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coote : airport alley, 1966
John Coote : Airport Alley, Botany Bay, 1966.

Coote, John: Airport Alley: Man-Made Surf.
Surfing World
Volume 7 Number 3 pages 16 to 17.
January 1966.

An account and five black and white photographs of a man-made break inside Botany Bay.
The short lived sand bar was the result of dredging near the mouth of the Cooks River when extending the runway for Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport.

Also includes the centrefold of Bill Stafford at Snapper Rocks.

Page 16
story and photos by John Coote

A big swell had been kicked up by a strong southerly which lasted for three days.
We all expected Cronulla to be big and hoped for an all time surf at the point.
On Saturday morning a light westerly was blowing and we headed straight for the point.
All of Cronulla beach from South to
Voodoo was closing out and strong rips were running; however the point was not as big as expected and was also uneven.

Knowing that we would not get any surf at Cronulla, we thought we would have another day playing snooker or up at the local. Then somebody mentioned that in the last big swell Ken Williams, Ray Wheeler and Allan "Jughead" Jones had surferd a perfect left hander where the Mascot runway is being extended into Botany Bay.
We found this hard to believe, because it was hard enough to get a swell into the bay, let alone a surfable wave.

Now that you all know where it is I'll let you into a little secret - you can't surf there any more.
It seems they want to finish the runway and don't want surfers interfering, and since they work 24 hours a day I don't think it will be surfed again, day or night.

We decided to give it a go and headed for the airport.
When we got there, we parked the car opposite the only shop around the place and looked over at the surf.
From where we were the surf looked very small, but when we saw a surfer take off on a wave we realised it was a lot bigger than it appeared to be.

The walk to the surf was about 1/4 mile across sand which was covered by big jellyfish, so we knew that there would be a lot in the water.
The wind was a light off-shore and the waves showed great shape - they were about four to six feet, hollow and fast.
The take-off was exciting and a fast hollow section built up near the end of the wave.
It was such a fast breaking surf that only the experienced surfers made them from right inside.

The waves were only breaking onto a shallow sand bottom, so when you wiped out, hitting the bottom didn't worry you much, but the mass of jelly fish was almost unbelievable.
They were so thick you could almost walk on them and nearly every wave you took-off on, you could feel your fin hitting them. Regardless of the jelly fish, it was one of the best left hand surfs I have ever experienced.

The outstanding surfers were Ray Wheeler, Frank Latta, Mick Kent, Rod Stever and Dave Ferguson.
Also, on the other side of the sand bar was a right hander which was a fast and short ride ending in a wild shorebreak.
Although it was not as good as the lefts there were more surfers riding it. Mick Moylen tore it to pieces by getting unbelievable nose rides, etc., on the shore break and still making the wave.

As the surf only works well in a big swell and a westerly wind, when the Noreaster came up in the afternoon we were all disappointed.
Since I had been surfing all day until the Noreaster came up I did not think the surf would be good enough to take some photos; however I set my gear and took a few shots.
When you consider that these shots were taken after the surf had deteriorated a little, think what it was like when it was good. 

Mick Moylan takes a right which when it hit the bank, closed fast and was pretty hard to make.
Airport Alley, Botany Bay, circa 1965.

Photograph: John Coote

Page 17

Mick Kent, appreciating the excellent dimensions

of the waves, stalls just enough to let the curl fall inches behind.
Airport Alley, Botany Bay, circa 1965.

Photograph: John Coote

Surfing World 
Volume 7 Number 3 
January 1966.

Centrefold- Bill Stafford :Snapper Rocks.

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Geoff Cater (2011-2020) : John Coote : Airport Alley : Man-Made Surf, 1966.