brian Cole.


Zac Kochanowitsch My first trip down south was quite by accident. In the summer of 62 I travelled to Avalon (near Mandurah) with my mates John McGuire and Boz Cummins in John’s mum’s new Morris Minor 1000. When we got there the surf was too small so John said “bugger this, we are going to Gallows”. John immediately dismantled the car’s speedometer cable as he was told to go no further than Avalon and his dad always took a speedo reading to check how far we travelled that day.

To save time we headed off down the Old Coast Road on a rough dirt track between Lake Preston Road House and Australind. Finally we found our way to the The Gallows. To our surprise we were the only ones there, it was offshore wind and a perfect head high wave. We surfed for 2 hours then John said “we have to go home now as I have to have the car home before 6pm”. So we headed home to wash the car & reconnect the speedo and pretend Avalon was as far as we went.

Photo: 1962 Gallows close-out set heading towards surfer Brian Cole. Photo courtesy of Brian Cole.


Mark Hills – My dad (Cliff Hills) was one of the early pioneers to use the dirt track to the Cullen property to access and surf Gallows.

Photos. 1962 various surfers at Gallows. Photos courtesy of Brian Cole.

Top: (Left) Bob Keenan. (Right) Bob Keenan & Brian Cole.

Bottom: (Left) Dave Williams. (Right) Brian Cole.


Photo: January 1963 North End Board Club lads surfing Gallows. Murray d’Arcy pic.

Photo: 1963 Terry ‘Rat’ James performing ‘Quasimodo’ maneuver at Gallows. Photo courtesy of Sonny James.


Geoff Berry – In the early 60s Merv hart, Mark Waddell, Martin Pardoe, Brian Boynes & myself bought a Hudson Pacemaker sedan to save our own vehicles and use as our ‘Surfari Wagon’. It was big enough to sleep full strength across the back seat. We even took it down the gallows track.

Unfortunately it made its last fateful trip to Yallingup circa 1964. Refer Surfing Down South book for more details.

Image: 1964 Hudson Pacemaker similar to the boys ‘Surfari Wagon’. Image courtesy of Geoff Berry.


Extract from Arthur Sherburn’s Surf Diary – Gallows Sunday 2 Jan 1966. Courtesy of Arthur & Surfing Down South book.

One of the best sessions we (Rex, Bartle & I) have ever had here. Fantastic tubes. Rainy, cool water and air. We had half of the session to ourselves. ‘TOO MUCH’. Then 3 Yallingup guys came Droppin’ In. Session started!!!

Photos: 1964 Gallows vehicles on water logged Cullen Rd. Arty Sherburn pics.

Left: Bruce Brown’s FC Holden bogged.

Right: Ford Anglia & FJ Holden on soggy track.


Geoff BerryFormer Cottesloe surfer/photographer Dave Condon took these pics of Ken ‘Kiwi’ White, Mic Lindsay & myself at Gallows in ’65.

Kiwi (retired tuna spotter) now lives at Port Lincoln in South Aust. His home beach is Cactus and he travels OZ and the surfing world chasing waves.

Mic (former City Beach surfer) now lives on the NSW mid north coast with his wife Wendy. He surfs and swims many kilometers per day.

I now live on the NSW mid north coast with my wife Julie. During the 70s & 80s I surfed Indo, Fiji & Hawaii. These days I surf the East Coast from Manly to Crescent Heads.

Photos: 1965 Gallows photos by Dave Condon.

Top: (Left) Geoff Berry’s trusty VW Beetle on Gallows track. (Right) Gallows beach car park. L-R Ken ‘Kiwi’ White, Mic Lindsay & Geoff Berry

Bottom: (Left) Geoff Berry. (Right) Mic Lindsay.


Jim King – My first surf trip to Gallows was ‘66-67 with Colin Cordingley and the Cordingley Surf Team. The team included Kevin Ager, but I can’t remember the other surfers. The left was big & unruly so we surfed a punchy right north of the main break. (I think it is now called Hangman’s). The right hand peak was a challenge on our heavy Malibu boards.

In the late 60s Yallingup Board Club surfers Brian Boynes & Mark Waddell used a Morris Mini-Moke as a beach buggy to traverse the Gallows track. They would leave Yalls car park suited up in scarfs and racing goggles to protect themselves against the elements on the trip to Gallows. When they returned from Gallows, they were covered in black dirt and looked like coal miners after a long shift underground. The only clean spots were around their eyes after they took their goggles off.

Photo: 1968 unidentified surfer at Gallows. Jim McFarlane pic.


Mike BibbyMy only recollection of Gallows is the black sand which was bloody hot in summer and going with Bill Oddy in his Simca sedan. Being the fastidious Mr Clean we had to wash the sand off our feet after a session in a bucket provided by Bill otherwise we weren’t allowed in the car. No photos unfortunately!

Photo: 1970 Gallows track unidentified surfer’s XL Falcon panel van. Jim McFarlane pic.


Photo: 1968 Murray Smith surfing Gallows. Photo courtesy of Murray Smith.


Jim McFarlaneKevin Merifield spent a lot of time surfing Gallows and Guillotine. As we sometimes walked down the track, boards on head and towels wrapped around our faces, we could hear Kevin roaring up the dirt track in his Mercedes. He seemed to be able to get up & down the track in almost any conditions.

Photo: 1968 Kevin Merifield’s Mercedes 280SE on the Gallows dirt track – Jim McFarlane pic.


Coming soon 1970s Gallows surf break & dirt track.




1962-64 Alex ‘Zac’ Kochanowitsch

West Perth surfer Alex ’Zac’ Kochanowitsch purchased his first surfboard in 1962 and won WA’s first State Open Men’s Surfing Title in 1964.

1962 Zac’s first board

In 1962 Zac purchased his first fiberglass board from King & Cole Surfboards in Wembley. The 9ft Malibu board cost £28 pounds and was his pride & joy. (The surfboard would be worth a lot more at auction these days). Zac chained the surfboard to stumps under the City Beach Tea Rooms and hitch-hiked or caught the bus to the beach.

Photos: 1962 The Kochanowitsch brothers with their Malibu surfboards. (left) Zac age 17 with his new King & Cole Surfboard and (right) Len with his surfboard – manufacturer unknown. Photos courtesy of Ernie Potter.

1962 Zac & Len Kochanowitsch  compilation1

1962 Zac’s first SW trip.

Zac recalls his first trip Down South was quite by accident.

In the summer of ’62, I travelled to Avalon (near Mandurah) with my mates John McGuire and Boz Cummins in John’s mum’s new Morris Minor 1000. When we got there the surf was too small so John said “bugger this we are going to Gallows”. John immediately dismantled the car’s speedometer cable as he was told to go no further than Avalon and his dad always took a speedo reading to check how far we travelled that day. To save time we headed off down the Old Coast Road on a rough dirt track between Lake Preston Road House and Australind. Finally we found our way to The Gallows. To our surprise we were the only ones there, it was an offshore wind and a perfect head high wave. We surfed for 2 hours then John said “we have to go home now as I have to have the car home before 6pm”. So we headed home to wash the car & reconnect the speedo and pretend Avalon was as far as we went.”

By the next year (1963) Zac was spending most weekends down south surfing big well shaped waves.

Photo: 1964 Zac surfing Margaret River on his ‘rising sun’ design surfboard. Photo credit Eddie Potter.

1964 Zac Kochanowitsch Marg River - Ernie Potter pic

1964 Zac’s first surf Title

WA’s inaugural State Surfing Title were held in solid wave conditions at Yallingup in 1964.

Contest winners: Open: Zac Kochanowitsch, Bob Keenan, Tony Harbison. Juniors: Barry King, Richard White, Brian Boynes. Womens: Jenny Shackley, 3rd Teena Christon age 14 (Womens event held Cowaramup Bay).

Photo: Contest winners L-R Barry King (Juniors) and Zac (Open). Both surfers were from the City Beach Surf Riders Club. Photo credit WA Newspapers.

1964 Yalls State Champs Barry King & Zac- Newspaper picA

WA State Champions Zac, Barry King & Jenny Shackley went on to represent Australia at the first World Surfing Titles held at Manly NSW in May 1964.

Photo: 1964 Logo on Zac’s Australian Surf Team jacket. Photo credit Zac Kochanowitsch.

1964 Zac's Aust Surf Team jacket- Zac pic