If Lowe's work has
any value it must be the exceedingly rare details relating to Tommy Tana,
a native of the island of Tana in the New Hebribes working as a gardener
At this point, it is the only account describing Tana's technique, page32.
The inclusion of details about Tommy Tana's harvesting fish from pots located off the south point at Manly add to the validity of this section.
In many respects this work is historically suspect.
The early sections simply unverifiable, dates are difficult to determine and the text generally presents a labyrinth of digressions and assorted facts and/or theories making it a very difficult read.
The work is grossly self-serving, Lowe viewing himself as the principal motivator in the development of (body) surf-shooting in Australia, although several sections appear upon analysis to obviously contradict to this view.
Lowe's account of
Tommy Tana is one example of the text being fraught with contradiction.
Lowe claims, at a very young age, he is the only bodysurfer braving the waves at Manly and is introduced, via a friend, to Tommy at his place of employment.
When they first meet at the beach, Tommy is already there setting his fish traps, indicating Tommy was obviously a regular at the beach and raising the question of why the two "regulars" not met in the surf before.
It seems the younger Lowe is simply rewriting the facts to advance his status beyond his elders, Tommy Tana and Freddie Williams.
Undated, but according to Lowe after the arrival of Fred Williams circa
Lowe descrbes his father's Mr. Lowe Senior's role in supporting surf-shooting.
Apart from his
legal advice to the surfers, the following will show his practical support
of our all-day surfing movement, and which was a big blow to the Council
at the time, of most enforcement of the ban.
He attempts to illustrate
this with a overly dramatic passage of dubious credibility.
The named "senior bathing pioneers" accuse Mr. Lowe of lending his boat to the Council Inspector of Nuisances, Tom Skinner, to catch them bathing illegally.
Arthur assures them there is a misunderstanding and the boat was lent to Mr. Skinner for fishing.
To insure it will not happen again and protect his father's "good name" , Arthur rises at 5.00 am on successive Sundays to secrete the boat , before he goes surf-shooting and to church choir.
When his activity is reported to Mr. Lowe, his father's inaction is considered unhelpful and Arthur is now "Council's Enemy No.1".
There were some
six regular senior surf-bathing pioneers, mostly in their early twenties
and employed with various city firms.
They were not keen surf-shooters like we juniors were, and alternated Sunday swimming on the Northern beaches with us, for some on the Harbour beaches.
Late one Sunday they grounded their boat alongside my father's boat's moorings, as I was inspecting the rope ties, for I had seen from a distance that someone must have been using it.
The six occupants of the grounded boat got out and approached me.
They were Frank Row, Rugby Union and International Rugby Union footballer and captain: Alf and Fred Williams, Alan Moore, Reg Walker and Harry Carroll.
Born 29th October 1879.
East Esplanade near Wentworth Street, Manly.
Circa 1886, aged 7, page 20.
After initially residing in Manly, the Lowe family has spent the years 1882 to 1886 at Milton Terrace, Dawes Point, Sydney.
Arthur attended Lower Fort Street School and swam at the Dawes Point Pool with future world record holder, Fred Lane.
The family returned to Manly in 1886.
I said a somewhat
sad good-bye to them all.
Back to our old home in Manly I went with my parents.
Next morning I rose as usual at 6.a.m., intending to go to the Manly baths by myself.
There was no one in, but I had a dip for a few minutes.
But it was cold and cheerless without my old mate.
The Manly baths were more open and exposed than the Dawes Point baths.
So I quickly came out, dressed and went for a stroll on the ocean side.
It was as if something that I couldn't define was calling or luring me there.
I walked out to the South Steyne Rock, and looked at the big, white rollers, chasing each other into the beach.
The more I watched them, the more I wanted to watch them.
They seemed to recall something long past.
What it was I did not know, but a longing to go in amongst those waves took hold of me.
But I had to return
to the Manly School that morning, and there were a lot of preparations
to make and things to get ready first, so I returned to my home.
That afternoon I went to the baths with some of my old mates.
Though it was much nicer and friendlier than the morning swim, there was still something wanting. After several days of this indecision I went to the surf.
At first I found much difficulty in getting any friends ...
Circa 1886, aged 7, page 20.
... to come continuously
In fact, to entice anyone at-all was a task.
My old Manly mates' reply to my entreaty was generally and positively insulting.
"Do you think
I am as mad as you are, to leave my warm bed at 6 a.m. to go to the ocean
beach, and get bumped about by a jet of waves?"
"What, get up at six! Have you gone out of your mind?"
"You must have gone lemony since you've been away in Sydney.
No, be sensible and wait till this afternoon after school, and we'll go to the baths, where we can swim."
And so on.
But I had better luck with a family who came to Manly for the season and took the house next door to us.
Mr. Plumb, the father, was a big man, physically, but not much interested in the seaside, except as a change for his family.
In business, he was an iron and steel merchant, in the metropolis.
He had several children, mostly older than myself.
Charlie Plumb was more than twice my seven years; Adelaide, the eldest daughter, was a bit younger, and very active.
It was her influence that got the others to come and pioneer the surf.
They were the most constant of the few other casuals that came along.
But they would leave me to face it alone on any wild, wet or extra cold mornings.
I did not mind
bathing those odd days alone, except for the fact that it worried my mother
The thought of me being all alone in the ocean took some getting reconciled to.
She was somewhat reassured from the good reports that had come to her from the Ives Family, and knew from them that I had gained very good sustaining powers while swimming there.
My floating power was also very high.
I had also told her that I was too afraid of sharks to go out very far by myself, and not to worry.
It was the year
1886, and I was 7 years old, when the start was made, so I can safely and
correctly date the beginning of surfing in Australia from then.
There were no others before myself.
It is not hard to explain why.
People would not leave their beds at such an hour as 6 a.m. to go surfing in amongst generally-ever rolling waves.
Well, why not go in later in the day?
The answer is, not allowed by Council By-Law.
The hours of bathing were permitted at the time only for the period between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.
So, therefore, any surfing was limited to mostly the night hours, and bathing at night time is eerie enough to deter most surf-bathers.
My pioneering surf mates and self were early in the piece frightened off by sharks.
Though, in the day time we would go much farther out.
This Council By-Law was in effect on all the beaches, lagoons, tidal rivers, and all waters in the metropolitan and coastal areas. It was brought into being by the pressure of most of the religious bodies.
It was contended that it would develop indecency if bathing were allowed in public places in the daylight hours.
By bringing in this severe By-Law into being also, it would not allow open bathing during the church hours of a Sunday morning, and there would be no temptation left for backsliders or others to go surfing during church hours.
The indecent and offensive sight of men and women exposing their necks, arms and legs to churchgoers during their walks to and from church, and etcetera, would not have to be undergone.
As well as this serious deterrent to surf-bathing at that time, there were other factors that would be likely to prevent anyone going surfing at 6 a.m., which, in wintertime, is the dark.
Working hours in those days were long.
Transport was a problem, and many had to walk long distances to work and school.
So, therefore, time was a very serious factor, along with transport, in those days.
An hour at least was needed to go surfing, more, if living any distance away.
So 6 a.m. was the required starting time if one wanted to have a fair length of time in the water, walk there and back, and have a shower.
The populations in that period were not very big anywhere, and least of all around the beaches.
The populations were greatest in the near city suburban areas.
The frontage to the beaches was mostly virgin land, with no erections on same.
... were quite a number of baths about the populated areas, in which a good and comfortable, safe and very economical swim could be had, without ttlinking of going into the ocean to be battered about by big ocean waves.
There could be
no other reason, because nothing was known of such a rare sport as surf-shooting
at that time for it to be an inducement.
I knew that surfing was not in existence on any of the Sydney beaches at the time for I made it my business to find out.
There were various ways: by inquiries, by traveling with my father on court circuits, by steamboat, north and south along the coast, also by sailing trips outside Sydney Heads with friends of the family; and many cycling excursions were undertaken to other beaches, on both the north and south side of the Harbour.
There was a publication called the Manly News circa 1887-1888, although no issues are known to exist.
After the surfing
had been progressing for about six months a fair-sized little crowd were
fairly regularly coming to the South Steyne, at from six to seven a.m.
Just at this period in the pioneering my father said to me one evening during our studies together, "Arthur, I am starting a little Manly paper shortly, as I think we need some way of publicizing our local news in a much better fashion than a small notice board, which seldom has anything on it.
I would like your help in getting hold of any important sporting news.
Also to hand out a few copies to your friends.
Also anything you might like to put in about your surf-bathing."
I told him he
could count on me.
In a couple of weeks the first issue came out.
Though it was necessarily a small paper, as the population did not warrant a larger one, it held a surprising lot of news.
It was simply called "Manly News."
On the front page were all the Churches' notices for the Sunday following.
It was printed in Sydney, during the week, and handed out, as well as called for by some people.
It contained practically everything that was to happen in the Village during the coming week.
Other advertising notices were also on the front page.
Then elsewhere came business advertisements, all the sporting news, past and for the future.
There was a fishing column, with news on the best biting grounds, and hints for the beginner.
Any shopkeeper, desiring to put in an advertisement, was allowed same, pro gratia.
And a snappy little notice told how the surf-bathing was progressing and gaining new members every day.
When I first went
into the surf regularly, at the age of seven years, and though I felt it
strongly attracting me towards something I could not define, it appeared
to belong to some past life.
At first I was content to play about amongst the rolling surf, and get the warmth that their friction and tumbling about activity would engender.
But as the days went on I wasn't satisfied.
There was still something missing, a missing link, as it were, between this and another life.
Then, unconsciously, I found myself plunging with the wave as it rolled to the shore.
And then swimming with the wave that broke within my own depth.
And struggling to stay on it.
Some of the other surfers, particularly the Plumb boys and girls, watched me with much interest, and tried to divine what I was trying to achieve in this year of our Lord, 1886.
At the time when I started it, I did not know myself.
I was but following a certain course set for me, stage by stage, to recover in another life man's greatest, most thrilling and cheapest sport ever, requiring no clubs, bats nor balls, next to no garments, just one's body and health and strength.
Then came the
day, just before I reached the eighth year of my life, when I went for
a wave just beyond my own depth, caught it, and shot with my head and shoulders
well out in front, steered through my fellow-bathers successfully, and
grounded my chin on the shoreline, i.e. the beach.
I rolled over and sat up, looking back, and calculating how far was the quite considerable distance I had travelled, without any other form of propulsion but that of the wave itself.
I saw the hands of Charlie Plumb and his sister waving to me, and smiling and shouting their congratulations.
And as I rose to my feet, as it was time, viz., 7 a.m., to leave the surf, and the Plumbs had reached me, I knew that the link with the past had finished its work.
I felt very grateful for it.
Though years after, when the South Hebridean Islander, Tommy Tanna, came from the Island of Tanna, southern island of the New Hebrides Group, and taught me to ...
... go far out
and into the shark area, for which I have been ever grateful, and take
the big waves from there, I look back on that wave in 1886 as the greatest
and most important one in my life.
For it convinced me that there has been a past.
Now in my eighth
year, besides keeping on going to the surf every early morning, I did not
neglect the baths altogether, and had a season ticket.
But since I had lost the companionship of Fred Lane I had also lost any desire and ambition to become a great swimmer.
I had the promise of being a swimmer of note, as Fred Lane was showing much promise even then, and we were swimming neck and neck up and down the baths, and receiving much encouragement from the Ives Family.
But since coming back to Manly and the surf, my fast swimming had slipped.
But I had become a stronger swimmer, which, no doubt, was due to the rough surfing water, and in my own mind I believed that I had been called back to another surfing life.
And I decided to obey the call.
To gain strength and confidence I used to swim long distances, not only in the Manly baths, but other baths, such as the Domain baths, and in lagoons and rivers I practiced until I could spend two or three hours in the surf without coming ashore.
Quite a number
of middle-aged men had now taken up the surfing and were an example to
a lot of the younger men, who clung to their blankets till the last minute
before rising for the hot shower and breakfast.
The "Manly News" was helping in the movement.
Such pars as, "The happy screams of laughter and frolicking that we hear coming from the South Steyne front, early morning, certainly points to the fact that the surfers must be enjoying themselves. Otherwise they would not continue on. And it keeps growing. Where will it al/ end?"
When we first
started, the surfing location was about opposite Wentworth Street, principally
because the earliest and most constant surfers came from that street, or
Later, as more were now coming from Victoria Parade and Ashburner Street, etc., the area gradually had worked down to the South Steyne.
At the South Steyne a shed of about 15 by 10 feet, with an iron roof, had been erected on piles driven into the sand.
Alongside of same, a post had been also driven into the sand, and a large box with an iron gable roof installed on same.
Within it hung a huge ship's buoy and a heavy red fibre rope.
It rested there for years, and was only once taken down to my knowledge, and that was during a mass rescue in 1914.
A dozen lines were in operation, so Captain Fred Campbell took it out himself and went by the channel that sweeps around the South Steyne rocks, to rescue a bunch of surfers in trouble there.
During the summer
weather, a number of us would surf on any hot nights.
Besides playing Junior Football with the Manly Wentworths (which was the only Junior Team in Manly and the Reserve Team to the Manly Federals, which was the team that eventually entered the Grade), I joined the Manly Lawn Tennis Club, with the objective of gaining more build-up.
The Clubhouse at that time was opposite the site of the Manly Cinema, and one Saturday afternoon, when there was a big day on and the Club House was full of mostly ladies, a four inch cloudburst hit Manly, and it was a struggle for the few men and boys present to carry them, without getting wet, to dry land.
For a flood of water was surging down Sydney Road fully three feet high.
All males were fully exhausted at the end.
My tennis captain
and coach was my dual second cousin and brother-in-law, S.A. Noble, an
ex-Lawn and Hard-court Champion, and under his expert tuition I quickly
became a leading junior, and he told me one day, as I was desperately trying
to break through his wonderful service (he could break a ball either way
across the service court, if his cannon-ball first service missed), that
it was no use trying to beat him yet.
And, he added, if you keep on seriously, and leave the football go, I'll bring you to the top.
But my mates saw to it that I didn't desert the football game for the, as they sneeringly described it, "cissy game."
Tennis, however, was later to lead me to a close surf shooting association with the South Hebridean Islander, Tommy, from the Island of Tanna.
By the time I had reached the age of 10 years, I had not only improved my surfing and surf shooting, but had developed surprising strength, considering I had been born such a weakling.
At the Manly School one day, a schoolmate of near my own age named Eric Moore, said to me, "Arthur, what about coming up to my place on Sunday afternoon, for a game of tennis? We have a good lawn court, and my sisters and one or two friends play."
I thanked him
and assented, and when I arrived and he had introduced me all around, I
exclaimed: "What a beautiful court."
For it was of dead-even lawn, and in the background were growing beautiful flowers and shrubs.
His sister, Ruth, exclaimed, "It was made by our Islander boy, Tommy Tanna."
I ejaculated, "How wonderful!"
Miss Cecil Moore, the youngest Miss Moore, said: "Father took him down and showed him the Manly courts, and then to where he cut the turf.
That's all, he did the rest himself."
Eric later called
Tommy Tanna over from his own well-kept quarters in the bottom of the garden.
Eric said, "Tommy, this is Master Lowe, and I have been telling him how far you go out in the ocean water."
Tommy smiled happily at me, and showed a perfect set of white teeth.
He was about 20 odd years of age, with a good looking Islander's type of face, fairly tall, with an athletic figure, and close crinkly hair.
He had an intelligent face and spoke very good English, as taught by his employer and family.
Mr. Moore was Managing Director of the big ironmongery firm of Holdsworth and Macpherson, now carried on as Macpherson's.
There was a tragic happening in connection with the firm, which will be told in due order.
Eric turned to me and said: "What about you and I going down to the South Steyne rocks in the morning with Tommy, while he sets and robs his fish traps, and then goes in for his swim and comes in on the waves?"
said. "I have been wondering, since you told me he goes right out, how
he escapes the sharks." and added, "I have been shooting for the past two
years with a small lot of surfers, from opposite Wentworth Street, but
not from far out.
I will go ...
in myself on the
beach near the rocks."
Eric, of course, like many of my Manly mates, did not know that I had been swimming for three years in Dawes Point Baths, with Fred Lane, as I hadn't told them.
Next morning I
waited from 6 a.m. until 6.30 a.m. before they turned up.
Eric was a bad early waker, and by the time Tommy had robbed his self-made basket-made traps, and reset them, it wasn't very long to the time that Inspector Tom Skinner would arrive, at 7 a.m.
It was arranged afterwards that I would call early at "Tramore," the corner of Addison Road and Darley Road, and shout out for Eric, who incidentally lived in the third and top storey of the big house.
At first the household were all awakened, excepting Eric, with my terrific shouting, and after a few mornings I proposed as it was interfering with my Church solo singing voice, that Eric tie a strong fishing-line end on to his bedclothes, and drop the other end to the ground below.
Whereupon, I, on my arrival, would give a tug from the ground, same would disturb Eric, who would at once arise and quickly descend to me and Tommy.
At first it worked
But there came the day in winter, and it was quite dark at 6 a.m., that Eric had got the Indian Death-lock on his bedclothes, and they would not yield one iota.
So I gave an extra tug with my fast improving strength, and they not only came off him, they flew out the attic window, making a great noise as the large pile squeezed through and crashed on the verandah rail below, before finally hurling to the ground below.
For a moment, there was a dead silence, and then a great commotion, as the inmates were questioning one another through floors above and below, regarding the possibility of a burglar breaking into their home.
Thinking it to be a discreet necessity to efface myself until the owners of the feminine voices had retired into silent slumber once more, I slipped down to Tommy Tanna's hideaway.
Tommy, who was a light sleeper, was furtively peering out his doorway while listening to the hubbub, and wondering what it was all about.
I quickly told him, in anticipation of a grin or chuckle from him, but Tommy looked very grave, and said, "That is bad, Master Lowe, very bad," and he quickly retired back into his quarters, lest he get the blame for the disturbed slumber.
We waited until Eric joined us, and we all went off to the surf.
Circa 1892, aged 13, page 29.
Lowe's father is seriously ill and Arthur is called into the Sydney Law Courts to expedite some outstanding legal matters.
As many of these involve some of the less respectable members of the communuty, the Magistrate arms him with a revolver for protection.
I was a week altogether, assisting the Magistrate to dispose of my Father's cases.
I had to visit slums of the underworld and palaces, too, as it were, until finally nothing was left undone.
I still, however, called for Eric, my lifetime mate, and Tommy Tanna.
Every morning at 6 a.m., I would be in the 'Tramore' grounds, tugging on the blankets three storeys above me, and the same ritual would be gone through each day, except when there was rain, or a violent gale blowing, then I would go alone.
... would first
rob his traps, which, incidentally, were baited with rump steak at threepence
a pound, put the catch in a pool, re-bait and reset the traps, then he
would dive off the Rocks Point.
Eric and I, however, would go in from the beach.
At first we confined
ourselves to the smaller waves near the beach, but gradually getting more
expert, and thereby confident, we went for the deep water, and Tommy- I'll
never forget the pleased grin and shouts of joy from Tommy from the Island
of Tanna, as we pulled up alongside him.
"Very good now, for everybody," he exclaimed in his fast becoming excellent English.
"You see," and as we all got lifted up from the base of a wave to its crest, he gave several quick over-arm strokes and kicks and then traveled on to the beach with it.
But he would also do other strokes and kicks while proceeding to the beach.
Never at any time did I see him, during the long time we were surf shooting together, make, as Eric and I and others after us, a perfect shoot.
He always did a certain amount of swimming during the shoot.
The Perfect Shoot,
as we knew it, and which has become a lost art to-day, consisted of one
right arm stroke underwater, made simultaneously with a frog kick, to give
the necessary and initial impetus to go on and down with the crest of the
The placing of both hands palm downwards on the front of the thighs.
There should be no sagging of the body, legs nor shoulders. They should be all taut, without undue strain, and the feet and toe soles, as it were, should be in as near a line with the surface so as to make as little drag as possible. The only movement permitted is the tuming of the hands on the thighs, to permit of steering through other surfers, by leaving the thumbs still on the thighs, while keeping the hands still stiff and straight, and turning them simultaneously until the backs of the hands were facing, and the little finger-sides facing surface-wards. To then steer with them while in that position, it is easily done by turning the fingers and the palms in the same way as parallel boat rudders would be used, but the thumbs should be left pressing to the thighs, firmly. This poise of the body allows it to stay ahead of the wave, as it were, and be borne along by the power of the wave motion alone after the undermined wave motion flings its towering crest off, and with sufficient force to carry it on to the shoreline.
Eric and I, during
those early pioneer days of surf shooting with Tommy Tanna, learned a lot
about the waves, that under ordinary circumstances, i.e. as a non-surf-
shooter, we would never have found out, nor bothered about.
At the time we started with Tommy, I had turned ten, as I previously stated, and Eric was a little younger than I.
Being anxious to know as much as we could about the waves that we had discovered could give us both such wonderful and thrilling sport, we were fond of watching them closely from both water and shore, and in course of time we got to know fairly accurately just how far out from the shoreline or beach edge a wave would break.
We already knew that waves actually do not travel themselves, from our instruction and readings on meteorology.
So, after much close watching and assessing of the height of the wave as it appeared in its wave motion form, we knew from our knowledge of the various depths of water below the waves, before being undermined by the shallowness, just where the wave would break.
This study of
the depths and shallows, with their undermining effect on the waves, helped
us greatly in our timing of the waves, while waiting for them far out and
in the deep water, and the conclusions that every surf-shooter must reach,
if he studies the matter at all, is that the wave motions are not in equal
proportion and that they vary greatly.
That the right shallowness must be reached by each wave motion before its crest can be forced upward and forward, so that the undermining can be given effect to, and allow the wave's crest to topple forward and, imparted by the wave motion's force, race on to the shoreline.
Of course, we realized that specific gravity played a very large part in the wave motion part, and also the force generated when the many tons of water ...
... crash down on an inclined slope, or in dumper fashion, clear of the slope-but yet with a heavy backing on the seaward side, leaving the wave no alternative but to race on to the shoreline.
every seventh wave was believed to be the biggest, and was named the Bombora,
on account of its noise-sounding.
This was told me by my father, who knew a lot of the Aboriginal language, and had appeared for them in Court at times.
He also stated that our pronunciation of their name places was all wrong.
We put the accent in front, whereas they put it on the last syllable, such as "WARR-INN-gah," instead of 'Warr-in-GAH.'
He so illustrated to me, and in my long lifetime on the land, and contact with many full bloods, I have taken particular notice to see if he was right, and the observations proved that he definitely was.
Next matter that
engaged Eric's and my attention was a way to shoot a Dumper, that is, a
big wave whose top curls over shoreways, like the roof of a cave, before
it crashes with great force on to the dead water below, and the sands below
Many accidents have happened through this type of wave, even unto death, and there are few really experienced shooters, body, board or ski, who have not been helplessly bumped on the packed sand below (packed by the great weight of water on top) by the great swirling water wheels set up. We found out mostly by necessity, that the best thing to do was to fling both arms forward at an angle of some 45 degrees, but not rigid.
The elbows had to be bent.
This action broke our fall considerably, but not entirely, and we found that as we became more expert we could shoot one to the beach.
But Nemesis was
to overtake me.
Being somewhat handicapped with short arms for this arm flinging, the thought of a way to escape it came to me and I started to develop it, and it worked quite well for a while, until I got over-confident, and disaster came my way.
In fact, I was very lucky to escape as lightly as I did.
It was one of those wild, early mornings, in which there was no other bather with me.
The waves were big, and now and then an outsize one happening along.
It was six a.m., and I went out and picked the best types of the big ones, and for anything very big used my new technique, which was merely to give a light kick off and stroke and then extend the arms straight downwards, as a sort of sea anchor to check my way, and then, with the sucking forward that a big dumper makes of the water behind it after the big mass of water had crashed ahead of me, release the check, which was only for an instant, and catch up on the foam.
I thought I saw
Uncle Tom Skinner, the Inspector, coming, and caught a last, wave out,
as it was about 7 a.m. I thought.
As I reached the beach, two middle aged men came down the steps.
One, a Mr. Sydney Smith, was a regular surfer and a friend of my people.
He called to me, saying, "Arthur, don't go out yet, I have been telling my cousin, Mr. Franks here, who is just out from England, all about the surf-shooting by you fellows. Will you go out and shoot a wave to show him?"
I looked around, but he divined what for, and anticipated me.
"No, he won't be here yet, you've still got ten minutes."
Though I had really
had enough shooting, for it was a hard battle swimming out to them, I decided
to comply with his request, as he was a nice man, and went in again. I
picked up a big wave, and though it had a big crest, I only put a slight
check on with my newly discovered technique and easily reached the beach
As I stood up, they were quite close, and were enthusiastically greeting me.
Mr. Smith introduced Mr. F!anks, and said, "My cousin says it's wonderful."
They both asked me then, could I do one more.
I acquiesced, and beat away out again, and for a while there were only moderate waves.
To my consternation the familiar form of Uncle Tom Skinner was in sight, and not very far off, and I would have to be quick.
At last I saw a wave coming, and thought ...
... to myself,
I should beach on this, it is at least an outsize wave, but when it got
a bit closer I confess to feeling a bit of a shock, for it looked like
an outsize of outsizers in waves.
A feeling of prudence hit me for a second or so, and I made a compromise.
I would climb it and see if there is anything behind it; besides, there's your new technique to fall back on.
Before the giant reached me, a hasty glance showed the Inspector moving very, very purposefully to the South Steyne corner, and a reckless feeling came to me to take it, but when I climbed up to its crest and gazed from its height to the flat water below, I thought to myself, your technique is sure going to get a tryout, and also felt sure that the dumper crash check would not save me from a very outsize dump.
However, the time
had now come, and trusting to my Guardian Angel, as it were, my "Restraint,"
as I called my technique, was put into operation, but it was just about
as effective as King Canute's order to the sea to stop wetting his toes,
for there was an immense amount of salt-brine in that crest, rushing on
with helpless, insignificant me in its midst to form the roof of a fear-inspiring
sea water cavern.
To make matters more unpleasant, it seemed to hang there for an unseemly long period, so that I would get the real proper feeling of what was to come.
Though I pulled my arms out and tried to use them as a dumper crash check, it was quite futile, with all those many tons of water crashing me to the sands below, and when the savage water wheels had finished bashing holes in the ocean's bed with my helpless body, I dazedly and sorrowfully pulled myself to the surface and struggled painfully to the beach.
There the two gentlemen were anxiously and concernedly awaiting my arrival, and Mr. Smith said, "Arthur, whatever have you done to yourself.
We thought you had been killed, and did not expect you to shoot such a giant wave as that, but are you alright?"
"Not too bad,
considering, Mr. Smith," I replied.
"Got a bit of a kink in the right shoulder, but it'll be alright after a day or so," at which Mr. Franks said, "Let me have a look at it, I am trained in first aid."
He then, with the aid of Mr. Smith, pulled my shoulder in and said, "Your collarbone is probably broken, and you had better have medical attention at once," and as it turned out, he was right.
both he and Mr. Smith saved themselves from drowning by swimming ashore
from the wrecked "Maitland," during a terrific gale.
Mr. Smith's two sons, Tom and Norman, were early members of the first club.
Later, a strange
experience happened to a young club-mate, who afterwards served with distinction
as a Medical Commanding Officer in the First World War, named Clive Smith,
and me. We were alone and at the South Steyne end. The wind and waves were
so wild that it was impossible to stay out long, but there came a strange,
sudden lull, and as we struggled to gain footing in the shallows against
a powerful drawback, a giant wave seemed to come from nowhere, and towered
over us, but, fortunately, after fanning out in a big roof of water overhead,
crashed ahead of us, and then picked us up and bashed us again and again
on the bottom, finally dropping both of us up near the seawall.
There were quite a number of spectators on the promenade, who ran to the wall edge to find if we were injured. As Clive and I painfully struggled to our feet, we looked at each other to see if we were both still sound of limb, and both said to each other in the one voice, "Well, what do you think of that?"
The spectators were very excited, and one whom I did not know said, "How did you like being in a tidal wave, boys?"
Another one, an acquaintance, then said, "It was something like that, because it seemed to have a lot of water behind it, and I was a bit worried how you were going to end up."
One Sunday morning
I was running late as I rushed into the vestry and hastily jumped into
my cassock and surplice, while one of my band of choristers said, whisperingly,
"Has it come yet?"
"No," I replied, "not yet!" He was alluding to the tidal wave that had been forecast to hit Manly that morning.
As I led the string of boys and men to the far side front pews, I noticed that the church was packed with people, even to having chairs in the aisles.
I rushed to the beach and waited all day in vain.
Some wags said that "the churches spread the rumour to frighten the backsliders into returning."
During the remainder
of my thirteenth year, which was the year 1891, I was certainly kept busy.
We lost the East Esplanade property through a nasty bit of business, and the £1,000 we had paid on same.
My father could not pay the other £600 and buy it outright, as it was mortgaged for that amount to some person who was abroad at the time.
However, a pair of semi-detached houses, situated about the centre of the Ocean Beach, and named Ormuz and Ophir, after the liners of that name, was purchased.
Ormuz we moved into, on the corner of the North Steyne (as the Ocean front is known) and Steinton Street, which runs back to Pittwater Road.
The other one was already tenanted.
Then I managed
to get a block of land close by in Pittwater Road, and build two large
semi-detached brick cottages, with the rest of some money which came from
my Grandfather Lowe's estate.
That and some money that was bequeathed to my mother by an Inneskillen Trimble who had been a Premier of Vancouver (2), was all that we had left.
My father had not been able to save anything from his big earnings.
Besides my mother's medical expenses, there was a costly account to pay as well, to save the leg of another member of the family who had jumped on to some broken glass.
I was still attending school and doing my leading chorister's duties meanwhile, but I could see that that would have to come to an end, likewise, my dream of becoming a Civil Engineer.
James Trimble, who was Mayor of Victoria, Canada, 1867-1870.
- John MacRitchie, Local Studies Librarian, Manly Local Studies.
At age 13, Arthur
Moore leaves Manly in 1891-1892 to work at Mungindi, on the NSW-Queensland
border and other inland properties , but returns regulary to Manly in the
summer for surf-shooting.
The exact dates of the following entries are unclear.
It was a great relief to get down for a month's surf-shooting, sailing and fishing with my mates, and join in again with them each Sunday morning at 6.a.m.in the South Steyne surf and receive a pleased smile and warm greeting from Tommy Tanna.
Out at 7 a.m., as the big portly figure of Nuisance Inspector Tom (Uncle) Skinner, with his paper sticker and sack, pulled up.
Out would come a huge timepiece, more fitted for the duties of a watch then a clock.
Then his stentorian voice would ring out, "Come on out of that there water.
It's gone 7 o'clock.
I'm telling you.
Or I'll book you'se names."
Then would come the race for the near-beach rocks: our pioneering dressing rooms.
But Fred Williams,
a newcomer, was a wag, and had some ability as a ventriloquist: he would
shoot in on a wave almost to Uncle Tom's feet and, disguised with a small
piece of seaweed on his head, would say, "Hello, Uncle!
Feeling good this morning?
Trust you've had a nice early breakfast.
Pity you can't join us here, instead of having such an onerous job to do.
Well, bye bye, be seeing you some more."
At which, Fred
would glide away and leave Tom peering angrily over the seaweed, while
trying to locate where the voice came from.
Fred Williams and I had many happy hours in the surf together, and in recollections afterward, before he passed away.
Then came 8 a.m.,
on Sunday mornings, I would hear a familiar whistle as the Junior Pioneer
Gang pulled up in front of our house.
There would be regularly only four of them, mostly near to my own age or a little younger: Eric Moore, already mentioned, an engineering student, Norman Rowe, also engineering student, John Bedwell, commercial traveler, Sydney Stevens, English born, mining engineer.
Occasionally someone else would ask to be let join in with us but as a rule we kept to the regular five. The Senior Surfing Pioneers were not nearly so constant on undertaking these police- defying (as it had been described in the Council) surf-bathings.
They had other types of picnics instead, sometimes in the harbour, sometimes inland.
Their numbers varied more, too, but an average would be about six.
I would be waiting all ready for my party.
And clad only in singlet and shorts, and trunks and towel tucked in the bag alongside the tucker, away we would swing and sing to our Sunday paradise.
Sometimes we would have the police close on our heels at the start, but with the exception of Sid Stevens, we were all footballers of a Saturday and, therefore, quite capable of shaking the Irish limbs of the law off quickly.
One morning we
got a bit of a surprise.
The North Steyne Reserve was somewhat in a rough state around and about the pine trees, and their paling-fenced enclosures.
And Constable Black of Tipperary, or some such place, was hiding and waiting behind one.
As to the strains of "Lily of Laguna" and "Be Careful of the Lady with the Dreamy Eyes," we raced towards our goal, he stepped suddenly out and all but grabbed Stevens, who managed to just duck out of their way.
He being fleet of foot soon caught up with us, as we put a hefty distance between "Yeese are the parrty," and ourselves.
For a while we
were left alone to bathe on Freshwater Beach, but later they (the police)
took to scaling the tortuous and rocky track over the headland and they
even started to chase us from Freshwater to South Curl Curl.
And from there to North Curl Curl.
There came the day when they were forcing us on to Dee Why, the beach which ...
... derives its
name, given by the early residents of Manly, from the fact that when standing
on a certain portion of the northern headland one could see a D shape in
the beach and dune sand, and a Y in the shape of the Lagoon alongside.
It was but following, in a way, the Aborigines, who named their various camping and hunting grounds after something that suggested it, or from a clue.
For instance, Manly's Aboriginal name, Cannee, meaning great happy place.
And by the animal and fish bones found surrounding the skeletons unearthed in the Fairy Bower area it was evidently well named.
Up till the time
I had turned 18 years of age we were not troubled very much by other surfers
at Freshwater, which was our main Sunday bathing beach.
But the day came along during the Xmas period when, having shot a big wave which the others missed, and traveled a long way in to finish up in the big hole between the sandbank and the beach, I had started to swim out again when I heard a voice calling, "Help! Help!".
Moore records a rescue
of a large man at Freshwater whereafter all the current revival techniques
are applied unsuccesfully before, at his suggestion, a massage with brandy
brings him "back to life".
The rescue is not reported to the authories as Lowe fears it will be used as evidence to prosecute the surf shooting pioneers for illegal bathing.
Manly historian Terry Metherill lists a Joseph Lowe, solicitor, in residence on the east side of Ashburner Street Manly in 1898.
This is possibly Arthur's father, Mr. Lowe, Senior.
One morning I had gone for my usual swim, with my two mates, Eric Moore and Tommy Tanna.
It was somewhat nice, placid morning, with a few good surfshoots right in to the beach.
I had noticed that the tide was running out, and a fairly strong outward current was running out in the corner, and alongside the South Steyne rocks, as I left the beach with my two friends.
I then went off, after breakfast, to church, where I was choirboy lead.
Church start was at 10 a.m., and half an hour later a young boy came in and sat in a congregation pew just across the aisle from my choir pew.
I could see by his face that he was bursting to tell me something, and presently when the old Minister's back was turned to us, he blurted out, "There was a double drowning a few minutes ago."
I could not help saying, in quite an audible voice, as I could tell from the number of people who turned their attention my way, "Two drowned! Where?"
Audibly he returned, "Off the South Steyne corner."
I started to worry about some of my mates who may have gone in after I had left and got taken by a shark, as I could not connect their death with all their now well- developed swimming skill in the surf waters in any other way.
I waited anxiously until the service was over and rushed off to ascertain, and found out that a newly-arrived young man from England, with relatives in Manly and Sydney, had gone in the surf alone at 10 ...
...a.m., and apparently
after swimming about for sometime had thrown up his arms and completely
Then Tom Skinner, the health and nuisance Inspector, had obtained a fishing boat from the Sly family at Shelly Beach.
He picked up Tommy Tanna, and another islander who was a friend of Tommy's, and a good swimmer, and they rowed to the scene of the man's disappearance.
The Inspector then ordered the other islander to dive and try and find the body.
The Islander dived over but never returned, and after waiting some time the Inspector ordered Tommy to dive and see what happened to his mate, but Tommy shrank back and refused, saying: "No, I no come back, too!"
Later, I said
to Tommy, "Was it a shark?" at which he replied, "No," very decidedly,
and added, "No struggle, no blood!"
"Well, was it an octopus?" I asked.
"I not know, I not see," he replied, and then he added thoughtfully, "Could be."
That we have giant
octopi in Australian waters has been told me by some of Australia's greatest
One, Diver Newton, told me that he wouldn't enter any of the caves in Sydney Harbour, and which should be a warning to all spear fishermen.
Also, if they are in American, African and South Asian waters, why not Australian?
To corroborate this belief I add the following: It was after this double surf tragedy that a lady and gentleman with a walking stick, as was the fashion of the times, walked on to the Balmain ferry steamer, due to leave the wharf at 8 p.m., and sat down on the outward side.
In about a minute or so two octopus feelers of at least 5 feet long came over the gun-whale and, sliding very quickly, seized the lady about the arms and shoulders, and while the head followed and remained on the gun-whale, more feelers were coming towards the terrified woman.
It was only a second or two from when it was first seen that her male friend was frantically trying to fight it off with his stick.
Meanwhile, her terrifying screams had warned the engineer and his fireman, who were just about to start the engine, that something of a very terrible nature was attacking a lady passenger.
They seized steel lever and pinch bars, and ran to her assistance, just in time, for the walking stick had broken and the man was striving to prevent her being dragged over the gun- whale.
At the fierce onslaught that came with the steel bars, the creature released its hold and dropped back over the side.
To the newspaper reporters at the time, all three men concerned stated that the feelers were at least 5 feet long.
The lady had to be treated for shock for some considerable time.
think that some of the fatalities have been wrongly credited to sharks.
In the case of a youth taken near the same locality of the double tragedy, only much nearer the rocks, the daughters of the late Charles Sly, who was captain and owner of our first surf lifesaving boat, very emphatically declared it was not the work of a shark.
These daughters were practically born in the surf, and were the closest to young Paton at the time he disappeared, as they were sitting on the rocks only a few feet away.
They were also the best surf-swimming and surf-shooting girls ever, and practically on a par with the men.
There was another sad double tragedy one early morning (5).
It happened while we young pioneers were surf-shooting at the South Steyne corner.
A young woman named Thorne [sic -Miss Mabel Thorp] went into the surf near the South Steyne storm-water pipes, and got carried out by an outward running current there.
A Mr. Smalpage, who had also been bathing there was with his wife, and had come out of the water, heard her cries for help, and in spite of the entreaties and fears of his wife, who implored him not to go, replied, "I must, it's a woman."
His body was recovered later, hers was never seen.
5. 17th January 1902.
The facts were that they (Eda Jackson and her cousin) were both swept into the channel, and their screams were heard by surfing mates named Fred and Sid Williams, who were both good swimmers, when they moved to Manly with their parents.
They lived about
two hundred yards or so away, on the eastern hill, and ran at top speed,
both being good footballers, and were just in time to save the cousin,
but not Edna.
Resuscitation was tried, but unavailingly, unfortunately.
After this sad tragedy which cast a great gloom over the community, a long period then ensued without any further drownings. (6)
We pioneers, though, were kept flat out preventing the casualties, for the new craze, surf-bathing, was luring more and more every week.
By this time we young pioneers had gained a great confidence, as well as knowledge, of many of the other beaches, as well as our own beach, Manly.
At that period none of the other beaches were built on in any way, and we had them all to ourselves.
In one of the
pioneering days a very good fellow-surf-shooter, named Bell, brought a
church door to the Freshwater surfing area.
It had a pointed top, and Frank amused himself and us while he endeavoured to shoot the surf with it.
He had read about board-shooting in Hawaii.
Incidentally, Frank and Charlie his brother were direct descendants of Sir Thomas Mitchell, Australia's famous Surveyor-General of the past.
Frank was the originator of the underwater stroke when taking a wave, and passed away just after the First World War.
Charlie is a "Digger Gunner" of the First World War, and is a draftsman, thereby taking somewhat after his ancestor, Sir Thomas Mitchell.
He was an expert surf-shooter, and is still a good swimmer, as well as Swimming Association official.
Charlie has been,
for practically a life-time, a tower of strength to the Manly Swimming
Club, a club with which so many champion swimmers have been connected.
His father and mine had been old friends, and also did a spot of swimming in prohibited places in prohibited hours together, the same as their two sons.
We have been lifelong friends, and club-mates in swimming, surfing and football.
After the armistice in France, near the end of the First World War (7), we met in crowded London, both en route for the famous Australian-English rendezvous, Horseferry Road.
He was badly limping, like myself, having both struck a spot of trouble "over there!"
But tough'uns like ourselves soon got over it.
We both do the Anzac march with our respective units, and invariably meet afterwards for at least a greeting, amid searching for old war mates.
6 See Champion,
S & G, Bathing, Drowning and Life Saving in Manly, Warringah and Pittwater
to 1915, p61.
The incident took place on th March 1903.
Sidney and Frederick Williams and Reginald Wilkin were awarded a certificate of merit and silver medal from the Royal Shipwreck Relief and Humane Society of NSW for their rescue attempts.
7. In WWI, Lowe
enlisted 25th September 1916, aged 36, no 13268, and embarked on the Persic
on 22nd December 1916 as a Driver with 1,2 and 3 Auxiliary Transport.
His next of kin was listed as wife, Mrs Maria Isobel Lowe, of 44 Augusta Road, Manly.
Pages 63 to 70
In 1899-1900 Arthur
Lowe went to South Africa as a member of the 5th Battalion, Australian
Commonwealth Horse where, on arrival, he introduces surf-shootinsg at Kelk
Beach near Cape Town.
Following duty in the field, towards the end of 1901 (?), he returns to CapeTown for recuperation and more surf shooting.
A further tour of duty, embarking in January 1901 (?), follows with more surf shooting at Cape Town and later at Durban Beach.
Returning to Australia, Lowe gives an extended account of the events leading up to William Gocher's breaking of the daylight swimming restrictions in October 1902, pages 81 to 83.
Note that Gocher's
claims are questioned by Manly historian, Pauline Curby.
See Source Documents:
2001 Pauline Curby : The Myth of William Gocher
After several discussions on the law, surf bathing technique and suitable attire, the story continues ...
mollified, and agreed to wear it, and also to ask Arthur Rosenthal to come
to the beach with him.
The intended venture into the surf was duly advertised, and on the holiday morning Gocher went to the beach (with a macintosh over his costume) from the Steyne Hotel.
Arthur Rosenthal accompanied him, and a few others of his friends, also.
I found that he had gone to the southern side of the stormwater pipes, instead of keeping to my stipulation that it be the northern side.
However, I managed to get close enough to where he entered the surf.
And he stayed in the very shallow waters for a minute or so before coming out.
A faint cheer came from the group on the beach and reserve.
And as they passed the Sergeant of Police and some Constables, he was asked to report to the Police Station and receive a summons, when he had changed.
Solicitor Frank Donovan went with him to the Station, and the summons was taken out, but no date was specified.
Ultimately the summons lapsed when the new Local Government Act came into force.
this Gocher episode, which must be described as an attempt to capitalise
on a movement that had been going on for many years, by quite a number
of people, to bring about all-day surf bathing, the Bondi boys effected
their mass surf bathing scheme.
It was such a huge success that it clinched the ineffectiveness of the policing of the restricted surfing.
From my friends in the Chief Secretary's Department, I received the welcome news that the protests by the Department's authorities against the continued policing of the surfing movement, on the grounds that the suburban towns were being subjected to non-police protection, had awakened the Government and Local Government authorities.
All-day surfing was to be allowed from then on, with the stipulation that neck-to-knee costumes, with a front skirt, be worn, and the sexes segregated as much as possible.
We knew that our long fight in Manly, Bondi and Coogee, principally, had been won.
That we surfers, over a long period, had won it, and none else.
That it would have come in on exactly the date it did, whether the Englishman Gocher or any other stunter had come along, was a certainty.
When his grotesque and farcical stunt had gained publicity, the consensus of opinion re its assistance, amongst experienced surfers, was that it merely threw the spotlight on the long fought out matter of all-day surf bathing.
that a certain Manly Council gave to Gocher by naming certain unsightly
flats after him does not prove otherwise, but it goes to show that those.
aldermen of the past stand out as the real men that built up Manly into
its present beauty.
For the present [ie 1950s] Manly aldermen listened to a relative of Mr. Gocher, and believed her when she protested that her father should be honoured as he brought ...
... about all-day
Incidentally, she was a small child at the time.
In 1903 I attended a small gathering of the older surfers and aldermen, at their request, at the South Steyne area. Alderman Quirk asked me had I rescued a man at Freshwater before going to the Boer War.
I replied, "Yes.
But how did you know?"
"Oh, Pfoeffer, the bulb farmer, back of Harbord, said that he gave some of your party a bottle of brandy to revive a drowned man.
He was curious to know how he got on.
But why didn't you tell him?"
"Well, it would have been incriminating ourselves, then. But it's all right now." I replied.
They asked me
further particulars about the rescue.
They also queried the present rescuing going on, and in answer I stated that my mates and I were flat out pulling surfers out of danger, also that the present ship's buoy and heavy rope on the beach was more of a hindrance than a help, and that a thin and light alpine rope, or a thin, white cotton rope would be worth giving a trial, as at present we were losing a lot of our surf-shooting pleasure in saving these bathers who got into trouble.
said, "It would want a receptacle to put the rope in, eh?"
"Yes," I replied.
"A tin or a box would do, wouldn't it?" interjected Commander Roberts.
I answered that a rope could be paid into same, so that it would not coil, and be drawn from the box quickly.
"Good." said the
two aldermen. "Now, gentlemen, if you send this letter into the Council
this week, asking permission, I promise you that same will be granted this
coming week, so that you can get busy.
Get your required life saving surfers together at once, to form a start."
agreed to write the letter at once.
All present agreed to form a committee, pro tem, and be early on the beach the following Sunday. Three, including Tom Gunning, the ex-Sudan War veteran and sporting writer, Commander Roberts, and Solicitor and Spanish Consul Frank Donovan, promised to bring a suitable rope and square box. The Sunday morning found me on hand as requested.
The Sly brothers, who were fishermen, with headquarters at Shelly and Fairy Bower, had agreed to join in the club starting.
Charlie Sly, the elder brother, was to be sweep, and George Lutey and Eddie Sly, with a cousin named Nor Green, were to man the oars of their cut-down from 35ft. to 27ft. clinker-built, whaleboat. Tod Sly was to be first beltman, and as the aldermen and others placed the square box on the beach, Tod took up his position on the left side of the box.
I and the other
strong swimming surfers, who had agreed to form a life saving club, took
up a position on the other side of the box, at the request of the older
The aldermen and several of the older men spoke to inaugurate the start, the name agreed upon being "The Manly Surf and Life Saving Club."
In a very short time we were making full use of same.
Though we young fellows paid in as much as we could afford at the start, the older men bore the brunt of the finance required, as we had insisted on paying Tod Sly, who had a wife and child to support.
The handsome 6-foot athletic-built Tod caught pneumonia that first season and passed away, to our great regret.
I still mourn a "great fella!" I got up a concert, with Sydney and Manly artists (including Fred ...
... Notting and
myself in Farces and Lightning Sketches), in order to pay his burial expenses
and assist his widow and child, and in spite of having to postpone it twice
on account of bad weather, it was a big success.
I often think it would be fitting if all surfers combined and contributed a small amount for a suitable remembrance to this first of beltmen.
Before 1904 was
ushered in, a suitable reel, to pay the life-line on and off, was being
devised, and on the lines of the old cotton reel -a gigantic imitation
of same, mounted on a framework stand and fitted with a spindle, bearings
and break, was placed on the beach, and suitably christened with great
There quickly followed the beach flags and look-out towers.
A rope was attached to an anchor placed in the surf, below low tide, and traversing the beach to the surf palisade, built of fepcing timber.
A notice was erected on the southern side, "ladies Only.
On the northern side it read "Gents Only."
A beach inspector
named Tommy Cranston was appointed.
His principal job was to keep the sexes on their own side of the rope.
And as they were very often lying across the rope, he gave a warning whistle prior to his patrolling same.
Whereon there would be quick disentanglement, until his beat was over.
Tommy was a strong surf swimmer and a nice chap.
He was the first to demonstrate the Canadian skirted neck- to-knee costume.
The ropes did not last long; they kept disappearing, and the Council wisely decided against perpetual payments.
The notices were pulled down.
We formed patrols
now, as with the advent of all-day surfing great numbers were now coming
to the beaches, and we were having mass rescues, with both boat and line.
So we went on until 1908, when we staged a surf carnival with open surf races, belt races, etc.
The humorous side was not neglected.
My lifelong friend, Fred Notting senior, built a prehistoric surf reel and rope.
The reel had a framework built of branches and part of a cable reel.
The line was stringy bark, etc.
The two Sly girls, Aggie and Jessie, aided by two girls from town, named Sibyl Rohu and Florrie Forde, were blackened up as gins, and young blackened life savers were the Warrigals.
It was a great success and helped our funds considerably.
We kept going with a carnival every year, or with something similar, and with the same objective.
I took part, in
suitable uniform, in a landing of Captain Cook, and repeated same next
year at a Coogee carnival.
We also staged a march from the wharf, in which my eldest son, 2 1/2, and another 2 1/2 year old named Trevor Welch, each dressed in a miniature life saving costume and belt, led the march from the wharf to the South Steyne area.
This also gave our funds a great help.
But after the carnival we had come to the conclusion that a big pruning was inevitable.
There were too many who were merely surfers, and not enough real lifesavers.
So a meeting was held, and after much argument and protest it was decided that a division be made, and the original foundation members and other real lifesavers kept going as the originals, with the new name of Manly Life Saving Club, while the other body was allotted other but smaller premises, under the name of Manly Surf Club, later obtaining their own separate building opposite the life Saving Club clubhouse.
Then 1914 and
the First World War came, and the Manly Life Saving Club put up what was
probably a world's record for voluntary enlistment.
There were 153 enlistments out of 156 eligible members, 15 rejections on medical grounds, and 16 juniors left to carry on under seniors.
Fred Notting, senior, who failed to pass the medical test, had the tremendous job of keeping the club going with mainly juniors.
Only he would know how much!
When I returned in late 1919 I joined in, with other returned members, in a welcome back.
But it was not a very enthusiastic one, as an elderly man, who was not an old and experienced surfer, had taken over the Presidency, and only a very few of the originals went back into it.
Of course, many were dead and badly ...
... crippled, and I, with many other land-experienced men who had enlisted, had promised the Government that if we returned we would pioneer closer settlement land in the outback areas.
Page 88 to 92
Lowe is the first to see and contact the French sailing ship, Vincennes, run aground on Manly Beach and his mother plays a major role exploiting the occasion, to the advantage of the Benevolent Fund.
In 1908, Arthur Lowe
plays scrum half for the only club to take up the challenge, Manly Rugby
Union Club, against an team of American Gridiron players from the visiting
fleet, subsequently known as the Great White Fleet.
He is a key player in the move that wins the match.
For the period
from 1909 to 1914, I did my patrols unceasingly.
I bathed summer and winter, seldom missing a day.
But I did not break my previous record; that is unbroken daily surfing in the years dating from late 1902 to the football tour to the Northern rivers in 1909.
(and page 96) In 1914, Lowe is called in to help break a German spy ring that is monitoring Australian shipping movements.
Page 96 to 98
Lowe enlists and sails for Europe with another surf shooting stop over at Cape Town with Olympic swimmer, Albert Barry.
Though I have
mentioned many, including the Junior and Senior Pioneers, others that I
remember doing surf lifesaving by hand were: Andrew (Andy) Prowse, an Anglo-African,
and friend of mine for many years, who fought with the famous South African
Light Horse in the Boer War.
He was also a Springbok and an Australian Rugby Union Representative forward.
He also played Union grade for Manly.
He was an early member of the Manly Life Saving Club.
So were the following:
Fred Notting, Charlie and Frank Bell, Harry Hay, Steve and Ray McKelvey,
Billy Kellam, Norm McMullen, Stuart and Alan Wright, Fred Campbell, George
and Frank Roberts, Athol Levy, Bob Miller, Albert Barry, Ken McPhee, Jack
Holland, Bill Herald, Peter McGregor, Frank Falls, Geoff Wyld, Harold Hardwick,
Cecil, Reg and Brian Healy, Tom Richards, also a crack Rugby Union rep.
The two Tom Gunnings and Jim Gunning, Tom and Norman Smith, Ossie Merrett, Claude West, who became an undefeated champion boardshooter, under Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku's tuition, who first came to Manly in 1914.
I had the pleasure of meeting the big, handsome Hawaiian and doing some bodyshooting alongside his boardshooting.
Joe and Ted Thorn, Clive Smith (later Colonel M.a., 1st World War), Eric Glasson, Jack Reynolds and others, whom I now cannot remember.
Of course, there were many associate members, headed by Frank Rowe, Aubrey Oxlade, Frank Donovan, Ted Emblem, Sid Smith and others.
From time to time
over the late years a lot has been said and written about a certain lifesaving
club on the south side of the Harbour being the leaders in the lifesaving
As we all have been so friendly and collaborated before the lifesaving movement started, in a sporting way, and also schemed together to successfully bring about all-day surfbathing, let us frown on all this talk, writings and broadcasts in the future.
They're only done by copy-writers and broadcasters to cause dissention and bring about more copy and absurd mike beefings.
That Manly formed
the first club in 1903 and used a cork and canvas belt attached to a thin,
white cotton line, coiled in a box, then at the turn in the year continued
with a reel built on the same principles as the present one, can be proved
When certain south of the Harbour clubs formed up their representatives, who have always gladly been made welcome at Manly's headquarters, came to us for inspection of our gear and advice; they cordially thanked us for same.
Quite a lot of people are still living in Manly who know that what I write about the time of starting of the Manly Lifesaving Club, and production of its equipment, is true.
Foremost amongst them is the ex-record breaking Town Clerk, Mr. Les Wellings, who has collected a considerable amount of data on Manly's past history, and which cannot be disputed.
There have been
a lot of distorted facts said over the mike and in certain newspapers.
One related to an Act of Parliament affecting Sydney Cove foreshores.
The first Main Act affects the whole country and carries the King's Seal, and can never be altered, I reiterate, except by the people themselves, which covers all foreshores to a hundred feet above high-water mark.
The public parks are also vested in the people.
I must refute
a lately broadcasted statement from the A.B.C.
It stated that Fred Williams interviewed Tommy Tanna, and said to him, "I'll learn this surf shooting too, and get it going".
The real facts as shown in this book, distinctly state my mates and I were shooting with Tommy Tanna four years before Fred came to Manly.
given of the late W. H. Gocher, especially the references to his personal
appearance, and interview with th.e Inspector-General of Police, plainly
shows how inaccurate has been the second or third-hand information they
Far from fitting the odious description of being a shrivelled-up man, Bill Gocher was well endowed as far as flesh was concerned.
He was only of English medium height, but could be described as being of plump build and easily of twelve or thirteen stone weight.
Gocher never went
to the Inspector-General of Police for the foolish purpose attributed to
I would have known of it, for he was an honourable man and would have kept his word to me, which was that he would only proceed upon my advice.
He did not want to be arrested; what was wanted and what I agreed with, was a charge and a carefully prepared defence built upon the aforesaid dedicated Act of Parliament and the people's rights.
The charge was made against him in the Manly Police Station, but it lapsed, as ...
... the Bondi Mass Bathing had finally decided the Councils that the daylight surfing ban could not be efficiently policed, which, of course, automatically brought about all-day surfbathing, as any clear-thinking people must see.
And last, but
not least, the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia.
At times moans are being emitted from certain individuals, that Manly was not the very first Life Saving Club in operation, as other clubs had joined the Association before Manly.
A very strange way of reasoning, and really putting the cart before the horse - that is, forming an association before the clubs are in being.
Manly's Surf Life Saving Club, when it formed up in 1903 for the purpose of saving life in an organized manner, was only concerned with same, and carnivals and inter-club competitions, which brought the Association into being, were not even thought of at the time; in fact, Manly was running its own carnivals for several years, with competition between only its own members.
Until enough clubs had got going, an Association was impossible, for the simple reason that the clubs in such an organization must provide experienced men themselves.
That should be plain enough to anyone with ordinary intelligence.
1898 , East side (from South Steyne) : Joseph Lowe, solicitor
In 1899, Ashburner Street and South Steyne acquired a special attraction.
On 11 February 1899, Alderman F C Passau, Mayor of Manly, officially opened the new Hampton Court Maze. (29)
The Maze and the Manly Water Chute that followed on the same site, dominated the ocean end of Ashburner Street until 1906.
Footnote 29: Champion, G & S, Manly’s Two Mazes, unpublished monograph, p3.
In 1903 a syndicate established Steyne Court, intended to be Australia’s answer to Earl’s Court in London.
The maze was removed to make way for a huge water chute, opened on 14 December 1903 in time for the Christmas holidays.
Footnote 33: Champion, p4."
Despite refreshment rooms, a wine kiosk, summer houses, fairy lights, and ...
... various entertainments including
a miniature electric railway and a continental shooting gallery, the Water
Chute lasted less than three years. (34)
Footnote 34: Curby, Pauline, Seven Miles from Sydney, p180
Mrs Crackanthorpe (sic), shown in
Yale in Sands’ 1905 lived on the corner of Ashburner and Darley Road and
was normally listed in Darley Road.
L S Crackanthorpe JP lived in Vivian Street and was or many years Manly Council’s Sanitary Inspector.
1918 (Sands’ 1919) East side: 2 Valentia
Flats, J E Nott
However by 1885, Darley Road was
described as running from “The Corso to Archbishop’s Residence”, with the
following residents (no street numbers or sides of street):
Lewis Moore [“Tremore”/”Tramore”, later “Traymore Guest house”, 84 Darley Rd]
On the “south” side, Sands’ 1887
listed 12 households compared to only 5 in 1885.
Among the new residents were ... Mrs Moore in “Tremore” (later “Traymore” guesthouse)
There are two mentions in the Council’s Inspector of Nuisances’ Report-book of Mrs Moore’s boarding house in Darley Road – on 27 August 1888, when it is described as “very bad”, and on 25 April 1892.
P S Nott’s “Craigforth” was joined
by Charles Sly’s residential in 1899, the beginning of closer subdivision
of the northern side of Darley Road, between Victoria Parade and Ashburner
The Sly family had a long association with Manly, with family members living at various times at Little Manly, in Addison Road, at Fairy Bower and elsewhere.
The Slys provided the first life-boat service to Manly’s South Steyne beach and could lay claim to being Manly’s first, unofficial ‘life-savers’.
In 1900, Slys lived in Addison Road, near Smedley’s Point (Charles); Darley Road (Charles); Vivian Street (Charles junior and George); Stuart Street (John); and Whistler Street (William).
In 1900 ...
Closer to The Corso and wharf, boarding
houses began to proliferate, usually managed by widows and spinsters.
In addition to Charles Sly’s “residential” for working men, on the west (formerly south) side in order from The Corso were:
Mrs Lewis Moore, Tramore
Thomas Hughes, a prominent Hawaiian plantation merchant purchased “Hawthorn” from the Littlejohn family following the death of Thomas Littlejohn ...
... MLC in 1904.
In 1904, “Clutha” was occupied by Mrs M F Crakanthorp, the mother [?] of Manly Council’s Inspector of Nuisances, Laurence S Crakanthorp, who lived across the road in Vivian Street.
By World War One ...
Between Victoria Parade and Ashburner Street, P S Nott still owned Craigforth, while Charles Sly’s residential, Tira, and those in Billiricay and Thaxted were still going strong.
Around 1880, ‘Old’ Fred Notting built
no. 17 Cliff Street, a single storey, double fronted weatherboard cottage
(see photo in Cowlishaw collection, with Pat Notting in a toy motor car).
His sons, ‘Middle’ Fred Notting (b.1852-53) and brother Charles Notting, Pat Notting’s father, were born and lived at 17 Cliff Street.
‘Middle’ Fred Notting, an artist
and signwriter, painted the World War One Honour Roll for Manly Band (see
photo in Cowlishaw collection).
Uncle Fred’s son, ‘Young’ Fred Notting was born on 31 August 1883 and lived at Cliff Street all his life. He was a foundation member of Manly Surf Club in 1907 and Manly Surf Life Saving Club in 1911.
‘Young’ Fred Notting was awarded the Royal Humane Society bronze medallion for a rescue involving two people off Manly in 1906. He was Surf Life Saving Club captain in 1915 and 1917, and boat captain from 1911 to 1920. In 1918, he became the second member of the Manly Club to be awarded life membership. Fred Notting also played first grade Rugby Union for Manly in 1906.
his son, Fred Notting junior swept his junior boat crew to perform a scattering
of ‘Young’ Fred’s ashes off Manly Point (see Manly Daily, 2 November 1979).
Metherell, Terry: Jamieson Avenue, Fairlight: 1924 to 1932, page 2.
The street seems to have weathered
the worst years of the Great Depression fairly well compared to many parts
of Manly Municipality.
Three new houses were built, c1929-30 for Claude West, Norman Bell and L C Manfred (nos 19, 29 and 31 respectively).
Claude West was a renowned surfboard-rider and Manly Council’s professional lifesaver on Manly’s Ocean Beach in the 1920s.
Claude West was only 15 when in 1915
the famed Duke Kahanamoku gave his exhibition of surfboard riding at Freshwater
and then introduced Claude to the finer points of the sport.
Duke presented his board to Claude when he left Australia.
Claude went on to become the undefeated NSW surfboard champion from 1915 to 1924 when he retired after winning the title again.
In 1920, he rescued the Governor-General, Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, from the rip at South Steyne.
Whistler Street, Manly: 1861 – 1920.
Terry Metherell, August 2003.
By 1863, Whistler Street had seven
households, several probably living in houses built by Edward Badminton.
An interesting social mix was evident.
New householders that year included ... and George Sly, “shoemaker”, from one of Manly’s earliest and longest established families.
... of the seven resident in 1863,
only four remained a year later, although two still lived locally – Adam
Russell in Raglan Street, and George Sly in Middle Harbour [Sydney] Road.
Sands’ 1909 showed Battle Boulevard as follows, from The Spit:
George W Moore, Leveret
George Moore’s Leveret was also a playful reference to the likely rabbit
infestations in this semi-rural part of the municipality.
George Moore, too, may have had local connections: George A Moore lived in Osborne Road, Manly; James Moore off nearby Condamine Street, Balgowlah; and Mrs Lewis Moore in Darley Road, Manly.
The gradual ‘filling-in’ of Battle Boulevard, especially after 1914, can be seen as follows:
1914 (Sands’ 1915) 1920 (Sands’ 1921)
C D Paterson, Burrawong Charles D Paterson [Burrawong]
Photo by Alexander, First Photographer, Corso, Manly.
Taken some time in the eighteen-eighties.
Inside front cover.
of the Manly' Wentworth Rugby Union Junior
and Pioneer Football Club.
Inside back cover.
was a leading surf shooter,
also a pioneer.
Inside back cover.
from a photo taken in Johannesburg, South Africa,
in the Boer war period from 1899 to 1902,
while scouting for the British Cavalry Division.
Inside back cover.
Surfing, Surf-Shooting and Surf-Lifesaving Pioneering
Printed and published at 36 Augusta Road, Manly, 1958.