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GEOFF CULMSEE GOES BACK!!!

Geoff Culmsee recorded his SW memoirs for the Surfing Down South book published by Margaret River Press in 2014. Excerpts from these memoirs where included in the book.

I first went to Yallingup in 1960 when I was 16 years old. I went with Murray Smith whose mate owned a car!! It was in January and there was a dozen or so surfers out…Kevin Merifield, Mark Paterson, Ray Geary and some whose names I can’t remember. They were a few years older than us and were probably the original surfers.

The first day was clean 4 to 5ft surf but coming from Scarborough, Yallingup was a whole different thing. I had never imagined waves with so much water and push in them. I think the first time I caught about one wave and was glad to get back on the beach. Things improved from then on. We only had a few days and went home full of enthusiasm.

With a few mates we formed a new surfboard club called the North End Board Club. It grew to around 25 members and we used Smithy’s place in Scarborough as the headquarters, as he lived right on the beach. All the members paid 2 shillings a week and we built up enough money to buy a block of land at Georgette Way in Prevelly Park in 1964.

Photo: 1961 North End Board Club at Scarborough L-R M Darcy, J Pinch, unidentified doing Quasimodo, Murray Smith, Geoff Culmsee & Gary Granery. Murray Smith pic.

1961 Scarborough North End Board Club M Darcy, J Pinch, unknown, M Smith, G Culmsee & G Granery - Murray Smith pic2

At age 18 I bought my first car… a Holden…and we started going down south once or twice a month. It was a bit of a trek then as the coast road was rough limestone from Miami to Australind so we travelled the Southwest Highway. We surfed mainly Yallingup and Injidup, most weekends with only 2 or 3 car loads of surfers.

We camped under the melaleuca trees at Yallingup where the playground is now, slinging hammocks up for the weekend. Most of the time, we didn’t even leave Yallingup. You could lie in your hammock and watch the waves roll in. There were old weatherboard change rooms on the beach where we left our Malibu boards…no-one ever touched them. Things were really good in those days! The old change rooms slowly fell down and finished up as firewood for the odd kegs we had on the beach.

When there was no surf we went exploring down the coast and one day some mates came back with reports of great right-handers at a place called Cowaramup…also Gallows was discovered and then Margaret River.

In 1963 the North End Board Club bought the block in Prevelly and our base became Margaret River. We started building a shack on weekends and holidays. Within 12 months we had a 3 room shack with a toilet and shower…luxury!! The shack only had louver windows which were pretty draughty in winter, but it sure beat hammocks!! The shack stayed in the board club for over 40 years and was sold to one of the members (Zac Kochanowitsch).

Photos: 1967 North End board club shack at Prevelly Park with Geoff’s Landrover on the right. Murray Smith pics.

1967 North End Shack Prevelly MS pics collage_photocat

With my wife and 3 month old daughter we shifted down south to live in 1969. We first lived in Prevelly in a caravan, but when our daughter needed more space we found an old farmhouse inland a bit on the Margaret River. In those days I surfed Margs on my own, sometimes because there was not many people around during the week, and many times I just waited hoping someone would turn up!

I started my first surfboard shop down south at the farmhouse. We shifted to an old farmhouse at Cowaramup, but didn’t stay too long because it was full of fleas and it was either them or us and we took the easy option!! We moved to a farmhouse on Caves Road next to where Driftwood Estate Winery now stands, which had a lot better exposure as far as selling surfboards went.  By this time there were a lot more surfers around and we were surfing most of the breaks that are surfed today. After a couple of years we shifted to Eagle Bay, living in a cottage on the Rocky Point track. I continued making surfboards in a shed that I built.

Photo: 2016 Mark Hills from Yahoo Surfboards with a vintage Geoff Culmsee single fin surfboard made in the shed at Eagle Bay 1971-73. Photo courtesy of Yahoo Surfboards.

2016 70s Geoff Culmsee surfboard at Yahoo collage_photocat

We didn’t have 240volt power at first because the power lines didn’t go that far, but we put some money towards the scheme to get it out there. We were the only ones out there until a local doctor built a house in the then new subdivision where the Eagle Bay shop was.

I teamed up with surfing mate Ralph Redman and started a fibreglass business in Dunsborough which operated for about 30years

Photo: 1970 Geoff-Culmsee surfing Big Rock beach at Gracetown. Jim Breadsell pic.

1969 Noiseys Cowaramup surfing Geoff Culmsee - Jim Breadsell pic.jpg

The Gallows track ran down between fences at Cullens Winery…a horror track in winter with creeks flowing over it which bogged most cars, if you were not careful! It stopped about 2 kilometres from the coast and you had to sneak through the bush past Cullen’s beach cottage to the surf break carrying heavy Malibu’s! One day a bulldozer happened to be working in the area and a couple of guys from the West Coast Board Club talked the driver into pushing a track the last 2 kms to the beach, through someone’s farm. The problem was that no-one thought to ask the farmer!! There was a bit of unrest for a while, but it all settled down and the track stayed open. It was also a hell of track in summer…going in wasn’t too bad, but it had some black sandy hills to climb coming out which meant getting out and pushing in sand that was as hot as hell!!….All good fun!! The tracks into Injidup and Left Handers were not much better.

John and Paul Witzig came over a few times bringing some of Australia’s best surfers…Wayne Lynch was one that that John was taking photos of for his surf magazine…Tracks. Paul was taking movies. This started a lot of eastern states surfers coming over.

Image: Renowned NSW surf journo/photographer John Witzig took this photo of Geoff Culmsee in front of an old farmhouse at Margaret River circa 1970. It has been shown in Surf mags and Photo Exhibitions around OZ. Geoff’s framed image has been signed by John Witzig.  Image courtesy of John Witzig & Geoff Culmsee.

1970 Cowaramup farm house Geoff Culmsee - John Witzig DSC_0310 (2)

A lot happened in the mid 70s with surfers turning up from all over Australia to surf. Some stayed and made the area their home. It was the hippy era with long hair and beards which didn’t impress the local farmers much. You had to prove to them that you were willing to miss a surf and turn up for work!

On a trip south a young George Simpson, his brother Mick and mate Mick Gracie walked the coast from Yallingup to Sugar Loaf and saw the wave at Bears. It was called MGM for a long time before being named 3 Bears. At first it was a walk from Sugar Loaf to surf it.

Around this time a very easy going American…Tom Hoye had moved down and was making surfboards in a shed next to the shop at Yallingup beach. He lived in a farmhouse near the Dunsborough Cemetery. The farm ran all the way to the coast so Tom could drive through the paddocks all the way to Bears. It was a bloody long way and not much of a track. A new track was needed, so with an old Toyota with a log tied on the roo bar a track was pushed through from Rabbit Hill Yallingup to 3 Bears.

In the late 70s to 80s Yallingup was declared a NO DOLE area as they were too many surfers not working and claiming the dole. As it happened…the early surfers changed the area by bringing in many tradesmen and guys like Tony Harbison who built the first Holiday cottages in Yallingup (Hideaway Holiday Homes).

When my daughter started school there were 43 children at the school in Dunsborough and now there are 2 primary schools at capacity. We sure had the best of life surfing back then and it was a great place to bring up kids.

It’s a pity that things change…but that’s progress…not always all for the good!!

Photo: 1989 Abrolhos trip Culmsee, Burrow & Redman families. Photo courtesy of Nancy Burrow.

L-R Nancy Burrow, Gina Pannone, Tony Cook, Vance & Taj Burrow, Justin Redman, Geoff Culmsee & Ralph Redman (the moustache bros), Wayne (red shirt), Natasha Culmsee (now remarried) and John Clemenger. Boat cook (crouching).

1989 Abrolhos trip Burrow, Culmsee & Redman families - Nance Burrow pic IMG_0001

Geoff is now a septuagenarian and shares his surfing time between SW and NW waves, similar to his mate Murray Smith.

Last year Geoff, Ralph Redman, Vance Burrow & Geoff Hewitt scored good waves on a boat trip in the Maldives.

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Gallery

1960s South West Images by Jim Breadsell

Jim Breadsell was an inaugural member of the North End Board Club at Scarborough in 1962 with Geoff Culmsee, Murray Smith & other Scarborough lads. He surfed in WA for many years before travelling interstate & overseas.

Jim was also a keen photographer and captured these South West surfing images.

Gracetown & surrounds

Photos: 1965 South Point. Jim Breadsell pics.

Top: Murray Smith recovering Zac Kochanowitsch’s ‘Rising Sun’ surfboard from the rocks. Bottom: (Left) Murray Smith. (Right) surfing dolphin.

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Photo: 1967 Murray Smith surfing South Point. Jim Breadsell pic.

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Photos: 1969 surfing the back of Cowaramup Bay.

Top: Murray Smith at Lefthanders. Bottom: Geoff Culmsee at Noiseys.

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Rocky Point

Photos: 1968 Rocky Point track through d’Espeissis family property. Jim Breadsell pics

Top: Murray Smith & Bob Shenston chatting on Rocky Point track. Bottom: unidentified persons with Ford Falcon on water logged section of Rocky Point track.

1968-rocky-point-track-jim-breadsell-2-picmonkey-collage

Margaret River

Jim Breadsell –North End Board Club members built a club shack at Prevelly Park, Margaret River.

Photos: 1967 North End members sinking the bore at Club shack in Prevelly. Jim Breadsell pics.

Top: (Left) Murray Smith in the bore with unidentified. (Right) unidentified

Bottom: (Left) G McClure. (Right) unidentified

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Photos: 1968 North End members socialising at Club shack in Prevelly. Jim Breadsell pics.

Top: (Left) J Pinch, unidentified & baby, Zac Kochanowitisch & Gary Pozzie. (Right) unidentified.

Bottom: (Left) Jerry Krahn. (Right) Zac Kochanowitsch & Peter Longley.

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Jim Breadsell – I took the following photo on a joy flight over Margs.

Photo: 1970 aerial photo of North End board Club shack (bottom right) at Prevelly. Jim Breadsell pic.

1970-marg-river-prevelly-north-end-shack-in-foreground-aerial-view-jim-breadsell-pic-1280x840

Jim Breadsell – Murray Smith made some experimental surfboards in the old laundry at Prevelly Park.

Photos: 1970 Murray Smith in his surfboard factory located in the old laundry at Prevelly Park. Jim Breadsell pics.

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Photo: 1970 unidentified surfer at Margaret River main break. Jim Breadsell pic.

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Click on this link to view Jim Breadsell’s 1960s Metro & Mid-West images.

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Gallery

1960s Metro & Mid-West beach images by Jim Breadsell

Jim Breadsell was an inaugural member of the North End Board Club at Scarborough in 1962 with Geoff Culmsee, Murray Smith & other Scarborough lads. He surfed in WA for many years before travelling interstate & overseas.

Jim BreadsellIn 1966 I went to the Eastern states. Then England in 1968 and came home via India. In 1971 I worked on the copper mine on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. In 1972 I went to South Africa and came home in 1973.  Since then I have been prospecting North of Southern Cross and have owned several mining leases.  (Jim has 3 gold prospecting videos on You-Tube. Google ‘Jim Breadsell’ to view videos).

Photo: 1962 North End Board Club at Scarborough. L-R Peter Longley, Jim McKenzie, Jim Breadsell, W Smith, Geoff Culmsee, B Sales & B Hunt. Murray Smith pic.

1961 North End Board Club Scarb P Longley, J Mackenzie, J Breadsell, W Smith, G Culmsee, B Sales & B Hunt - J Breadsell pic

In the 60s Jim was a keen photographer and captured images of WA beaches. In this batch of Metro and Mid West beach images, Jim took the aerial pics while on joy rides from Jandakot airport.

Scarborough Beach

Photo: 1966 Murray Smith outside his parents Place in Scarborough. Jim Breadsell pic.

1967 Scarb Murray Smith outside parents place - Jim Breadsell pic

Murray Smith – In early’ 67 after I came back from a trip around Aussie, I rolled my FJ Holden on Caves road in the South West. I had the car towed back to my parents place at Scarborough and there it fell off the tow truck.

Photo: 1967 Murray Smith with his rolled FJ Holden at Scarborough. Jim Breadsell pic.

1967 Scarb Muzz's FJ Holden rolled over Caves Rd SW - Jim Breadsell pic1

Photo: 1968 Aerial shot of Scarborough beach front. Jim Breadsell pic.

1968 Scarb beach front - Jim Breadsell pic1 (1)

Photo: 1969 winter wave Scarborough Beach Jim Breadsell pic.

1969 Scarb Beach winter wave - Jim Breadsell pic

Photo: 1969 Scarborough Beach lamp posts. Jim Breadsell pic.

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Photo: 1970 Scarborough Beach with lamp posts. Jim Breadsell pic.

1970 Scarb beach front - Jim Breadsell pic1 (2)

Trigg Beach

Photo: 1967 Aerial shot of Trigg Point. Jim Breadsell pic.

1967 Trigg Beach early spring aerial- Jim Breadsell pic

Photo: 1969 Trigg Point with shacks on the beach near Island. Jim Breadsell pic.

1969 Trigg Beach with shacks on beach - Jim Breadsell pic

Photo: 1970 autumn wave at Trigg Beach. Jim Breadsell pic.

1969 Triggs autumn wave - Jim Breadsell pic

Kalbarri (Mid West).

Photo: 1969 Kalbarri Red Bluff L-R Murray Smith & Jerry Krahn. Jim Breadsell pic.

1969 Kalbarri Red Bluff Murray Smith & Gerry Karaha - Jim Breadsell pic2a

Photo: 1969 Kalbarri Blue Holes L-R Jerry Krahn & Murray Smith. Jim Breadsell pic.

1969 Kalbarri Blue Holes Gerry Karaha & Murray Smith - Jim Breadsell pic1

Photo: 1969 Murray Smith surfing Jacques Pt at Kalbarri. Jim Breadsell pic.

1969 Kalbarri Jacques Pt Murray Smith surfing - Jim Breadsell pic1

Karratha (North West)

Murray SmithWe travelled up the WA coast as far as Karratha searching for waves.

Photo: 1969 Karratha camp site on Ashburton River L-R Murray Smith, Jim Breadsell & Jerry Krahn. Jim Breadsell pic.

1969 NW Karratha camp site on Ashburton River Murray Smith, Jim Breadsell & Gerry Karaha - Jim Breadsell pic1

There are more Jim Breadsell South West surfing images in the SDS pipeline.

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Gallery

Vintage South West surfing images.

This a collection of late 50s & early 60 South West surfing images from various photographers in the Surfing Down South archives. It features a pod of WA surfing pioneer legends.

Photo: 1957 Bernie Huddle & Keith Kino riding plywood toothpick boards at Yallingup. Water photography by John Budge.

1957 Yalls Bernie Huddle & Keith Kino surfing wooden toothpick surfboards - JB pic img568

Photo: 1958 Yallingup Main Break surfer John Budge on home-made balsa board. Water photo courtesy of John Budge.

1958 Yalls John Budge - John Budge pic IMG_0005

Photo: 1962 Gallows outside break Jim Keenan & Puppydog (NSW) riding Barry Bennett boards from NSW. Jim Keenan pic.

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

Photo: 1960-61 South Point Cowaramup Bay unidentified surfer. Steve Mailey pic

1960s South Point Cowaramup - Steve Mailey img343

Photo: 1962 Yallingup Main Break surfer Murray Smith. Photo courtesy of Glen Campbell (Dolphins Board Club).

1962 Yalls surfing Murray Smith - Glen Campbell Dolphins Board Club pic IMG_6348

Photos: 1962 Surfing legends at Gallows. Time ravage images courtesy of Brian Cole.

Top: (Left) Bob Keenan. (Right) Brian Cole.

Bottom: Dave Williams both images.

1962 Gallows surfing Brian Cole pics collage_photocat

Photo: 1963 North Point Cowaramup Bay unidentified surfers. Tom Collins pic.

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Photo: 1963 Bunker Bay ‘The Quarries’ unknown surfer. Tom Collins pic.

1963 Bunker Bay The Quarries unknown - Tom Collins pic img219

Photo:1963 Terry ‘Rat’ James doing a ‘quasimoto’ at Gallows. Photo courtesy of Sonny James.

1963 Gallows Terry James - unknown photograher_0001

Photo: 1963 former City Beach surfer Mick Lindsay surfing Gallows. Mick now resides in NSW. Photo courtesy of Geoff Berry.

1963 Mick Lindsay Gallows SW3

Photo: 1964 Margaret River Main Break surfers L-R Murray Smith & Jim Keenan. Photo courtesy of Jim Keenan.

1964 Marg River Murray Smith & Jim Keenan surfing - J Keenan pic1

Photo: 1964 WA’s first State Mens Champion Alex ‘Zac’ Kochanowitsch surfing Margaret River Main Break on his ‘Rising Sun’ surfboard. Ernie Potter pic.

1964 Zac Kochanowitsch Marg River - Ernie Potter pic

Bonus Images.

These 1950s images were sourced from pioneer WA surfer/photographer John Budg’s vintage photo collection. The actual photographers are unknown.

Image: 1950s unidentified pin-up girl.

1950s unknown pinup girl - John Budge pic img367

Image: 1950s unidentified Eastern States surfers riding plywood Toothpick surfboards at an unknown location. .

1950s Aust Surfing toothpicks unknown - John Budge pic img357.jpg A

Thanks to the various photographers for providing the vintage pics.

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Lefthanders (or ‘Lefties’) surf break south of Grace town has been surfed since the early 70s. State Titles and rounds of the National Titles have been held at the break.

There is some debate about who was the first to surf the break. WASRA credits Peter ‘Spook’ Bothwell & Peter Dyson but Bob Monkman, Peter Mac, Micko Gracie & Bruce King also lay claims to being the first.

Murray SmithI remember in the mid 60s we were surfing Big Rock and Scarborough’s John Bartle walked up to Lefthanders and reported the break’s potential.

Living on the Beach

Lefthanders beach had some inhabitants in the early 70s. In 73’ Pat Bloomer and his American mates lived in a timber shack built on the beach and Frank ‘Little Big Eyes’ McVeigh lived in a beach cave for a whole summer. Both residences were located south of Lefthanders.

Beach Parking Facilities

In the early days, surfers walked along the beach from an old dirt car park located near the site of existing car park & amenities. Then in the early 1970s fisherman and/or surfers pushed through a sand track along the coastal sand dunes to Lefthanders. This dirt track and it’s rocky car park was closed by Dept of Conservation & Environment (DEC) in the late 70s for environmental reasons.

Bill GibsonI used to drive up to the break in my old Falcon. Sometime I would continue onto Ellenbrook. I wasn’t happy when DEC closed the dirt track to Lefties.
Murray SmithIn the 70s I used to drive right up to the break in my VW Beetle.
Pat BloomerAlthough the dirt track was primarily for 4wd, I used to drive my Kombi Camper up to Lefthanders.
Bruce KingSometimes we would drive to Lefties along the dirt track from Ellenbrook in Micko’s VW Beetle.

Today’s bitumen road & car park with toilets located north of near Lefthanders were built in the mid 70s. Surfers walk approx. 700 metres along the beach past a series of popular reef breaks to reach the waves at Lefties.

Photo: 1973 Chris ‘Feggsey’ Fullston and vehicle at former dirt car park located behind Lefthanders. Photo credit Ric Chan.

1973 Lefthanders Chris Fullston - Ric Chan IMG_0006

Photos: 1975 Lefthanders car parks. Ric Chan pics.

(Left) Original car park located north of surf break near Gracetown. (Right) Former dirt car park located behind Lefthanders line-up.

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Photos: 1975 Lefthanders wave line-ups. Ric Chan pics.

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Photos: 1973-75 topless beach girls at Lefthanders. Ric Chan pics

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Photos: 1973-76 Beach people at Lefthanders. Surfing Craig Bettenay top right and Chris Reynolds bottom left. Ric Chan pics.

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Photos: 1975-79 Surfing at Lefthanders. (Top) Steve Hannett & Bruce Smith. (Bottom) Unidentified surfers. Ric Chan pics.

1970s Lefthanders surfing 8 collage_photocat

Photos: 1976-77 spectator & surfing at Lefthanders. Ric Chan pics.

Top Right: Surfing Tony Hardy, other surfers unidentified.

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Photos: 1978 Aust Surfing Titles held at Lefthanders. Vehicles are parked in former dirt car park located behind the surf break. Ric Chan pics.

1978 Lefthanders Aust Titles 5 collage_photocat

Photos: 1980s Surfing at Lefthanders. (Top) 1980 Chris Fullston. (Bottom) 1981 Dave Macaulay. Ric Chan pics.

1980-81 Chris Fullston & Dave Macaulay collage_photocat

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