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witzig : maui 1967, 1968

John Witzig : The Australians in Hawaii - Part 2 Maui, 1968. 

Witzig, John: The Australians in Hawaii, Part 2 - Maui.
Surf International Vol. 1. No. 5  May 1968  pages 20 to 29.

The second part to John Witzig's account of his visit to the Hawaiian Islands in the winter of 1967-1968, substantially enhanced by his now iconic photographs.

For Part One, see:

1968 John Witzig :The Australians in Hawaii, Part 1 - Oahu.
Surf International Vol. 1. No. 4 March 1968  pages 22 to 31.

Many of Witizig's images of the period have been widely reprinted in various magazines and books, the best compilation is
Witzig, John: Surfing Photographs From the 1960s and '70s.
Queen Street Fine Art, 34 Queen Street, Woolahra, NSW, 2025.

Also in this edition:
1968 Midget Farrelly :  The Art of the Pintail
Surf International Vol. 1. No. 5  April-May 1968  Pages 12 to 15.  
Page 20
For a start the names.
They reek of romance.
And of the fanciful dream that each of us has of the South Seas.
Of an island paradise.

For Maui is indeed a paradise.
And yet in the same breath one must deny the fact.
The luxuriant vegetation that should cover the small island simply doesn't.
It is the difference between reality and fantasy.
In some ways it satisfies all the demands that one educated to the idea of an island paradise might demand.
In other ways this lovely little island is barren and indeed unlovely.

Where it is great, Maui is superb.
It is an island of contrasts.
The long extinct crater of Haleakala is cold and grey and brown and so vast and empty.
And Hana.
Or more particularly the road to Hana that is everything anyone has ever said about paradise.
Deep and green and great.
Lahaina : an early whaling town that is losing its atmosphere as it loses innocence.
And Honolua, the surfers' dream.
The right that is like a combination of Rincon and National Park.
The rocks that are like the worst of both.

We went to Maui in December.
We sat and waited for the Bay.
The cliffs around are steep and barren.
The hills that become mountains just sit in the clouds.
And at the eye of this fantastic bay is the jungle.
With guavas and pawpaws and passion fruit and mangoes and breadfruit and the Real Islands.
Coconuts and confusion.

Midget said of Honolua, "It's like National ought to be".
McTavish: "It's Buddy Boy's Bay."
God knows, it's a beautiful wave.
And Buddy Boy does know it well.
At the back of his pin tail.
The pin tail shaped by the doyen of big wave shapers, Dick Brewer.
Eberly (sic) uses a Brewer at Wiamea.
Cabell at Makaha.
Buddy Boy uses one at Honolua.
And on a big day breaks it into two pieces.
Along with Nat and Ted Spencer and Reno Abellira and someone else.

Dick Brewer lives half of the time in his camper which is on the back of his truck.
And half of that ...
Page 21

Unknown (Buddy Boy), Honolua Bay. 
Honolua Bay #1. 
Nat samples the guavas.

Page 22

Reno Abellira brings his new board back to shore.
On this day of big Honolua Bay surf, three boards were broken in half.

The Pioneer Inn- the place to stay in Lahaina.

... half he and his wife Betty sleep at Honolua Bay.

For if the island of Maui had nothing else for the surfer, then the Bay would be enough.

Maui isn't a very big island.
When it is onshore on one side of the island, then it is offshore on the other and you drive there.
There is surf near Lahaina and near Hana, which is at the other end and on the other side of the island.

And there is surf on much of the coast in between.
And if there is no surf then you can drive up to the crater at Haleakala.
Up ten thousand feet, the cold is a shock after the 80 degrees at sea level (and this is winter).
From the top at Haleakala you can see Mona Koa which is on the island of Hawaii.
It is covered with snow.

There are no trees in the crater.
The clouds slip into the giant bowl through the breaks in the lip.
You could walk through the barrenness for days.
It is unreal, especially for a tropical island.
It is so silent that the only thing you can hear is the buzzing in your ears.
After a couple of hours this disappears too.

You drive down again to the sea.
The road is about as wide as a big footpath.
There is an optimistic white line down the centre.
Half way down this remarkable mountain there is a grove of Australian eucalypts.
They only heighten the unreality.
And half way down there is a town too, where we stopped to buy petrol and a six pack of Primo, the Hawaiian beer.
Nat referred to the old fellow who filled our car as china-you know, plate: mate- he was Korean or Japanese or something and we don't think he really appreciated the humour.

Lahaina is where the missionaries settled.
Apparently before they came, it was a pretty wild town.
I don't know where they went to, but it's not exactly a quiet town now.
There is plenty going on in quiet rooms.

The Pioneer Inn is where you stay in Lahaina.
A tent on the outskirts of town is where we stayed.
Partly because it was cheap and more particularly because it was empty.
We used to eat at the Pioneer which must be the only place in the United ...
Page 23


Russell Hughes on at late afternoon wave at Honolua Bay.

Ted Spencer at Sandbox.
This is a small right a couple of miles along coast from Lahaina.

The fantastic surfing of George Greenough.
His fin is virtually clear of the Honolua wave as he pushes his board
into a savage bank turn on the rail..
Page 24
(1) Ted Spencer, carrying board. (2) George Greenough, Honolua Bay #2

Page 25
(1) Haleakala.  (2)Pioneer Inn #2.

... States where a steak costs $2.50.
You cook it yourself which is better anyway.
The Pioneer Inn is loaded with atmosphere which is good or bad depending on which way you look at it.

There is a little harbour in front of the Pioneer.
In it is an old whaler, the Carthaginian.
Just to the right is a small break.
At times it is very good.

But nearly everything in Maui is very good.
And probably Christmas Day would have been if we had been a little prepared.
It started with Greenough finding the bottle.
Oddly enough it wished us a happy Christmas and reasonably it told us a life history.
It had been launched by a small child in the apartment across from our flat.
She or he had indulged in the fantasy of childhood- the message in the bottle.

This was one of the better things that happened at Christmas.
Admittedly, on the previous evening our Californian friend Steve had come around with our only present.
A French pastry.
It was devoured with Christmas spirit which was the only gift that we had to return.

Christmas dinner was a bummer.
I think we had intended to go to the Pioneer Inn.
But it wasn't open.
The last supermarket in the town was.
Christmas dinner was V8 juice and salted peanuts.
It wasn't exactly overpowered by Chrissy joy and salutations.
And the sign on the church near Lahaina reads "Christ-coming soon".

But the next day and the next are Honolua and everything is forgiven.
Honolua just after dawn.
Honolua in the heat of midday.
Honolua with the last light of a sinking sun.
And Honolua with a good swell.
God's answer to prayers that hadn't been mouthed.
And one day, when the swell had just snuck around the corner of Molokai, it was nearly ours alone.

Maui used to be empty of surfers and tourists.
It's not any more.
There are big hotels at Kanapali.
And a cruise ship that comes in every few weeks or so.
And sweet little Maui takes their money and laughs and cries.
Maui, like everywhere else, is selling out.
But she is going very dear.
There were only the rich ...

Page 26

Honolua Bay from the park in the late afternoon.
Ted prepares for the long paddle.

Residents of Maui, top shaper Dick
Brewer and his wife Betty .

Page 27

Nat in an amazing manoeuvre at Honolua Bay.

The old whaler, the Carthaginian,
leaving Lahaina Harbour.

Nat on a large Honolua wave.
The (...) afternoon light catches the white water.
Page 28
  (1) The Dolphin,  Lahaina  (2) Ted Spencer, Sandbox, #2.  (3)Honolua Bay #3.

Page 29

Photograph:  Honolua Bay #4 (black and white).

... and the surfers.
And for the surfers the Dolphin which is the only place in the islands where you can get decent food. Yoghurt and fruit and soup. .
The Dolphin.
Duke's place.
Where you used to pay just what you felt it was worth, or else what you could.
And like everywhere else this is changed.
ust not enough people paid and now there are prices.

So beautiful Maui changes before your eyes: the ironic isle.
The paradise that really isn't.
But when you fly out over the maze of cane fields, you remember the coconuts that you split open
to drink the milk.
You remember the rain forest and the other fruit.
You remember the waves, and perhaps most of all you remember the macadamia-nut ice cream.

Surf International
Vol. 1. No. 5
 May 1968.

Cover: Buddy Boy, Honolua Bay.

Page 27: Nat Young, Honolua Bay.

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Geoff Cater (2010-2019) : John Witzig : The Australians in Hawaii, Part 2 - Maui, 1967.