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1970s Surfside memoirs by Angie Cannon (nee Young)

In the late 60s Bernie and Eve Young took over management of Surfside Tearooms at Yallingup from Jock Henderson. The Young’s previously managed the Caves Park Store near Caves House at Yallingup. They provided hearty meals, holiday accommodation and petrol to surfers, tourists and the Yallingup community until the mid 70s, when the Surfside leased expired and they moved on.

Bernie and Eve lived and worked on the premises with their daughter Angie and Gran.

Photo: 1970 Bernie Young with daughter Angie, Gran, wife Eve and unidentified outside Surfside Tearooms. Photo credit Peter McDonald.

Bernie Young’s daughter Angie Cannon (nee Young) has contacted Surfing Down South and shared her memories of Surfside.

Angie:I was fortunate enough to spend my early teenage years in Yallingup and my parents Bernie and Eve Young would have fed most of you at Surfside in the late 60’s and early 70’s. My fondest memories are of my extended family, always looking out for me painful as I could be sometimes. George Simpson was my surrogate big brother and used to, on occasion, let me tag along generally to carry his board to some of the greatest surf spots on the coast. My daughter Sarah now sends me this info as it comes through and it always brings back memories, including the SDS Blogs on Three Bears. I remember when the boys found the break and for a while it was MGM. It was right up there with discovering gold in the pub and the stories only grew in proportion to the amount of beer consumed at the Caves House. It was the hidden secret that few could reach. Lost a lot of humour when I returned in later years with my kids and a 4WD. I have lots of pictures taken in those early years, most are of parties we had at Surfside and some, I feel sure, would rather be forgotten!! I’ll dig out some of my photos and scan them for you (see pics below).

I now live in Townsville in Queensland and both Mum and Dad have passed on, Mum at a ripe old age of 91 only four months back”.

Photos: 1971 Peter Mac’s Falcon panel van parked in front of Surfside. Photo credit Helen ‘Spotty’ Smith.

Angie:Your SDS articles have stirred up so many memories and stories, I only wish that I had had the opportunity to share them with Mum before she passed on.

If you are still in touch with Ronnie “Ratshit” Jeffrey, ask him about the “tomato” plant he left in my Grans care whilst he went to, Indonesia, I think. My Gran would make homemade wine out of anything animal or vegetable and as inevitably would happen once a month there would be an explosion from her bedroom that meant a bottle had slightly over fermented.  Gran probably holds dibs for the first wine maker of the region!!  I went to help with the clean-up mission only to find Ronnie’s “tomato” plant flourishing in her wardrobe.  Bless her she had no idea, but tended it lovingly for Ronnie until he returned.

Gran would sit on the back steps of the kitchen peeling spuds faster than anyone alive.  Hans Kopp finally retired her for a more sanitary mode of spud bashing in the kitchen of the Cray Pot.

Hans did the best Crayfish Thermidor in the world as we knew it.  Brandy was his friend in the kitchen. 

Hans was an enigma, a soft and gentle man who would turn into some kind of manic chef as soon as he donned his whites.  Many a waitress was bought to tears from one of his legendary tirades in the kitchen.  He wasn’t adverse to the occasional upending of a pot or the throwing of a knife.  I was 14 and copped my fare share.  He would wake up the next morning, go for a surf and get on with his day as if nothing happened. 

My folks did a great job at Surfside and their trusting nature bought them unstuck eventually.  My Dad very much believed in the honour of the handshake, and unfortunately having put in years of hard work at Surfside, he was bought undone as the lease was sold out from under him.  He established the caravan park and worked tirelessly, doing battle with the council, hand sewing grass seed, digging trenches and overseeing the work as it became a reality.  As with all things, it was time to move on.  Mum and Dad only went back a couple of times and were always amazed at the changes.  Dad often spoke of being offered 3 blocks on the top road by Kevin Merifield for $800 each.  Dad was no fool, why would he buy something with no water or services for that sort of money!!!   

They both spoke of their time in Yallingup with great humour and love.  The old man could be a bit of a lunatic, but he was an incredibly hard worker and meant well.  Mum worked tirelessly in the kitchen from six in the morning till late at night in the tourist season.  She would share a grill with George, which meant walking around the immoveable object, serving good basic food for a never ending stream of hungry surfers.

All of this whilst being ostracised by the then civilised locals who were sure that we were a family of drug barons living and mixing with the great unwashed, long haired dole bludgers of the 70’s. They even had a mention in the Melbourne Truth once, with questionable comments as to their REAL motives for being involved with those bludgers on society. The truth be known, they were incredibly naïve and just enjoyed the lifestyle and peace that Yallingup bought to them for 8 months of the year.

Thanks for the memories. Please keep the stories coming”.

This is a collection of Angie’s Surfside social images from her scrapbook.

Angie: “the images are a little worse for wear after all those years!”.

Image: 1971 Eve Young, unidentified and Helen ‘Spotty’ Smith outside Surfside . Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Image: 1970s Vicki Jago working in the Surfside kitchen. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Image: 1970s Sam the surf dog on the rocks. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Image: 1970s George Simpson and others at the back of Surfside. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Image: 1970s George Simpson in kids play pen entertaining Gran at Surfside. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Angie: ‘Enough said!”

Image: 1970s Safety conscience trio enjoying a smoke near the fuel pump outside Surfside. L-R unidentified, George Simpson and Glynn Lance. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Angie: “Always safety aware!”

Image: 1971 Bruce King and unidentified girl at Surfside party. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Image: 1971 George Simpson’s 21st party at Surfside’s Lobster Pot Restaurant. L-R Barry Day, Amber, Lulu & Spotty. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Image: 1973 Sally Gunter’s 21st Birthday Party at Surfside’s Lobster Pot Restaurant. L-R Grant Robinson, George Simpson & Bernie Young. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Image: 1976 Angie’s wedding in Perth. Image courtesy of Angie Cannon (nee Young).

Angie: The Yallingup crew came up to Perth for the occasion.  It was the last time we were all together!”

Angie: “It’s quite bazaar as I can’t imagine anyone or anything changing but its 40 odd years ago!!!  An old photo of ‘Jingles’ (a long haired surfie dude) made me smile. When he left Yallingup and returned to the East Coast, he gave me a bell that I wore around my neck until I got married, mum made me take it off as it didn’t go with my dress.  It’s been on my key ring ever since.

Oddest thing about Yallingup, I’ve never quite felt at home since I left and I have lived all over Australia.   Many years ago I bought a block on the 2nd road down in the middle of the hill.  Sold it in the 1980 for $16k thought I’d done really well.  Makes me a property genius huh!”

Thank you for sharing your photos and memories Angie.

Click on the following web links for more history of Surfside.

Surfside at Yallingup – History (Part 1 The early years)

Surfside at Yallingup – History (Part 2 The later years)

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Crystal’s beach life by Elizabeth Nunn – Part 2. 2000-2016

Continued from Crystal’s beach life by Elizabeth Nunn – Part 1. 1985-2000

In 2001 after her North West sabbatical and final departure from school, Crystal’s parents bought the Yallingup Surf Shop (formerly Hillzeez) next to Surfside Cafe with the intention of Crystal running the shop.

After months of prawn trawling, I was ready for something different. We renovated the shop and renamed it Surfside Beach Shack. I wanted the challenge of being my own boss”.

And so she did. At the age of just 16, Crystal became the owner and operator of Surfside Beach Shack. She did all the buying, employing, staff training, rosters, accounts; the whole deal. What she hadn’t been able to harness at school, she came to accomplish in her own business.

I learned as I went, on my feet. It was certainly challenging but I loved it”.

Photo: 2006 Surfside Beach Shack at Yallingup. Peter Mac pic.

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In 2003, three years after purchase, the Simpson clan sold the surf shop to Chris ‘Feggsey’ Fullston and at age 18, Crystal left Yallingup to travel around Australia and then on to the USA. For all her extensive travel of Western Australia, the world beyond had alluded her.

Byron Bay was the first stop and it’s there she spent months honing her longboarding skills on Byron’s world class point breaks and beaches. The plan had been to continue around Australia, but a phone call from friend, and later business partner, Lizzie Nunn and Crystal suddenly found herself aboard a jet plane headed for the USA.

The two girls had gained employment with the largest all girls surf school in the world, Surf Diva, based at La Jolla beach in California. Their three month employment saw them run every aspect of surf camps for girls and women from the USA.

It was an absolute eye opener in terms of potential for an all women surf school and surf businesses owned and operated by women. Surf Diva dominated the Californian surf school industry and it was a valuable experience to coordinate surf camps which we hadn’t done back here. They paid $500 U.S a week (which was about 1K AU at the time) plus, we got tips and they covered our accommodation, travel & food expenses. They even paid for my boyfriend’s expenses to be there too! We had a few trips to Mexico as well. It was a time of hard work, but also partying pretty hard”.

In total, the girls ran 11 weeks of surf camps back to back, from 6am starts to 11pm finishes organising every aspect of the camp; pick up, food, accommodation, transport, surf lessons, activities, shopping and entertainment. Local legend and Surf Diva founder, Izzy Tihani worked the girls hard.

It was utterly shattering, but we learned so much from Izzy and her twin Coco. It gave Lizzie and I some ideas for what we thought we could achieve back home with Sam Hanson (of Yallingup Surf School). I worked there for each northern hemisphere summer from the age of 19 to 21. I was legally only allowed to drink on my final trip. Needless to say, THAT was the best trip of them all.”

Photos: 2000s surf coaching for Surf Diva on La Jolla beach in San Diego. Crystal Simpson pics.

Top: Lizzie Nunn & Crystal with boss Izzy on the La Jolla beach.

Bottom: (Left) just another lazy day surf coaching on La Jolla beach L-R Katie, Lizzie Nunn, with unidentified male and Crystal. (Right) Surf Diva logo.

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Photos: 2000s Crystal surfing Del Mar beach in San Diego. Crystal Simpson pics.

(Left) Crystal nose Ride at Del Mar. (Right) Crystal nose ride on Cocobella Lifestyle fashion bag by artist Jos Myers.

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In 2005 while on a snow ski trip to Japan with her family, Crystal met renowned surf photographer Shane Peel. Shane invited Crystal on a surf trip to the Telo Islands in Sumatra with some of the best women Longboarders in the world. Belinda Baggs, Schuyler McFerran, Belen Kimble and Mary Osborne made up some of the big names on the trip.

The photo shoot was featured in Shane Peel’s Telo Island surf trip article in Australian Long Boarding magazine in 2006. Photos by Miagunya.

That was an amazing trip! We surfed fabulous locations, got great photos and it was a fantastic experience”.

Image: 2006 Shane Peel’s Telo Island article in Australian Long Boarding mag. Courtesy of ALB mag.

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With her surfing skills at an all-time high, some good competition results and now some solid media exposure with the Telos island shoot, Crystal was now gaining sponsorship attention.

I was picked up by McTavish boards, West Surfing Products and Otis sunglasses. However, the ‘best’ recognition I ever received was making the cover and featuring in Girlosophy – Real Girls’ Stories by Anthea Paul”.

Girlosophy is a series of books featuring articles and stories of inspiring women from across the world. Created by stylist turned author Anthea Paul, the aim of the book was to empower young women and inspire them with real stories of achievement. Crystal’s life story was covered in the book.

Crystal also featured in Pacific Longboarder Magazine and in a documentary filmed in the South West called Impact.

Images: 2000s Surfing/Lifestyle media images courtesy of Crystal.

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For the next several years, Crystal patched together a living as surf coach, bar maid and intrepid traveller, but each year returning to Gnaraloo for the winter.

“We get up to Gnaraloo around June, make a surf camp at the beginning of the winter season and just stay all season. It’s great fun once everyone arrives and it attracts a lot of big wave surfers from all over the world. A lot of them do tow-in surfing there – we all drive jet skis. Getting worked by the reef is scary and I’m always cutting my feet. I’m forever doing my own first aid.”

Photos: 2000s’ Gnaraloo surf camp. Crystal Simpson pics.

Top: George & Crystal on dunes and Tim & Crystal going surfing.

Bottom: Crystal sandboarding & yoga headstand.

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Father & daughter surfing Gnaraloo images.

Photo: 2005 Gnaraloo George Simpson surfing Centre Peak. Photographer unknown.

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Photo: 2005 Gnaraloo Crystal Simpson surfing Tombstones. Photographer unknown.

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In 2010, Pro-surfers Andy Irons, Parko & Luke Egan stayed at Dad’s camp at Gnaraloo. My brother Jason was running the camp at the time.”

Photo: 2010 Gnaraloo surf camp. L-R Crystal, George & Lizzie Nunn with surf boards & jet-ski. Crystal Simpson pic.

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Photo: 2000s Point Samson fishing. Crystal Simpson pics.

(Left) Port Samson fish catch on Leveque fishing boat. L-R Jacko, Peter Mac, unidentified, Jason & Crystal.

(Right) Crystal with jumbo cray.

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In 2008 Crystal bought Yallingup Surf School with friend Lizzie Nunn. Crystal was just 22 and launching into her second business.  The two formed a strong working ethic and ability to learn fast. They dug their way out of a dozen vehicle boggings on Smiths Beach before mastering the soft sand, created surf camps for women and even opened a surf shop in Yallingup called Vintage Surf. They added pink to the logo and focused on building their female clientele, which in turn brought even more children to the surf school.

Photos: 2009 freshly painted Vintage Surf Shop at Yallingup. Bruce King pic.

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They were good times. Surf coaching all summer, Gnaraloo in winter and running my own business”.

Two years later Crystal bought Lizzie out of the business. After 19 years of surf coaching Lizzie was off on new adventures. Yallingup Surf School now became Crystal’s life.

It was my life and my baby and through it, I’ve met so many amazing people. The highlight being a woman who survived the Indian Ocean Tsunami in Thailand 2012.”

The woman had waded out with her body board and flippers 1km off the Thailand coast in what she thought was a low tide. Moments later, a great rumbling occurred and she was faced with the infamous tsunami. All she could do was mount her body board and hold on for dear life as the wave picked her up and tossed her back towards the beach.

As the wave crashed across a sea wall, it threw her high and she was left standing on the sea wall as the wave went on its path of destruction. She ran and clung onto a tree when the wave retracted.

All she had was her swimmers and one flipper, the body board long gone. She teamed up with several other tourists and managed to climb to higher ground and escape the following wave surges. The group hid from looters with guns whilst waiting to be rescued. It took two days before anyone got to them. She was eventually picked up by a rescue helicopter crew who could not believe she’d survived. They deposited her to the capital city in her bathing costume, one flipper in hand.

And here she was, at my surf school, and me teaching her how to surf. She had such a zest for life and gung-ho attitude. She was totally inspirational!”

Also, my husband Tim’s favourite band, the Claxton’s enrolled in our surf school for lessons at Smiths Beach. They enjoyed themselves so much they invited us their Southbound Concert in Busselton. The next day Tim took the boys sightseeing in the South West”.

Photos 200s Yallingup Surf School pics. Bruce King pics.

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Photos: 2000s Crystal surfing NW & SW surf breaks. Crystal Simpson pics.

Left: Fencies at Gnaraloo. Right: The Cove at Yallingup.

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“In periods of downtime I travel to dream surf destinations, including the Mentawai’s, Maldives & Bali.”

Photo: 2010’s Girls boat trip in the Maldives. Photo courtesy of Crystal Wallace.

Katie CoryellI was on the boat trip. It was amazing. Lizzie didn’t come on that trip, she had just had Ruby a couple months before.  It was Katie Carmichael, Jess Emory, Crystal, Arna Campbell, Amber Shanks, Tara Hawken and myself for the local girls and 3 girls from over east.

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“In 2010 Katie Coryell & I stayed in Bali at Karma Kandara resort at Uluwatu with my father”.

Photos: 2010 Uluwatu surf break.

Top & Middle: Crystal riding a short board for the first time (normally she rides a mal).

Bottom: Katie surfing Uluwatu and Katie & Crystal leaping for joy in the resort’s Infinity Pool on Uluwatu cliff.

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“In the 2000s I did some modelling for a John Millers Design jewellery brochure at Yallingup.”

Image: 2000s Crystal appearing in John Miller’s Design jewellery brochure. Image courtesy of Crystal Wallace.

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In 2010, Crystal found love with childhood sweetheart Tim Wallace. The couple had known one another since early years, but love blossomed when Crystal was 25 years old. What appeared a whirlwind romance to some, was actually a deep seeded knowledge Crystal had harboured for years.

“I’ve known Tim since I was 16 and always had a crush on him. I had other boyfriends, he worked away, I travelled a lot and missed one another, but then finally, it all came together”.

The couple bought their current home in 2012, next door to the home where Crystal and her dad George had lived together and from where he’d taught Crystal to surf.

In 2013 Tim & I got married on Yallingup Beach. Dad walked me down the steps onto the beach in front of the lagoon. It was everything I’d hoped for and I remember just feeling so blessed to be marrying this man, on my beach with all my friends and family bearing witness”.

Photos: 2013 Yalls beach Tim & Crystal wedding photos courtesy of photographers Becky Felstead & Freedom Garvey.

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Photo: 2014 pregnant Crystal & Horrie the Chihuahua surfing Shallows at Yallingup. Photo courtesy of Luke Gerson and Busselton Dunsborough Times Newspaper.

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Photo: 2014 A very pregnant Crystal surfing Point Picquet. Katie Coryell pic.

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And then in 2014, Crystal and Tim’s first son Bam George came into the world.

Photo: 2014-15 Wallace family on the beach at Yalls. Bruce King & Crystal Wallace pics.

(Left) Tim, Bam & Crystal Yalls beach. (Right) 2015 Wallace family first portrait Tim, Horrie the Chihuahua, Bam & Crystal.

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Photos: 2016 Crystal & son Bam working at the office on Yallingup Beach. Jim King pics.

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The Wallace threesome continue to live in Yallingup where they run Yallingup Surf School and pack the car and caravan for Gnaraloo every winter.

If you require surfing lessons or information, Crystal’s contacts are:-

Yallingup Surf School
Mobile: (+61) 0429 881 221
Office: (+618) 9755 2755
crystal@yallingupsurfschool.com
www.yallingupsurfschool.com

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Crystal’s beach life by Elizabeth Nunn – Part 1. 1985-2000

Crystal Wallace (nee Simpson) is the daughter of WA surfer/fisherman legend George Simpson. George is well known for discovering local waves in the South West, including Bears and pioneering The Billabong Challenge at Gnaraloo.

The Billabong Challenge took eight professional surfers from around the globe to the remote desert coast of West Australia to compete in a series of events which was ultimately filmed by Crystal’s uncle, Jack McCoy.

Aunt Kim and husband Patrick Leahy founded West Surfing Products in 1982.

Crystal could easily have faded into the shadow of her family’s achievements. However, this impressive Yallingup local with a mega-watt smile has carved out her own reputation as surfer, business owner/operator and now mother, to forge her own legendary status in the South West.

Born in the North West of WA, her early years were spent living on her parent’s 70ft prawn trawling boat called Westerly, working the Pilbara waters near Point Sampson.

Photo: 1990s George Simpson’s Westerly prawn trawling boat at Point Samson. Crystal Simpson pic.

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At age two the family de-camped to Yallingup and spent the next decade between Point Samson for the prawn season and Gnaraloo or Yallingup in the off season.

In her teen years Crystal attended school at McKillop Catholic College, surfed the local beaches and rode horses.

Quitting school at 15, Crystal headed north for prawn trawling, touring the Kimberly and surfing her beloved Tombstones.

She returned south to Yallingup, running a surf shop at the beach before adventure took her to Byron Bay and the United States. The overseas stint was brief, and Crystal resettled back in Yallingup in 2008 as co-owner then owner of Yallingup Surf School.

In 2013 she married Tim Wallace, and the two of them have a son Bam George and live on Yallingup hill in the house next door to her family home.

This part of Crystal’s story covers the period 1985-2000. Part 2 will cover the period 2000-2016.

Crystal’s beach life – Part 1. 1985-2000

Point Samson and the commercial fishing boat Westerly were Crystal’s first homes during the 1980s. Her parents, George & Tracy, started a fishing business at Point Samson in the Pilbara.

For several years Crystal and her elder brother Jason lived between the boat and a tiny one room shed at the local caravan park.

Photos: Point Samson beach life in the’70s pre Crystal. George Simpson pics

Left: 1977 George Simpson, John Molloy, John Simpson & unidentified.

Right: (Top) 1975 Andy Jones, Loz Smith, George Simpson & Adrian. (Bottom) 1977 Loz Smith, John Molloy, unknown & George Simpson.

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As soon as I could crawl, I was on-board Westerly with my older brother Jason. He was actually born on the boat and we were both born during the prawning season” Crystal reminisces. We pretty much spent our babyhood nude on the boat’s deck in the sun and mucking around in fishing nets and playing on the coral reef at Nichol Bay”.

Photo: Late 1980s Crystal playing under fish nets at Nickol Bay. Crystal Simpson Pic.

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As the siblings grew, Crystal’s parents entrepreneurial ways rubbed off on Jason and Crystal, who used to net bait by the bucket load and sell to the old folks in the caravan park.

“It was hot, dry, coastal existence up north and I loved it!” Crystal smiles. 

When Crystal was age two, the family moved from Point Samson to Yallingup. From that point on, the dual North West/South West existence became a part of the Simpson clan who spent eight months in Yallingup surfing & fishing, two to three months at Gnaraloo & the rest, working the prawn season at Point Samson.

It was a dreamy and idyllic existence for any child!

Sisters Sunny and Gypsy were born later (1989 and 1992 respectively).

Photo: 1981 De Grey River. George Simpson with a large groper on the Westmore fishing boat. George Simpson pic.

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In 1995, when Crystal was 10, her family helped to run the first Billabong Challenge. The Challenge featured eight of the world’s best surfers of the time, including Occy, Rob Machado, Kelly Slater, Luke Egan, Shane Powell, Margo, Johnny Boy Gomes and Sunny Garcia. Sunny famously refused to camp, opting to stay in Carnarvon, the closest town, and drive a four hour round trip each day!

It was a memorable time of Crystal’s life, watching the greatest surfers in the world at one of the most respected waves in the world, and a wave that was so loved by the Simpson family.

“I remember Kelly Slater gave me 50c and Peter King gave me an orange and said, ‘This is Gods candy’. It was my tenth birthday”.

The personal connection Crystal had with the surfers glows clear in her memory.

Occy lived with the Simpsons in Yallingup during his rehab stint, after which he won the 1999 World Title.

“Mum & dad put him on the Simpson diet of fish, rice & salad and took him surfing a lot”.

Photo: 1995 Billabong Challenge competitors at Gnaraloo surf camp. Crystal Simpson pic.

Crystal is in centre of photo next to Rabbit Bartholomew and her father George is sitting front left.

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Photo: 1995 Gnaraloo surf camp. Billabong Challenge Comp.  George Simpson pic.

L-R George Simpson’s family, Rob Machado. Kelly Slater & Jack McCoy’s family.

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“In 1996 I met the pro surfing guys again at Gnaraloo at the next Billabong Challenge named the ‘Psychedelic Desert Groove’”.

Photos: 1996 Billabong Challenge at Gnaraloo. Crystal Simpson pics.

Top: (Left) L-R Luke Egan, Rob Machado, Occy & unidentified. (Right) L-R unidentified x3, Rabbit, Luke Egan & Jack McCoy.

Bottom: (left) Table tennis tournament Rabbit & Maurice Cole. (Right) George Simpson & the boys around camp fire.

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Although introduced to the surf at age 10, it was in Hawaii in 1997 that Crystal really got bitten by the surfing bug.

We surfed fun waves at Waikiki Beach. I was age 12 and knew then, that I wanted to be a surfer!”

Photo: 1997 Hawaii. Crystal (centre) with Kelly Slater & his partner. Crystal Simpson pic.

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At the tender age of 13, Crystal was introduced to her local go-to-wave at Yallingup.

“Dad taught me to surf properly at the Cove surf break at Yallingup. On school holidays he took me surfing every day for 3 weeks and taught me the basics, like how to cover my head when falling off & don’t go straight, but to angle across a wave.”

After a family split, Crystal and her Dad lived on Yallingup hill and surfing became her escape and etched a bond between her and her father that is still evident today.

We used to walk to the beach, head down the steps to the beach & paddle across the lagoon together. Me on an 8 foot Yahoo single fin. But after 3 weeks, I was on my own.”

Photo: 1990s Simpson family at Gnaraloo surf camp. Jason & Crystal with their catch of the day. George Simpson pic.

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Photo: 1990s Simpson family at Gnaraloo surf camp. L-R Sunny, Jason, Gypsy, Crystal with George. Crystal Simpson pic.

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Having camped at Gnaraloo with her family and watching the world’s best surfers at the famous Tombstones, it was in 1999 having only surfed for five months, Crystal tackled the more ‘gentle’ Centre Peak at Gnaraloo station.

“Dad took me out at Centre Peak in overhead waves. I caught 4 waves and still remember the feeding frenzy of whales and wild life in the water…it was by far my most memorable surfing moment growing up!”

Since that time, Crystal has 10 winter seasons at Gnaraloo under her belt and she is a formidable presence in the line-up, often picking off the more quality waves and her knowledge of tides and best take off spots is awe inspiring.

Back in the real world, Crystal’s statement of attendance, or lack thereof, came to a head at MacKillop Catholic College one day with a letter questioning her commitment to school work.

“School wasn’t giving me the answers to what I wanted out of life, so I dropped out at age 15 nearly 16 (the start of grade 11) and headed North”.

Photos: 1990s Simpson family at Blow Holes and Gnaraloo surf camp. Crystal Simpson pics.

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“I went surfing at Gnaraloo, worked on the prawning boats at Point Samson and toured the Kimberley’s on the family prawning boat”, Crystal recollects. 

She spent several months in the North West of WA before returning home to take on her first entrepreneurial project; owner of the Yallingup Surf Shack at Yallingup beach.

Photos: 2000 Gnaraloo surf camp. Crystal Simpson pics.

(Left) Crystal & George. (Right) sisters Gypsy, Sunny & Crystal.

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Photos: 2000 Crystal & Jason Simpson prawning at Nickol Bay. Crystal Simpson pics.

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Photos: 2000s Kimberley Tour. Crystal Simpson pics.

Left: Crystal with Red Emperor. Right: George, Crystal & unidentified investigating on old plane wreck on Kimberley tour.

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If you require surfing lessons or any information, Crystal’s contacts are:-

Yallingup Surf School
Mobile: (+61) 0429 881 221
Office: (+618) 9755 2755
crystal@yallingupsurfschool.com
www.yallingupsurfschool.com

Coming soon Crystal’s beach life by Elizabeth Nunn – Part 2. 2000-2016

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Three Bears surf break & track in the 70s

In August 1971 surfers George Simpson, Mick Pearce & Mark Rudenberg discovered Three Bears surf break at Kabbijgup Beach. The boys had seen waves breaking along the cliffs north of Yallingup and walked in from Sugarloaf Rock to find the surf break.

American expatriate surfboard shaper Tom Hoye named it MGM after the initials of the three guys who discovered the place, but Perth guys later renamed it Three Bears after the 3 surf breaks Baby’s, Mama’s & Papa’s.

Tom was the first surfer to drive into Bears. He forged a track to Bears from his backyard in Dunsborough, along paddocks and fire breaks to connect with the beach track behind d’Espeisses’ property.

Circa ‘72 Tom and Craig Brent-White used their 4WD’s to create a rough track to Bears through coastal scrub land at Yallingup. In ‘73 Ralph Redman used his 4WD to improve the alignment of the coastal track from Yallingup.

Then the floodgates opened and Bears became an established surf location.

This a collection of anecdotes & photos from ’70s Bears user’s………

George SimpsonWhen we walked in to find Bears Beach in ’71, there were no tracks and the ground was rocky with spiky shrubs. I broke my Dunlop thong in the first half hour. The torturous 10klm trek along the cliffs from Sugarloaf Rock to Yallingup took us 7 hours.

I recall a big day at Bears in ’76. My brother Michael, Peta Baker from City Beach and Tracy (who later became my wife) and I were heading up the track to Bears and we passed Tom Hoye and Dave Hattrick coming back. They told us it was too big to surf and the bombies were wild. We found it was big and breaking outside the Mama’s boil. There was no one else there and it took Michael and I ages to get out the back… we got two waves that broke right through from outside Papa’s, right through Mama’s into Baby’s and were unable to get back out. It was pretty wild!

Photo: 1972 George Simpson surfing Injidup Car Park on a Geoff Culmsee single fin surfboard. Photo by Ian Ferguson courtesy of West Country Surf magazine.

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Tom Hoye – One afternoon, the boys came staggering into Caves House with raving stories of the perfect left-hander, saying, “You gotta go, you gotta go.” We trudged in at dawn to find a perfect 4 to 6ft left hander. A perfect day at Bears.

Photos: Tom Hoye in the SW.

Left: 1971 Tom Hoye outside old shack at Contos Beach, Margaret River. Gary Kontoolis pic.

Right: 1980 Tom Hoye surfing solid Baby’s. Photo (damaged) by Peter Davies.

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For detailed Three Bears recollections from George Simpson & Tom Hoye refer to the Surfing Down South book published by Margaret River Press in 2014. Reprinted 2014.

Bears track pioneers

Craig Brent-White – Circa ’72 Tom Hoye and I used our 4wd’s to create a coastal track to Bears from Rabbit Hill at Yallingup. Glen Lance was a passenger in Tom’s car and Tony Harbison was in my car when we made the first track to Bears from Yalls.

Ralph RedmanIn 1973 I strapped a steel railway line on the front of my Toyota Land Cruiser and pushed a coastal track through to Bears from Yallingup. It connected with an old air strip Budge Guthrie had made on top of the cliffs using an overgrown mineral exploration track. Earlier Tom Hoye had put through a track to Bears from Yallingup, but it was no good as it was high on the hill and too rocky.

Photo: 1976 Ralph Redman surfing Mama Bears. Andy Jones pic.

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Bruce KingMy version of the first surf session at Bears differs from George Simpson’s recollections in the SDS Book. 

I was with George and a few others the first time it was surfed. Craig Kalmund was also there and remembers arriving at the beach and George’s reaction was “F**k it’s a bit bigger today!” George was the first to enter the water and surf Bears. It was a classic day with the 3 distinct breaks, the bigger one outside, then the medium one, then the smaller break inside that’s why I called it “3 Bears”.

The area itself was referred to as “MGM’s” after the three George, Mark and Mick had walked from Sugarloaf to Yallingup a few days earlier. I remember them arriving back at Yalls and frothing about the waves they saw. In those days it was a walk along the cliffs from Sugarloaf & took about 40 minutes. Later on we worked our way into Bears in our cars from Rabbits at Yalls, sometimes spending the whole day just digging our cars out from the bog while trying to get up the sandy hill, no one had 4wd’s in those days.

Some days on the beach we had a real menagerie of people including Charlie “Dingbat”, Trevor “Yipyip” Anderson, Laurie “Pup” Nesbit, Ronny “Ratshit,” Steve “Horny” Campbell and other rascals. Charlie Dingbat and some of the others ran around naked. No one took water or any supplies, but hit the Dunsborough Bakery big time after a day’s surfing.   

Photos: 1973 Bruce King at Three Bears on Bill Oddy’s trail bike. Bruce King pics.

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Stewart BettenayIn the early 70s my brother Craig & I walked into Bears from Sugarloaf twice on the same day. It nearly killed us as we surfed heaps and had no food or water. We knew Tom Hoye had found a way to drive to Bears in his FJ Holden but didn’t know where the track was. Then one day we saw the sun glinting off the windscreen of his car and we discovered that he was using a track along firebreaks from Dunsborough. When the coastal track was pushed through from Yalls to Bears we used that track.

Photo 1983 Stewart Bettenay surfing Mama Bears. Dave Sheen pic

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Stewart Bettenay – Shortly after 3 Bears was being surfed by the next crew of surfers after the originals, a 17 year Craig Howe (Kalbarri and Gnaraloo pioneer) heard that the way to get there was from Sugarloaf Rock high along the cliffs, as there was no beach access.

Craig took this to be high up on the Ridge, so off he set by himself on a very hot March day. After 3 hours of walking and even throwing his board up on top of thick scrub and crawling along it, he finally arrived battered and scratched to be greeted by the sea-breeze. Surfers leaving the beach showed him the walk track back along the cliffs. Howie never got to go for a surf and described the experience as a “hideous journey” and never returned.

Photos: Mid ‘70s Trevor ‘Yip Yip’ Anderson (middle) and his mates surfing fun waves at Bears. Ric Chan pics.

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Ross UttingShortly after news of Bears leaked out I walked in from Sugarloaf Rock along the cliff tops with Bruce King & Micko Gracie. It was a solid one hour walk, although Bruce reckons he could do it in 45 mins. When we got there Baby’s was 4-5ft & beautiful, but there were 3 other guys already there. We knew them so it was ok. We surfed it all day, but because it was so crowded (ha!), we tag teamed so that there was never more than 3 or 4 guys in the water at a time.

Between surfs, one of the other guys showed me a pool just north of the big rocks at the Baby’s end, it was packed with abalone. Being a bit peckish, because we took neither food nor water, we managed to prise a couple off the reef & ate them raw. I recall them tasting a bit like coconut.

The next day I returned, this time with Russell Stranger, Stewart & Craig Bettenay. The waves weren’t as good, but we were the only ones there. I was better prepared this time, still no food or water, but armed with a screw driver & a canvas board bag.  Between surfs I collected about 10 kilos of abs & shoved them in my board bag. Big mistake! Lugging a board under one arm & 10kilos of abs stuffed in a bag over my other shoulder for an hour, after being completely surf out, was hell.

When we got back to Greenacres Holiday Homes, where Russell was staying, we tenderised the abs with a tyre lever & Russell’s wife Anne crumbed them & we cooked them on the BBQ. We ate the lot. Beautiful!

Photo: 1976 Mamma Bears line-up. L-R Steele George, Joe Fimmano & Graham Waddell. Jim King pic

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Mal Leckie – Surfside, Caves House and the Yalls carpark were the social pivot point for everyone who came down from Perth and most blokes slept there each night regardless of where they surfed each day.

At the end of each day most people would tell where they had been surfing and you built up a picture of who was going where. Mostly it was the same general area because of the swell. We knew everyone’s cars and you would see them driving along Caves Road or up to the Cape and turning off etc. Those were the days of thumbs up, thumbs down as you drove past each other haha.

I remember that we became a bit suspicious of a few guys who didn’t seem to have surfed anywhere; nobody had seen them and they weren’t talking at the pub. George was the one who stood out for his disappearing act as he was a prominent personality and usually very visible in a line-up, most often Margaret. Likewise Micko Gracie went quiet.

Those blokes kept the secret for a long time and went to all sorts of lengths to sneak away so nobody would follow. Even when three Bears was well known about as a break, how to get there was not. For a fair while I thought you had to walk there along the beach. I reckon it was ‘73 before most people knew where the track was.

Photos: 1972 Tom Blaxell Surfboards panel van on Bears track. Jim McFarlane photos.

Left: Greg ‘Egory’ McDonald, Bruce Elliot & Tom Blaxell on the Bears coastal track.

Right: Blaxell Surfboards panel van negotiating boggy section of Bears track.

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Andy Jones – Bears wasn’t crowded those days, as a lot of guys didn’t know about Bears and a 4WD was required until mid 70s. You knew everyone in the water. Then Ralph Redman & Tom Hoye pushed through a new coastal track from Rabbit Hill at Yallingup to Bears. Ralph drove a Volkswagon buggy or a 4WD and I used my VW sedan to access the dirt track to Bears. Later Ray Knott, Craig Brent-White, Mark Moody, Al Bean, Pat Bloomer, Laurie ‘Pup’ Nesbit & I started surfing the Bombie and Three sisters (south of Bombie) on big swells. Peter Mac nearly drowned at Three Sisters.

Photo: 1976 David ‘Dappa’ Plaistead surfing Mama’s. Andy Jones pic.

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Photo: 1976 Dave Seward surfing Mama Bears. Andy Jones pic.

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Photo: 1976 Mark Moody surfing Mama Bears. Andy Jones pic.

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Photo: 1976 Snowy from Eastern States surfing Mamma Bears.  Andy Jones pic

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Photo: 1976 Ralph Redman surfing Mama Bears. Andy Jones pic.

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Barry YoungIt was one of those classic autumn days. Ruler edged 4’ perfection and maybe 6 guys at Momma’s (my favourite) and after about 3 hours, although tired it was still too good to go in. I was praying for the onshore to kick in. By this stage only one other guy and I were out. He decides he has had enough and goes in. I stay out about another 20 minutes and finally some sort of light onshore wafts in. Not enough to really worry it but a good enough excuse. As I walk up the beach there’s the guy I had just been surfing with and his girlfriend. He’s sitting there with a cold beer in his hand and his girlfriend was kneeling behind him topless (as was often the case during the 70’s) and she is giving him a massage! As I walked by I couldn’t help but say to him…..” and I thought I was having a good day! “

Photo: Mid-late 70s. Barry Young surfing good sized Momma’s. Steve Russo pic.

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Barry Young – I remember Taj as a 2-3 year old playing with his tractor and dump truck in the sand on the water’s edge at Bear’s while Vance and Nancy were playing in the waves. Apparently he loved bouncing down the Bear’s track in their car and knew that was part of the deal once they got there. They always had their eye on him and besides Nance didn’t stay out too long. Taj was really at ease and happy anyway making truck noises etc.

Photo: 1977 Nancy Burrow surfing Mama Bears 4mths pregnant with Taj. Burrow family pic.

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Vance Burrow – I remember surfing 8ft Bears on my own hoping someone would turn up. It will never be like that again!

Photo: 1978 Vance Burrow 3 hour surf session at Baby Bears on a Tom Hoye surfboard. Burrow family pic.

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Vance & Nancy Burrow – In the 80s Park Ranger Mike Bachelor used to police the Bears track checking for dogs illegally entering the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. He disliked dogs and used to stand on the Bears track with his arms folded checking surfers cars for dogs. He would tell us to leave with our dog Papaya, but there was no way we were leaving if the waves were good. We would say to him “is our dog violating National Park air space?”

Editor’s note: Richie Myers told me about a SW surfer who used to sit his dog in the middle seat of his ute with a cap on, to get past the ranger.

Photo: 1977 Vance & Nance Burrow’s ‘Huey’ the VW checking the surf and ‘Papaya’ the dog checking the camera. Burrow family pic.

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Coming soon Three Bears surf break & track in the 80s.

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1960s-80s The Farm surf break

There is a bit of controversy over who found the surf break at The Farm in Bunker Bay circa 1962.

This is how pioneer SW surfer Tony Harbison heard it. Source Surfing Down South book.

“A young surfer named Barry King (Barry was the Taj Burrow of the 60s) had an uncle in Busselton who owned half of Bunker Bay. So Barry, under instructions from his mother, went to visit his uncle. The bay was working at about 6 foot and the new break was called The Farm”.

At the same time, Murray Smith and his mates in the North End Board Club also found waves at The Farm.

Photos: 1960s surfing at The Farm. Photos courtesy Brian Cole & unidentified.
(Left) 1962 Bob Keenan & Terry Williams. (Right) 1969 Ron Waddell featured in surf mag.

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In the early 70s a dirt track run off Bunkers Road and enabled surfers to drive and park near the creek behind The Farm surf break.

Photos: 1971 George Simpson’s Valiant Ute bogged on the dirt track to The Farm. Photos courtesy of Tom Collins.

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Photos: 1970s surfing celebrities at The Farm. Photos courtesy of Tom Collins.
(Left) Yalls surfer Paul ‘Rooster’ Woods (dec’d) cover shot West Country Surf mag. (Right) Marg River surfer Lindsay Thompson (dec’d).

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SW locals remember The Farm used to produce good shaped waves even on moderate swells before the creek (which flows out to sea at The Farm surf break) was dammed up. Unfortunately the creek no longer creates favourable sand banks as regularly as it used to. That’s a pity!

Photos: 1970s Unidentified surfers at The Farm. Photos courtesy of Tom Collins.

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Photos: 1970s The Farm (Left) former private road to beach. (Right) Beach girl Jenny Davies. Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.

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Photos: 1970s unidentified surfers at The Farm (Sheepdog bottom Right). Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.

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Photo: 1976 The Farm & Boneyards surf breaks. Photo courtesy of Gary Gibbon.

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In 1978 Vance & Nancy Burrow were living in a rental cottage in Meelup Valley on Geographe Bay. Vance used to drive his 4WD around Bunker Bay & pull up on the beach in front of Boneyards surf break. Driving on that beach is now banned.

Photos: Boneyards at Bunker Bay. (Left) 1978 Vance Burrow. (Right) 1979 Andy Jones. Photos courtesy of Vance Burrow & Gary Gibbon.

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Photos: 1980s Steve Hannett surfing at The Farm and Vance & Nancy Burrow’s Landrover driving on the beach at Bunkers (bottom right). Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.

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Like a lot of other SW surf breaks, increased predator sightings and crowds are impacting on surf breaks at Bunker Bay.