WA surfing legend Dave Williams passed away 18 May 2015 after an illness. His funeral service and ‘celebration of life’ wake took place at the North Beach Rugby Club at North Beach on Friday 29th May. After the service, family and friends reminisced and farewelled Davo with a release of balloons in his favourite colour into the sky and an open mic session that reminded all of his renowned larikin sense of humour.

Surfing Down South 1950s City Beach clubbies Ron Drage, Dave Williams, Cocko Killen, E Mickle - John Budge pic img366

Surfing Down South 1950s City Beach clubbies Ron Drage, Dave Williams, Cocko Killen, E Mickle. Image courtesy of: John Budge

In the 50s Dave was a member of City of Perth SLSC and represented the State in National paddleboard races.

In the early 60s he was a member of West Coast Board Club and Dolphins Board Club and represented the state in National surf riding contests.

Dave was a big strong lad and a talented surfer, helping to pioneer surfing in the SW along with his closest mates. Dave has been credited with finding & naming Guillotine surf break with Kevin “Legs’ Merifield & Terry “Horse’ Williams.

Surfing Down South - 1957 Yalls Dave Williams & malibu balsa board. Photo: John Budge

Surfing Down South – 1957 Yalls Dave Williams & malibu balsa board. Photo: John Budge

INTRODUCTION TO SURFING: “My initial introduction to surf came at age 8 riding inflatable rubber “Surf Shooters” which were rented out at a kiosk at City Beach.

I joined the City Of Perth Surf- Lifesaving Club at age 15 as a cadet early 50’s along with several other mates.

My first surf-board was purchased while at Geraldton at a surf Carnival.

The board was made of ply & obviously a long way away from today’s sophisticated boards & I learned the hard way although it gave me a sound foundation to build on & most of my time was surfing at City Beach North side of the rock groyne.

As time progressed the initial structure of boards changed from 16-foot racing type ply through to the timber shorter boards which provided more precise manoeuvre ability.

The 1956 Olympic Games did not include Surf-Lifesaving on this occasion. I was fortunate to be included in the Western Australian surf team R & R [reel and rescue] where we came 2nd in the event.

On arrival at Torquay where the Surf carnival was held we got our first view of the original Malibu which the USA teams brought across to Australia & how it surprised us noting the extreme difference to our obsolete boards provided. i.e 16′ Planks. This was the new revolution & was hotly pursued through the following years.

We chased up several of our surfing friends sometime in early 1960’s & held our 1st general meeting at “The Orient Hotel” Adelaide Terrace Perth where we appointed Kevin Merifield President & formed our 1st Board Club name – West Coast Board Riders Club. There was a very good reason for this action as there were increasing incidents on our beaches with swimmers getting hit by loose surfboards at an increasing rate. We had no voice at the time & Leg Ropes were not in existence & we were getting into a situation where board surfing would be put under threat & the situation was getting pretty strong what with newspaper editorials & media attention. This was another reason why we ventured south where we had no problems with complaints.”

TRAVELLING SOUTH TO YALLINGUP: “We of course had never seen such surf in the metro area. Only the occasional storm locally would avail us of a more exciting wave here or there.

It was no surprise to call in to nearly every Pub on the Friday afternoon or evening & enjoy a round of beers & continue south again. Stop-offs at the following venues e.g. Armadale Pub, North Dardanup Tavern, Pinjarra, Harvey, Wokalup, Bunbury & onward to Busselton (time permitting). If time permitted we might have an odd jug at “Caves House” Bar, I do hear that at one time several travel signs appeared at our favourite camp area overlooking the Yalls-Lagoon.”

Refer to the Surfing Down South Book by Sue-Lyn Aldrian-Moyle for more of Dave’s surfing recollections and antics.

Condolences to the Williams family.

Gallery
0 comment

1950s Bert’s Shop at City Beach

Tea Rooms History

The City Beach Tea Rooms were located on a foreshore road at City Beach from the 1930s to 1970s. It is assumed the Tea Rooms were built in the 30s around the time the City of Perth SLSC Club building and rock groyne were built in 1935.

The beach formerly known as Ocean Beach was named City Beach by the Perth City Council in 1928 (after acquiring the Lime Kilns Estate in 1917). Access to City Beach was by plank road from Wembley from 1918 to 1951.

In the mid-70s The Perth City Council demolished the wooden Tea Rooms building and replaced it with a concrete kiosk. Sometime later the foreshore road was also removed due to constant beach erosion.

Photo: 1930s photo of City Beach. This image shows the foreshore road, rubber surf mat hire shed in foreground, two beach kiosks and the Tea Rooms in the background. Image credit Cambridge Library – Local Studies.

1930s City Beach foreshore road, kiosks & shop- Cambridge Library-Local Studies

Tea Room Leaseholders

Late 50s- 62 Bob & Bert
1962 Fred
1963-64 Eric (ex England)
1965-67 Colin
1968-70 Mario

City Beach Board Club

In 1953 Ray Geary (age 16) from Wembley started the City Beach Board Club (CBBC) with Graham Killen, Johnny Budge, Brian Cole & some keen surfing mates.

Ray Geary: “The leaseholder of the Tea Rooms gave the Club approval to dig out sand below the building and make an enclosure for Club Meetings and surf board storage.”

In the late 50s the local surfers referred to the Tea Rooms as ‘Bert’s shop’ (after the lease holder at the time).

Photo: 1958 Bert’s Shop (aka City Beach Tea Rooms).  Photo credit Brian Cole.

1958 City Beach Bert's Shop - Brian Cole

Bert’s shop was the unofficial base for surfers in the area. Grommets from CBBC used to ‘hang out’ on the steps of the shop.

Photos: 50s hanging out at the shop.

The photo on the left was taken in the winter time as many of the boys are wearing bears suits (WW2 flying suits) to keep warm.

Left: 1956 Ian Scott, Don Roper, Ray Geary, Ian Chapple and others.  Photo credit of John Budge.
Right: 1958 (sitting) Garry Stewart, John Harbison & unidentified, (standing) Charlie Roper & Terry Jacks. Photo credit Brian Cole.

1950s City Beach grommets compilation 01

Photos: 50s surfing at City Beach #1.

Top left: 1956 Ray Geary riding 16ft toothpick plywood board. Ray Geary pic.
Top Right: 1957 Brian Cole on hollow 10ft Malibu plywood board. WA Newspaper pic
Bottom Left: 1957 Ken Hamer on plywood surf ski made by Brian Cole. WA Newspapers pic.
Bottom right: 1957 John Peterson on toothpick plywood board. WA Newspaper pic

1950s City Beach surfing IMG_002

Photos: 50s surfing at City Beach #2.

Left: 1958 Peter Docherty (13) with 12 ft plywood board near rock groyne. Peter Docherty pic.
Right top : 1958 Colin Taylor & Dave Williams surfing south side City Beach. Brian Cole pic
Right bottom: 1959 John Harbison (15) surfing 13 ft plywood board. WA Newspaper pic

1950s City Beach surfing IMG_006

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gallery
5 comments

Surfing Rotto in the 50s.

Surfing at Rottnest Island has been a popular pastime since the mid-50s. Cottesloe surfers made the maiden voyage to Rotto by surfboard.

Mark Paterson: “Cottesloe surfers John ‘Artie’ Shaw (champion board paddler), Lester Watkins and George Bevan from Coogee NSW were the first to paddle to Rotto on surfboards in the mid-50s. They paddled 16ft plywood boards and wore Army grey coats from Cottesloe to Rotto & return. On arrival the boys had a beer or two at Rotto pub before returning to the mainland. Their exploits were reported in the West Australian”.

Circa 1955 young City of Perth clubbies Jim Keenan, Graham ‘Cocko’ Killen & Tony Harbison paddled wooden surf skis from City Beach to Rotto and surfed waves at Transit Reef and Salmon Bay. This action on SLSC equipment eventually led to the boys being suspended from the surf club.

Jim Keenan: “Rottnest in the 50’s from a surfing point of view was absolute fun, especially when the Transit breaks were running. There were quite a few of us that surfed the Transit area. Dave Williams, Tony Harbison & John Budge were part of the group. These boys would travel over on the ferry and surf on their toothpick surfboards.

Salmon Bay was less well known and surfed and when we did it was very hairy. Salmon Bay produced challenges above and below the water line. On south west swells the ‘bommies’ threw up some quality big wave surfing above and below sharks ensured you stayed with your board or ski.

We did toy with the idea of taking on West End, but I am glad that’s as far as it got as that spot is full on.

Rottnest was heaven in those early days. Dhufish, crays were prolific and the beer was good also. We used to send our crates across on the Islander ferry and then float them across Thomson Bay to our camp site. We used to get our gear across on the Islander for free in the very early days.

It certainly was a step up from what was available on the Perth coastal beaches. It also toned up the skills necessary to what was to follow at Yallingup and Margaret River once our transport needs were cured.

Paddling to Rottnest was an adventure on its own especially at the ripe old age of 15 to 16 years. It was hard work and on occasions dangerous. On one particular journey a fog moved in while we were paddling through the shipping channel. A ship’s fog horn could be heard but not seen until it was bearing down on us at close quarters. Cocko and I on the double were able to escape reasonably quickly but for Tony Harbison on the single ski it was a close call as the Orcades (a passenger liner) bore down on us.

On another return journey from Rotto, my paddling partner Cocko on the two man ski fell asleep and slipped overboard, it was some time before I realized and returned to pick him up.

Our eventual suspension from the Surf Club for refusing to comply with a Harbour and Light’s ‘No paddling to Rottnest directive’ was indirectly an absolute blessing. It freed up our weekends and along with our newly found wheels firmly embedded Yallingup into our veins.

Yes, Rottnest played a part in many of the early Yallingup crew and is fondly remembered by all.”

Photo: 1956 Surfing at City Beach. L-R: Dave Williams on plywood toothpick surfboard and Jim Keenan & Cocko Killen on plywood double surf ski – Photo credit Ray Geary.

1956 City Beach Dave Williams toothpick board and Jim Keenan & Cocko Killen on double ski - Ray GearyA

In November 1958 pioneer surfers Brian Cole, Don Roper, Ken Hamer & others spent a couple of weeks holidaying on Rotto. Some of Brian’s holiday snaps & comments follow.

Brian Cole: “On a still night sounds carry from Transit reef back to Phillip Rock and the settlement in Thomson Bay. One moonlight & windless night Don Roper, Ken Hamer, myself (and others) went surfing at Transit after a few beers at the pub. The next day Mrs. Homes from Homes Tearoom, told us she could hear everything we said and asked us to keep our voices down and be more discreet in future.”

In the mid-50s the Islander & Wandoo worked the Freo to Rotto ferry route. The Wandoo was primarily a work boat and the trip could take a few hours on a fresh NW wind.

Photo: 1958 Don Roper (3rd from front) arriving at Rotto on Wandoo ferry. Photo credit Brian Cole.

1958 Rotto Wandoo ferry arriving Don Roper 3rd from front - Brian Cole pic 004

Pioneer surfer Barry ‘Joe’ King was a pilot and flew an Austen monoplane to the Island to get his hours up for a commercial licence. His mates often kicked in for the trip and did winter flights to Rotto with Joe. The boys were sometimes allowed to take over the controls over the water.

Photo: 1958 Don Roper & Barry ‘Joe’ King with the Austen monoplane at Rotto airport. Photo credit Brian Cole.

1958 Rotto Don Roper & Barry 'Joe' King next to Auster monoplane  - Brian Cole pic 005

Photo: 1958 The main street of Rotto. The famous Bakery is on the left and the Butchers shop is on the right. Photo credit Brian Cole.

1958 Rotto main street - Brian Cole pic 007

Photo: 1958 Brian Cole and Owen Oates sitting on an old bomb at Rotto Salt Works. Other old vehicles from the former Salt Works can be seen in the background. Photo credit Brian Cole.

1958 Rotto old bomb at the salt works Brian Cole & Owen Oates - Brian Cole pic 012

Gallery
0 comment

1950s Vintage Yallingup Beach – Can you identify the people on the beach?

Pioneer surfer/photographer John ‘Budgie’ Budge captured this image of surfers chatting on Yallingup Beach in the 50’s. Bernie Huddle is the tall fellow 3rd from the right, but the others are unidentified. In the background are relics from the past. On the left is a beach shelter sheltering a life saving reel and on the right is a wooden change room. Photo credit John Budge.

Please let us know if you can identify any of the boys in this vintage image.

1955 Yalls beach people inc Bernie Huddle- J Budge  pic img358

 

 

 

 

 

Gallery
0 comment

1958 Don Bancroft – Surfer/Jazz Musician

Pioneer surfers visiting the Yallingup region in the late 50s & early 60s were lucky to have talented jazz musician Don Bancroft in their ranks.

Don entertained surfers by playing his trumpet from an ex WW 2 RAN (Navy) hammock pitched between a couple of melaleuca trees in the virgin bush overlooking Yalls main break. He also sat in with jazz bands playing at Busselton dances and South West pubs.

Don is still playing regular gigs with The Corner House Jazz Band in the city.

More Don Bancroft stories and an image of Don driving a Holden FC panel van (with non-standard rear side windows) up Yallingup hill (refer 1960 image by The West Australian) are featured in the Surfing Down South book .

Don made his own balsa surfboards and experimented with different board shapes in his back shed at Cottesloe.

This 1958 photo shows Don Bancroft on Yallingup Beach with a home made balsa surfboard. Photo credit John Budge.

1958 Yalls Don Bancroft with home made balsa board - J Budge pic IMG_01

There were other talented muso’s amongst the early surfing crew at Yallingup.

Veteran surfer Kevin Merifield remembers. “On the return trip home, we would often stop at the Highway Hotel in Bunbury for the Sunday afternoon session. With Bernie Huddle (piano), Don Bancroft (trumpet), Bruce ‘Moonshine’ Hill (clarinet), Artie Taylor (trombone), and Tony ‘Harbo’ Harbison (tea chest slap bass), we had the makings of a really good trad jazz band. The band and the rest of us would get free grog, making it all worthwhile. How we got home to Perth in one piece I’ll never know.”

This 1958 photo shows Artie Taylor playing his trombone amongst hammocks in the Yalls camp site.  Photo credit Brian Cole.

1958 Yalls camp site Artie Taylor on trombone - Brian Cole Pic img143