home calendar history results photos links
heads boardriders

seven mile beach south coast nsw australia
club history

Following the death of loal identity, Vic Zealand, local boardriders held a memorial contest in 1980. The success of the contest led to the formation of the Heads Boardriders Club in March 1981 with Peter Hitchen as the first President. The Club ran the Vic Zealand Memorial Contest  as a yearly event  and a series of point-score competitions throughout the year to determine the Club rankings.
   Over the next five years the Club held many social and fund raising events - films, dances, barbeques, presentations - as well as regular contests and an annual club tee-shirt. Members worked with local community groups on enviromental issues, in particular the difficulties with the Shoalhaven River entrance. One lasting feature has been the four remaining Norfolk pines planted on the Charley Gumley Reserve (behind the Surf Club). Originally ten trees were planted in this area in Summer 1981.
   Susequently the club operated on the most basic of levels till 1999, when the death of local surfer Tim Harvey inspired theTim Harvey Memorial Contest. A resounding success, the contest revived interest in local competition  and at a meeting in May 1999 the Club was reconstituted with Mick Morgan as President .
Honour Roll

John Doust
1953 - 1995
John Dowse, apres surf,
        Cabarita North NSW 1977. Photo John McInnes
1953 - 1995
An enthusiastic goofy footer with a strong appetite for life. With beautiful individual style and an instinctive feeling for the wave, John surfed the East coast extensively, particularly  the South Coast and Byron Bay region. The hottest surfer in Shoalhaven Heads 1970 to 1974, John's surfing was a inspiration to all those around him. Holds Heads - Breakwater record : 18.5 minutes by foot.

Stephen 'Stiffy' Buchanan
1959 - 1985
The best of the Revesby Boys (Ken 'Kenmore' Mahoney, Jeff 'Foxy' Fox, Sid Thoroughgood, and younger brother 'Frank' Buchanan), Stephen was a hot goofy footer whose style was heavily influenced by Wayne Lynch and Lou Reed. Dominant surfer 1976 Bombie sessions. Boards mostly Woody Surfboards and Wave Creation Surfboards. Winner of Inaugural Vic Zealand Memorial 1980. First Club Champion 1981.  Foundation member.

Mark 'Darky' Leathart
1957 -1986
Darky was a good humored guy  for who the next big thing was just around the next corner. Always was borrowing boards and wetsuits -and never even had his own towel! Liked to think he was Gerry Lopez and would often drop into a wave acting like everything was in control, which wasn't that often. Goofy foot.

Graham 'Beaver' Beaver
1956 - 1992
Always bouncing and smiling, Beaver's surfing was much like his personality - lots of small sharp turns and flashy moves. Goofy foot.

Bob 'Gumo' Gumley
1956 -1997

Gumo was always full on - surfing, windsurfing, hangliding - he would have a go. A lack of surfing style was made up by heaps of ticker, especially if it was big. Natural footer. Foundation member.
Geoff 'Foxy' Fox

1958 - 2004

Goofy foot, a gentle friend to all.

Alan 'Bol' Bollard
1962 - 1999

A strong big guy with a solid approach to surfing, especially suited to solid waves. A natural footer who didn't wear shoes for about ten and a half years. Foundation member.

Tim Harvey
1968 - 1998

Goofy footer.
Paul 'Flackie' Flack

Heads' oldest full on surfer, Paul and wife Robyn have constantly been models of community commitment. A natural footer who turns up every weekend. Started 1962? Currently rides Bob Brown Surfboards, regular trips to Bali, father of  Jane and Gus. Foundation member.

Peter Zealand
Surfer, fisherman, skier, sailboarder, oyster farmer. Heads' first local born surfer. Competed Bells Beach contest 1971? Club Champion 1984.  Favorite spots: Wreckie, Callalah, Green Island and Chips. Savage backhand cutback. Foundation member.

Peter 'Hitchie' Hitchen
A goofy of considerable talent, Peter was the fountain president and worked tirelessly to develop the club. Club Champion 1983.  He was also the first local board maker :  Natural Flow Surfboards 1977 - 1985. Subsequently worked at Phantom Surfboards, Queensland. Foundation member.

Glen 'Joe-90' Elliot
Quietly spoken, Joe was the dominant Heads surfer 1981- 1984, winning  the Vic Zealand Contest in 1982 and 1983. Club Champion 1982. Natural footer.

Mark 'Jamo' Jameson
Winner Vic Zealand Contest 1981, first in Juniors 1980. Heads' second surfboard maker : Limited Edition Surfboards 1980-1985, Lime Lines Surfboards 1986-1990, moved to Queensland :Venom Surfboards 1991. Natural footer.

Local Manufacturers
*We are looking for examples of these boards, the older the better.
Please contact Geoff Cater if you have any information to add to Existing Board notes.
Extra! Extra! It has come to our attention that someone in the Heads has a very used and battered Rusty Surfboard - a Phaser design circa 1998, with five fins (standard thruster with two small rail fins), blue sray foil shape on deck - any  info?
Barry Taylor Surfboards,
1969 North Sreet Nowra,
1971 East Street Nowra
1975 Princes Highway South Nowra NSW
Barry Taylor, Taylor Tubestick;
x Al Wilson, Terry Glass

Crooked River Surfboards
Gerroa NSW
1978 Bruce Hennessy
Existing Board :
Honey Surf Surfboards

Gerringong NSW
Existing Board : 1977 Single fin pintail - Mick Craze
Lime Lines Surfboards

Shoalhaven Heads NSW
1990 Mark Jameson
Existing Board :
Limited Edition Surfboards
Shoalhaven Heads NSW
1986 Mark Jameson
Existing Board :
Shoalmagh Surfboards

Armitage's Boat Shed, River Road Shoalhaven Heads
Late 1969 - about a dozen boards.
M-Tony Matthew, A- Michael Armitage, G- Bob Gumley, H- Peter Hitchen
"first board shaped with a saw and sissors" - Tony Matthew
-thanks to Nigel Coleman/Tony Matthew
Natural Flow Surfboards
Rear of xx Bolt Street,Shoalhaven Heads NSW
1977 Peter Hitchen and Nigel Coleman
Existing Boards :1978 Double flyer pin with fin box - Geoff Cater, 1980 rounded pin flyer with spray - Nigel Coleman
-thanks to Nigel Coleman
# 86 Natural Flow 1976

Wave Creations Surfboards
1972 Old Bakery Berry NSW
1974 Queen Street Berry
1989 Werri Beach NSW
 Paul Robinson.
Existing Board :

Woody Surfboards
Nowra NSW
1972: Geoff Woodham,
1977 Richard Futcher
Existing Board :
Al Wilson Surfboards

1989 Huskisson NSW
Existing Board :
Christie Surfboards
1975 South Nowra
1978 John Bull Centre, Bomaderry
Al Wilson
Existing Board : Twin fin II with fin boxes - Paul Flack.

Excepts from Christine Talbot: Snapshots of a Village : An Illustrated History of Shoalhaven Heads.

Page 81


In late 1969, a group of local lads used Armitage's boatshed in River Road as a venue to build surfboards.
They formed SHOALMAGH surfboard group, - the "MAGH" being initials of the surnames of the group members - Tony Mathew, Michael Armitage, Greg Gardiner (a Bomaderry lad) and Peter Hitchen.

According to Tony Mathew, "their first board was shaped with a saw amd  scissors."
It cost $2 as all the materials were 'seconds' that were sourced from a supplier called Dion in Sydney.
In all they made 20 to 30 boards.

Some of the early boards were based on discarded boards were cut down and re-shaped.
Peter Hitchen and Nigel Coleman went on to make surfboards in the old cottage at the rear of 35 Bolt Street
from 1977 to 1985 under the name of Natural Flow surfboards.


Club history states that,
"Following the death of local identity Vic Zealand, the Shoalhaven Heads boardriders held a memorial surfing contest in 1980.
The success of the contest led to the formation of the Heads Boardriders Club in March 1981 with Peter Hitchen as President.
Over the next five years, the Club held competitions, social and fund-raising events and the annual Vic Zealand Contest.

Members worked with environmental groups on environmental issues, particularly the river entrance.
They planted
ten Norfolk Island Pine trees in the Charlie Gumley Reserve behind the Surf Club in 1981 and some of these remain.
In 1991 the Tim Harvey memorial contest revived interest in the Club and it was reconstituted with Mick Morgan as President."

Page 207


Information and photos courtesy of their son, Michael Armitage.

The boatshed for Jerry Bailey Reserve was originally situated on River Road about where ie pontoon is now.
In 1955,at the time when the uildings were being moved off the Reserve, the boatshed was moved a few hundred metres up River Road to where there is a clearing with Coral trees now, just before the hill in River Road.
This position was at the very edge of the Crown Reserve

The boatshed was run by Mr Buckley at this time.

About 1966, Ian and Marj Armitage bought the boat shed from Mr Hills, taking over the Crown Lease on it.
The boatshed was a large building clad with 8 inch rough-sawn weatherboards, painted a beige colour with a heritage red trim.

The boat-hire business was run from the river end of the building where the Armitages rented out putt-putt boats and four canoes.
The canoes were constructed from marine ply and home-made in the boatshed.
Holidaymakers could rent a boat for $2 an hour with $1 deposit; canoes were only 50c per hour.
The hire boats were moored at the mooring posts at the back of the boatshed where the water was very deep.
There were also ten rowboats for hire - some quite large with three sets of oars - and six motor launches.
Tinnies with outboard motors gradually replaced the wooden putt-putts.

The boatshed was on a Crown Lease and for this lease to continue, the boat hiring business had to continue.
For various reasons it became increasingly difficult to keep going.
The wooden boats required a lot of servicing to maintain them in good order and the Inspectors from the Maritime Services Board would condemn any boats that had rot or worm damage to the timbers. As well as this, there was a problem with vandalism - boats
being torched on the riverbank, oars being pulled
for firewood etc.
Also holidaymakers were beginning to bring their own boats, and so the boat hiring business was winding down.
The living quarters of the boatshed, essentially a one bedroom flat, was rented out to an old couple - a mother and son - for $7 a week.
They had an area of lawn and a vegetable garden, bounded by a picket fence.

About 1969, with the flat empty and the boat hiring business ceased, Marj had the idea of turning the

Snapshots of a Village :
An Illustrated History of Shoalhaven Heads, once Jerry Bailey.

Compiled & researched by Christine Talbot.
Published by Christine Talbot, Coolangatta, NSW, September 2018.


Page 181

Lydia and Vic Zealand with Paddle-boards,
18 Hay Avenue, circa 1960.


Page 208

boatshed into a place for teenagers to gather and listen to music - a 'disco' for want of a better term.
(The South Coast Register newspaper on 7th Jan 1970 p.8 called it an "amusement parlour.")
In 1970, Ian Armitage applied for a refreshment room licence and a 40 year tenure on the property by special lease.
Council agreed to grant the licence provided that some small structural alterations were carried out and any noise was kept to a minimum.

Councillor Bruce Mcintosh had observed the premises for himself and considered it well conducted and was doing a good job of entertaining the young people.
There was nothing like it at Shoalhaven Heads or even in Nowra.
It was very popular with the young folk.
There was no charge to attend and Marj hoped to make money by selling food and drinks.
She sold hamburgers which she cooked in her Sunbeam electric frypan - before this, pies were the standard take-away food.
There was a drinks fridge stocked with Coke and Parkinson's soft drinks (from Nowra Bottling Co).
There was no alcohol allowed and no smoking.
Ian was a man of big stature and the young people respected him - rules were strictly enforced and any bad behavior earned 'a cuff round the ears' from Ian.

The teenagers listened to music on the jukebox, or played the pinball machines.
Records of the top musical hits were played, including Hey Jude and Obladi oblada, which were popular at the time.
Ian allowed the teenagers to cover the walls with artwork, and supplied the paint.
Locals such as Rob Miller and Vicki Mathew painted the inside walls in psychedelic colours with images of Jimi Hendrix and surfing scenes featuring waves and surfboards.

Old fishing nets were strung across the ceiling and coloured lights completed the decorations
Unfathomably, the floor was covered with a thick layer of sawdust.

When the old couple left the flat, it was rented out to some young lads who used the premises to make surfboards in late 1969.
On the weekends, the 'disco' drew large crowds of teenagers, from the local area and further afield.
There were complaints about the noise.
Despite there being no near neighbours who could be disturbed, complaints to Council caused the closure of the 'disco', which was a great disappointment to Ian and Marj Armitage.
Added to that, council condemned the building, deeming it dilapidated and in disrepair and recommended its removal as it was no longer being used as a boat-hiring business.

The building had to be removed.
The railway tracks that the boats were launched from were pulled up, the big workshop underneath was cleared of motors and parts etc.
The Vinkos and Blaxland putt-putt motors were sold off.
Ian, with help from family, dismantled the building
The boatshed that dated from the early years of Shoalhaven Heads was gone without a trace.

Ian Armitage passed away on 10 April 2017 in Queensland| aged 87 years.

Page 207

Page 208

home calendar history results photos links