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1970-80 Yallingup Beach car park

Update: 20 March 2017. According to Wardandi Elder George Webb’s book ‘Noonyabooghera’, Yallingup means ‘place of land falling away‘ referring to the limestone cliffs. The ‘place of love‘ myth was created by the people that opened up the caves and Caves House as a honeymoon destination. Source Melia Brent-White.

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Yallingup Beach car park has been a meeting place for surfers since the mid-50s.

The Wardandi aboriginal meaning of Yallingup is ‘Place of Love’. In 2011 a large bronze sculpture of a surfer was erected at Yallingup to recognise its role in ‘the origins of surfing in WA’.

Photos: 2011 unveiling of surf pioneer sculpture at Yallingup. Jim King pics.

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Surfers used to camp under the melaleuca trees at the beach car park in the ’50s. Then in the 60-70s surfers used the old public toilets as overnight accommodation in inclement weather.

Things have certainly changed since those days, camping is now banned on the beach front, the public toilets have been relocated and the car park curbed & landscaped. Today’s surfers meet in the car park to check the waves & ‘chew the fat’ on surfing, footy, women……and more recently ailments issues.

This is a collection of car park images with a sprinkling of comments from surfers who frequented the Yallingup car park & Surfside Store back then, when times seemed so much simpler.

Photo: 1970 State Open Champion Tony Hardy in the car park at Yallingup. Ric Chan pic.

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Peter ‘Mac’ McDonaldIn the 70s when we were working in the SW carting hay, about 10 of us (George Simpson, Ronny Ratshit, Grant Robinson, Gary Kontoolas, John Molloy & others) slept in our cars under the melaleucas at Yallingup and ate breakfast (tomato mince) & dinner with Bernie & Eve at Surfside.

Photo: 1970 Steve ‘Sheepdog’ Cockburn behind & in front of the camera in Ric Chan’s Kombi at Yallingup. Ric Chan pic.

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Peter Dunn (NZ expatriate) Yallingup regular John ‘Tex’ Branch arranged my first trip down south in 1972. Tex met my mates & I at the Cottesloe pub and we then headed to Yallingup in a convoy.

Photos: 1972 First trip Down South. Peter Dunn pics.

Left: Yallingup car park team photo. L-R Peachy, Paul, Renya, Murray, Tex, Keith, Wayne, Dick, Steve & Bow.

Right: Busselton pit stop. Bearded ‘Tex’ sitting on the roof of Prive’s former Holden panel van.

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Len DibbenThis Photo was taken by my wife Wendy in the Yallingup car park at the Australian Surf riding Championships, about July 1973. I was part of the Contest committee to run the 1973 Australia Surfboard Championships. At that time, I was Vice President to Ron Naylor president. I organized the Kombi to help run Contestants & Reporters to & from venues, if needed. The two children are my daughter Kim at 7 year of age & son Troy at 5 years of age. They are now aged 48 & 46. The gear I am wearing is a Baron wear striped t-shirt…very popular at that time, Levi Jeans & John Arnold Hararchi Leather Sandals from then Adelaide.

Photo: 1973 Aust Surf riding Championships contest official Len Dibben in the car park at Yallingup. Wendy Dibben pic.

1973 Aust Titles yalls contest marshal Len Dibben with daughter Kim 6 & son Troy 4

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 (nee Gunter) used to work at the Bakery and made the biggest milkshakes.

Photo: 1973 Yalls Lobster Pot Restaurant at Surfside. L-R Grant Robinson, George Simpson and Bernie Young at Sally Gunter’s 21st birthday party. Sally Gunter pic.

Photo: 1975 Yallingup car park during State Surfing Titles. Surfside Store is on the left and the old brick Toilets are under the melaleucas on the right. Ric Chan pic.

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Andy JonesWe used to kick the footy in Yallingup car park. It was an open area with few cars and was a good meeting place for surfers. Before technology (surf reports/web sites etc) we used to check waves conditions from the car park before heading off to the best surf destination for the day.

Photo: 1975 Mark Favell ex Bundaberg Qsld & Andy Jones in Yalls car park. Gina Pannone pic.

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Julie FavellAndy Jones, Mark Favell, Neil Juster and myself all lived in Dunsborough. We all work in the Dunsborough Bakery. It was a hell of a time. We travelled to Bears along the old road following coast. One vehicle we had was an old VW with balloon tyres. We always made it through the dirt track. Neil had a blue heeler dog (sorry forgotten his name), Neil was always tying him up and that darn dog always got himself out, could climb ladders at a great pace. At this time there was a surfboard maker at Willyabrup Peter ‘Stumpy’ Wallace who made Pegasus Surfboards. And the beginnings of Creatures of Leisure leg ropes at Injidup by Helen & Dave Hattrick and John Malloy.

Photo: 1975 Yallingup Mark Favell & Southey the dog in front of old brick toilet block. Julie Favell pic

Bruce KingIn inclement weather we used to sleep in the old toilet block behind Surfside tea rooms/store. I never had a sleeping bag and used to sleep in thongs in keep warm as my feet used to stick out the end of the blanket.

Photo: 1976 unidentified surfers in Yallingup car park. Ric Chan pic.

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Al Bean (Surfboard shaper) – I became Manager of Surfside & the Yalls Beach Caravan Park in 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.

Photo: 1978 an empty Yallingup car park with Surfside Store, Bali Hai surf shop & Surfside rental accommodation in the background. Vance Burrow pic.

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Ross UttingIt was always difficult to fill in long hot surf-less afternoons, particularly on holiday or contest weekends when there were a lot of high spirited people about. Fortunately there were a few blokes who fancied themselves as stunt drivers. These blokes would relieve our boredom by putting on a display of burning rubber and wheelies in the Yallingup car park.

On one occasion, two of these charismatic drivers in Bill “Big Eyes” McVeigh and Kevin “Odey” O’Dwyer fed off each other, with each stunt becoming more outrageous than the one before.  They ended up, each in turn, racing down the hill from the pub at high speed, over the bridge and throwing the wheel on full lock entering the unsealed car park, sliding and spinning wildly through the car park and coming to a halt in a cloud of dust in front of the cheering masses, leaping out of their cars and taking a bow.

Both brilliant drivers, but how none of the vehicles parked in the car park were not damaged or pedestrians killed still amazes me.  The owner of Surfside Tea Rooms with it’s petrol bowser out front wouldn’t have been amused either.

Photo: 1980 Parking spot with a view. Gary Gibbon’s Ford Cortina with protruding surfboard in Yallingup car park. Gary Gibbon pic.

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Louie ‘Longboard’ CorkillI left school at age 13 and started hitchhiking down south. I used to camp in the old toilet block at Yallingup beach. I slept in a board bag made of quilt by my mother. The best camping spot used to be in the melaleucas just before the bridge on the right, as you come down the hill into Yalls. Brian Bell and I would set up our tent or sleep in the car next to the fresh water creek which flowed from the pub.

Photo: 1980 Ray Nott & Dave Seward preparing to go for a surf at Yallingup. Gary Gibbon pic.

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Mal Leckie – Steve “Horny” Campbell used to do an interesting performance for tourist buses in the Yall’s car park when he pulled his boardies up as high as they would go, puff his stomach out like he was pregnant and do an emu walk. 

More than one dead snake arrived at speed into the Yall’s car park behind a car, tied to the back by fishing line and “whipped” into the entry area to Surfside.

Photo: 1981 Steve ‘Horny’ Campbell and hound installing electricity at Caves Caravan Park. Gary Gibbon pic.

Floyd IrvineIn the early 80s my mates and I used to pitch our tent on the lawn in front of the ugly old brick toilets at Yallingup. We had a friendly council ranger who would provide firewood for our camp fire and chat with us. Back then nobody gave a shit what you did!

Photo: 1980 Tony Harbison reading West Coast Surfer magazine at Yallingup car park. Tony and his wife Carol built and ran Hideaway Holiday Homes at Yallingup in the 70s. Ric Chan pic.

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Photo: 1980 surfboard shaper Greg Laurenson and Dave Kennedy from Star Surfboards in Yallingup car park. Sadly the surf industry legends are now deceased. Ric Chan pic.

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Photo: 1980 Greg Laurenson, Dave Kennedy, Tony Harbinson and Mitch Thorson in Yallingup car park with Harbo’s dog Prince. Ric Chan pic.

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Yallingup Beach car park is still a meeting place for surfers in the South West.

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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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1969 Billeting arrangements Aust Surfing Titles

Western Australia hosted the Australian Surf Riding Championships for the first time in May 1969.

Major WA board clubs billeted many eastern states surfers here for the Australian titles. The billeting arrangements were coordinated by WASRA and President Ron ‘Doc’ Naylor.

Image: 1969 WASRA billeting arrangements. Image credit Sunday Times.

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Floreat youngsters Ross Utting & David ‘Bull’ Moss from the City Beach Club hosted South Australian surfers Alistair Boot & Graham Symonds.

Ross UttingBull & I took the boys down south for the contest. I remember Ali bagging gutless WA waves while we were surfing pre contest at Yallingup. He got his comeuppance a couple of days later when he was nearly decapitated by his board when mowed down by a big wave at Margaret. Ali spent the rest of the week walking around with a bleeding tea towel on his head.

In Bali some 40 years later South Australian surfer Clint Habib told me that Ali has been scarred for life by the experience of big Margs & still hears the roaring freight train sound in his nightmares.

Photo: L-R 1969 Floreat locals Ross Utting & Dave Moss with SA competitors Ali Boot & Graham Symonds. Photo credit Ross Utting.

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Subiaco brothers Jim & Bruce King from the City Beach Club billeted World champion Nat Young & NSW champion Ted Spencer.

Bruce KingI drove to Perth airport to pick up our eastern states billets late at night. When I got there WASRA President Doc Naylor allocated Nat & Ted to our family. I was stoked to have them staying at our parent’s place.

Jim KingI didn’t go to the airport and had no idea who had been allocated to our parent’s place in Subi, so I was really surprised when I called in next morning and found mum serving a cooked brekkie to Nat & Ted. NSW surfboard manufacturer Shane Stedman (Shane Surfboards) used to come around & pick up the lads for surf commitments and chase mum around the Hills Hoist clothesline.

Photos: 1969 Nat & Ted at King residence in Subiaco. Photos courtesy of King family.

Top: (Left) Ted & Nat. (Right) Ted, Mrs King & Nat. Bottom: (Left) Ted, Jim & Nat. (Right) Nat & Jim.

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Contest rounds which were held at Scarborough & Margaret River with finals completed at Yallingup.

Misfortune struck some of the visitors at the Australian Surfing Titles down south. Nat Young (NSW) broke his favourite surfboard in the big swell at Margaret River. Alistair Boot (SA) was hit by a flying board at Margaret River and needed 19 stitches in his head. Ali went home with a sore head.

Images: L-R 1969 mixed fortunes Nat Young (NSW) broken board & Alistair Boot (SA) head injury. Image courtesy of WA Newspapers.

1969 Aust Titles WA - Nat Young (NSW) & Ali Boot (SA) injuries - WA News (1)

Jim KingContest head honcho Doc Naylor recruited me as a contest official for the rounds held at Margaret River. I got the job of chaperoning the girls out in big waves at Main Break. The girls weren’t happy being sent out there & neither was I. Every time we spotted a big dark swell line on the horizon, we would paddle towards the middle bay to avoid getting cleaned up. It was great seeing Oz’s best surfers up close, but my wife Kath wasn’t too impressed, as we were on our honey moon at the time (-:

Photo: 1969 unidentified competitor surfing a solid left at Marg’s Main Break. Ric Chan pic.

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On completion of the successfully run contest, an Award Night function was held at Caves House Yallingup. It was attended by surfers, officials and friends. Peter Drouyn & other talented surfers entertained the troops. The next day the wind was on-shore and the visitors started heading home to their respective States.

Contest results and photos will be included in surf journo/photographer Ric Chan’s coverage of the ’69 Oz Surfing Titles. Ric’s SDS article is coming soon.

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Origin of skateboarding in WA by John Harbison & Charlie Roper

Skateboarding was probably born sometime in the late 1940s, or early 1950s, when surfers in California wanted something to do when the waves were flat. No one knows who made the first board; it seems that several people came up with similar ideas at around the same time. Source: Wikipedia.

Photo: Early homemade skateboards courtesy of Skateboard Hall of Fame USA.

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WA surfing pioneers Terry ’Horse’ Williams and Brian ‘Blackballs’ Cole introduced the concept to WA on their return from California in the early 60s. They had seen skateboards in action while touring the west coast of USA.

Former City Beach surfer and City of Perth Beach Inspector John ‘Roo Dog’ Harbison witnessed the first skateboard in WA. He documented the moment for a Board Club reunion held at City Beach in 2011.

John is the brother of surfing legend Tony ‘Harbo’ Harbison and Peter Harbison.

Sadly John passed away in May 2014 at Dunsborough.

Photos: 1958-74 City Beach pics. Photos courtesy of Harbison family.

Top: (Left) 1958 City Beach shop L-R Garry Stewart, John Harbison, Charlie Roper & Terry Jacks (Right) 1959 John Harbison surfing City Beach on plywood toothpick surfboard.

Bottom: (Left) 1967 John Harbison sweep on City of Perth surf boat. (Right) 1973-74 Beach Inspector John Harbison herding topless girl off City Beach.

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First WA skateboard by John Harbison.

Back in the early 60’s, I think 1963/64, Terry Jacks, Charlie Roper, Ernie Potter & Brian Cole produced what would have to have been the 1st skateboard to appear in WA.

Skateboards were unheard of in WA at the time and I don’t know where they got the idea from, but they turned up at City Beach one weekend with this piece of equipment they’d made out of the side slat of a wooden fruit case with half a roller skate at the front, the other half at the back

We all spent the afternoon having turns riding it down the road in front of the shop. That night everyone else was digging out old roller skates and getting slats of wood to make their own. Next day they took it up to Scarborough for the Scarborough crew to try out and the following week down to Cottesloe. Before long you had all these homemade skateboards appearing about the place.

A year or so after that skate boards were being produced commercially by Midget Farrelly.

City Beach surfer Paul Meink who was good on them & won a big radio station sponsored skateboard competition held at the Floreat Forum southern car park. Place getters at that competition were Floreat boys Ross Sarson, Mike Schafer and John ‘Viz’ Fletcher.

John Harbison

Photo: 2011 City Beach Surf Riders Club 50 Year reunion. L-R Brian Cole, Keith Campbell, Zac Kochanowitsch & John Harbison. Bruce King pic.

2011 Brian Cole, Keith Campbell, Zac Kochanowitsch & John HarbisonCity Beach CBSR 191 - Bruce King

Wembley lads Charlie Roper & Brian Cole made the first skateboard in WA.

Photos: 1963 Scarborough Beach. Ernie Potter pics.

(Left) Charlie Roper & Ernie Potter. (Right) John Harbison & Charlie Roper surfing.

1963 Charlie Roper Scarborough Ernie Potter pics collage_photocat

First WA skateboard by Charlie Roper.

In the early 60s WA surf pioneer/Subiaco footballer Terry ‘Horse’ Williams bought the idea back from California where he had been travelling. He described what was happening with skateboards and what the kids were doing with them.

I thought I could make one of them. So in 1962, Brian Cole and I got an old piece of pine timber and attached wheels from my sister’s roller skates (unbeknown to her). We made the first WA skate board at Coley’s King & Cole Surfboard factory in Roydhouse Road Wembley.

I kept the old skateboard in my garage and my sons Jamie & Brett learnt to skateboard on that piece of equipment.

Photos: Charlie Roper & Brian Cole’s original skate board. The photos were taken in 2016 outside Charlie’s parents place in Wembley. Photos courtesy of Roper family.

1960s WA 1st skateboard Roper family pic collage_photocat

Photo: 2009 City Beach Surf Riders Club reunion. L-R Keith Campbell, Charlie Roper & Zac Kochanowitsch. Bruce King pic.

2009 CBSR Reunion Keith Campbell, Charlie Roper & Zac. Bruce King pic IMG_8461

Other 1960s WA skateboard recollections.

Craig Henfry I remember Paul Meink pulling off a jump trick on his skateboard in the car park at Floreat Forum, a trick I practiced until I got it too, once or twice. The last time I got on a skateboard I lasted about 2 secs and nearly cracked my skull, oh to be 16 again.

I had a Midget Farrelly skateboard up until a few years ago when I gave it to a mate’s son who then proceeded to trash it. I saw similar ones on some collectors show on TV and immediately regretted my generosity. A quick search on google turned up one that looks exactly like the one I had, I was also staggered to see what sort of money people pay for stuff like that.

Photo: Mid 1960s Midget Farrelly 26” timber deck skateboard sold Sept 2008 for $1200. Source: Von Weirdos

1960s Midget farrelly skateboard dscf4988

Bruce KingI remember the skateboard exhibitions at Floreat Forum car park, we were part of the Midget Farrelly competition team. There was a slalom course, high jumping and walking up and down stairs.

“Ollies” (today’s jumps) weren’t thought of then, we used to go barefooted and wrap your toes around each end to make the board jump. Paul Meink, Dave Condon were the jets, they even had Farrelly team t-shirts and parkas, I unfortunately came in to the team at the back end and missed out on getting my “Team Farrelly” gear.

Another time I went skate boarding down Mount Street in Perth, it was about the steepest street and I thought would be a good challenge.  This was before the freeway was there & the street went straight through and joined up with St Georges Tce. Anyway about half way down I got the wheel wobbles up and couldn’t bail out, I ended up in the Terrace dodging buses and cars.

Ross UttingAfter a while of skateboarding on the gently sloping carpark at Floreat Forum Shopping Centre some of us were looking for more of a challenge than just doing tricks. Ok, so we just couldn’t compete with the likes of Paul Meink, Ross Sarson etc in the tricks department! Then we found “Brookdale Entrance”. Brookdale Entrance was the eastern entrance to Perry Lakes Stadium & was short but seriously steep. It was the big wave equivalent of skateboarding. You had to do 2 or 3 big turns to keep your speed down before sweeping down to a final turn at the bottom. If you made a mistake you were dead meat.

One time we were at The Entrance when Glen “Roy” Carroll’s older brother Lindsay turned up big noting himself. Lindsay was a seriously fit guy & at the time was playing full forward for Claremont in the WAFL. He grabbed a board & took off but couldn’t turn & hit the bottom absolutely flying.

He smashed the security grills around the turnstiles off their hinges. We were too scared to laugh in case he came after us, but the episode added to the Brookdale Entrance legend.

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KIDS IN PARADISE – Surfing City Beach in the 1960’s by Ross Utting

Ross Utting grew up in Floreat & surfed City Beach with his mates from a young age. In the late 60s, early 70s he was a Blaxell Surfboards team rider and State schoolboys & State open men’s finalist.

These are Ross’s ‘Kids in Paradise – Surfing City Beach in the 60s’ recollections.

Its school holidays in December 1962 and there are a bunch of kids, surfing all types of coolites off the City Beach groyne. The kids are aged between 9 & 12 years and are burnt black by the sun. Some are lying prone on their boards angling across the nice shaped waves, while others are trying to stand up but are spinning out. There is Norm (Dot) Kitson, Mick (Midge) Semple, Barry (Baz) Day, Craig (Ern) Henfry, Steve (Simmo) Simpson (dec’d 2010), Ross Sarson, Phil Moriarty and heaps of others. After a while the “stand ups” get tired of spinning out and try to glue homemade wooden fins into their coolites, only to see them get eaten away by the glue. Eventually we jam the fins into the coolites and hold them in place by pouring melted wax into the gaps and “we are away”.

We “survive” our days at the beach by collecting bottles and cashing them in for the deposit at Johnson’s kiosk in front of the old surf club. On days when there are no bottles, we troop the 200 metres up to Simmo’s place in Branksome Gardens and his Mum makes us bread and jam.

Photo: 1939 City Beach surf lifesaving club and Johnson’s kiosk in foreground. Photo courtesy of Cambridge Library – Local Studies.

1939 Old Surf Club with Johnson's Shop to the left - Cambridge Library pic

Some of the boys leave their coolites under the City Beach Tearooms, but this is fraught with danger, as Norm Kitson found out when “little Eric” (son of tearooms proprietor Eric) took to his board with a kitchen knife in a moment of boredom.

I lived in Floreat, with Baz Day originally at the back of us and Peter Docherty (co-founding member of City Beach Surf Riders Club) next to him. The Moss Brothers were a few houses up our street and Norm Kitson a couple of blocks away. In 1963 Peter Docherty built boards for Baz Day and his brother Bill. Baz’s board was coloured yellow & was a balsa 7’6” and Bill’s 8’, incredibly short for the time. Bill didn’t surf much so I got to use his board a fair bit.

In that year we saw our first surf movie at the Regal Theatre, “Gun Ho”. Unbeknown to us, on the other side of the world, Brian Cole, an old City Beach boy, is sharing a six pack with surf movie star and legend Miki Dora, on the beach at Malibu.

Photos: 1986 Malibu California. Photo credits Ross Utting.
Top: Miki Dora wall at Malibu Beach California.
Bottom: Malibu Point & Pier

1986 Malibu California USA Ross Utting pic collage_photocat

Photo: 2009 City Beach surfing legends Ron Moss (CBSR Life member) and Peter Docherty (CBSR co-founder) holding the Docherty/Cordingley perpetual trophy at City Beach. Photo credit Jim King.

Editor’s notes: The trophy was shaped from surfboard stringer timber by Dave Ellis at Cordingley Surfboards in Subiaco. Baz Day won the Docherty Trophy a couple of times, but Ross was the last to win it in 1969. He claims to have been undefeated for 46 years.

2009 Ron Moss Peter Docherty with Cordingley Trophy

In 1964 I got my own board, a 9’8” Bill Wallace, and shortly thereafter all the boys got boards. Mine cost 25 pounds at Cordingly Surf Shop in Hay St Subiaco. We used to leave our boards in the black dirt under Simmo’s house and drag them across Jubilee Park to the beach because they were too heavy to carry. Simmo used to piss on them regularly so we shifted them across the street when the resident (Chapman) built storage racks for us in his backyard.

During summer we rode our bikes to the beach at 3.30am to be ready to hit the water at first light. We had to do this because the early morning swimmers came at about 6am and from then on mostly we weren’t allowed to surf off the groyne. Sometimes between 7 & 8am we could get back in the water for a while. In those days wave quality off the groyne (pre alterations) was excellent and very consistent.

Also, in those days the beach between the 2 groynes (City Beach & Floreat) was more of a bay, and in the afternoons when the sou-wester was strong, there was a good wind wave in the middle of the bay.

Once the summer passed we virtually got the beach to ourselves and Warren (Wonk) Sommerford (dec’d), the beach inspector, used to allow surfers next to the groyne as long as there were no swimmers. But we used to push the boundaries and he was always running out of the old surf club building shaking his fist at us.

Photo: Mid 60s surfing City Beach groyne. Norm ‘Dot’ Kitson & Ross Utting entering the water. Photo credit Tom Collins.

mid 1960s City Beach Norm Dot Kitson & Ross Utting Tom Collins pic

During the non-summer school holidays we got incredible surf at times and whenever it got good Terry Jacks (dec’d) was always there. He was an incredibly powerful surfer and was our idol. I recall one day of perfect conditions at a solid 6’ and breaking way out past the groyne. Terry just tore it to shreds. He was virtually taking off on the south side of the groyne and passing well in front of it. We had never seen anything like it. It was just Terry and us kids, he was a legendary surfer, one of the best in Australia at the time & looking back, probably world class. I don’t think Terry ever worked. His parents had a house just off the Boulevard near Floreat Forum Shopping Centre.

My greatest moment in surfing came years later, must have been 1969/70, I was sitting on the steps back at Yallingup contemplating a morning surfing perfect 8-10ft Margaret, when Terry came & sat next to me & said “you surfed well this morning, handled the size no trouble at all”. Wow! After that I fancied myself as a big wave rider for a while, that is until Fred Annersley dragged me & a couple of others out at Margaret on a solid 12ft day, I survived, but after that I resolved “Nah, you can leave me out of that”.

When the waves were no good at City Beach we used to try & get a parent to take us to Scarborough. Threepenny Reef (North Scarborough) and Brighton were our favourites. My Mum used to hate having 6 or more boards stacked on the car. These were simple times, surfing was an incredible adventure and was never better fun.

In late 1966 Brian D’Arcy (deceased early 1970’s) conned his Dad into taking Phil Moriarty, Craig Henfry and me to Yallingup for a few days. We camped under the melaleuca trees and Brian’s Dad cooked on an open fire. We surfed on our own at Yallingup the whole time. We saw only 2 other people in 3 days, Mark Waddell and Brian (Beast) Boynes. They surfed elsewhere but slept at Yallingup.

Photos: 1967 Floreat Park. Photos courtesy of Utting family.
(Left) Glen ‘Roy’ Carroll, Ross & David ‘Bull’ Moss Yallingup bound in Bull’s Morris Minor. (Right) Ross with new 8’10” Cordingley stringer-less surfboard at his Floreat home.

1967 Ross utting CBSR pics collage_photocat

After a time, us young blokes became aware of the City Beach Surfiders Club, primarily through the distinctive red board shorts of its members. Eventually we were recruited. I think Ron Moss and Baz Day nominated me. After serving 3 months’ probation, I was accepted into the Club in early 1967, at age 15. Couldn’t wait to get my Club outfit of board shorts and parka in the distinctive red with white and black trim. Cordingleys had the design of the various Clubs outfits and you simply placed an order through them.

Club meetings were held on Sunday nights at various members homes, in a storeroom under Floreat Forum Shopping Centre and for a short time at Mathews Netball Centre. We were expelled from the Netball Centre for making too much noise after a meeting deteriorated into a game of British Bulldog on the slippery wooden indoor netball court. Meetings were always undisciplined affairs, with the highlight being the showing of surfing footage of members on the Club’s projector.

The gathering place for Club members was the City Beach Tearooms and the young blokes used to hang around the shop waiting for a lift to the best waves in the metro area. Joining us juniors in the Club were the Waddell brothers Gerard (Spewy) and David (Goona), Michael (JJ) Martino, Geoff (RE) Marshall, Glen (Roy) Carroll and a bit later the Bettenay bros.

Photo: 1966 City Beach Tea Rooms with ‘Simmo’ drying himself in front of Rob Halliday’s Fiat while talking to Russell Hately . Photo credit Trevor Burslem.

1966 City Beach Tea Rooms - Trevor Burslem

“Oldies” in the Club included the King bros, Moss bros, Cleaver bros, Franks siblings, Steve (Sheepdog) Cockburn, Rob Farris, Norm Bateman, Bob Halliday, Reg Gillard, Phil Henderson, Duck Craigie, Russell Stranger, Howard Johnson (dec’d), Kevin O’Dwyer (dec’d) & Brian Brown (dec’d). Although they were only a couple of years older than us, at that age it seemed like a generation. They taught us a lot & not all of it good, let me tell you.

Ultimately, the popularity of the Club scene faded & by 1968/69 many of us were heading to the South West waves around Yallingup at every opportunity. The wave quality and power of the south west made surfing exciting again.

Baz Day and I are still surfing Yallingup Main Break on yellow boards after more than 50 years. That first yellow Docherty board from 1963 must have left an indelible impression.

Photos: 2015 Yellow surfboards at Yallingup L-R Baz Day & Ross Utting. Photo credits Bruce King.

2015 Yalls yellow boards Baz Day & Ross Utting collage_photocat

Ross has travelled & surfed widely. He has a holiday home in the South West and surfs Yallingup regularly.

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