This is a collection of Busselton Night Life memories from some South West residents.
Night out on the town by Kevin Merifield
Kevin Merifield is a former Subiaco League Footballer and has been surfing down south since the late 50s.
For the first couple of years the South West locals, primarily dairy farmers couldn’t work out who these weird bods were invading their territory, trespassing on their land and going out in what they considered wild seas and shark invested waters. Even back in those days we dressed, acted and spoke differently (surf speak had already began).
Sometimes on a Saturday we would head into Busselton for a night out on the town.
It usually took about a half an hour at the Vasse or Commercial hotels before it would be on. The locals would have a go at us and it would be good old fashion one on one fisticuffs for about 5 minutes until you were both buggered then up to the bar to share a beer together. After a while the locals got to know us better and we became good mates with some and were eventually accepted into the community.
Photos: Busselton Hotels courtesy City of Busselton Municipal Heritage Inventory (2013)
Left: Vasse Hotel since 1906.
Right: Commercial Hotel built circa 1890
Kevin is retired and lives at Yallingup with his wife Margaret.
Busso Picture Theatre by Ian Wiese
Ian Wiese grew up in Busselton in the 50s & 60s.
Back then Busselton had a population of about 6,500 ie smaller than Dunsborough is today! It had 2 seasons – summer and winter.
Photo: 1951 Mrs Wiese with her twin sons Stan and Ian on Busselton Beach. Ian Wiese pic.
In the winter we were at school, played sport (in my case hockey), and for entertainment we went to the picture theatre in Busselton or when we were older the drive-in.
At the picture theatre anyone caught cuddling up to their girlfriend were moved by the owner’s wife who used to patrol the theatre with a torch watching out for any signs of misbehaviour. (Just as well she didn’t get out to the drive-in where all the action was).
After the pictures there was House’s milk bar just around the corner in Queen Street, or the Jolly Roger cafe down the other end near the Vasse hotel. Not a lot else went on in Busselton apart from the pubs. We often used to hold parties at our place after hockey.
Photo: 1966 Some of Ian’s hockey team at his family home in Morrison St in Busselton. Ian Wiese pic.
The people in the photo (left to right) are Rob Ainsworth, Stan Wiese (in the car), Jim Watts, Ian Wiese, and Fred Ball. The lads are leaning on a 1955 Morris Oxford, jointly owned by Ian and his twin brother.
“Hooning” was a popular past time – the timber yards between the tennis club and the railway jetty were a good place as there was a lot of gravel. Talking to some at a recent reunion I learnt how fast you could go through the S bend over the old bridge at the entrance to Dunsborough, and other hair raising tales. I recall stories about some prominent citizens of the town setting records in their Jaguars for the Bunbury-Busselton trip (which didn’t involve slowing down for the bridge at Capel). With the drinking age at 21, it was common for bored youths to get a keg and take it somewhere into the bush on a Saturday night. There were some terrible accidents as they drove home. In those days Western Australia had a population of 500,000 and a road toll of 350. We tell ourselves we were safe but actually we were the survivors – poor car design, unsafe roads, and alcohol took a terrible toll.
In summer there was a lot more going-on. People came down for holidays, surfers came down. There were stomps at Churchill Park (until the council banned the Stomp), the Tennis club, Yallingup Hall, Cowaramup Hall, Witchcliffe Hall and the rowing club in Bunbury. Winter relationships broke up as the girls chased the visiting surfers and the boys chased the farmer’s daughters on holiday. At a recent reunion a member of a 60’s band that played at these venues recalled that they used to come home high after playing at the Yallingup Hall!
I left Busselton for Perth early in 1967 when I was only just 17, so I missed the Busselton pub scene apart from one brief summer.
Ian is a keen photographer and now lives in Dunsborough with his wife Glenys.
Jetty drinks with George Simpson
George Simpson formerly of Cottesloe has lived and surfed in the South West since the late 60s.
We’d come down on weekends and we’d want to go find girls. We’d find the girls at the fish and chip shop next to Busselton Jetty. We’d also go to the youth hostel, but there were too many cops around there. So we’d go and get the oldest one of us to get a couple of bottles of beer and we’d sit on the end of the jetty. We got to know the local girls and they would come hang out there too.
Image: 1960s Busselton jetty with Queens Street in the background. Image courtesy of vintage Tourist post card.
Sally Gunter, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, came around the bend with Chrissy Brennon on skateboards while I was driving up the Cape one day. I introduced a couple of the lads to their future wives. They were cool chicks. They were the sort of girls who were more inclined to like surfers than bogs. (Extract from Surfing Down South book).
George works in the Prawn Fishing industry and lives at Yallingup.
Busso Stomps by Sally Gunter
Sally Gunter is the daughter of a former Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse keeper and is a real South West local.
My five girlfriends and I used to attend Stomps held in a hall near the Busselton jetty on a Friday night. At about 10pm surfers from the city would turn up at the Stomp….much to the displeasure of local lads. I remember meeting Gary Greirson and other city surfers there.
My Busso friend Pat Milner met & married Ian Cairns in Busselton. That changed her life forever!
Images: 1975 Ian Cairns and Pat Cairns (nee Milner). Images courtesy of WA Newspapers and Ric Chan.
Left: Ian Cairns with his big wave board made for the World Surfing Championships held in Hawaii in 76. Ian designed and shaped the 3.1m board at Gary Greirson’s Surfboard factory in Osborne Park.
Right: Oceans Surf Comp at Trigg Point. L-R Pat Cairns, Barry Day, Ian Cairns, Russell Catto & unidentified.
At the time I was going out with Rick Lobe. I worked in the Dunsborough Bakery and Rick worked with my father at the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse.
I remember we made a trip up to the city with Gary Greirson in his Kombi. Gary was going through a religious phase and went on non-stop about religion the whole trip.
Photo: 1975 Sally Gunter & Rick Lobe at Dunsborough with Gremmo’s dog ‘Horse’. Peter Mac pic.
Sally is married to SW surfing legend Andy Jones and lives at Yallingup.
Busso Dances by Steve ‘Horny’ Campbell
On weekends my mates and I used to go to dances held at the Busselton Tennis Club. That’s where we met Sally Gunter and the other Busso girls. Trevor ‘TA’ Anderson met his future wife Linda Dodd at those dances. Linda’s parents ran the beach shop near the jetty.
Back then the Busso Bogs thought we were trying to steal their girls and there were confrontations. Now I’m friends with some of those Bogs and they are really nice guys…..they could tell you some stories!
Horny has sold his Electrical Business and lives at Yallingup.
Vasse-A-Go-Go by Bruce King
Bruce King formerly of Subiaco spent a large part of his youth surfing and socialising down south in the late 60s to early 70s.
We used to drive down south on a Friday night and meet up with Busso girls Linda Dodd, Wendy, Gail Colombera and maybe Shaz Day at the Jetty Tea Rooms. Linda Dodd’s parents owned the Tea Rooms which sold fish & chips and meals.
At other times we went to stomps at the Vasse Hall. We called it Vasse-a-Go-Go. One night the old bloke that run the show stopped the music because someone had broken the toilet seat and he wouldn’t continue until someone owned up…can’t remember anyone owning up! The Busso bogs also visited Vasse-a-Go-Go and one big bog turned his glass upside down on our table, which meant he wanted to fight one or all of us….without George Simpson being there, we declined his offer!
Photo: Vasse Hall built circa 1898. Courtesy City of Busselton Municipal Heritage Inventory (2013)
We also frequented the Ship Hotel. Norm Bateman used to do a comedy routine there. One night instead of kicking us out, the management locked us in and called the cops.
Photo: The Ship Hotel built circa 1898. Courtesy City of Busselton Municipal Heritage Inventory (2013)
One New Year Eve’s we broke into the Community Hall in Busso for a quiet drink and we were busted by the cops. We got off because one of the Bussell girls was there with us.
Bruce is retired and lives in Dunsborough with his wife Anne.
In the early 80s big name OZ bands played with late licences at the Commercial Hotel in Busso. This entertainment was popular with SW surfers.
Loz Smith (Quindalup) – I remember listening to Western Flyer with Matt Taylor, Stevie Wright and Brian Cadd at the Commercial in Busso.
Jo Felton (Dunsborough) – After the Dunsy pub closed lots of us used go to the Commercial in Busso, when it stayed open late at one stage. I remember seeing some bands there, but don’t remember names now. Most of the Dunsy and Yalls crew did the same drive when the night club thing was happening in Busso….it was a bit of a novelty back in the days when the pubs shut at 10 pm hahahaha.
Refer to Surfing Down South book published 2014 for more ‘Hanging with the Locals’ stories.