In the 70s the Margaret River Rowing Club held Rowing Regattas on the Margaret River near Wallcliffe House.
Margaret River locals and visiting SW surfers met on the bank of the river to compete in the Regatta’s rowing boat and surfboard paddle races and enjoy a drink or two.
Margaret surfer Adrian Wilson attended the regattas in the 70s. These are his comments.
Early MR Rowing Regattas
Adrian Wilson – In the early Regattas big John Hohnen used to cruise around with a shotgun under his arm as a deterrent to bikies who used to turn up….there used to be a massive tug of war with a heavy duty rope…I can’t remember who was against who…was it held on Australia Day?
Back then one could drive down to the un-renovated Wallcliffe House…unfortunately the historic house built in 1865 is no longer with us after the Marg River bush fire in 2011.
It was a classic day….. the paddle race was so popular the organisers were forced to impose board design rules to prevent unfair advantage. The first couple of regattas in 76/77 Billy Gibson won the surfboard race with me second…Sam Sadleir’s run came a bit later. I have memories of trying to catch Billy Gibson…but just couldn’t bridge the gap. I saw Billy out at Huzzas today…his high speed paddle style hasn’t changed!
Billy was part of a hard core Scarborough surf crew…all great surfers…who used to frequent down south in the 70s…the Waller brothers (Mark and Paul), Shaun Atkinson, Kim Hewton just to mention a few.
Paul Waller was a handsome young chap…one particular night at the Margaret River tavern he was drinking a flaming shot….a bump on his shoulder resulted in a minor burn on his cheek….Paul was very worried about a scar. That night the car he was a passenger in hit a cow on Wallcliffe Road….next time I saw Paul he had plaster on one arm and various bandages…I said that on the bright side, you couldn’t see the burn on his cheek.
Life at Margs in the 70s had much more of a pioneering carefree atmosphere. Life was much simpler then….only one food shop…Wesfarmers…and the tuckshop for apricot pies with cream….no mobile phones, internet or 24 hour news cycle.
1978 MR Rowing Regatta
Adrian Wilson – Classic photos of the ‘78 event with many familiar faces… I reckon this was towards the end of the regattas at Wallcliffe House (don’t think the shotgun patrols were still going)…..
PD is sitting next to the beautiful Irena….
Typical in the background of Hog Hannett is a beautiful woman.
Great photo of Ric Chan in full flight……I don’t remember Tony Harbo doing the loudspeaker thing….don’t think he featured in the early ones…but I could be wrong.
Sam Sadlier was a grom when I surfed at Cottesloe…but it was obvious he had amazing talent and general athletic ability…..he went on to be a great surfer……I saw him a few years ago, now living in Bunbury I think.
One surprising omission from these early photos are images of the Hocking brothers…Bruce and Ian and Col Ladhams. They were regulars at Margarets……Bruce the master of getting barrelled at the Margaret River mouth. Bruce Hocking was an amazing surfer…his backhand surfing at lefties was even by today’s standards outstanding. These guys used to stay with Rod White in his converted bus next to the speedway track in Margaret River.
Col Ladhams used to shape at Len Dibben’s in North Freo until Greirson Surfboards started…….
Many thanks to photojournalist Ric Chan for the social photos and Adrian for his recollections.
1. 1978 Rowing Regatta Races
Yallingup surfing legend Tony Harbison was MC and called the rowing & paddle races.
Race Photos #1: Rowing races.
Top: Spectators watching rowing race from river bank.
Bottom: (Left) Race caller Tony Harbison with loud hailer. (Right) Spectators.
In the 70s Cottesloe surfer Sam Sadleir won the paddle board race two years running. Marg River’s Bill Gibson & Gary Greirson also competed in the paddle races.
Race Photos #2: Paddle Board Races.
(Left) Sam Sadleir preparing for paddle board race. (Right) Paddle Board race & support crew.
Race Photos #3: Paddle board races.
(Left) Gary Greirson preparing for paddle board race. (Right) Gaz competing in paddle race.
Gaz Greirson – “That’s me coming last in next pic.”
Race Photos #4: Competitors
Top: (Left) Margaret River Rowing Club officials L-R Kim Davis, Don Drabble & Stewie Thomas. (Right) unidentified female competitor.
Bottom: Competitors rehydrating under trees between events. Mitch with Greg Russell in the middle and Dave Simmons (Cottesloe) in Hawaiian shirt on the right.
2. 1978 Rowing Regatta Social
There was a strong social aspect to the Rowing Regatta with families & friends participating.
Attendees competed and enjoyed a cold beer or sipped wine under the trees in the afternoon and then stayed on for Graham Noakes’ ‘Windspan Band’ which played at the Regatta Dance held afterwards in the Club House on the river Bank.
Peter ‘Reffo’ Felton (Yalls) recalls – “one year bikies tried to join the party but they were quickly dispersed by locals and visiting surfers.”
A fun time was had by all.
Social Photos #1:
Top: (Left) unidentified girl with beer keg in background. (Right) social gathering
Bottom: (Left) social gathering (Right) unidentified persons.
Social Photos #2:
Top: (Left) Girls & hounds. Deb from Byron Bay on the right. Deb married & moved to Kalbarri. (Right) young girl getting a tan.
Bottom: (Left) Mother & baby (Right) unidentified.
Social Photos #3:
Top: (Left) Ric Gath’s brother. (Right) Dennis Lindsay & unidentified. Dennis’s brother Eion ran the Berry Farm for years
Bottom: (Left) Chris Reynolds. (Right) Chris ‘Feggsey’ Fullston (Mandurah, Kalbarri & SW).
Social Photos #4:
Top: (Left) Ric Chan. (Right) Marina with baby.
Bottom: (Left) Trinity Tate (Right) Syd Tate.
Social Photos #5:
Top: (Left) Rankin Wise. Rankin & his brother Sandy were from a local family. Mum Wise could not control her wayward sons. (Right) George Tocas (Yalls).
Bottom: (Left) unidentified (Right) unidentified.
Social Photos #6:
Top: (Left) social gathering under the trees. (Right) unidentified couple
Bottom: (Left) Peter Davison (Trigg) & girlfriend. (Right) Steve ‘Hog’ Hannett (Trigg).
Social Photos #7:
Top: (Left) drinks tent. (Right) Ric Chan, Gary Greirson, Trinity Tate & Marina under the trees.
Bottom: (Left) Feeding time. (Right) unidentified.