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Three Bears surf break & track in the 80s

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.

Click on this link to view Three Bears surf break & track in the 70s.

This a collection of anecdotes & photos from ’80s Bears user’s………

Gary GibbonMy abiding memories are frequently concerned with scrambling up to Bears in vehicles, not always my own, that really weren’t designed to do the job. The track, especially in summer, could be ruthless on them; tyres, suspension, steering, etc. Four wheel drives weren’t as common in those days, so I was usually looking to bum lifts with people like Harbo, Ralph Redman and Geoff Culmsee, all of whom had reliable vehicles that would do the job. Poor souls such as me, frequently made do with the common man’s 4WD … clapped out VW’s, which, it should be added, were pretty reliable getting through if they had the right tyres. Just as an aside, I remember a day with Kim Hunter, Micko Gracie, Kirk (Boonga) Ball and one or two others, when we had to change a flat on a VW bug, up towards the bombie with no jack, nor wheel brace. We only had a spare and a knife! Somehow managed it, which partially involved everyone lifting the VW up and swinging it around, so that it balanced airborne on the track edges, temporarily blocking the track.

Can’t help chuckling when I remember that sign that Tony had for years outside Hideaway Holiday Homes – “$10.00 for tow-outs!” Luckily I never had to request his services, but I bet quite a few did over the years.

But the occasional price you paid with your vehicles was worth it, considering, the value you received back in some unreal, relatively uncrowded, sessions in those days with just your mates for company.

I generally surfed Baby Bear the most, but especially liked Papas in clean, small conditions. My favourite spot though was Outside Mamas in summer low tides with big S, SW swells where it began to break on the outside ledge, creating a much longer ride.

I always loved surfing with Ralph at Bears and consider him the best I saw at Babies back in the 70’s/80’s. He really tube rode there very consistently.

I didn’t surf Mamas so much (except as noted above, which I think of as a separate break), but watching over there from Baby’s and chilling on the dunes in between sessions, I was always impressed with Lindsey Whittle who pretty much surfed there exclusively from the late 70’s into the early 80’s.

From the time I first surfed it in 1975 with Andy Jones, Steve Carroll and Mark Favell, I always loved the place. How could you not, especially when you’d come back to Yallingup surfed out and seeing it crowded and inconsistently small? Flashing back on the fact that Three Bears had only been discovered 4 years earlier, was also a buzz.

Photo: 1980 Gary Gibbon surfing Baby Bears. Gary Gibbon pic

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Justin RedmanI remember spending all day on Bears beach in the mid 80s while dad (Ralph) was surfing. Nancy Burrow used to look after my sister Melanie & I (and any other pre-school age kids on the beach). Taj & I used to surf back wash on the inside reef (lagoon) at Bears.

Photo: 1980 Ralph Redman surfing Baby Bears. Gary Gibbon pic

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Photos: 1980 Yalls (Left) Ralph Redman, Rubberman & Tim with Ralph’s VW buggy. (Right) Ralph with VW buggy and boards. Gary Gibbon pics

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Loz Smith – In the 80s Peter Mac & I would drive to Bears from Yalls in his little yellow VW Beetle. His VW had razor blade tyres & a piece of driftwood wedged across back bumper. I used the driftwood as a platform to stand-on and bump us through boggy bits of the track.

Tony Harbison’s son Glen used to park at the top of the track’s boggy section (behind Shallows) and tow out bogged cars for $5.

On a good day we used to surf Bears three times a day. We would go early & surf in strong NE conditions with blind take-offs, then return to Yalls for lunch. After lunch the offshore wind dropped and we would go back to Bears for an arvo session & return to Yalls for a rest. If conditions were still good late in the day, we would go back again for the Sunset session. Geoff Culmsee & Ralph Redman were always there.

Photo: 1980s Yalls early Yal Mal contest. L-R Tim Eastwood, Peter Mac & Loz Smith. Peter Mac pic

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Jim KingIn the early 80s, Fred Harris & I used to get a lift to Bears with Brian Felton and his team of veteran wave ski riders – Ron Fussell, Laurie Roach, boogie boarder Al Rich and hand boarder Harry Kimber. Every weekend & holiday Brian would pack us in his old reconditioned Landrover van and we would head off from Yalls on the bumpy coastal dirt track to Bears. Much fun was had being tossed around the back of the old Landrover (with unpadded seats & no suspension) on those slow trips to Bears & return. Brian’s son Peter continued to use the Landrover on the Bears run for years after his dad passed away.

I celebrated my 40th birthday at Bears by catching 40 waves in one gluttonous session at Baby’s. Afterwards I spent a pleasant afternoon with mates in the beer garden at Caves Pub Yalls. My brother and mates tried to do the same on their 40th but conditions or their bodies didn’t allow them to do it. Ha!

Photos: Bears. (Left) 1982 Vance Burrow cuttie at Mammas. Minolta Water Camera shot by Brian Bell. (Right) 1983 Jim King surfing Baby’s on a Blaxell Surfboard. Photos courtesy of Jim King.

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Jim McFarlane – I used to surf Three Bears a lot over summer in the nude. Not only did I feel free, but not many other surfers wanted to drop in on me.

Photo: 1983 Jim McFarlane surfing Baby Bears in a wettie. Photo courtesy of Jim McFarlane

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Mark ‘Hillsy’ HillsMy earliest memory was dad and  Terry ‘Rat’ James taking the brand new HG Holden sedan up the back track when I was about 10 (1976) and snapping the aerial off and scratching the car up much to mum’s disgust. I think this is where my lack of respect for cars going up the Bears track must have come from.

On another occasion my mum warned me beforehand not to come home if I damaged dad’s car and, lo and behold, I had a head-on prang on one of those mounds on the track. I jumped out of the car and started abusing the other guys, then quickly realised it was full of big Maori guys….so I backed off & politely asked them for a tow back to Yalls.

Very few people had 4 wheel drives, so you did what you’re not supposed too, drive your two wheel drive up the track.

Photos: 1988 Mark Hills surfing Mama Bears on an Al Bean surfboard. Twiggy Sharland pic.

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Mark “Hillsy’ Hills – When I turned 18 my mum and dad bought me my first car, a green 1968 two door Toyota Corolla station wagon in mint condition. After three months, I rolled the car completely and finished up against a lamp post full of piss after a night at the Nookenburra pub in Innaloo. My punishment other than my license being suspended, was to find and fix a secondhand car body, fit a motor and repaint the Corolla station wagon, before I was allowed to drive again.

Nine months later, painted canary yellow, the ultimate Bears mobile ‘Fang’ was born. I had put Pirelli P4’s on Fang which gave her more height and less chance of losing an exhaust on the way up to Bears. With mates in hand and one or two cement bags in the back and a little less tyre pressure, Fang could go where others perished. The first part of the track was always the hardest, with Fang screaming in first gear through the gravel mounds and ditches with enough speed and lack of respect through the sandy bits. If we got stuck we would simply lift her out or shunt her along to get on the right path. Fang was so light that when we came into the S bends before the small fence opening, the boys in the back would move to one side trying to slide us into the fence or off the track…..this was unsettling!

Each time going up the track it would smash the steering around so much that dad made me a stick to line up in the middle of the front tyres, exactly for the right manual alignment after each trip. One time after a horror trip up to Bears the windscreen wiper motor just fell out and landed on my foot. After this it was hard driving back to Perth when it was raining and dark. She was a great old car, not the fastest, but she could do the track in about eight and half minutes. I think Dave Sheen had the record at seven and half minutes in his EH black and white Holden and I reckon Gordon Vernon in his HK was pretty fast too. Super fun times. Oh yeah, the surf was good too! 

Photo: 1990 Mark Hills cover-up at Mamma Bears. Twiggy Sharland pic.

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Floyd Irvine – In the 80s Andrew ‘MO’ Mills & I destroyed so many Kingswood’s on the Bears track. We used the front track from Yalls & that first hill behind Shallows was so sandy & had so many large steps.

On one trip in MO’s Datsun 1200 we were waiting in a queue to get back up the hill. A Ford F100 & Hilux got out, but chewed up the track. Then after many tries a Subaru got out but was smashed up in the process. Then Mo & I set off in his little Datsun 1200. Mo was such a legend driver, he just keep the wheels on the track without spinning out and we smoothly drove out of there and waved to the others waiting their turn.

Mo’s Datsun 1200 had narrow tyres like razor blades. After a 3 hour surf at Bears we were tired & hungry and in a hurry to get to the bakery, so we tried the seldom used Sugarloaf track. On top of the hill with a right hand turn, the car slid side-ways off the track & we were hideously bogged. After 3 hours jacking & pushing, we finally got back the car back on the track. We were already exhausted & starving before we got started again….what a nightmare!

Photos: 1990 Floyd & Mo at Bears. Floyd Irvine pics.

Left: Andrew ‘Mo’ Mills on Bears Beach. Right: Floyd surfing with flair in yellow wettie.

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In the 1990s The Dunsborough pub named its front bar after the Three Bears surf break.

Mike BibbyWhen my colleagues & I purchased the Dunsborough Hotel from Shad Nixon in 1998, the main bar was the Three Bears Bar. There was a lot of memorabilia on the walls, photos, plaques with stories as to why it was named by George Simpson & Co (as told in SDS book), boards (all new) etc.

When we renovated the bar, all of the memorabilia (boards included) were souvenired (stolen) by the staff.  Nothing was left.

Photos: 1998 Three Bears Bar memorabilia. Mike Bibby & Bruce King pics.

Left: Three Bears Bar T-Shirts logo. Right: Three Bears Bar surfboard logo.

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Track Closure

CALM closed the coastal Bears track from Yallingup circa 1992, it is now part of Cape to Cape walk. Surfers now use other 4wd routes to access Bears.

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Peter Mac’s Happy Snaps.

Peter ‘Mac’ McDonald has lived, surfed, fished and worked at Yallingup since the 70s.

This a collection of his happy snaps of Yalls & elsewhere.

MacIn the 60’s my parents had a holiday home at Moore River (north of Perth). My sisters & I enjoyed many fun times there.

Photos: 1960s Moore River holidays. Photos courtesy of Peter & Robyn Mac.

Top: (Left) Early 60s Peter age 12 with Nina the hound. (Right) 1963 Peter surfing Moore River beachie.
Bottom: (Left) 1969 Jenny Payne, Robyn Mac, Jenny Lym, Denise Waters & Bruce King. (Right)  1970s Peter Mac, Blue Nicholson, Jenny Lym & Micko Gracie standing in front of outside dunny.

1960-70 Moore River Peter Mac collage_photocat

MacIn the 70s Chris Green & I were partners in Yallingup Bricklayers Co.

Photos: 1970s Yalls. (Left) Mac & Chris Green going over the books at Richie Riggs place. (Right) Mac, Chris Green & his bro Richard (ex NZ) rugged up for SW winter. Photos courtesy Peter Mac.

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Photos: 1973 Yalls some of Mac’s mates. (Left) Micko Gracie & Rodney dog. (Right) Steve ‘Blue’ Nicholson napping. Photos courtesy of Bruce King.

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Photos: 1970s Capel party. Photos courtesy of Peter Mac.

Top: (Left) Ron ‘Gremmo’ Ellis & Howard Johnson (decd). (Right) Christine Johnson & Wendy Campbell.
Bottom: (left) Laurie ‘Pup’ Nesbitt. (Right) Hornie Campbell, Peter Mac, George Simpson & Glen Lance.

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Mac – In 1978 Bruce King, Kevin O’Dwyer, Ian ‘Prive’ Morris & I lived and worked on building sites in the Bunbury region. Tropical Cyclone Alby went through Bunbury with 130Km/h winds and did a lot of damage while we where there.

Photos: 1978 Bunbury party. (Left) Bruce & Mac. (Right) Prive. Photos courtesy of Peter Mac.

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MacIn the late 1970s I was still single and Chris Green & his wife Lynette were living with me at Yalls.

Photo: 1979 Yalls Mac’s house (centre red brick) and view across empty caravan park to the ocean. This photo was taken from Prive’s block on Yallingup hill. Peter Mac pic.

1979 Yalls overlooking P Mac place & caravan park P Mac pic

Photos: 1970s Yalls Chris Green’s van parked out front of Peter Dyson’s shack. (Right) Chris Green at Mac’s house. Photos courtesy of Peter Mac.

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Photos: 2000’s Peter Mac surfing Indijup Car Park. Photos courtesy of Peter Mac.

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Photos: 2008 Yalls. (Left) Prive and his ‘Meyerhoffer’ coke bottle shape surfboard. (Right) Peter Mac and his fish catch. Photos courtesy of Jim King.

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Photos: YalMal classic Yalls (Left) 1980 Tim Eastwood, Peter Mac & Loz Smith. (Right) 2014 Peter Mac, Peter Dyson & Loz Smith. Photos courtesy of Loz Smith.

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Photos: YalMal classic Yalls. (Left) 2011 Prive, Mark Hills, Arns Smith & Yesca Maas. (Right) 2014 Bob Monkman & Peter Mac. Photos courtesy of Loz Smith.

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On a sunny day you may see Mac riding his old bike to Yallingup beach for a swim.

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Surfside at Yallingup – Recollections

Many SW residents and visiting surfers enjoyed the hospitality at Surfside Tea Rooms/Store/Cafe/Restaurant/Accommodation at Yallingup over the years. This is a collection of their Surfside recollections from the 50s to 80s.

Jim Keenan – pioneer WA surfer

Surfside tea rooms were run by the Hammond family and was a favourite amongst the 50’s & 60’s surfing fraternity for hamburgers upon arrival and breakfast whenever the rain washed out our fires.

The Hammonds were very generous with their tucker and would stay open until our arrival from the city on a Friday night, for a weekend of surfing.

We would arrive rugged up in our great coats (winter) or bear suits half pissed from the journey down from Perth. The honest guys would order hamburgers which of course required action in the kitchen a separate room.

The dis-honest took advantage of this and filled their pockets with blocks of old gold chocolate while the counter staff were preparing the hamburgers in the kitchen. I won’t mention the main culprits name but, his initials were T.H.

I guess T.H. survived because he did share the wares when we returned to our hammocks on the rock face facing Yalls. We felt guilty but, the benefits outweighed the problem.

I have met with Garth Hammond and discussed the above and he assures me that his parents were well aware of the Fagan in our midst, but chose not to complain. Wonderful people and karma will care for T.H.

The tearooms were also the venue for the tourists arriving via a state run bus. They would flood into the rooms and buy their tea and cream covered scones. If the boys happened to visit in the same time frame, I can only imagine what they thought of the strangely dressed patrons talking in what sounded like a foreign language.

Photo: 1962 Jim Keenan & Puppydog surfing outside Gallows on Barry Bennett surfboards from NSW. Photo courtesy Jim Keenan.

1962 Gallows outside break J Keenan & Puppydog on NSW Barry Bennet boards - J Keenan pic

Peter ‘Mac’ McDonald – Yallingup

In the late 60s when we travelled down south on weekends and the weather was poor, we would sleep in the public brick toilets or on Surfside’s side verandah. Later when we were working in the SW carting hay about 10 of us (George Simpson, Ronny Ratshit, Grant Robinson, Gary Kontoolas & others) used to sleep in our cars under the melaleucas. We had breakfast (tomato mince) & dinner with Bernie & Eve at Surfside.

Bernie must have felt sorry for us sleeping in our cars and offered the back toilet/shower block to George Simpson, Rick Lobe & I. We moved in to our plush accommodation.

When the hay job finished we went off picking spuds for the Smith family near Carbunup.

Photo: Early 1970s Moore River L-R Steve ‘Blue’ Nicholson, Peter McDonald, Jenny Limb & Micko Gracie – Photo courtesy of Peter Mac.

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Steve Carr – Yallingup

This is my best recollection of the fate of George Simpson’s old Ford Customline which was abandoned outside Surfside Yalls probably around 1970/71 (or thereabouts).

The car was parked out the front of Surfside for ages and we (along with a few others) used it to sleep in if we had too many for our own car.

Bernie had had enough of it sitting out the front and asked a few of us if we could get rid of it. I can’t remember how many of us there were involved in the disposal but it was a few, probably 5 or 6 at least. One of the guys that was down there a fair bit in those days was Ian Reid who lived on a dairy farm in Capel and he had a HR Holden that was probably the newest and best car of all the locals down there at the time.

Back then there would have only been no more than a dozen houses in the bay (if that) so we decided to tow it up the hill to the top of Wardanup Crescent and push it off the road into the bush. It did take a fair bit of effort to get it up the hill and I have a recollection that “Ronnie Ratshit” was sitting on the bonnet of the old bomb as Ian was towing it but I think we had to do a bit of pushing as well. Unfortunately poor Ian finished up burning his clutch out in the process of getting it up the hill so it become an expensive exercise for him!

Needless to say Bernie was happy that the car was gone and on the other side of ledger I suspect the poor bugger who eventually bought the block had the additional cost of getting rid of the old bomb from the area before they were able to start building.

Photo: 1974 Sydney NSW Steve Carr & some party animals. Photo courtesy of Steve Carr.

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Bruce King – Dunsborough

On stormy nights we used to sleep in the toilet block behind Surfside then wake up to a Bernie and Eve breakfast special of savoury mince on toast.

We also stayed at the Lurch house next door and quite often had card nights and séances which were downright scary at times. We communicated with the so called Yallingup ghost (he used to frequent the local area supposedly carry his head under his arm). The then president of WASRA Dr Ron Naylor was present on some occasions and could not explain the phenomena. After one session we predicted a lone swimmer who left from Cottesloe for a swim to Rottnest was apparently attacked and we would find his skull at a beach north of Perth. Trevor Burslem who was working with 6PR radio station at the time heard of this and followed it up. A skull was subsequently found on a northern beach and we gave away séances after that.

Photo: 1973 Bruce King at Three Bears. Photo courtesy of Bruce King.

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Louie ‘Longboard’ Corkill – Dunsborough

In the early 70s I used to mow lawns for Harbo and Pete Dyson to earn money for food at Surfside. Pete Dyson used to pay me out of an army sock with rolled up $20 notes.

Back then Andy Jones used to be a cook at Dunsborough Bakery. In winter time I used to pinch uncut loaves of warm bread off the hot rack, hollow them out and stick my feet in them to keep warm. Mark “Murf the surf” Brescoe and I used to sleep in the hedge next to the Dunno bakery.

I felt my first women’s tits under Tom Hoye’s Board Shop next to Surfside. I fondled the girl’s breasts while her mother was above us listening to Neil Diamond’s “Hot August Night’.

Photo: 1975 Louie Corkill (age 16) at Mandurah with Len Dubben surfboard & Adler boardies. Photo courtesy of Louie Corkill.

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Russell Quinlivan – Busselton.

Here is a story, printable or not. It was a cold and wintery night, 1972 inside Surfside, with myself, Paul Galbraith, Charlie Dingbat, George Simpson and this drunk guy who owned the 2 holiday units next to Surfside. George and the drunk guy were playing pool for money as we watched on. This drunk dude kept trying to antagonize George after each of his losses, but George ignored it, as he was taking this guy’s money. After his 4th loss in a row, this guy started to verbally abuse George, and even poked George heavily in the chest. George remained calm. Then this guy did the unthinkable, he slapped George across the face. “Oh No,” we thought. George, thought for a second or so. There were 3 heavy laminex tables and chairs between the pool table and the front door, which parted like the Red Sea as George upper cut this guy to the front door, casually opened it and pushed him out. George must have had a lot of brownie points with Bernie, as Bernie never said boo about the mess that we all commenced to clean up. Hope you like my story. Sorry no Bloody photos. Ha.

Photo: 1970s Russell Quinlivan at Trigg Point. Photo courtesy of Peta Quinlivan.

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Laurie ‘Loz’ Smith – Quindalup surfer & photographer

In 73-74 my brother Tony & I would sleep in his split screen Kombi in the Yallingup car park. At that time there were no rangers and camping was free. After an early surf, we used to have a brekkie of sausages & eggs on toast and a cuppa at Surfside for 60c. We would play table soccer for 10c a game while we were waiting for brekkie. We used to fill up the Kombi at Surfside using the hand pump Petrol Bowser. Surfside was the only place to eat brekkie besides the Bakery at Dunsborough. Sally Jones used to work at the Bakery and made the biggest milkshakes. If Tony & I surfed elsewhere, we camped in the Kombi at Injidup, Rocky Point or under the melaleucas near the creek at Cowtown.

Photo: 1980s Yallingup Yal Mal contest. L-R Tim Eastwood, Peter Mac & Loz Smith. Tim & Loz are holding Rob Malcolm’s 8 footers. Peter Mac’s is holding a 9ft Cordingley board shaped by Bob Monkman. Photo credit Peter Mac.

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Mal Leckie – Queensland surfer & artist

I remember one funny morning at Surfside. When you ordered your meal you got a numbered ticket and then Eve would appear at the little side door-window thing and call out the number when it was ready. We all sat waiting and talking at the tables.

Eve came to the window and yelled out “99” but nobody came forward, so she put the meal aside and served a couple of others. Then she tried again with “99” a couple of times but nobody showed up. Then she got a bit edgy and yelled out a very loud “Ninety-bloody-nine” but still nobody responded as she stood there holding the plate and looking at the ticket. Everyone was quiet now as the mystery evolved and we were all waiting to see who it was that was going to cop a mouthful from Eve. But as she stood there with plate and ticket, she suddenly got a sheepish look on her face, then very quietly said, “oh, Number 66”.

The place erupted with belly laughs. I’m sure whoever had 66 will remember that, it was a classic.

Photo: 1973 Nedlands Mal Leckie & Tony Hart. Photo credit Faye Hart.

1973 Nedlands Mal Leckie & Tony Hart - Faye Hart pic

Al Bean – Surfboard Shaper Dunsborough

In the early 70s I shaped surfboards for Gary Greirson in Osborne Park. Then I convinced Gaz to let me shape boards down south. In 1975 I moved down south and shaped 10 boards per week at an Ellenbrook Road rental property. I converted an old lean-to on the side of the house into a shaping bay. I surfed and shaped 2 boards per day & drove boards back to the city on a Friday night, socialised over weekend & then drove back to SW with surfboards blanks on a Sunday night.

Late in 77 my dad told me his accountant had a syndicate that had bought a caravan park and store in the SW and they wanted me to manage it for them. When I found out it was at Yallingup I was rapt. I became Manager of Surfside & the Yalls Beach Caravan Park on 20 Dec 1977 at age 20 years. I learnt to cook and employed local girls to help at Surfside.

Back then city surfers would sleep in cars in the car park and we would get up to 60 surfers waiting for breakfast each morning over the weekend. It was a different story during the week and we would be lucky to sell a choc milk & newspaper to Harbo at Hideaway Homes. So I would close the shop mid-week and go surfing. On a Wednesday I would play country darts at Caves House with all the House boys (local family).

Young Mark ‘Hillzee’ Hills used to cash soft drink bottles at the shop and then sneak around the back and pinch them to re-sell again (-:

I did a bit of grass slashing at the Caravan Park, but not much else. Leon Thomasian used to live in the Caravan Park and would hide in the long grass to avoid paying camping fees.

I managed Surfside and the Beach Caravan Park until 1979.

Photo: 1974 Al Bean (age 19) with Grierson Surfboard at South Point. Photo credit Ric Chan

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Leon Thomasian – Dunsborough

In the late 70s, I lived in Al Bean’s unkempt Caravan Park on Yallingup beach. The park was covered in double-gees and would puncture thongs. I was worked as a lighthouse keeper at Cape Naturaliste, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Leveque in the NW before heading over east.

In the 80s young Dane & Scotty Richardson lived in the Beach Caravan Park with their dad. The Richardson boys were like terrorists and got up to all types of mischief with Mark Hills.

Photo: 1978 Leon Thomasian at Meelup Valeey. Photo credit Vance Burrow.

1978 SW Leon Thomasian Meelup Valley cropped VB IMG

Mark ‘Hillsy’ Hills – Quindalup

Biggest memories for me at Surfside as kids were the pinball machines. It was 20 cents a game and to get money to play we used to go through the bins and look for cool drink bottles which you could cash in for 8 cents at Surfside. Would have been around 1978/79 and I was about 12 or thirteen. Tony and Coral Harbison owned Hide Away Holiday homes where we would stay through the holidays and down the side of their home they would stack cool drink bottles in crates left by guests . This was a treasure trove for the pinball machines. Me and Pete Felton thought it would be a good idea to knock off this treasure trove and cash it in a Surfside. We got busted by Harbo and being pretty bloody fair he offered us half the profit if we took the cool drink bottles over to Surfside instead of just taking them. This worked a treat as we also noticed that it was very easy to access where Surfside stacked their bottles. So we would carry Harbo’s bottles over, half the profit, then later take back our bottles from Surfside and cash them back in again. We played a lot of pinball .

Photo: 1990 Mark Hills surfing Rabbits on Mitch Thorson’s Campbell Bros Bonza surfboard. Photo Credit Kevin ‘Twiggy’ Sharland.

1990 Rabbits Mark Hills on Mitch Thorsons Campbell Bros bonza board - Twiggy Sharland pic

Refer to Surfing Down South book for Garth Hammond’s & George Simpson’s Surfside recollections.

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Steve Rice ‘The King of Capel’

Popular Capel brothers Steve ‘The King of Capel’ and Garry ‘Wings’ Rice have lived in the South West and surfed local waves for over 3 decades.

Sadly Steve (age 60) passed away unexpectedly on 23 June 2014. At the time, he was surfing beautiful clean waves with Garry and mates at his favourite surf break.

Steve Rice was an absolute legend, a great surfboard maker and a top bloke” Mark Hills, Yahoo Surfboards.

2012 Steve Rice with his Sealines surfboard, unidentified & Glen Mowday – Photo credit Jim King

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Many people don’t know Steve’s background. He was born in Kogarah, Sydney in 1954 and started surfing (age 12) with Garry. Their early surfing years were spent in and around the Cronulla area. They later becoming regulars at ‘The Point’ at Cronulla.

In 1976 Steve & Garry set off with a couple of mates on a surfing/working journey through Mauritius, Madagascar, Africa, Europe, UK and Canada.

On his return to OZ in 1978, Steve joined Garry and new found mates at a surfer’s farmhouse at Australind, near Bunbury. This was a benchmark year for quality surf in WA and within months the brothers had cemented life-long friendships.

Steve and Garry were invited to join the small but productive team at Peter Mercer Surfboards in nearby Capel. Under the tutorage of Peter Mercer and Alf Jeffries the brothers learnt the fine art of surfboard construction.

After several fun years in the South West, Steve worked for a while at Cordingley Surfboards in Perth before heading back East to Crescent Head to work at Seaduce Surfboards in Kempsey for his mentor Alf Jeffries. Bro’ Garry headed off to the US.

2010 Steve tucked in at his favourite surf break – Photo courtesy of Bruce King.

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In 1982 the brothers re-united and headed back to the West and settled in Capel, approx. 55km north of Yallingup. In mid-1983 the brothers opened their own surf board workshop Sealines Fibreglass in Capel. This was a dream come true for Steve and he managed to keep living the dream to the end.

A few years after settling in Capel the boys married local girls and had 2 daughters each. The two Rice families maintained a very close relationship and the brothers (known to some as the ‘Rice Bubble’ bros) continued to surf and party together.

Steve was a former member and Club President of Indiana Board Riders in Bunbury. He also notched up 18 years voluntary service with the Capel Bush Fire Brigade.

Many thanks to Garry ‘Wings’ Rice for providing Steve’s background material.

Photos (top left) 2009 Steve ‘selfie’ in his surfboard showroom – Photo credit Garry Rice, (top right) 1972 Peter Mercer Surfboards logo – Image courtesy of Grant Mooney surfboard collection. (bottom left) Sealines surfboard logo – Image credit Garry Rice. (bottom right) The ‘Rice Bubble’ bros and mates at the beach – Photo credit Bruce King.

Steve Rice compilation2

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1967 Mother & son at Yalls lagoon

1967 Tania Hills (former Miss West Coast) and her son Mark (age 1) tandem surfing in the lagoon at Yallingup. Mark went on to open Hillzeez Surf stores in Busselton & Bunbury. He now manages Yahoo Surfboards at Dunsborough. Photo credit Cliff Hills.

1967 Yalls Lagoon Tania & Mark Hills - Cliff Hills pic(2)

Mark’s father Cliff Hills from Cottesloe was a talented surfer and SW surfing pioneer. In August 1962 Cliff received a bravery award from the Royal Humane Society of Australasia for the attempted rescue of Geoff Dalziel at Yallingup Beach in April 1962. This photo shows Cliff Hills travelling across the Nullabor with his Falcon ute in 1965. Photo credit Cliff Hills..

1965 Nullabour Cliff Hills with ute- Cliff Hills pic