Keith Campbell’s 1960s surfing recollections **updated 23 July 2017**

Update 23 July 2017 – see Keith Campbell comments below.

Keith CampbellIn the 1957 Dean Street surfing photo, Bob Mayhew is on the left (he lived at about 22 Dean Street) and the guy in the middle was older than us, I think his name was Reg.

Dave Aylett gathered with us in about 1961 along with Jeff Dalziel, the rat, Glen Smith, Ron Anderson (who lost full sight), Ian Peacock and others I can’t remember.

In 1960 I got my driver’s license and teamed up with Terry Jacks, Charlie Roper and we surfed Trigg which in those days was out of the way via Elliott Road.  As City Beach was friendly, with the tearooms allowing boards to be stored there, it later became the meeting place and thanks to Viv Kitson and Peter Docherty, I was roped into being president in about 1962-3.

By the way I was President of Surfing WA (WASRA then) in 1987 after being treasurer for Phil Usher in 1986. I held the President’s position till late 1990 (not 1989) when I was too busy with engineering and we (Doug, Tom, Jock Campbell and myself) managed to get Tim Thirsk to take the reins.





Cottesloe surfer Keith Campbell started surfing in the late 1950’s. Keith surfed with the best surfers of his time in Terry Jacks, Dave Beamish, Brian Cole and others. Like many WA surfers to follow, he spent time living and surfing on Sydney’s northern beaches in the early 60’s. On his return to WA he was elected president of his local board club in the mid 60s and served as WASRA President 1987-89 (WASRA name changed to Surfing WA in 1996).

Photo: 1957 Cottesloe Dean Street surf break. Keith Campbell (on the right) surfing on a hollow plywood board with mates. Keith Campbell pic.

These are Keith’s recollections of his surfing experiences in the early 60s.

In my school days I had mum drop me at City Beach most times and I left my board under the tea rooms behind the lattice as many to follow would also do.

Before I got my driver’s license, Ray Geary took me surfing down to Yallingup a few times and we camped under the melaleuca trees. (Editor’s Note: In the 60’s Ray Geary built a shack opposite a surf break between Avalon & Miami which became known as Geary’s).

I turned 17 and got my license in July 1960 and by 1963 I had been roped into being President of the City Beach Board Club.

I went to Uni 1961-63 to study Engineering and have memories of Charlie Roper and Terry Jacks always being with me when I surfed, as I had lots of gaps in my Uni course.

Photo: 1964 City Beach tea rooms. Local surfers stored their surfboards under the building. Robyn McDonald pic.

In December 1963 I had a year off Uni and went east and actually surfed with Brian Cole, Don Bancroft, Colin Taylor, John Peterson at Narrabeen. I lived in Dee Why where Terry Jacks and Dave Beamish joined me as did Percy Davis, Charles Roper and Ernie Potter.

Photo: 1964 Keith Campbell’s 21st birthday party at Dee Why NSW. Keith Campbell pic.

L-R. S Marshall, J Evans, V Comdler, L Hookes, R Olsen, S Marriott, R Hannagan, B Moore, R Fenwick, G Morley, Keith Campbell, Ernie Potter and D Lowe.

Photo: 1964 Keith Campbell surfing Avoca Beach NSW. Keith Campbell pic.

1965 Keith Campbell with Cliff Hills mini minor and Malibu surfboards on the Nullarbor. Cliff Hills pic.

KeithOn the Nullarbor we hit a lot of potholes that were as big as the mini!

Now back in WA, we managed to build up quite a board club at City Beach with the red outfits having black and white stripes, and organised inter-club competitions with North End and Scarborough.  These club competitions ultimately led to the formation of WASRA through Doc Naylor, Percy Trainer and John Shackley in 1964.

In 1965 Barry King returned to Manly NSW and a few others decided to leave City Beach and join another club (Editor’s note: Peter Bothwell, Brian Boynes & Mark Waddell joined Yallingup Board Club). It was just at the time I had organised the Margaret River Council to grant a lease on a block at Cowaramup Bay. I had Tony Harbison supervise the demolition of a house in Leederville (that Mark Waddell organised) ready for us to re-assemble. It happened just as the club disintegrated and I probably spat the dummy! I think the house frames were stored at Yallingup and we gave them to another club.

It was during this time that Ron Moss took over and got the board club back on track as President. (Editor’s Note: Ron Moss was made a life member of the City Beach Surf Riders Club in August 2000).

I understand the board club kept going during the 60s under the leadership of Ron Moss until Jim King and Trevor Burslem took over in 1967.

Image: 2009 City Beach Surf Riders club “60’s old boys” reunion lunch held at the City Beach café. Keith Campbell pic.

Keith was a prime mover behind the artificial reef at Cable Station reef Cottesloe. He has a holiday house at Gracetown and still surfs on a regular basis.




1964 East Coast road trip with Rex Cordingley by Dave Aylett

In the 60s Dave ‘Davo’ Aylett was a Cottesloe surfer and lead singer in popular Perth band The Young Blaydes.

In ’64 he drove over east with Rex Cordingley (from Cordingley Surfboards) to see the first World Surfboard Titles held at Manly Beach in NSW.

This is Davo’s ‘blow by blow’ story of the road trip:-

It was 52 years ago. Wow! Mid May 1964 the 1st World Surfboard Titles – Manly Beach.

I think it was about April when Rex Cordingley said he was going to Sydney for the first world surfing championship. To help with driving and travel costs Rex asked me if I’d like to go east. I jumped at the chance and so did Peter Utting. About that time Australia was all the way with L.B.J. and I was lucky enough to dodge the draft. I was born on the 20th of April and my marble wasn’t drawn for conscription. The departure day came fast. Hardly enough time to last minute pack. Mum cooked a real big tin of sausages and we had a bottle of tomato sauce.

Image: 1960s Davo and the Young Blaydes Band playing at Top of The Town night spot in Perth. Image courtesy of Dave Aylett.

From the left Mike Byrom (drums), Dave Aylett (guitar), Greg Wynne (bass) and Terry Malone (guitar). All took turns at lead vocal backed by 3 part harmony.


First stop Kalgoorlie. So far so good. Hitting the road again in the shops runabout, a pale blue FC Holden panel van, I think we had 6 brand new surfboards on the roof. We had a black top smooth road to Norseman then the nightmare begun. The road was truck wheel rutted and slippery with the occasional hole, so deep they were marked with 6 inch tree branches. Wandering livestock on surprise road crossings became common, punctuated by Kamikaze roos and emus. All of which we avoided. One night it was so cold. We wrapped ourselves with anything we could find including beach towels etc. Luckily I packed a pair of gloves and they were exclusively the drivers. You see the Holden didn’t come with a heater or demister, so in order to see through the windscreen, the outside air vent had to be fully open full blast on the driver’s feet. It started to rain. Well those bloody windshield wipers were vacuum operated. The only time they would work was on deceleration.

Photo: 1970 Yallingup. Rex Cordingley presenting award to State Surfing Champion Tony Hardy. & Bill Oddy on the right & Colin Cordingley obscured by Tony. Ric Chan pic.


Most of the time we spent sideways rocketing through red mud. I was trying to warm up and get some sleep in the back after a stint of driving when I was woken with Peter at the wheel screaming. Poor Peter had gotten himself into a tank slapper and was over correcting and out of control. I was being thrown from one side of the van to the other, Rex had woken and was making a grab for the wheel to settle the slide and then with an up-heaving thump everything went black. I woke with a real sore head. I had cracked my scone on the inside tray bar behind the bench seat. There was a real weird sound of a scratching grind punctuated by Rex screaming f..k, f..k, f..k. We had slammed into a mound of dirt and we were some way from the road. I climbed out and Rex informed me I was bleeding. My head hurt like hell, but I was amused that the weird sound of the scratching grind came from the windshield rocking on the bonnet. Rex had a look at my head and said it was a minor wound and we all got back inside the van, slept and waited for dawn so we could survey what damage there was. When we woke we found that the roof rack had broken and the boards were in the bush in front of the van. We also found the battery had shattered, the shock absorbers had broken through their mounts and the bumper was history.

We were looking pretty stuck when through the dirt came another Holden limping on three tyres and one rim. He stopped and asked us for some help. Rex said sure we can help each other. We gave this guy our spare wheel and he towed us onto the track. We put the surfboards and windshield in the back of the van with the tailgate down. We tried towing our panel van behind his car, but the tow rope was useless on that rough road so we decided to push start our van. No good by hand, so we put the tailgate up with the rear window up, three of us in the front seat and our rescuer crunched us up to a speed fast enough for Rex to drop the clutch and away we went, our rescuers smashed headlights and our smashed tail lights. No wind shield, rotten road with occasional road train filling everything with dust, only one pair of sunglasses exclusive for the driver, unable to drop below a certain speed because of our broken battery, we were now three very sore, squeezed in, humourless surfers. I can’t remember where we went for repairs. Where ever it was it cost a bundle and the repairs were minimal and dodgy.

From that time on, poor Peter was banned from any driving. Secretly I think he was relieved. Well that Holden had seen better days and it handled like a bowl of soup. Rex and I wrestled our way to Melbourne. Rex and his brother Colin had designed a training yacht for Sandringham Yacht Club and the officials were prepared and waiting for our arrival. Wow! The club sure laid it on for us.

The Sandringham Yacht Club was amazing. Especially to 3 young blokes from little old Perth. Open 24 hours a day, pokies, great music, strippers the lot! It was like we were discovering a new planet. A number of club members and officials were involved in the motor industry so they took our beaten up old wreck and gave us a loaner car. It doesn’t get any better than that! We stayed at a club member’s house. Rex seemed like some sort of God like hero and Peter and I were just going along for the ride. We stayed there for about a week. That put us behind schedule, but it was worth it. The old wreck we rolled up in was transformed. Amazing! Rex couldn’t get the smile off his face.

Then it was a fond farewell and black top all the way to Canberra. Shit cold again! I can’t remember how it happened, but some really nice girls asked us to dinner. One of the girl’s fathers owned squash courts. It had an adjoining gym and we stayed there until about 5am and we were awakened by the cracking sound of a couple of early rise squash players. We loved the warmth, but were up and at em because we were running late by this time. The Blue Mountains or somewhere on the way to Sydney we came across snow. We 3 had never seen snow before. One of us had a plastic rain coat and we took turns in skidding down a slope with the raincoat pulled up between our legs. It didn’t work real well, but we had fun. Coming down to Sydney was real scary. The trucks and the speed they got up to, made us look for escape routes to turn off to allow the big rigs to pass. Both Rex and I quickly adapted to the quick pace and once we got used to it, it became fun. After getting lost a number of times we found our digs. Tasman Street Dee why. I don’t know how many West Ozzie’s lived there, but I remember Cliff Hills, Jimmy Lick, Keith Campbell and some more I can’t remember. God it was great. Party all night, surf all day. We would start off at the Manly Pacific Canopus room and drink that horrible Coopers. When that closed, we would hit Kings Cross. I remember a big swim through joint and a guy called Billy Thorpe hammering out ‘Poison Ivey’ at a volume that went right through you. What a BLAST! Then there were the girls. Wow!

Photos: 1964-65 East Coast trip. Photos courtesy of Cliff Hills, Jim Lik & Keith Campbell.

Top:  (Left) 1966 NSW Cliff Hills (standing) & friends with Goggomobile. (Right top) 1965 Cliff Hills with Falcon ute on the Nullabour (Right middle) 1964 NSW Brookvale James ‘Lik’ MacKenzie (18) working with Scott Dillion at Scott Dillion Surfboards.

Bottom: (Left) 1965 Keith Campbell with Mini Minor & surfboards on the Nullabour. (Middle) 1964 NSW Keith Campbell surfing Ovoca Beach. (Right) 1965 NSW beach girls.


During those times speaking to the locals, there was some pub talk about this kid tearing up the race tracks. From all the talk this kid without a road licence was knocking off the established veterans. This kid drove a homemade Austin A30 with a Holden motor in it. Now I wonder who that was!

The standard of surfing was miles ahead of Western Australian skills. Cliff Hills loaned me his board when he went off to work under the proviso I took off deeper in the box seat than anybody. It was like some kind of war.

I made friends with a pack of locals. They were known as the Dee Why Gremmies. The leaders of this feral crowd drove a black Twin Spinner Ford with straight through side exhaust pipes. Christ it was loud! One day I went with them to Narrabeen for a surf. On the way the driver (I can’t remember his name) said he was running low on fuel and with that we stopped behind a parked Nash Rambler. With a Jerry can and hose from our boot, two of them proceeded to milk the Nash in broad daylight. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Cool as can be, still parked behind the Nash we had just milked, they drained the Jerry Can into the Twin Spinner Ford. I was doing a good job hiding my fear of getting caught and winding up in jail. Dad would have killed me! One of the guys in the back seat with me bragged that they had never paid for fuel and never got caught. Shortly after that I did my best to find new friends.

We went to the World Surf Championships and found out there was a big gang of Bodgies on one of the ferries due to arrive at Manly with intent of bashing up the surfies. I don’t know why! Maybe it was their way of having fun. The police boarded the ferry and returned the ferry to its home port. It was in the newspaper and everything. WILD! There was just so many people there, it was hard to get a vantage point but I did see some of the preliminary’s and was in the crowd for the Final. I know I got left behind from the group I went with and ended up walking home. That was miles! The surf at Manly was small, but well-shaped and the contestants really ripped it up. Midget was a clear winner! A master of the long board.

Images: 1964 First World Surfboard Titles memorabilia.

Left: World Titles program cover. Right: Admission ticket & World Surfboard Titles sticker.


Photos: 1964 First World Surfboard Titles surfers.

Left: Open winner & first World champ Bernard ‘Midget’ Farrelly

Right top: Midget’s famous ‘cuttie’ courtesy of Keith Campbell. Bottom right: WA competitors review ex Titles Program.


Most of the guys had work in NSW and I seriously thought of applying for a job driving a Snow Queen ice-cream van. When I phoned dad for some more money I happened to mention that I might get a job there. He didn’t think it was a good idea and persuaded me to return with Rex once the championships were complete. So we three began the journey home with No surfboards, (all sold) no roof rack, car running sweet. We decided to take our time but set a cracking pace thanks to the improved handling of the Holden and our Sydney style of driving. We decided to visit surf spots on the way home. How many times did we say? “Wish we had our boards with us!” The Great Ocean Road was wonderful. The tracks to the surf spots were far from easy and we couldn’t believe the shape and size of the waves, and why the hell nobody was riding them.

Adelaide was uneventful until Rex from somewhere produced a point 22 rifle. Boy what fun! First we had target practice with tin cans, bottles and stuff then Rex expressed his dislike of crows. He may have been waken while in the middle of a memorable dream by the ark, ark, ark of those black annoying and allusive birds. He raised the gun at the rowdiest taunter and was amazed that as soon as he pointed the gun at it, it casually took flight. He took a shot anyway. Shortly after that he raised the gun to another and once again the bird casually took flight. Damn annoying! You could hold a stick of wood and point it as though it were a rifle and the crow would just sit there and ark, ark away, but as soon as the rifle was levelled at them, once again they would casually take flight. It became a competition between us to see who would be the first to taste blood. The quest continued until the last round was fired and we gave up. Crows Victorious!

Hell, once again we faced the Nullarbor and the weather soured and the road in places was slicker than whale snot. The grader this time had preceded us and although smooth it was treacherous. In places it was easier to let the panel van drive itself and follow in the tracks of the mound the grader made on the side of the road. The speedo would be reading 50mph and due to wheel spin our actual speed was down to about 30mph. The mudguards filled and the once light blue paint of the Holden became a rust red. The windshield wipers battled to their limit and left just enough for us to see a path. Then it was almost magical. The rain stopped at the same time we hit the beautiful bitumen. Black and smooth. We all said we could kiss it.

God it was so good to be home!





Surfing Cottesloe in the 1950s

In the 1950s Cottesloe Beach and the reefs south of Cottesloe with long rolling waves were popular surfing venues for metro surfers riding plywood toothpick surfboards.

WA Surf Industry legend Len Dibben recalls his early days surfing at Cottesloe.

Len Dibben: “When I first started surfing in the late 50’s & through the 60’s even into the 80’s & 90’s Cable Station reef used to break really good, a great right hander. What stopped that break from working was the building of Cottesloe Groyne, Dutch Inn Groyne, Sand Tracks, the lengthening of the North Mole, City Beach groyne & Floreat groyne, just to name a few.
Those were the days when North Mole was a secret spot. Also before the Cottesloe groyne was built in 1959, there was no surf to speak of at Isolated, Seconds or Cove. We surfed Cottesloe beach at the Dummy (formerly the Loom), the Bell (also known as the Pylon) & Slimys reef, Dutch Inn (pre Groyne) & Cable station in the winter. The beach at Dutch inn was quite wide as local fishermen used to leave their wooden clinker boats on the sand all year round & we guys at Cottesloe used them as a wind breaks when we came in from a surf. In a south west wind we would build a fire to warm ourselves in between surfs. There were no wet suits, maybe footy jumpers & our swim costumes. Surfers back then were Terry James, Bob Birch, Gary Birch, Cliff Hills, Ron Allen, Jeff Dalziel & Kerry Davies. There were about 10 – 15 of us that were regulars at all these breaks. I was the only guy not from Cottesloe, I was from Beaconsfield”.  For more information see Len’s web site

In 1952 the remains of the original timber jetty at Cottesloe was blown up to make way for a rock groyne. The Cottesloe groyne was built in 1959 to stop erosion and extends 100m out across Mudurup Rocks. Mudurup Rocks (named by Nyungar people & meaning ‘the place of the yellow finned whiting’ ) is the limestone promontory on the sea side of the Cottesloe Surf Club.

Photo: 1947 Swimmers at Cottesloe Beach pre groyne with Mudurup Rocks and Fremantle Port in the background. Photo credit King Family.

1947 Cottesloe Beach pre groyne. (old jetty blown up 1952 to make way for rock groyne in 1959).- K King pic

Photo: 1957 Brian Cole (second from right) and his City Beach surfing mates heading to Cables Station reef for a surf. The Morris 10 sedan is loaded with plywood toothpick surfboards and a surf ski. Photo credit Brian Cole.

1957 City Beach Brian Cole & crew Morris 10 heading to Cable Stn - Brian Cole pic

Photo: 1959 Young Cottesloe surfers Alan McGilvray and Keith Campbell surfing Dutch Inn at Cottesloe. Photo credit Keith Campbell.

1959 Cottesloe Dutch Inn L-R Alan MacGilvray and Keith Campbell - K Campbell pic




1985 Yallingup Malibu Classic recollections by Greg Laurenson

The annual Yallingup Malibu Classic (Yal Mal) will celebrate it’s 30th Anniversary at Yallingup on 29 & 30 November 2014.

In 2004 WA Surf Industry legend Greg Laurenson recorded his recollections of the first competition held in 1985. An excerpt from his recollections follows:-

“It was just a few mates, Tony Harbison, Johnboy Molloy, Bob Monkman and myself, and of course Loz – he’s the one that put soul into the event. We thought that it would be a good idea to have a little comp at our home break, any money raised would go back into the community – swings for the kids’ maybe, who knows. Anyway, that first Mal Classic little it was not. The bright sunlit crystal clear water of Yallingup lagoon in summer had given way to a heavy overcast sky and a larger than large raw southern ocean swell. Great, who’s in the first heat? Not me I hope was the consensus and it was amazing how many sprained ankles appeared. But the two days went off really well, we all got hammered, Clary Brent-White broke my new board into three pieces, Peter Dyson made us all laugh and John Clemenger, WA’s wandering surf legend took out the event. So that was that – the first one. Who would have thought that over the following years the event would develop and grow as it has into such a beautiful uplifting occasion”.

1985 Finalists in the first Yal Mal standing in front of the old brick toilet block at Yallingup. The photo taken by Loz Smith has been signed by the finalists and Greg Laurenson. It was purchased by the Burrow family at auction. L-R Bob Monkman, Robbo O’Brien (worst wipe-out), Peter Mac, John Clemenger, Ian Mitchell, Peter Dyson, Ross Tomsett, Cliff Hills, Gene Hall, Tony Harbison, Keith Campbell & Kevin ‘Twiggy’ Sharland (surf photographer) – Loz Smith image courtesy of Vance Burrow.

1985 Yal Mal finalists - Loz Pic (signed) DSC_4751

Another excerpt from Greg Laurenson’s recollections of first Yal Mal follows:-

“Anticipation starts to fill the air as the day’s events draw to a close. It’s the back tie and boardies Surfers Ball at Surfside. Later that evening all the crew and their girls are fully buffed and ready to rock. Gina and her wonderful band were there – I could tell it was her from the first note. Memories of Caves House on a Sunday afternoon with Nance & Vance Burrow and Gina on vocals came flooding back – truly good times. So let the good times roll and roll they did except for one minor hiccup with the weather gods and as with any real surfers ball a visit from the police just after midnight just to give the show a bit of cred”.

1987 Yal Mal competition tent and competitors on the lawn at Yallingup. Photo courtesy of Andy Jones.

1985 Yalls Yal Mal comp Andy Jones pic_0010A

2014 Veteran Yallingup surfer Peter Dyson modelling Yal Mal 30th Anniversary t-shirt designed by Loz Smith – Photo credit Loz Smith.

2014 Quindalup Peter Dyson in 1985 Yal Mal t-shirt Loz design & picA