include an overview of surfing in Sydney in 1952 by Craig
later co-write Midget Farrelly's This
Surfing Life (1965) and Nat Young's The
History 0f Surfing (1983).
Melbourne, 4 January 1952, page 3.
BEAT SYDNEY'S SURF HOLLOW
If after reading
you still don't see the mysterious fascination that brings them back week after week
look at this picture for the answer- it's the frothy water, of course.
broad ocean beach where surf addicts "ride them through
EVERY weekend of the year, which national champions say
is the best surfing beach in Australia - as well as the
safest - and where one worries about sharks.
Where do you think it is, this wonder beach where the board and surf-ski men "crack them" for 700 yards on a good day - Sydney,
Palm Beach or farther north to Queensland's coastline?
It's in Victoria, at
Torquay, just 60 miles
from Melbourne, the home
beach of the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club, the biggest and most active group of surf riders in Victoria.
Surfing in Victoria before the war was the culof the few who spent their time travelling miles to little known beaches looking for "mountains" to roll in from Bass Strait.
The lightweight 16ft.
surf-boards of today,
and the newer surf skis
didn't exist, and body
surfing was practically an unknown art in Victoria.
But as Melbourne grew
more and more swimmers
found the thrill of
scudding down the face
of a saltwater mountain.
Better roads and
faster cars helped
swell this pilgrimage too.
Not very; most surfers
travel from Melbourne
each weekend, doubling up in cars and sharing tents and caravans.
The sport has grown
with the Surf Life
Saving Association of
Victoria, founded in January, 1947.
Today there are eight
clubs on Victorian surf
beaches, at Point
Lonsdale, Portsea, Torquay,
Lorne, Warrnambool, Portland,
Port Fairy, and a
R.A.A.F. club which operates at Ocean Grove.
These clubs are not
mere gatherings of
Since the association
was founded its
members have rescued
"No popular beach must
be left unprotected,"
says Mr. Jack Williams,
The clubs are for men
only and each member
must do the full
Bronze Medallion training and pass a stiff test within 12 months of joining his club.
And then he must
remain active as a
patrolman, and take
part in competitive events within his own club and between other Victorian clubs.
He pays £1 a year for
the privilege of doing
all this, but in
return is admitted to a fraternity of experts, jealous of their skill.
The lure of the surf
is similar to the drive
which sends men and
women plodding up high
snow slopes only to scud to the bottom again.
It's a simple
Nothing else would
send 30 odd members of
the Torquay club down
to their beach every
weekend right through the winter to spend hour after hour paddling out on their boards and skis, clad In woollen underwear, to catch wave after wave and come ashore blue, but satlsfyingly pleased with their skill.
These experts, with
great callouses on
their knees from kneeling
on their boards, will
also tell you the winter is better because there are no "peasants"- as they dub tyros - on the beach to get in their way.
Listen to A. W.
Victorian president, explain
this combination of swimming
and balance, which put him
four times into the champion
Australian surf team for Manly, and who beat Australia's swimming star "Boy"'Charlton in a Bondi surf race..
Now 51, he is still
nickname earned as a
schoolboy when he could
sprint in the water.
He has swum and surfed
on almost every beach
He likes body surfing because it is harder than on a board or ski.
He scorns even the
modern day flippers,
and says Torquay beach
has the longest body surfing waves he has
And to support this
view he quotes Ken
Jones, captain of the
Manly Life Saving Club, who visited Torquay last season with a team which enjoyed "the best surf
Jock McPhee, 18, of
Club; current New South
Wales and Australian body-surfing
champion, came down
last month to investigate these reports and endorsed them.
Here's how to catch a wave according to the experts.
"Sprint" says he looks for a wave that is steep and unbroken, and sets himself to catch it just before it breaks.
To catch it, he swims
furiously as the wave
overtakes him so that
as it reaches him he is travelling at almost the same speed.
As it picks him up,
while he is swimming,
he gives what he calls
a "flick" which is a last spurt forward as he draws his hands down alongside his body and hunches his shoulders and head forward and down.
"It is as if you are
lying forward on your
hips across a bar, and
you must tip your head
down and get your feet up.
"The front of your
body must be stiffened
into as flat a plane as
possible so that you can glide down the slope of the wave as easily as possible.
"Arms are stiffened
down the side of the
body and the palms turned
down, flat on the water, so that when you gather speed they take some of the weight of the body."
How do you pick a
"Sprint" says: "Every
big wave that rises in
shallow water must
dump, and the best of surfers will be
"As a dumper is about
to crash it will get
steeper and by swinging
your arms forward to
catch the water and give yourself a quick lift forward, you can run ahead of most of the crashing water.
"But even the best of
surfers will go 'down the mine' sometimes, and when that happens the best thing to do is to relax under the water and come up when all the thumping is over."
"Sprint" says it would
take an average
swimmer about a season
to learn the tricks and
craft of body surfing,
but a good pool swimmer
should learn it in half
Surfing isn't just
riding waves gracefully
You have to be able to
get out through the
incoming waves to catch
Nobody can swim
through a great surfing wave, so the swimmer must go down to the bottom to dig his hands into the sand and drive forward with his feet to avoid the surge of the wave.
As soon as
most of the wave is gone a
swimmer must come up again
and kick forward before the
next wave comes to send
him back again.
Probably the best man
to ask about board riding is Rex Gilbert, 25 ("China" to his mates), who runs a Melbourne foundry when he is not on a surfboard, and who is current Victorian champion.
He says it is easier
to ride aboard standing than
lying or kneeling on
Instead of the steep
wave the body surfer needs, "China"waits farther out for a green round wave, long before it starts to break.
"To catch the wave."
he says."you have to
paddle hard with your
hands to get some way up and tip the nose of the board down so that it will begin to glide of its own momentum.
"But if the wave is
too steep you have to
bring your weight back,
or you will run ahead of the wave.
"We call it 'running
out of wave.'
"Normally you have to
tip the nose of the board down the wave to keep the speed up, but you must keep the nose of the board
just out of the water."
"If you let it catch
the water you'll go
down the mine.
The nose will dig in
and the board will throw you over and you've had it.
"You've got to go
under water until the
"Some of the boys come
in balancing on their
heads or balancing
backwards on their
heads," said "China."
The standard surf board these days is hollow, is 16ft. long, and weighs 501b.
Built in Sydney, they
Brian Beck, 22, who
runs a Winchelsea
general store, prefers
a surf ski,
and on it won the
Victorian title last season.
His ski, thicker and
broader than a surfboard, with a
curved hull and flared
bow, cost £55.
From first to last,
riding a surf ski requires
superb balance on a
precarious perch, but Brian carries a double-ended paddle to give him power when he drives to catch a wave.
Surf skis have brought
ashore two or three
people at a time, and
the surf boat
can carry more in a
But if there are no boards in the water, and the surf boat is not launched, it is the swimmer with the line who can always get there first.
And when the waves are
too big for a board or ski man or surf boat
to batter through, it is
the trained surf
swimmer, wise in the
ways of big waves, and
strong, who will always get through.
- STEWART MOYSYN.
1952 'WE CAN BEAT SYDNEY'S SURF
HOLLOW', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 4
January, p. 3. (The Argus Magazine), viewed 30 Nov 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23155516
|The Australian Women's Weekly
Wednesday 9 January 1952, page 16.
Now for the
long, hot days of SUMMER....
the crest of a sand- hill a suntanned young girl
welcomes the long, leisurely days of summer.
Australians make the most of the daylight hours
before and after work.
everyone enjoys week-ends in the sun.
energetic can enjoy the thrill of a surfboard
lazy can loll on the beach with a book in one hand,
an ice-cream in the other, and a hat pulled over the
'Now for the long, hot days of SUMMER....', The
Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), 9 January, p.
16, viewed 7 April, 2013,
The Sydney Morning Herald
14 January 1952, page 1
150,000 At Beaches
Lifesavers rescued 60 people at Sydney's surf beaches yesterday.
Sunshine attracted more than 150,000 people to the beaches.
A gusty north-east wind broke up the surf.
MAN'S THREE RESCUES
Club captains said it was "just a normal Sunday" but:one bekman
rescued three people in quick succession at Manly.
Two lifesavers plunged into the surf at Bronte after a
shark alarm had bcen given to go to the aid ot three girls.
At Bondi 26 people were brought in by life savers.
Largest crowds were at Bondi and North Bondi (40,000
together), Manly (30,000), where a new surf boat, the Rodney H.
Creswell, was named and launched, and Maroubra
Beltman Ron Rule had a busy afternoon at
He first brought ashore an unconscious woman, Mrs. Ellen
Wallis, 39, of 29 Cliffe Road, Northwood, who was struck by a
She was admitted to Manly District Hospital with a
Her condition is serious.
A few minutes later he rescued a 15-year-old boy, who was
in difficulties about 300 yards out.
Immediately the boy had been carried on to the beach Rule
swam out to an eight year-old girl, who had been hit by a
There were shark alarms at North Narrabeen, Bondi, Deewhy,
When a shark was sighted a few hundred yards from the shore
at Bronte three girls fell off their rubber floats in their
haste to get out of the surf.
Two lifesavers, V. Boulton and K. Slade, dashed into the
water to help them to the beach.
But the club surfboat picked up the girls and the
lifesavers turned back.
The shark was chased away by the surfboat crew.
1952 '60 SURFERS RESCUED', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW :
1842 - 1954), 14 January, p. 1. , viewed 29 Dec 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18248654
|The Australian Women's
23rd January 1952, page 36.
Powders and Tablets.
Sunday 27 January 1952, page 7S.
SURF MEMBERS IN BITTER PROTEST
lifesavers were disqualified in the surf- board race at
Manly carnival yesterday.
referee, Mr. Lionel McDonald, disqualified the riders for
not completing the course he had outlined at the start of
competitors rounded the correct buoy, and their leader, D.
Cahill (Coogee) was declared the winner.
protested against their disqualification.
leading spokesman, Graham Ferris (Tamarama), has been cited
to appear before the S.L.S.A. on Tuesday night for alleged
remarks to the referee.
Australian surf ski champion Les Lazarus (Newcastle) made
his first Sydney appearance of the season.
the single ski race and then took part in the double ski
He and his
partner finished three feet behind the winners.
Race- E Cahill (Coogee), 1. G Bevan (Coogee), 2. T McMahon
Surf Ski Race- Mulcay brothers (North Cronulla), 1. Lazarus
and Conolly (Newcastle), 2. Brown and Rowswell (Maroubra) 3.
Ski Race: L Lazarus (Newcastle), 1. B Gallard (Avoca), 2. T
Booth (Coogee) 3.
1952 'SURF RIDERS
IN BITTER PROTEST.', The Sunday Herald (Sydney, NSW : 1949 -
1953), 27 January, p. 7 Section: Sports Section, viewed 7 April,
Sydney, 2 February, 1952 page 5.
Despite the utmost care, seldom a summer weekend goes by
that some surfer isn't hit by a surf board.
Mentioning that at Bondi last weekend a girl had her jaw
dislocated by a surfboard and will probably be off from work
for six months, a correspondent suggests that there should be
some form of compulsory third party insurance for surfboard
owners. It's an . interesting point.
1952 'NEIL MURRAY'S', The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), 2
February, p. 5. (LAST RACE LATE CRICKET), viewed 29 Dec 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article231018573
Broken Hill, 16 April 1952, page 4.
SURF BOARD STUNS FISH
Barry Lumsdaine (18), of Freshwater Surf Club, caught a 30 lb
jewfish in the surf at Freshwater when his
"I was coming in on a big wave when I felt the board
hit something," he said.
"The impact stopped the board and I saw a fish lying
stunned in the water.
"I picked it up, put it on the board and brought it about
200 yards into the beach."
Lumsdaine weighed the fish at a local shop.
1952 'SURF BOARD STUNS FISH', Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW :
1888 - 1954), 16 April, p. 4. , viewed 29 Dec 2016,
Sydney, 14 September 1952, page 9.
A BEACH inspector was slightly hurt yesterday when his surfboard
was smashed by a 20ft wave at Bronte.
The inspector, Bill Wallace, 25, clung to part of the wreckage
until he was washed 300 yards to the shore.
He was cut on the head by a splinter of the smashed board.
Wallace was using the surfboard, which hwas 16ft, for the first
time since it was damaged in March, when he competed in the surf
1952 'Surfboard wrecked', The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954),
14 September, p. 9. , viewed 29 Dec 2016,
Saturday 27 September 1952, page 9.
Best Surf In The World
surfing season officially opening next Wednesday, hundreds
of thousands of Australians will soon be visiting beaches to
enjoy Australia's national pastime surfing.
It may seem
an immodest claim, but there is little doubt that Australia
has the best beaches and the best surf in the world.
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ceylon, the southern
States of U.S. and some Pacific islands have a surf at all.
At this time
of the year especially, we should pay tribute to a
Sydneysider, Mr. W. H. Gocher, who, 50 years ago, won for
Australians the right to all-day surfing.
had, of course, been surfing long before Mr. Gocher breasted
the waves, although no one seems to know when or with whom
events, by 1880 many young Australians were bathing
regularly at Sydney's near-deserted beaches.
in those days was a clandestine affair- something to be
indulged in early in the morning before too many people were
For the law
expressly forbade (and still forbids) public bathing between
6 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Gocher, a journalist, announced that at noon on the
following Sunday he would defy the law and publicly bathe at
True to his
word, and before a large crowd of onlookers, Gocher carried
out his promise.
He was not
arrested, and since then Australians have surfed during the
forbidden hours without interference.
most famous feature of Australian surfing are our
Australian voluntary system of surf lifesaving is unique,
and the tanned lifesaver with his bright club, cap, who pays
an average of 15/- a year for the privilege of saving your
life, is as much a product of Australia as the kangaroo and
began formal operations, surf Iifesavers have saved the
lives of more than 80,000 people. To-day, there are more
than 165 surf lifesaving clubs in Australia with a total
membership of about 12,500.
come a long way sjnce the days of 1907, when á few
youngsters formed lifesaving clubs at some Sydney beaches
"just for the fun of it."
later, representatives of these clubs met to form the Surf
Bathing Association of New
spread rapidly, and clubs were formed in Victoria, Western
Australia, Queensland and New Zealand.
In 1920, the
association changed its name to the Surf Life Saving
Association of N.S.W., and three years later it adopted its
present name of Surf Life Saving Association of Australia.
in advance of the official opening of our surf season,
Sydney's 18-footer sailing skiffs are out, lending colour
and personality to the harbour's blue waters.
crew prepares its skiff at Double Bay for an afternoon's
there are Surf Life Saving clubs in every State except the
have developed many unique contrivances to meet the demands
of the surf.
surfboat was designed by Fred Notting, a Manly club member,
who gave it distinctive high ends and a curved keel.
the first club to use a surfboat; it proved such a success
that all the other clubs adopted the idea as soon as they
could raise the money.
lifesaving reel and belt, the surf ski, and the rubber
surfoplane all originated in Australia.
resuscitation rocker used on beaches here is an Australian
adaptation of an English invention.
used by surfers to-day were developed from the type of
flippers used by frogmen in World War II.
surfboard was not Australian; it was introduced here by Duke
Kahanamoku, a visiting Hawaiian swimmer, in 1914.
surfboard riders, however, soon modified the short, broad
boards of the Hawaiians, which were constructed of solid
By 1925, we
had developed the hollow surfboard, which is much faster
than solid boards.
Australian surfboard today is a long, narrow board with
pointed ends and continuously curved sides, and is
The art of
"body shooting," or catching a wave so that it carries the
surfer with it for hundreds of yards, is almost exclusively
development early in the century, Australian surfers have
introduced many improvements on the original body-shooting
The art of
shooting waves with arms by the sides, reducing the force of
the break by bringing the arms over, and dipping the
shoulders and lifting the legs to keep the surfer on the
wave are features of the present style.
refinements developed by Australian surfers include "cork-
screwing" while racing down the front of the wave at 30
miles an hour and shooting the waves on one's back.
so popular here, it is not surprising that Australians have
developed their own surfing language.
"catches," "shoots" or "cracks" a wave.
A waye which
carries the surfer, right to the beach is called a
"beacher," and an unusually big or fast wave is a
feared of all waves is the "dumper," which instead of
breaking gradually builds up into a tremendous wall of water
and then suddenly "dumps" tons of water from heights of up
to 30 feet. Any surfer who is unfortunate enough to be
caught by a dumper is said to go "down the
other surfers have to "scrape him up."
bird" (a variation on "galah") is anyone who gets in the way
of a surfer "coming in" on a wave and into whom the surfer
then tells his mate that "my head stopped and my shoulders
kept on going."
Iifesavers have also developed their own terminology.
is the-lifesaver who mans the steering oar of a surf- boat.
"beltman" is a man who swims out with the belt to anyone in
distress, the "linesmen" those who pay out the line, and the
"reelman" the man who works the reel.
One of the
greatest contributions of Australian swimmers to the world
has been the swimming stroke known as the "Australian
swimming stroke in use all over the world before the
development of the Australian crawl was the trudgen (named
after J. Trudgen).
utilised a frog-like kicking action which considerably
reduced the speed of the swimmer.
the records, towards the end of the 19th century, a
12-year-old boy named Alick Wickham swam in a championship
race at Bronte baths using a stroke which later became known
as the Australian crawl.
with his face submerged, taking breaths at long intervals,
with his legs threshing straight up and down and with his
arms moving rapidly.
swimmers soon adopted and modified the revolutionary new
stroke, astonishing swimmers in other countries with its
In 1910, the
Australian swimmer, Frank F. Beaurepaire, using the crawl
stroke, won every English title from 100 yards to a mile.
Scotland, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, France, Germany,
Hungary, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and Hawaii, he
was undefeated in 41 events and established five world
Australian crawl, or modifications of it, is used all over
recognise it as "the fastest of all swimming strokes".
1952 'Best Surf In The World', The Sydney
Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 27 September, p. 9. ,
viewed 29 Dec 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18283890
Australian Women's Weekly
Wednesday 19 November 1952, pages 6 and 7.
Surf team to show skill in Hawaii.
lifesavers will fly to Honolulu on January 10 to show
Hawaiians Australian methods of
The men will
be selected by the Surf Life Savin« Association to represent
these two pages show the fine types of young men who will be
eligible for selection.
The names of
the members of the team to represent the Commonwealth will
be announced on December 13.
crew take their boat out over the breakers at North
where one of the oldest New South Wales clubs is
BELOW: Parade of teams in a March Past
Championship: Tasmania (left); Queensland;
Henley, South Australia; New South Wales; and Western Australia.
On page 7
Two men will
be chosen from N.S.W. for the Hawaiian trip, and one from each
Butterfield, chief instructor of South Australia
(in shorts), watches the Burleigh Heads, Queensland, team
winning its heat.
team is on the right.
superintendent of W.A. Surf Life Saving Association, is in
(foreground) and Bulli in the march past at North Wollongong
consist of 12 men with reel and flag.
standard on the right.
Petroleum Ltd. will pay all the fares on the Hawaiian trip.
takes part in a march past with Maroubra and Bulli.
of the team to go abroad will be picked for their ability to
act as ambassadors for Australia, as well as for their
lifesaving skill and surf prowess.
the Burleigh Heads team give a rescue and resuscitation
Myles Black, of Bondi (left), Andy Frizelle, Queensland
(centre), and Alan Paterson, of Newcastle.
Schaeffer method of resuscitation is used.
help leam members at a surf carnival.
Australian voluntary system of beach patrols has received
much praise abroad.
Illawarra Daily Mercury
Wollongong, 11 December 1952, page 13.
Surf Branch Titles
At South Beach
The Illawarra Branch
Championship Surf Carnival
will be held on January
20 at South Beach.
This is the first time
Wollongong has been honoured with the championships.
An event of this nature
takes some planning
Club members will
certainly have their
hands full organising
Wollongong added more points to its credit at the Stanwell Park surf carnival.
Ken Jones took first
placing in the Junior
Belt race to top off
his win in the Junior
Surf at the previous
carnival at Corrimal.
The boat crew showed some of last season's form by taking first placing in the boat race.
Wollongong did well to win the March Past, an event which certainly calls for team work.
Arthur Morris proved
he is still one of the
best surfboard men on
the Coast with first
placing in the board
Wollongong also took
first placing in the
Numerous entries are expected for the marathon surf-boat race at the Carnival to be held on Saturday.
Boats will commence from Brighton Beach and finish at South Beach, an estimated course of 11 miles round Flagstaff Point.
The club's own
championships will be
held on Sunday.
The Venetian Carnival will commence tomorrow and will run during the Christmas period.
Members enjoyed the
trip to Garie Beach.
Competing against a large number of Sydney
Clubs, they put ona
creditable performance to take sixth placing in the R.iand R. with 9.43, and also with a dead-heat for third in the March Past.
Geoff Cater (2011-2015) :
Newspapers : 1952.