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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Three Bears surf break & track in the 70s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos: Tom Hoye in the SW.

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

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

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

Bears track pioneers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo 1983 Stewart Bettenay surfing Mama Bears. Dave Sheen pic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Old Dunsborough Images

The coastal town of Dunsborough is located on Geographe Bay in the south west of WA. The town consisted of a general store, bakery and a few shacks until the 1950s. It was a sleepy coastal hamlet until surfing became popular in the 60s and wine tourism emerged in the mid-80s.

In 2001 the Dunsborough Writers Group published a book titled ‘Cape of Contrasts’. The book contains of stories of Cape Naturaliste WA and includes recollections and many fine old images of Dunsborough & surrounds. The book is available at the Public Library in Dunsborough.

Click on Your Margaret River Region tourism site to view Dunsborough’s History.

Photo: 1950s Aerial image of Dunsborough Beaches by Alexander Bain. Alexander Bain image courtesy of Brian Cole.

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In the 60 & 70s Greenacres Beach Cottages/Caravan Park (located on the Dunsborough beach front) was a popular holiday venue for family holidays and visiting surfers.

Jason Greenacre: – “Greenacres Caravan Park closed in the late 90’s and it wasn’t due to lack of custom as you normally had to book at least a year in advance, it was sold by the people we sold it to for the real estate value as it had absolute beach frontage on the title.” (now strata titled Regency Beach Club).

Mitch Baker: – “My family owned the park upon its closure. The sale date was 25 February 1998.”

Photos: 1964 Surfers holidaying at Greenacres.
Top. (Left) Graeme Ward, Ross James, unknown & Geoff Baxter with surf wagon.(Right) unidentified girl with Ford Zephyr sedan & custom trailer.
Bottom. (Left) Greenacres cottage 2B. (Right) Jenny Tidy & Carol McDonald in mock beheading. Photos courtesy of Ron Moss.

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Photos: 1970s Family holidays at Greenacres. Photos courtesy of King family.

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Photo: 1971 unidentified lady with her bike in front of The Dunsborough Store (located corner of Dunn Bay Road and Naturaliste Terrace). The store sold groceries and petrol & had a public telephone booth outside. Photo credit Ric Chan.

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Photo: 1971 unidentified lady riding her bike through Dunsborough CBD. Photo credit Ric Chan.

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Photo: 1971 unidentified young bloke & Jeff ‘Re’ Marshall riding bikes through Dunsborough. Photo credit Ric Chan.

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Photo: 1973-4 The Dunsborough Store. Suppliers of groceries, grog & Shell petrol. Photo courtesy of Mark Hills.

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Surfers moved into Dunsborough in the early 70s. Ron ‘Gremmo’ Ellis, George Simpson & other surfers shared two rental houses on Bay View Crescent with views over Geographe Bay (near the former Greenacres cottages).

Photo: 1975 Surfers and their rental house at Bay View Crescent Dunsborough. Photo courtesy Peter McDonald

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In the mid 70s a Pigbreeders Footy Team was formed in Dunsborough. The team comprised of approx 40 local surfers played against Capel and other teams in the South-West. In 1984/85 surfers Drew Brent-White, Andy Jones & the Bettenay brothers started the Yallingup Mulies Footy Team, which still exists today.

Photo: 1975 The Pigbreeders Footy Team having a shirts & skins training session at the Dunsborough Primary School oval. Photo courtesy of Peter McDonald.

1975 Dunsborough Pig Breeders footy team Skins & Shirts - Peter Mac pic

SW surfers Ralph Redman and Geoff Culmsee ran a Fiberglass business in Clarke Street Dunsborough from 1973 to 2000 . Ralph also ran the Dunsborough Surf Cat hire business in Geographe Bay at the end of Dunn Bay Road during the summer holiday period.

Refer SDS blog ‘The Redman Surfing Dynasty’ published 22 April 2015 for more background on the Redman  family.

Photos: 1976 Dunsborough Surf Cat Hire. Ralph Redman with his children Patrick & Melanie. Photo courtesy of Jill Redman.

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The parents of renowned SW surf photographer Jamie Scott ran The Dunsborough Store in the 70s. Jamie took this photo of his dad’s store in 1977 when he was age 7.

Click on Jamie Scott Images to view Jamie’s images of the Margaret River wine and wave region.

Photo: 1977 the Scott’s Dunsborough Store. Photo credit Jamie Scott.

1977 Dunsborough Store. Jamie Scott pic

Photo: 1978 Dunsborough shops L-R Bianca & Kath King. View from front of former Hardware Store in Naturaliste Terrace.  Photo courtesy of King family.

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Young surfboard shaper Al Bean moved down south in the early 70s. He shaped surfboards in the SW and sold his boards through metro surf shops.

Photo: 1980 Al Bean promoting his surfboard business in Dunsborough. Photo credit Ric Chan.

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In the 80s popular surfboard designer Greg Laurenson ran his surfboard business from an old dairy building located near the present Doctors Surgery in Dunn Bay Road, Dunsborough.

Photo: 1982-3 Greg Laurenson’s Surf Studio in Dunsborough. Photo courtesy of Gary ‘Gooselegs’ Vaughan.

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Creature of Leisure Pty Ltd based their surfing accessories business in Clarke Street Dunsborough in the 80s.

Photo: 1987 Interior of Creatures of Leisure factory in Dunsborough. Photo credit Loz Smith.

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In the 1980s Ron Baker ran his H2O Surfboards business in Naturaliste Tce Dunsborough. Dunsborough surfer/shaper Colin Ladhams shaped surfboards for H2O.

Image: 1989 H20 Surfboards advertisement published in Yal Mal Program.

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The Redman surfing dynasty.

NSW surfer Ralph Redman (a former office worker and builder’s labourer) migrated to WA in 1970 after an exploratory visit in 1967-68.

Ralph: “In 1967 I left my girlfriend Jill in NSW and with my mate Ray ‘Cactus’ Boyle travelled to WA on route to Portugal. We surfed good waves at Esperance in WA and then aborted our planned Portugal trip. Instead we headed to Geraldton and worked on wheat silos for 12 months. Then I moved to the SW and surfed for 6 months. I remember meeting Peter Mac at Yallingup but can’t recall the others. After that I boarded the cruise ship ‘Northern Star’ at Fremantle and headed home to NSW in 1968.”

In 1969 Ralph & Jill married and moved from the Sydney area to the NSW coastal towns of Angourie & Brooms Head for 12 months.

Photos: Left: 1967 Ralph surfing Esperance beach break on his nose rider board. Right: 1969 Ralph with home-made surfboards at Manly NSW. Photo credits Ralph Redman.

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In 1970 Ralph & Jill left NSW and migrated to WA. They settled in the SW near the Smiths Beach turn-off before moving to a place at Yallingup.

Ralph: “My dad was always moving our family around because of his job and we were used to living in different places. In 1971 Jill & I moved up to Geraldton to escape the cold SW winter and our first son Patrick was born (Dec 1971). I found good waves from Geraldton to Kalbarri and enjoyed my time in the Mid-West region. The family still holidays at Kalbarri.”

In 1972 the Redman family left Geraldton and returned to the SW. They settled in Eagle Bay with the Culmsee family before moving to a place in Dunsborough and then the D’Espeissis property. The Redman’s continued building their brood. Next came daughter Melanie in 1975 and second son Justin in 1977.

The talented goofy footer settled into the solitude of free surfing and skin diving in the SW. He didn’t get involved in competitive surfing.

Photos: Left: 1972 Ralph & son Patrick at Jakes Point in Kalbarri. (Note: The Toyota Land Cruiser in this pic was later used to push through a coastal track from Yallingup to Bears). Photo credit Ralph Redman. Right: 1972 this image of Ralph surfing Margaret River featured on the front cover of Tracks Magazine. Image courtesy of Tracks Mag.

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Ralph has surfed Three Bears surf break since the early 70s with his mate Geoff Culmsee.

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

Ralph ran a Dunsborough Fiberglass business for 30 years with Geoff Culmsee. He also ran the Dunsborough Surf Cat hire business in Geographe Bay during the summer holiday period. It was during this period that Ralph took up windsurfing. Ralph was a talented windsurfer and this rubbed off on his son Patrick who went on to win a National Windsurfing title.

Vance Burrow “I spent years windsurfing Margaret’s, Yallingup, Gallows, Augusta and Dunsborough with Ralph.”

Photos: Left: 1976 Dunsborough Surf Cat Hire Ralph with Patrick & young Melanie. Right: 1992 Ralph with jumbo cray at Quindalup. Photo credits Ralph Redman.

1976 & 1992 Ralph Redman compilation IMG_002

Ralph designed his own surfboards & windsurfers and made his own fibreglass windsurfing fins.

Vance Burrow recalls Ralph was a surfing innovator: “Ralph made a scoop-deck surfboard for his daughter Melanie when she was pregnant and designed a foam chin rest for his surfboard.”

In 1980 the Redman family moved to a new house that Ralph built in Quindalup.

Ralph: “At an early age I gave Justin & Melanie their own surfboards (Patrick already had a board) and introduced them to surfing. Justin (age 9) and Melanie (age 11) then started surfing SW waves with Taj Burrow (age 8). The kids had to learn to fix their own boards.”

Photos: Redman kids at the beach.
Top left: 1987 Yallingup Justin & Melanie and Ralph’s surf trailer.
Top right: 1987 Yallingup Melanie age 12, Jake Centa, Daniel Wake, Justin age 10 & Taj Burrow age 9.
Bottom left: 1987 Yallingup Taj & Justin. Photo credits (3) Nancy Burrow.
Bottom right: 1991 Scarborough surf contest mum Jill & Justin. Photo credits Ralph Redman

1980s & 90s Redman kids compilation IMG_002

The family then spread their tentacles and went on surf trips to the Mid-West and North West WA and Indo.

Photos: Left: 1990 Gnaraloo surf trip Ralph, Patrick & Justin playing cards in caravan. Photo credit Ralph Redman Right: 1989 Abrolhos Island surf trip with the Burrow & Culmsee families and SW friends. Photo credit Nancy Burrow.

Gnaraloo & Abrolhos surf trips IMG_001

This created a strong family surfing background and the Redman kids excelled on the surfing scene.

Son Patrick was Australian Windsurfing Champion, four times State Windsurfing Champion & twice won the Lancelin Classic Wave contest.

Daughter Melanie is a renowned West Australian professional surfer (runner up to World title twice to Layne Beachley), twice World Junior Champion (age 15 & 17) and multiple winner of Margaret River contest.

Son Justin is a multiple National Longboard Champion and 10 times winner of Yal Mal Longboard comp.

Photos: Left: 1990s Quindalup Justin and Patrick in the backyard surfboard shaping bay. Right: 1989 Quindalup Melanie & Justin with H20 surfboards. Photo credits Ralph Redman.

Redman kids compilation #2  IMG_001

Ralph has created a surfing dynasty in the SW. He hopes his grandchildren Curren, Josh & Raff (Patrick’s sons), Willow, Poppy & Wyatt (Melanie’s children) and Madison (Justin’s daughter) will continue the family surfing tradition.

Ralph lives in the SW with wife Jill and is still surfing.

Footnote: Ralph has a dry sense of humour. When Ralph found out we were doing a SDS blog on him, he said “don’t tell em I’m a nice guy, tell em I’m a bastard in the water and I might get more waves”. Ed.

 

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1971 Geoff Culmsee Surfboards

In 1960 Geoff Culmsee (age 16) made his first surf trip to Yalls with his mate Murray Smith. Both of the boys were members of the North End Board Club at Scarborough. In 1969 Geoff shifted down south to live with his wife Esther & 3 month old daughter. He started his first surf shop in a Margaret River farmhouse. After several moves, the family shifted to Eagle Bay and lived in a cottage on the Rocky Point track. Geoff continued to make surf boards in a shed he built. He then teamed up with talented SW surfer Ralph Redman & started a fibreglass business in Dunsborough which operated for 30 years. Photo courtesy of Phil Woods.

1971 Geoff Culmsee hand crafted single fin surfboard - Phil Woods collection IMG_0005