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

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

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

Living on the Beach

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

Beach Parking Facilities

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

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

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

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

1973 Lefthanders Chris Fullston - Ric Chan IMG_0006

Photos: 1975 Lefthanders car parks. Ric Chan pics.

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

1975 Lefthanders caraprks 4 collage_photocat

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

1970s Lefthanders waves 8 collage_photocat

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

1973-75 Beach girls Lefthanders collage_photocat

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

1970s Lefthanders 7 collage_photocat

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

1970s Lefthanders surfing 8 collage_photocat

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

Top Right: Surfing Tony Hardy, other surfers unidentified.

1976 Lefthanders surfing misc 7 collage_photocat

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

1978 Lefthanders Aust Titles 5 collage_photocat

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

1980-81 Chris Fullston & Dave Macaulay collage_photocat

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Margaret River Main Break is internationally renowned as the premier surf break in the South West region. It is one of Australia’s most consistent big wave locations and hosts amateur & pro surfing competitions. The annual Drug Aware Margaret River Pro contest is telecast to a world-wide audience. Like other popular surf breaks, it gets busy during holiday periods.

Back in 70s’ State & National Titles were held at Marg’s, but it was pre the hordes (and FIFO workers) and uncrowded mid-week surfs were possible.

Surf photographer-journalist Ric Chan captured these quieter moments at Marg’s in 1976. Marg’s surfer Adrian Wilson has provided comments on some of the images.

Photo: 1976 Randall Owens & his Toyota Land Cruiser at early morning session Surfers Point. Photo Ric Chan.

Adrian WilsonRandall used to wear boardies and a wetsuit top….you may remember he wrote the surfing column in the Sunday Independent in the mid 70s.
He was a good surfer in big waves…goofy foot.
I recall one very large day…sets breaking in the middle of the bay…I think I was paddling out with Steve Randall…we saw Randall Owens take a very large left. He got about half way down the face, caught a rail then tumbled into the pit only to be sucked over the falls.
As you can imagine we were concerned for his safety…. especially as he did not surface for about 100m with his board long gone heading for the middle of the bay.
He survived, but retold the story many times over the years.

1976 Marg River line-up early morning - Ric Chan 006

Photo: 1976 Adrian Wilson surfing classic low tide right handers at Margs. Ric Chan pic.

Adrian WilsonThere were perfect small medium rights. I was riding a 6ft 8 inch shaped by Ian Cairns….those boards, about 20 inches wide and 3 inches thick with plenty of rocker were very suited to hard bottom turns and powerful surfing especially for bigger guys. Nothing like what the modern surfers can do (unless you were Kanga)…but a lot of fun…Ric Chan used to walk out on the reef and take photos.

1976 Margaret River Adrian Wilson Ric Chan IMG_0002 (1)

Photo: 1976 Chris Fullston surfing Marg River left. Ric Chan pic.

Adrian WilsonI reckon the goofy footer could be Chris Fullston. Chris and I used to surf together a lot in those days…he ripped at Margs riding boards that were ahead of their time……triple flyer pintails…very fast and good for slashing turns….exactly what Chris used to do. Chris got on well with Ric Chan….we used to see him at Margs early, after he had driven straight from Gobbles Night Club where he used to DJ at in Perth.

1976 Marg River Chris Fullston - Ric Chan IMG_0002 (2)

Photo: 1976 solid Marg’s Main Break. Ric Chan pic.

1976 Marg River Main Break line-up big - Ric Chan 008

Photo: 1976 Marg River Bombie. Ric Chan pic.

1976 Marg River Bombie - Ric Chan 007

Photo: 1976 Unsealed Surfers Point car park. Ric Chan pic.

1976 Marg River Surfers Pt car park  - Ric Chan 006

Photo: 1976 Craig Bettenay surfing Margs Left. Ric Chan pic.

1976 Marg River Craig Bettenay - Ric Chan 002

Photo: 1976 Tony Hardy surfing Marg’s Right. Ric Chan pic.

1976 Marg River Tony Hardy - Ric Chan DSC00038

Photos: 1976 Marg River surfers. Ric Chan pics.
Top: (Left) Dave Bailey. (Right) Mark Wells.
Bottom: (Left) Wayne Kissick & girlfriend (Right) Jeff Cedevic.

Adrian WilsonWhen I was a gremmie at Margs, Jeff Cedevic was part of a local crew that surfed the Point in the 70s. He was a great big wave surfer, having a classic back hand style. I can still picture his deep bottom turns on big left hand peaks…..from memory Jeff had a bad surf accident at Margs breaking his pelvis on a very large day. Jeff later moved to Tassie with his wife Chris ( Gary and Sadie Keys also made the move)….sadly Jeff died of cancer in Tassie.

1976 Marg River people - Ric Chan collage_photocat

 

 

The City of Busselton has introduced a SW surfing pioneer theme to new rubbish bin casings at Yallingup Beach.

Two bin casings now showcase vintage surf photographs by John Budge, Brian Cole, Cliff Hills, Mark Paterson and others.

Mark ‘Patto’ Paterson – “You know you have made it when you photo ends up on a rubbish bin”.

Photos: Surf Pioneer bin casings at Yalls #1 Photo credit Bruce King

2015 Yalls bin casing Surf pioneers 40 collage_photocat

Photos: Surf Pioneer bin casings at Yalls #2 Photo credits Bruce King

2015 Yalls bin casing vintage surf pioneer 41 collage_photocat

Photos: Surf Pioneer bin casings at Yalls #3 Photo credits Bruce & Jim King

2015 Yalls bin casing surf pioneer 44 collage_photocat

Photos: Surf Pioneer bin casings at Yalls #4 Photo credits Jim King

2015 Yalls bin casing surf pioneer 47 collage_photocat

 

 

 

There has been considerable chatter in Metro media regarding the name of surf breaks along the south Cottesloe marine park. In particular the name of Isolated Reef since it was misnamed Isolator on a wooden sign installed at the beach. Thanks to Post Newspaper for the media stories.

Veteran surfers are not happy that surf break names (and their history) are being changed over time.

Image #1. Chris Antill letter to the Post 27 June 2015. Image courtesy of Post Newspaper.

Isolated surf break Post News 27 June 2015

Image #2 Frank Gasch letter to the Post 4 July 2015. Image courtesy of Post Newspaper

Isolated Surf Break Post News 4 July 2015..

Image #3 Colin Morris letter to the Post 11 July 2015. Image courtesy of Post Newspaper.

Isolated surf break - Post Newspaper 11 July 2015

WA surfing legend Dave Williams passed away 18 May 2015 after an illness. His funeral service and ‘celebration of life’ wake took place at the North Beach Rugby Club at North Beach on Friday 29th May. After the service, family and friends reminisced and farewelled Davo with a release of balloons in his favourite colour into the sky and an open mic session that reminded all of his renowned larikin sense of humour.

Surfing Down South 1950s City Beach clubbies Ron Drage, Dave Williams, Cocko Killen, E Mickle - John Budge pic img366

Surfing Down South 1950s City Beach clubbies Ron Drage, Dave Williams, Cocko Killen, E Mickle. Image courtesy of: John Budge

In the 50s Dave was a member of City of Perth SLSC and represented the State in National paddleboard races.

In the early 60s he was a member of West Coast Board Club and Dolphins Board Club and represented the state in National surf riding contests.

Dave was a big strong lad and a talented surfer, helping to pioneer surfing in the SW along with his closest mates. Dave has been credited with finding & naming Guillotine surf break with Kevin “Legs’ Merifield & Terry “Horse’ Williams.

Surfing Down South - 1957 Yalls Dave Williams & malibu balsa board. Photo: John Budge

Surfing Down South – 1957 Yalls Dave Williams & malibu balsa board. Photo: John Budge

INTRODUCTION TO SURFING: “My initial introduction to surf came at age 8 riding inflatable rubber “Surf Shooters” which were rented out at a kiosk at City Beach.

I joined the City Of Perth Surf- Lifesaving Club at age 15 as a cadet early 50’s along with several other mates.

My first surf-board was purchased while at Geraldton at a surf Carnival.

The board was made of ply & obviously a long way away from today’s sophisticated boards & I learned the hard way although it gave me a sound foundation to build on & most of my time was surfing at City Beach North side of the rock groyne.

As time progressed the initial structure of boards changed from 16-foot racing type ply through to the timber shorter boards which provided more precise manoeuvre ability.

The 1956 Olympic Games did not include Surf-Lifesaving on this occasion. I was fortunate to be included in the Western Australian surf team R & R [reel and rescue] where we came 2nd in the event.

On arrival at Torquay where the Surf carnival was held we got our first view of the original Malibu which the USA teams brought across to Australia & how it surprised us noting the extreme difference to our obsolete boards provided. i.e 16′ Planks. This was the new revolution & was hotly pursued through the following years.

We chased up several of our surfing friends sometime in early 1960’s & held our 1st general meeting at “The Orient Hotel” Adelaide Terrace Perth where we appointed Kevin Merifield President & formed our 1st Board Club name – West Coast Board Riders Club. There was a very good reason for this action as there were increasing incidents on our beaches with swimmers getting hit by loose surfboards at an increasing rate. We had no voice at the time & Leg Ropes were not in existence & we were getting into a situation where board surfing would be put under threat & the situation was getting pretty strong what with newspaper editorials & media attention. This was another reason why we ventured south where we had no problems with complaints.”

TRAVELLING SOUTH TO YALLINGUP: “We of course had never seen such surf in the metro area. Only the occasional storm locally would avail us of a more exciting wave here or there.

It was no surprise to call in to nearly every Pub on the Friday afternoon or evening & enjoy a round of beers & continue south again. Stop-offs at the following venues e.g. Armadale Pub, North Dardanup Tavern, Pinjarra, Harvey, Wokalup, Bunbury & onward to Busselton (time permitting). If time permitted we might have an odd jug at “Caves House” Bar, I do hear that at one time several travel signs appeared at our favourite camp area overlooking the Yalls-Lagoon.”

Refer to the Surfing Down South Book by Sue-Lyn Aldrian-Moyle for more of Dave’s surfing recollections and antics.

Condolences to the Williams family.