Gallery

Rotto fashion parades ***Updated 2 August 2017***

Update 02 August 2017 – see Dave Aylett comments below.

Peter Docherty’s comment on Jeff Dalziel on SDS Facebook reminded me of the weekend we lost a great guy. A hero, who wasn’t wanting anything but to save the lives of some thoughtless, reckless surf club individuals who were warned but chose to scoff the advice of men who knew the peril.

These are my recollections of Jeff Dalziel (18) of Mosman Park drowning at Yallingup in 1962.

The weekend began with fun and great surf. Caves house bar was really rocking and spirits couldn’t be higher. From memory Glen Smith took off in his M.K.1 Ford Zephyr with George Godard and Vick Francis to have a look at the surf. It was really getting impressive. Returning from the beach up the ghost trail Glen got sideways a number of times and flipped. I think it was George or Vick who were in the back seat and while trying to untangle themselves from the upturned car heard an elderly couple who had taken cover from the gravel spraying Ford, casually walked past and said “I thought that would happen.” George and Vick walked the rest of the way to the bar and we all heard what happened PLUS the surf was humongous. I think it was Graham Booth and Rob Birch went to see what they could do for Glen with his upturned Zephyr. Returning to the bar to buy a drink for Glen, just to steady his nerves, they told us Yallingup was unrideable and we might as well head home. We all wanted to help Glen with his sorry Zephyr and decided to tow it with dad’s Holden panel van to Perth and the yard at the back of Ozone Hotel. We then had a number of night caps before repose. At dawn we were woken with the smell of salt in the air and the thunder of BIG SURF. Off we went to hook up Glens Zephyr.  Entering the beach car park was a squeeze. It was packed with sightseers. The Surf was thunderous. We all knew it was suicide. The rip going out of the lagoon was bucking like a rapid. Some clown even asked me if he could borrow my board.

Ok back to Glen’s Zephyr. By the time I got there the boys had got it on its wheels. We hooked up with some very dodgy rope. Five of us in the Holden van towing a very sad Zephyr with no windshield , crushed roof and streaked with oil and sand. It was decided the better man for the job of driving the Zephyr was Graham Booth and Glen rode shotgun. Slowly we proceeded until we entered some downhill runs then Graham looked like he was wanting to pass me. He was running out of breaks. Being upturned caused the Zephyr’s brake fluid to escape and Graham was madly pumping to get a response. Somewhere on the way to Perth we bought some fluid and Graham found some feeble excuse for brakes. The scariest part of the journey was when a cement mixer truck in the causeway roundabout tried to get between our tow-er and the tow-ee. While uncoupling the Zephyr from the Holden the scary news of Yallingup was heard. We all raced home and on the spur of the moment decided to drive back to Yallingup. Dad and mum understood how we felt and dad said we could have his big Chev. Thanks dad. Next morning at daybreak we searched the cliffs but no sign of Jeff Dalziel our mate. Yallingup was a very sad place to be that night and beyond. Even harder to bear when Jeff’s body was found. The full heroic story at Mosman Park’s Three Boy Park.

Davo Aylett

Images: 1962 media coverage of Jeff Dalziel’s drowning at Yallingup courtesy of Cliff Hills.

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A group of young Cottesloe surfers ventured to Rottnest Island for the Australia Day weekend in 1962. A weekend of surfing merriment away from parents was on the menu.

Davo Aylett’s recollection of the ’62 boy’s weekend at Rotto.

From memory there was Ron Allen, Len Dibben, Jeff Dalziel, Harold Gregory, Robby Birch, Brian Webster and me. Hope I haven’t left anybody out!

Well, as young blokes visiting the island, some for the first time, spirits very were high.

Disembarking the Islander ferry we just threw our stuff on the beach and headed straight for the legendary Quokka Arms and the day progressed from there. Bear in mind the drinking age was twenty one. After some time drinking jugs of Liquid Amber in the sunlight it was announced that soon there was going to be a fashion parade. Well we took our positions to get the best viewing. Well it started out with a bevy of beauties and the crowd responded accordingly, UNTIL, out strode proud as punch, our surfing mate Len Dibben. He appeared made up like something out of the Gidget goes Hawaiian movie, topped off with a straw pork pie hat. I think it was Harold who made that famous quote “OO BRUNG IM!!”

Night fell and we had organised nothing. Staggering to the beach we just flopped on the sand and crawled into our sleeping bags alongside our surf boards. A row of inebriated bodies. We were all fast asleep when suddenly there were voices and a blinding light. One of my mates responded with “BUGGER OFF WILL YA!” Slowly coming to our senses it must have dawned on us all at once. It was Sergeant Plod, the Islands constabulary. We were in deep and it was impossible to run in a sleeping bag. Starting from the nearest to the jetty the most noble, honorary, sir, started with a full-blown interrogation with a side kick writing everything down. “Now, what’s your name?” and “Where do you live?” and finally “how old are you?” Of course the answer to the last question, the officer repeated the age in a loud and astonished voice “17 ” and “19” and “18” and so on until he reached the end of the line. Poor Harold was the last to be interrogated. After giving the under-age answer and with a kick and a clank of bottles the Sergeant asked. “And what do you have at the bottom of your sleeping bag?” With that, all our reserve supply was confiscated and with a stern warning that if we spend another night on the beach, we will suffer the consequences.

After a slow recovery from the night time of terror, we became organised and civilised very quickly. Acting MOST adult from then on, we surfed the Transit Reef and took the Islander ferry back home.

Photo: 1962 Cottesloe surf mates at Rottnest on Australia Day weekend. Len Dibben pic.

L-R Brian Webster, Len Dibben (crouching on surfboard), Graeme Booth, Rick Skelton, Jeff Dalziel, Ron Allen, Bob Birch, Harold Gregory, in front unidentified girl with Dave Aylett.

Len Dibben’s recollections of the same ’62 weekend.

Len DibbenI was on a Modelling assignment for Walsh’s Menswear store and some of my Cottesloe surfing mates were able to come over. I was flown over for the Gig and put up at a Chalet. The boys came over on the Islander on Saturday and moved in. As I remember, the swell was up all weekend and we surfed Transits. On the Sat night, the guys had a lot to drink and were doing Belly Bumps at the Quokka Arms.

Some of us were offered a passage back on a private launch. We tied our nine 9ft plus boards onto the roof of the cabin and set sail, but when we hit the open sea we discovered they were not tied on properly. So a few of us had to get up on the roof and do the job properly with waves breaking over the bow. As I remember, it was bloody dangerous!

Back in the day we would all meet at the Jeff Dalziel’s place in Mosman Park, I think on a Wednesday or Thursday night to watch the Wrestling on TV. Great days. We all played Rugby as well for Cottesloe.

Photo: 1972 Len Dibben fashion photo-shoot at Injidup. Ric Chan pic.

Tom Blaxell’s 2017 Rotto Fashion Parade

Miss West Coast beauty pageants were held on metro beaches from 1967-85.

In 2016 the pageant was revived as the local precursor to the Miss Universe Australia competition. The West Coast beauty contest is now held at Hotel Rottnest. Hotel Rottnest has been reborn out of the renowned Quokka Arms Hotel.

Photo: 2017 Tom Blaxell (with thumbs up bottom right) enjoying himself at the Miss West Coast beauty contest held at Rotto. Tom Blaxell pic.

 

Fun times at Rotto.

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Update: 13 April 2017 added Wayne Murphy comment.

Peter Donaldson from Westoz Productions has produced a short doco on the history of surfing on Rottnest Island. It includes interviews with veteran surfers.

Click on this link to view the video Rottnest Island – Strickland Bay Surfing Pioneers

Wayne Murphy (journalist/author Ireland) – Nice little production. Would have also liked to seen some recognition of the fencing and dune rehabilitation work undertaken by Rottnest ranger Charlie Hansen (RIP) and the Offshore Board Riders at Strickland Bay included as well. Charlie was the driving force for getting the environment back in good order. By the 1980s the surrounding cliff area was almost fully denuded of local shrubs because of surfers, myself included, traipsing everywhere and stashing our boards in the bushes. Now the local flora is flourishing despite all the extra human traffic. Empty waves are the endangered species there now, ha! 

I actually grew up on Rottnest in the 1960s and went to school there. My Irish parents were the licensees of the Quokka Arms. We lived out back of the pub. I began surfing Strickland in 1973 after graduating from Mary Cove and inside Salmon Bay.  Strickos was my first proper reef break to learn about power and waves of consequence.  In the late 1970s I disappeared to Cactus and the Eastern states for ten years or so. When I returned to WA in the late 1980s I resumed working at the Quokka Arms, then with the Rottnest Island Authority. The changes at Strickland Bay were most noticeable. That’s when Kieran Glossop and a few of us formed the Offshore Board Riders. The dune rehab work there commenced not long after.  Strickland Bay is a special place for many people. Long may it be.

Photo: 1976 Mike McAuliffe surfing Stark Bay at Rotto. Ric Chan pic.

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Gallery

1954 Rotto crossing history by Jim Keenan

In 1954 a West Australian newspaper article referred to two unidentified men who made a daring three hour trip from Cottesloe to Rottnest Island.

Image: 1954 unidentified young men Paddle Surf skis to Rottnest. Article courtesy of West Australian Newspapers.

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WA surfing pioneer Jim Keenan was a member of City of Perth SLSC at the time and believes he knows who the lads were. This is his recollection of the incident.

IF MY MEMORY IS CORRECT I SUSPECT THE GUYS INVOLVED WERE ARTIE SHAW (A MATE OF MARK PATERSON) AND GEORGE BEVAN. THEY LEFT FROM COTTESLOE AND I THINK THEY PADDLED THE OLD 16 FT TOOTHPICKS AND NOT SURF SKIS AS REPORTED.

Photo: 1958 Artie Shaw & Bruce ‘Moonshine’ Hill wave sharing at Yallingup. John Budge pic.

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WE USED TO LEAVE FROM CITY BEACH. GRAHAM ‘COCKO’ KILLEN & I PADDLED OUR DOUBLE SURF SKI AND TONY HARBISON WOULD COME ACROSS ON HIS SINGLE SKI.

WE HAD CROSSED TO ROTTO ON DATES EARLIER THAN THE BOYS FROM COTT.

IN FACT WE WERE OVER AT ROTTO WHEN ARTIE AND GEORGE ARRIVED.

THE MEDIA BLEW THEIR CROSSING UP (AS THEY DO) AND THE BOYS ADDED TO THE BULLSHIT BY SUGGESTING SHARKS FOLLOWED THEM AND POSED A THREAT.

THE MEDIA HYPE ENDED UP WITH HARBOUR AND LIGHTS IMPOSING IN CONJUNCTION WITH SLSA, A BAN ON CROSSINGS.

Photo: 1956 City Beach north side. Dave Williams riding Toothpick and Jim Keenan & Cocko Killen on double surf ski. Ray Geary pic.

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WE CONTINUED OUR CROSSINGS AND IT ULTIMATELY RESULTED IN OUR EXPULSION FROM THE CITY OF PERTH CLUB. THIS WAS GREAT AS IT MEAN’T NO MORE TIED UP WEEKENDS AND MORE SURF TRIPS DOWN SOUTH.

Photo: 1957 Jim Keenan & Cocko Killen surfing Yallingup on their double ski. John Budge pic.

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I THINK DAVO WILLIAMS JOINED IN ON A TRIP OR TWO. I DO REMEMBER COLIN ‘MOOSE’ WHITE “BORROWING” A SURF SKI AND ACCOMPANING US TO THE ISLAND.

ON THE RETURN JOURNEY WE WERE “WELCOMED”BY SOME OVER EAGER SLSA MEMBERS AND THE LOCAL COPS FROM WEMBLEY POLICE STATION. THE POLICE ARRESTED MOOSE AND TOOK HIM OFF IN A SIDECAR TO WEMBLEY COP SHOP TO UNDERGO A VERBAL LASHING.

THE CLUB MEMBERS CONFISCATED OUR SKI’S (TEMPORARILY) AND THAT POSSIBLY WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE END TO OUR MEMBERSHIPS, A BLESSING IN DISGUISE.

MOOSE JOURNEYED TO SYDNEY LATE 1959 ALONG WITH MYSELF IAN TODMAN AND LAURIE BOURKE. MOOSE IS STILL IN SYDNEY AND A LONG SERVING MEMBER OF QUEENSCLIFF SLSA.  A TRUE BLUE CLUBBY!

Photo: 1960 Manly NSW L-R Joe Larkin (surfboard & film maker), Chris ‘Batman’ Steinburg, Colin ‘Moose’ White, Brian Cole & Jim Keenan. Photo Jim Keenan.

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THE SLSA WERE NOT VERY ADVENTURE MINDED AND DID NOT APPRECIATE OUR ACTIONS.

THERE WERE AT TIMES EVENTS THAT COULD HAVE LED TO A MAJOR MISHAP, BUT IN GENERAL ROTTO CROSSINGS WERE RELATIVELY SAFE (OR SO WE THOUGHT).

PASSING SHIPS IN THE FOG WERE A THREAT ALONG WITH EARLY SEA BREEZES WHICH TAXED OUR STAMINA.

TONY ON ONE OF THOSE FOG RIDDEN MORNINGS WAS ALMOST TAKEN OUT BY AN INCOMING PASSENGER LINER (ARCADES, I THINK). IT WAS HEARD BUT NOT SEEN IN THE THICK FOG AND TONY BEING ON A SINGLE SKI DID NOT HAVE THE SPEED FOR A QUICK EVASION. HOWEVER LUCK WAS WITH US AND HE ESCAPED A WIPE OUT.

THE RETURN JOURNEY WAS USUALLY A LOT EASIER WITH STRONG SEA BREEZES UP OUR BUTT. LONG SKATES ON THE SWELLS MADE FOR A LOT OF FUN AND SPEED.

Photo: 1960s Metro Training for State Surf Championships Dave Williams on toothpick paddle board (2nd from left) & Tony Harbison on plywood single ski (3rd from left). Steve Mailey pic.

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I REMEMBER ONE RETURN WITH OUT A SEA BREEZE. IT WAS HOT AND DEAD CALM AND WE WERE SUFFERING FROM HANGOVERS. ABOUT HALF WAY WE SPOTTED THE WANDOO (A WOODEN FERRY) AND TO RELIEVE OUR THIRST PADDLED OVER TO IT AND CLAMOURED ON BOARD VIA THE WINDWARD SIDE. WE SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF THE FISHING FOLK WHO WERE TOO BUSY FISHING ON THE LEEWARD SIDE. WE JUST APPEARED OUT OF THE BLUE AND SURPRISED THE LOT OF THEM.

Photo: 1958 Wandoo ferry arriving at Rotto. Don Roper is 3rd from front. Brian Cole pic.

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OF COURSE BEING SMART ARSES, WE DEVOURED A FEW STUBBIES PROVIDED BY THE FISHERMEN AND THEN TOOK OFF FOR CITY BEACH. WE WERE DE-HYDRATED UPON HITTING THE BEACH, NOT A GOOD IDEA.

REGARDS JIM

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Gallery

1970s Rotto fly-in surf trip

In the 70s the Rottnest Island Board (RIB) flew Independent Newspaper photo journalist Ric Chan and some of his surfing mates to Rottnest for a photo shoot to promote surfing on the Island.

RIB financed the plane trip and provided a vehicle & accommodation for the weekend photo shoot.

Ric’s surf team consisted of Bruce King, Phil Henderson, Steve Cockburn and Mark Johnson. The boys enjoyed the Island’s hospitality.

These are boy’s recollections.

Bruce King

I remember on the flight over the pilot wanted to turn back because he reckoned it was too windy, we persuaded him and eventually landed, once on the ground we were treated like movie stars, transport provided not quite 5 star limo, but an old service truck, we were given a cabin for overnight stay, all this supplied by way of Ric Chan’s smooth talking. There was a horse hire place then, which Ric persuaded the owners to let us avail ourselves with the promise of exposure in the “Independent” newspaper.

We scored well with waves, at that time we didn’t know if others had surfed some of the places, I’m sure they would have. One surf break was Strickland Bay which Ric called King’s Reef because I was the first one out. Another was Chicken Reef which I think Sheepdog named because Ric was too chicken to go out, I think it is still called that today.

Phil Henderson

It’s funny but YEAH that trip was a bit of a blur. I remember it was blowing its box off and we had to convince the pilot to land in such a bad crosswind. He was not happy but we made it. Cannot remember much else other than Ric’s photos. It was good fun though.

Steve Cockburn

Ric Chan arranged our venture to Rottnest Island. Flying from Perth to Rottnest was ok, but when our light aircraft attempted landing, with the extremely strong wind, the plane was blown sideways at an angle to the runway making it unsafe to complete the landing, so the pilot aborted that first landing attempt and circled to try landing a second time, which was successful.

We made our way to the Rottnest Island Board Offices and Ric went off to discuss some marketing that the Board wanted done, they had lent us the old truck (as seen in the photos) and we all soon headed to the south side of the Island. The surf was flattish, blown right out by really strong north to north west winds.

I don’t remember much about the surfin, but on the second day we decided to go horse riding and hired horses at the local stables then headed off to the north side of Rottnest and along sand tracks leading out to the West End near the lighthouse. The horses were stubborn and it was hard to get going, even to get them to canter on the way out, but as soon as we were returning towards their stables they all bolted and went uncontrollable in full gallop towards their home. My horse suddenly swerved to the right when we arrived at a fork in the track. I was flung off the saddle and swung around the under horses neck, with both legs wrapped tightly around its neck, the horse came to a stop and I walked it the last short distance to the stables.

When it was time to return to Perth, we thought we may get stuck on the Island due to the still very strong wind and the possibility the plane not being able to land and pick us up. But when the time came the pilot made a safe landing and soon we were off back home.

Ric Chan

Muhahahaha. The only reason in know I was there is the pics. Maybe we can wangle another wagon, a boat and a weekend over there.

Photos: 1970’s aerial snaps of Rotto Island. Ric pics

1970s aerial snaps of Rotto Ric Chan

Photos: 1970s fly-in to Rotto airport. Ric pics.

Top: Bruce & Phil unloading surfboards.
Bottom: Sheepdog collecting luggage & the boys playing footy at the airport.

1970s rotto fly-in airport Ric Chan

The RIB provided the boys with an old ex-military truck to drive around the island in.

Photos: 1970s Island transport. Ric pics.

1970s Rotto island transport Ric Chan

Photos: 1970s surfing Strickland Bay (aka King’s Reef). Ric Pics

Top: Bruce King take-off & Mark Johnson.
Middle: Phil Henderson & Bruce King.
Bottom: Sheepdog x 2.

1970s Rotto surfing Kings Reef Ric Chan

Photos: 1970s surfing Chicken Reef.

Top: Chicken Reef line-up and the boys on surf watch.
Middle: Sheepdog & Mark Johnson.
Bottom: Bruce King & Phil Henderson

1970s Rotto surfing Chicken Reef Ric Chan

Photos: 1970s horse riding. Ric pics.

Top: Phil Henderson. Bottom: Steve Cockburn & Bruce King.

1970s Rotto horse riding Ric Chan

The Rottnest Island Authority is now creating an interpretative sign and short DVD on the importance of Rottnest to the surfing community, to be installed on Rottnest Island WA. They plan to use some of Ric Chan’s 1970-80s Rottnest based historic images for their interpretation products.

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Gallery

1980 Cordingley Surf Team trip to Rotto

Colin Earle and the Cordingley Surf Team visited Rottnest in 1980. Surf photographer Ric Chan was there to capture the surf session at Strickland Bay.

Photos: 1980 Colin Earle surfing Strickland Bay #1. Ric Chan pics.

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Photos: 1980 Colin Earle surfing Strickland Bay #2. Ric Chan pics.

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Photos: 1980 Craig Bettenay surfing Strickland Bay #1. Ric Chan pics.

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Photos: 1980 Craig Bettenay surfing Strickland Bay #2. Ric Chan pics.

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Photos: 1980 Rotto pics by Ric Chan.
(Left) Damon Eastaugh & unknown surfing Strickland Bay. (Right) Mitch Thorson’s dad working at the Rotto bakery.

1980 Rotto Damon & unknown surfing & MItch's dad at bakery collage_photocat