Gallery

Tom Blaxell’s Gallows recollections

Tom Blaxell is one of the pioneers of WA surfing. He was involved in the surf industry from the 1960s to 1990s. He is a past President of Dolphins Surfriders and was made a Life Member of the club in 1975. Tom is also a Life Member of WASRA (1982) and served as President of WASRA from 1995-97.

These are Tom’s Gallows recollections:-

My first introduction to the Gallows was with the Dolphin Surfriders in the mid 60’s. The Dolphins were largely a group of down south surfing pioneers who had originally banded together in the 50’s as the West Coast Board Club nicknamed the Big Wheels… because they had cars!

This older crew included Kevin “Legs” Merrifield who I consider to be the spiritual Grand Master of surfing in WA today, Ron “Jungle” Drage who was one of the first to ride Yallingup, Dave “Globehead” Williams who led the discovery of Guillotine as a surf spot, Ray Geary who Gearys surf break is named after, Tony Harbison who went on to build Hideaway Cottages at Yalls, Ray Nelmes the ultimate hairy back amongst hairy backs, Alan Robbins, Stan Duffy, Don Campbell, Rob Wakefield, Keith Smith, Glen Marshall, Ken Gimm, Alan Cough and several others.

It was they who had earlier organised South West farmer Boodge Guthrie to bulldoze the Gallows track skirting away from the Cullen cottage right down to the beach for 15 quid. The West Coast Board Club ended up fading out when they were made to pull down their shack in the grounds of Caves House, some went over east, others went overseas, most ended up getting married, going into business and headed off in all different directions.

The reform in the 60’s as Dolphins gave us younger guys including Garry Nicholas, Johnny Wynne, Geoff House, Jim McFarlane, Bruce Elliott and Steve Fordham the privilege of a fantastic mentor peer group because not only were they fearless trail blazing adventurers who lived and enjoyed life to the full, with a real sense of humour, but by that time were mostly successful trades men, business men and go getters who gave us great examples to follow on all sorts of levels in life.

“Legs” for example at that time was in partnership with Kerry Stokes and could have gone to the very top of the Australian corporate ladder, but later chose to turn south and apply his talents there, as well as soak up its natural blessings on a daily basis.

Photo: 1970s Kevin Merifield with his Blaxell Surfboard at Trigg Point. Ric Chan pic.

Later on in the 90’s I asked him if he would become the patron for Surfing WA. He asked me what that entailed so off the cuff I said “Well it means you have to keep surfing!” (as a bit of a joke, because I already knew that he did!)…He responded “What on a short board?” (He wasn’t getting any younger and I could sense a little bit of strain in his voice, so I kept the pressure on)… “Yeah of course!”… “Well it’s not getting any easier, but I think I can keep it up !”… “Great you’re in!”

Deal done. To this day he’s still out there most days, even if he can’t stand up any more, post inner ear and hip replacement operations.

The other good thing about the old guys was that they had wheels. My first trip down south was in Ken Gimm’s Falcon station wagon. We stayed in a Caves House shack that was still standing at the time, where I was introduced into the wonders of a blue flame competition and the supposed risk of abdominal explosion if you happened to suck in by mistake.

In those days the “search” was still on in full force to explore for new uncrowded perfect waves and to learn what breaks worked best in the various conditions and swells. Dirt tracks and bush bashing featured heavily in these explorations and our original search engines were 2 wheel drives. Looking back from today’s cruisey four wheel drive viewpoint, it really is amazing the places we used to pump our 2 wheel drives through. Some of course didn’t make it and there was always the odd dead wagon that had died and been abandoned.

Dirt tracks are an embedded facet of West Australian surf trips and Gallows was just the start. Places like Rocky Point, the Farm, the Other  Side of the Moon, Injidup Point, Wilyabrup, South Point, Lefties, Big Rock, Ellenbrook, Grunters, Conto’s, Booranup, Black Point and Bears all had their challenges.

Photo: 1972 Tom’s ‘Blaxell Surfrider’ HK panel van negotiating the boggy Gallows track. Jim McFarlane pic.

The Gallows track was always a major challenge because of its deep soft sand, steep hills, creek beds, valleys and wooded with trees, sometimes hot n dusty, other times wet n muddy and there was always the ever present danger of getting seriously bogged.

The first time I hit it, I was actually reasonably conditioned for it. I had been rattled around in the back of Graeme Pateman’s Vauxhaull ute on the Long Point track many times by then. He was a madman at the wheel and the ride was like being on a roller coaster in a bumper car, and just so much fun!  Pity about the boards that sometimes got knocked around.

Don Campbell brought down a brand spanking new Ford ute one time to put to the test and feeling a bit concerned about it I said “Don’t you worry about scratching and messing up your brand new pride and joy ?”  His wizened response was “Tom, cars are made for using, not for looking at.”

So from that day on I adopted the same attitude and when not long after I got my own first pride and joy, a FC Holden ute, I didn’t hold back either, and to this day I still wear scratches with a sense of pride. There’s no St Georges Terrace tractor for me.

Photo: 1967 Tom Blaxell, Garry Nicholas & Johnny Wynne in the back of Tom’s FC ute at Miami just around the corner from Gearys. Tom Blaxell pic.

The FC ute was later repainted bright Kodak yellow and became known as the Yellow Submarine.

On one memorable occasion in 1968 I was back at Long Point in my FC ute when the Meckering earthquake struck. It was a big deal and everyone was pretty freaked out about it but I didn’t feel a thing or even know about it because I was doing the roller coaster along the track when it struck. I thought that was pretty cool.

Another moment in the FC ute came at Salmon Beach out past Windy Harbour with Garry and Johnny. I had been giving it a fair bit of stick getting through the sand when I got the red light on the dash… followed by steam coming from under the bonnet. So in typical silly teenage fashion we decided to take the radiator cap off and have a look.

That of course allowed the last remaining coolant to burst out to the heavens.  Then we were faced with the prospect of no water to replace it, out in the middle of nowhere and no one else around. We were stranded. Then came the light bulb moment.  Piss in it! The three of us took turns to empty our bodily fluids into the radiator. We didn’t manage to fill it, but with a bit of gentle motoring along the track we did make it back to town.

Going back to the Gallows, getting down to the surf was always very refreshing. It was a reliable wave that caught the swell easily and even handled the sea breeze reasonably well because of the protection from the reform.

Photo: 1968 Tom Blaxell surfing Hangman’s at Gallows. Tom Blaxell pic.

It also had a bit of a mystical fairy tale atmosphere about it with the little Cullen’s cottage that you could see from the water out at Hangman’s, set amongst the wooded hills and even complete with a damsel!

Photo: 1969 Tom Blaxell on a Hangman’s sparkler at Gallows. Tom Blaxell pic.

Recently by chance I discovered that a friend, Dr Cullity’s daughter Jude, 50 years ago planted the very first premium grape vine in the Margaret River region at his property across the road from Gallows at Vasse Felix in Autumn 1967.

For more information on Vasse Felix click on The Weekend West 25-26 February ‘Age makes fine wine and fond memories’ by Wendy Barrett.

Jude tells me that the Cullity’s and Cullen’s were both vineyard pioneers across the road from each other and that the local folklore is that some previous owners of the Cullen property ran an unofficial abattoir and used to hang the stock from the trees which led to the property being nicknamed the Gallows.

If this is true, then this may well be the reason that Dr Cullen’s friend Rankin Wilson (who is said to be the first to surf Gallows) named it Gallows, rather than for the characteristics of the break. Interesting!

Tom now works in the Marine Industry at Hillary’s and still enjoys surfing.

For more Gallows history watch out for 1970s Gallows surf break & dirt track (Parts 1 & 2) on Saturday 20 May 2017.

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Gallery

1968 Yallingup – Invitational Event at the State Championships

In 1964 Bernard ‘Midget’ Farrelly (NSW) won the World Mens Title at the first World Surfing Championships held at Manly Beach NSW. Midget won from Californians Mike Doyle & Joey Cabell.

Photo: 1964 Midget surfing Manly on his way to winning World Mens Surfing Title. Photo courtesy of Keith Campbell (former WASRA President).

1964 Midget Champion at Manly

In 1968 former Australian world surfing champion ‘Midget’ Farrelly was invited to WA to compete in a special Invitational Event held in conjunction with the State Championships at Yallingup on the LWE in March 1968.

The field for WA’s Invitational event included Midget, prominent WA surfer Terry Jacks, former South Australian Barry Young and representatives from most states.

Image: 1968 Midget arriving at Perth Airport for the Invitational event. Newspaper image courtesy of the Daily News.

1968 Invitational Comp Yalls - Midget Farrelly

There was a big crowd in attendance to watch Midget surf at Yallingup. He bought rounded pintail surfboards to the event and WA surfers saw the new design from the East Coast for the first time. It introduced another advance in WA surfboard design.

Photos: 1968 Yalls Midget Farrelly & spectators at the Invitational Event. Photos courtesy of Sally Jones (nee Gunter).

Top: (Left) Midget with WASRA President Ron ‘Doc’ Naylor. (Right) Midget descending steps to the beach.
Bottom: (Left) Midget heading out to surf in Invitational event. (Right) Midget returning to the beach with his rounded pintail surfboard.

1968 Yalls Midget Farrelly invitational Event Sally Jones collage_photocat

The invitational event was held in sunny offshore conditions at Yallingup. Midge rode the lefts in his smooth controlled style. Terry Jacks was frothing and went for it. At the conclusion of the event many spectators thought Terry had won the event, but Midge’s name was already engraved on the trophy and that was that!

Some of Terry’s supporters kicked up a bit of dust, but it was in vain.

Images: 1968 Midget Farrelly at the Invitational event. Still frame images courtesy of City Beach Surf Riders Super 8 movie film.

1968 Yalls Invitational event Midget Farrelly collage_photocat

Image: 1968 Terry Jacks surfing in the Invitational event. Newspaper image courtesy of the Daily News.

1968 Invitational Comp Yalls - Terry Jacks1

COMMENTS ON INVITATIONAL EVENT

Peter ‘Spook’ BothwellMidget had just got back from Hawaii and was full of stories about Joey Cabell and his pintails.

Barry ‘Baz’ YoungBesides me, for the Invitational, another surfer from interstate was Alex Chobinoff (NSW) who had been here for 6 months roughly like myself. I placed third in that Invitational as well as coming 2nd to Spook in the State Titles. It was pretty small that day and I gambled and surfed the ‘Bunbury Break’, which was named because of the crew of Bunbury surfers who surfed it more than most. It’s now known as “The Cove”. Whilst Midget and the other 4 competitors hassled each other at Main Break I got a little lucky where I was.

When Midget arrived for the contest and pulled 4 Pintails out of his car we were all flabbergasted. The Press on what was happening design wise over East was very limited and I’m pretty sure no one had heard about boards that had pointed tails. It seemed weird to have a tail shape that looked the same as the nose. There was a lot of disbelief and almost jeering as he walked past the big crowds lining the steps and beach with one of these strange designs under his arm on the way to the water. I think he thought about not staying for the Invitational, but the WASRA contest directors talked him around and tuned a few crew to keep their opinions to themselves for the rest of the weekend.

I have been surfing in the Maldives twice now in recent years, at the same time as Midget and his wife, and he still surfs pretty good for age 71.

Photo: 2015 Former WA Surfboard Manufacturer Tom Blaxell with 1964 World Surfing Champ Midget Farrelly in the Maldives. Photo courtesy of Tom Blaxell.

2015 Maldives Tom Blaxell and Midget farrelly at Pasta Point

In 2001 Surfing WA made a presentation to Midget Farrelly at Yallingup Beach.

Photos: (Left) 2001 montage presentation to Midget at Yalls designed by Quindalup’s Loz Smith. (Right) 2006 Midget & Loz Smith at Jack Egan photo exhibition held at Vasse Felix Winery.

2001 & 2006 Midget Farrelly & Loz Smith images collage_photocat

1968 STATE SURFING CHAMPIONSHIPS HELD AT YALLINGUP.

The state championships were held in good offshore conditions at Yallingup over the March long weekend. Members of most WA Board Clubs competed in the Titles. Finalists in the divisions went onto represent WA at the National Surfing Titles held in NSW in May 1968.

Editor’s NoteA month after the State Titles finalist Arty Sherburn nearly died when he was stung by a blue bottle jellyfish while surfing at Cottesloe. He was unable to take his place in the WA State Team and compete in the ’68 National Titles in NSW.

Images: (Left) 1968 Cover of WASRA program. (Right) Preview of State Titles at Yalls. Images courtesy of WASRA & the Daily News.

1968 State Surfing Titles Yalls media 2 collage_photocat

Images: 1968 State Surfing Titles at Yalls. Images courtesy of the Daily News & Trevor Burslem.
(Left) Media preview of the WA Titles. (Right) Jim King competing in Open Division.

1968 State Ttiles Yalls Jim King 3 collage_photocat

CONTEST RESULTS

Peter ‘Spook’ Bothwell (age 19 years) from Sand n Sea board club won the Open Mens. Competing in 6ft surf Spook beat former South Australian Barry Young and Arty Sherburn the Southern Surfriders champion. Surprisingly, John Balgarnie & 1966 champion John Staley were eliminated in the semi-finals.

Ian Cairns from Southern Surfriders was the outstanding junior surfer & won the Junior Title from Phil Taylor & Ian ‘Moochie‘ Strongman.

Dave Williams won the Senior Title.

Maureen Farrell won the Womens Title.

Images: 1968 State Surfing Titles at Yalls.
(Left) Media review of the WA Titles courtesy of WA Newspapers.
(Right) Contest spectators & judges scaffolding on the beach. Photo Jim King.

1968 State Titles Yalls 4 collage_photocat

COMMENTS ON STATE SURFING TITLES

Peter ‘Spook’ BothwellThe 67 titles were when I thought I could win and was surfing at my peak. I didn’t get out of my heat, John Staley went on to win. In 68 I was over it (the competitive hype) and more relaxed. I thought John Staley was surfing good enough to win in 68, but he got over anxious like I did in 67 and was knocked out. My other memory was that everyone who surfed went in it. A bit like a festival.

I next went into a state contest in 76, after not surfing much for a few years and the crowd and competitive crew numbered about fifty. The atmosphere had changed, still seriously competitive, but the wider social interest went for a time.

Barry ‘Baz’ YoungIt was borderline whether I was eligible to compete in the main event (State Titles) because you had to have been living in WA for 6 months and I got Arty Sherburn and John Staley to say I had been here that long, but I think I was about a week short.

I had been called up for National Service and came to the West to surf as much as possible before going in. I ended up doing my Draft medical in Bunbury, and swallowed silver foil in the hope it would show up as a spot on my lung (it had worked in the Big Wednesday movie) but they never remarked on it. What they did notice was my very large surf bumps on my feet. I had gone to the medical in suede Desert Boots, which were the rage at the time and they asked me if I could wear leather boots, and I said I doubt it, so they got me to try a pair on, and I faked pain enough that they didn’t sign me up….relief! We had been losing about 3 or 4 soldiers a day in different skirmishes in Vietnam and I didn’t want to be part of it. I remember I hitched back to Yallingup and went out and had just the best surf. A big weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

SOCIAL

With a big LWE crowd in attendance it was not surprising that some anti-social behaviour occurred at Caves House pub on the Saturday Night.

Image: 1968 Media report on an alleged brawl at Caves House pub. Newspaper cutting courtesy of the daily News.

1968 Caves House Yalls pub brawl

A fun long weekend surfing & socialising in the South West was had by all.

Gallery

1970s Huzzawouie surf break

Huzzawouie (Huzza’s) reef break is located in Cowaramup Bay at Gracetown in the South West. It works on a large swell and is sheltered from the prevailing south west winds. Huzza’s has been surfed since the early 60s.

For more background & earlier images click on this SDS link – 1960s Vintage Huzzawouie Images

Photo: 1970s Cowaramup Bay southern surf breaks. L-R South Point, Huzza’s and Boris’s. Photo credit Jim King.

1970s Cowaramup Bay J King pic

Photos: 1970 Celebrities at Huzza’s beach. (Left) WA model Jane Priest (Right) WA surfboard manufacturer Tom Blaxell.
Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.

1970 Huzzawouie celebrities 2 collage_photocat

Photos: 1970 NZ surf photographer Ric Chan preparing to paddle out at Huzza’s on Blaxell single fin board. Photos courtesy of Ric Chan.

1970 Huzzwwouie Ric Chan collage_photocat

Surf photographer Ric Chan took the following water shots with his water proof Nikonos camera.

Photo: 1970 Huzza’s water shot of take-off zone. Photo credit Ric Chan

1970 Huzza water shot - Ric Chan pic 008

Photo: 1970’s Huzza’s water shot of unidentified surfer. Photo credit Ric Chan

1970s Huzza water shot - Ric Chan pic 008 (4)

Photos: 1971 SW surfers Al Fixter and Ian Mitchell surfing Huzza. Images courtesy of Country Surf Mag & photographer Rob Farris.

1971 Huzzawouie Al Fixter & Ian Mitchell - Country Surf Mag - Rob Farris

Photo: 1973 Mick Black cuttie at Huzza. Photo credit Ric Chan

1973 Huzza Mick Black Ric Chan DSC00023

Photo: 1976 Huzza’s line-up. Photo credit Ric Chan.

1976 Huzzas line-up - Ric Chan 005

Huzza Cliff Tragedy
In 1996 a tragedy occurred at Gracetown when five adults and four children were killed in a cliff collapse while watching a school surfing carnival held at Huzza’s. The victims were sheltering underneath a rock overhang at the base of the limestone cliff during a rain storm when the cliff collapsed without warning. A memorial to the victims has been erected at the site.

Gallery

1970s Scarborough Beach

Scarborough Beach was the hub of metro surfing & social life in the 70s. Local surfers had their own surf shops, surf board clubs (North End, Scarborough, Boomerang & Contacio) and hotels (White Sands & Scarborough). The Scarborough Hotel built 1938 was demolished in mid 80s.

Photo: 1974 Scarborough Guest House replaced by Observation City Hotel. (now known as Rendezvous Hotel Perth, Scarborough). Vance Burrow pic.

1974 Scarb Guest Hse now Observ City Vance Burrow IMG

Photos: 1976 Scarborough Beach front. Ric Chan pic.
Top: (Left) busy beach break (Right) Scarborough car park looking north towards Threepenny reef.
Bottom: (Left) Gay Gordon hamburgers (Right) Ric Chan’s gold coloured Kombi parked in front of Gay Gordon.

1970s Scarborough beach front collage_photocat

Photos: 1970s Ric Chan’s rental house at Scarborough. Ric Chan pics.
Top: (Left) Firefighter controlling burn-off next to Ric’s place (Right) Ric & his red Jaguar next to his Scarborough rental.
Bottom: (Left) Mick Black (Right) Ric Chan on front verandah.

Steve CockburnRic worked as a DJ at The Sheraton Down Under Bar & Gobbles Night Club in Wellington Street Perth. I lived in a flat under his rented house at Scarborough while I was an architectural student & would often go into the clubs (gratis). Ric would come in about 4 am each morning, usually with a lovely women companion and would stomp on the wooden floors & often woke me up.

1970s Scarborough Ric Chans palce 4 collage_photocat

Photos: 1970s Surf industry personalities. Ric Chan pics
Top: (Left) Scarborough water shot. (Right) Murray Smith & Unidentified surfer.
Bottom: (Left) Tom Blaxell Surfboards Osborne Park. (Right) Gary Greirson Surfboards Osborne Park.

1970s Scarborough surfing 7 collage_photocat

Photos: 1970s Scarborough Beach surfing #1. Steve Hannett bottom left. Other surfers unidentified. Ric Chan pics.

1970s surfing Scarborough 1 collage_photocat

Photos: 1970s Scarborough Beach surfing #2. Steve Hannett bottom left. Other surfers unidentified. Ric Chan pics.

1970s Scarborough surfing 2 collage_photocat

Photos: 1970s Scarborough Beach surfing legends. Ric Chan pics.
Top: Terry Jacks (dec’d) on the beach and surfing.
Bottom: (Left) Hume Heatley (dec’d). (Right) Terry, Hume & unidentified.

1970s Scarborough wildlife 5 collage_photocat

Photos: 1970s Scarborough wild life #1. Ric Chan pics.
Top: (Left) Greg Laurenson (dec’d). (Right) unidentified beach girls.
Middle: (Left) Charles ‘Chuck’ Stewart (dec’d). (Right) Ric ‘flower power’ Chan.

1970s Scarborough wildlife 4collage_photocat

Photos: 1970s Scarborough wild life #2. Ric Chan pics.
Top: (Left) Coffin Cheaters. (Right) unidentified beach girls.
Bottom: (Left) fashion photo shoot unidentified girl. (Right) unidentified beach girl.

1970s Scarborough wildlife 3 collage_photocat

Photos: 1970s Scarborough wild life #3.
Top: (Left) Steve Mathews (Channel 9) with unidentified Band. (Right) Unidentified girl in Mini Minor – Ric Chan pics.
Bottom: (Left) Blue Nicholson, Prive Morris, Micko Gracie & Rex Biddle with Prive’s Fiat in Scarborough Beach Rd – Peter Mac pic. (Right) Dolphins Board Riders footy team at Deanmore park – Tom Blaxell pic.

1970s Scarborough wild life 7 collage_photocat

 

 

Gallery

1980 National Scholastic Surfing Titles in WA.

In 1980 the National Scholastic Surfing Titles were held in WA for the first time. The contest was run over a week in the SW at Moses, Lefthanders & Smiths surf breaks. The event was sponsored by radio station 6PM & Pipelines Legrope Co.

A strong contingent of 100 talented school boy & girl surfers from around Australia competed at the Titles.

The NSW team contained future World Champions Mark ‘Occy’ Occhiluppo & Damien Hardman. The WA team contained Mitch Thorson, Damon Eastough, Mike McAuliffe, Dave Macaulay & John Shindig. Squizzy Taylor represented South Aust.

This coverage of the event is based on comments from WA contest official’s surfboard manufacturer Tom Blaxell and WASRA President Keith ‘Jock’ Campbell and photos from photo journalist Ric Chan.

Tom Blaxell – Contest Official & Sponsor

Other members of the West Australian contingent from memory were Steve Hannett, Sean Murphy, Shaun Atkinson & Matt Branson.

The fact that Occy and Hardo went on to become World Champions, illustrates that the Aussie Scholastics can be the breeding ground for true world beaters.

In those days we were struggling to get surfing recognised as a genuine school sport. There was no such thing as official surfing during school time, and some of the school administrators wouldn’t even acknowledge the competition, which of course was held out of school time.

The most extreme case was when the head of Christchurch Grammar School refused to accept the Champion surf school trophy after their team had won the State Schoolboys Title in 1965 and likewise the head of Scotch College later on.

I was a sponsor as well as officiating at the event. You can see the Blaxell Aboriginal logo on the back of one of the comp vests.

Contest officials and competitors were housed at the Four Squares Holiday Camp in Vasse.

Photo: 1980 Contest officials & competitors at the Four Squares Holiday Camp. Ric Chan photos.

Top) Competitors and Sponsor & Contest Official Tom Blaxell
(Bottom) Contest Official Margo Blaxell & competitor’s mess hall.

1980 Scholastic Surf Titles Siesta Park collage_photocat

Keith ‘Jock’ Campbell – Contest Organiser.

There were about 60 kids from all over Australia and they were booked into one of the Church Camps in Busselton (Four Square Holiday Camp – Vasse) as a base. We had organised a couple of 23 seater’s and a couple of 14 seater’s to cart the crew around in.

Each morning in the breakfast room I would announce the day’s contest venue. It was a good week surf wise with most of the usual breaks featuring.

One day when it was big “I announced that those who want to surf 6 foot waves – get in the 23 seaters, those that want to surf 8 foot waves – get in the 14 seaters and those that want to surf 10 foot plus Margies – get in the mini minor parked out front!”

When they arrived at MR main break there were 3 blokes out and who should be taking off on a 10ft plus one but Tony Hardy, who off the record was the master of the game at Margies at the time. He Tony Hardied it and the crew headed for the WC!

From memory I think Occy was either a 15 or 16 year old and armed with a 5’6″ twin fin, he charged an 8 foot set wave. Not deep on the take-off but for a first up wave he set the pace for the day and continued to do just that for 20 years.

Another incident from the event was a ‘tug of war’ between teams using a leg rope as the rope.

There were three or four to a team and one crew got it to about 6m before it snapped and Damon Eastaugh took the full brunt of the recoil. It was a major concern and very painful. The only good part of it was that the bloke it hit, was probably the toughest 15/16 year old on the planet at the time. If you see Damian around ask him as I would think it is one of those things you never forget!”

From an historic point of view I reckon this was probably as significant as the ‘Margaret River Thriller’ and other events I assisted with.

It was a massive logistics exercise for that time and I had a good crew of volunteers. I only had one concern and that was how the hard core Margie crew would entertain 100 schoolies tearing up the waves in their area. Surfers were fairly protective of their surf and environment and surfing was arriving as a bona fide sport which was less than popular by the majority.

I had limited dealings with Rob Conneeley in 1978 when I ran my first Australian Open event, but this was a different kettle of fish.

I lobbed on the doorstep of his health food shop in Marg’s to seek his advice on the best way to avoid any drama.

He was pretty straight forward, as he tended to be. He simply said basically “respect the locals, respect the environment and respect the ocean”.

I told the competitors of the rules to the game and that Robert was our connection. Robert was either or close to a legend at the time and still is I guess, so the kids took it on board and went out of their way to behave.

It was the start of the formation of Margaret River as the home of big time surfing in WA and Robert’s part in that and his support should not be overlooked.

Robert always stood back from the organization of events, but one always knew he had a presence and if you ever see the tape of the Margaret River Thrillers competitors meeting in 1985, you will hear me read out the Rules of the Margaret game Robert told me in 1980.

Photos: 1980 Contest officials at Smiths Beach for the Finals. Ric Chan pics.

(Top) Contest organiser Jock Campbell. (Bottom) unidentified & Bill Girdwood talking to officials.

1980 scholastic titles officials 1 collage_photocat

Photos: 1980 Contest officials at Smiths Beach & Yalls. Ric Chan pics.

(Top) Contest car park scene & Jock Campbell. (Bottom) Bill Girdwood with competitors at Yalls.

1980 scholastic titles officials 2 collage_photocat

Photos: 1980 Contest surfing Smiths Beach. Ric Chan pics.

Competitors unidentified.

1980 scholastic titles surfing 1 collage_photocat

Photos: Contest surfing Smiths Beach. Ric Chan pics.

(Top) WA’s Mitch Thorson. (Bottom) unidentified.

1980 scholastic titles surfing 2 collage_photocat

Contest Results

U/19’s  1. M Eymes NSW. 2. P Burnett NSW. 3. M McAuliffe WA & others shared third place.
U/17’s  1. M Thorson WA. 2. M Lyons NSW. 3. D McAullay WA & others shared third place.
U/15s  1. D Hardman. 2. S Taylor SA. 3. Occy NSW, J Shindig WA, S Bedford-Brown & others shared third place
Womens  1. J Gill NSW. 2. M Ducat Q. 3. Spiers NSW & Harrison Vic.
Kneeboarders  1. M James NSW. 2. T Branigan Vic. 3. Astra NSW & Ogborne WA

On completion of three rounds and the finals, contest presentations were held at the Naturaliste Motor Hotel in Dunsborough.

Photos: 1980 Contest sponsor Helen Hattrick & contest official Bill Girdwood presenting awards to U/15 boys finalists. Ric Chan pics.

Top: L-R Mark ‘Occy’ Occhilupo NSW, Damien Hardman NSW, Squizzy Taylor SA, John Shindig WA.
Bottom: L-R Mark ‘Occy’ Occhilupo NSW, Damien Hardman NSW, Squizzy Taylor SA, John Shindig WA, WA’s Stuart Bedford-Brown receiving award from Helen Hattrick.

1980 scholastic titles finalists U15 boys 1 collage_photocat

Photos: 1980 Contest presentations girl finalists. Ric Chan pics.

(Top) Michelle Ducat Qld receiving award from Helen Hattrick.
(Bottom) Michelle Ducat Qld & Bill Girdwood, Unidentified finalists with Helen.

1980 scholastic titles finalists girl 2 collage_photocat

BONUS IMAGE:

In 1984 Carine Senior High School won the Rip Curl Shield, the state scholastic surfing trophy for the best team performance.

Image: 1984 victorious Carine SHS surfing team with sponsors, officials & their headmaster. Image courtesy of the Stirling Times and Tom Blaxell.

1984 Carine SHS surfing award - Stirling Times