Just watching the vid on Phil Jarratt reminiscing about Bobby Brown and Kevin Parkinson brought back a lot of grommet hood memories for me. Who was your local legend and why?
Joe Engel. north End boardriders senior member, was in awe of the way he surfed. RIP.
I have a few, Scott yeilland good on the sponge and ripped on a standup, Terapai Richmond, Matt Percy, Wingnut, all alive and still charging.
Awesome topic. Gawd. Where do I start?
South Oz is unusual in this regard as everyone traveled/s a lot more for waves compared to surfers from other states. So you'd see the same faces on the Mid, down at Victor, up on the metro beachies during stormies, over at Yorkes and the West Coast and down in the South East. So the legendary status of many surfers trancended their 'local' and often had statewide notoriety.
So many incredible surfers though.. I don't know if I could list 'em all without leaving off some really important names. And there were different types of legends too.. some ripped, some charged, others were pioneers in disovering new, out of the way breaks.
Yes, a great topic. For me it was just the start of the club and it turned out to be innovative, pioneering, quality surfers and the start of the surfing era - the sixties for me was the start. But there were many such clubs that spawned up and down the coast again with notary surfers and characters, They set the seed of what was to follow. Phil is putting this all to paper. Just hope he does not exclude the political incorrect feats, actions, style these blokes did.
I had a local guy who's name I never knew...he was just known as "Bluey". He lived across the road from the local spot in an old beat down fibro with a random assortment of ever changing characters and a blue heeler. He had a red beard and wildish red locks. He was always in the water without fail, any swell and conditions, he never seemed to be hustling off to work or in any sort of hurry. There were an assortment of local groups either ends of the beach, both with some very talented surfers and the power of being in numbers. But no one EVER hassled Bluey. He couldn't be out paddled, out positioned anyway...he just had that inate water sense and an imposing almost dark energy around him. He never said much, spoke only in short, low tones to those in his closest circle. In short, he was THE man. As groms we stayed well out of his way, a sense of nervousness always crept over me as he caught a wave near me and I panicked at the thought of getting in his way. When it was big and stormy he was often the only one out. The hot sponsored surfers seemed to be stuck to their patch of beach, seeking the security of their mates, trying to be cool but down deep knowing they should be out there, but wouldn't.
Bluey even graced the cover of the old Line Up magazine, a grainy poorly lit image of him driving casually across a huge 10ft wall closing out the beach. When I was about 14 I was surfing a perfect little Easter time east swell...3-4ft...light offshore...A frames everywhere. I stroked into a perfect one, perfect timing, made the drop, and struggled to turn up under the lip, I can still 30+ years later feel the pressure in my toes, I was hanging on for dear life, and then I was just standing there, barrelled for the first time ever. No head dip, no pull in closeout, a proper barrel, actually seeing the curl of the wave out in front of you for the first time ever, time standing still, the moment not even conscious yet. And then coming out before I could think, before I could blow it, flying out onto the open face...and there he was...Bluey...looking straight at me. I flick off the wave near him, he stares at me with a half smile, and in a deep gravelly voice says "Nice tube grom". Well my pre-pubescent grom world just exploded all around me...the raw stoke of my first barrel and I did it right in front of my hero who complimented me. Before I could compose myself I just blurted out in the highest pitch squeaky voice "Yeah it was my first one!" Bluey just chuckled and paddled off. I would berate myself endlessly when recalling the experience for not deepening my voice, acting calm and saying something cool. Months later, into winter, a large SE storm swell was brewing, I was just starting to transition into liking bigger waves a little. On the morning of the swell I rode my pushie down super early in excitement, as I pulled into the beach the shadow of Bluey with his gun blew by in the dark. He walked way up the beach, timed his jump into a big rip and paddled strongly out into the waves you could hardly even see. Over the next hour or so, the light filled in, nervous surfers gathered as the reality of the swell set in. It was big. Real big. Breaking way further out than usual and again Bluey was the lone figure. A small band of surfers from both local groups formed, for once setting aside their rivalries and decided to test the waters. I had for some reason decided to tag along. As they formed at the waters edge I was told to head back in, "It's too big grom", "Today's not the day grom". I paused and watched them jump in and paddle. I ran further up the beach to where Bluey paddled out, waited for what appeared to be a gap and went for it. The apparent energy in the water was tangible. This was a different day. The rip poured out to sea through a maelstrom of chop and disorder. I was alone, very scared and being pulled relentlessly into the biggest surf I had ever seen. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the rest of the surfers getting blasted back to shore and I was feeling completely lost and terrified. The swell had abated and somehow I had been pushed out through the rip into the line up without even a serious duck dive. I sat there in this massive open line up, in part awe, part shock and absolute total fear, just me, the ocean and.....and Bluey, there he was, calm, powerful, composed, striking into the current towards the horizon. He sees me, and does a double take, "Grom! What the hell are you doing out here!", "How'd you get out here!?" I can't speak, just sit there mute. He shakes his head and paddles off, turns on the next set, and goes. I'm alone. I've never felt more alone. EVER. I don't know how long I sit there, then I'm just paddling for the horizon, over so many waves I can't count, then it seems to back off a little, a wave that looks more of a peak appears, I pause to turn and go but freeze. Then a loud growl pierces the air, "Go Grom, this one!" All of a sudden the arms move, the feet kick, the swell approaches, I try to find the best entry point, I paddle so hard, go to take off, and my tiny teenage body betrays me, not strong enough, not fast enough, and I free fall into oblivion. I get thrashed beyond belief, I'm sure I'll drown, I don't even think about survival, I'm dead for sure. Then I pop up, suddenly, and there's Bluey beside me, "You alright Grom?" I still don't speak, I'm still mute. We're washed in now towards the shore, next thing we're riding the white wash in side by side now. We hit the beach, walk back up to the car park past every surfer I grew up with, and as Bluey continues on to his house he says, "Well done grom" and slaps me on the back. Not long after that, he was gone, moved out by the owner and the house bulldozed.
Bluey, I never knew your name, spoke barely a few words, but your forever a part of my life as a surfer.
For me it was and still is The Big "A"for his surfing early on to his friendship now who I'am proud I can call a great mate.Shane Ellis and Fox such good surfers ...shit now I know why you didn't mention any names Ben haha
Ha! I had pretty much the entire Power Plug team in my initial post, but then realised I was gonna leave out heaps of people so I deleted it and started again. So many other crew around the state though. But yeah if one person rises above 'em all, it's gotta be Andy Inkster.
epic story Crg.
For me its a toss up between Johnny Batcheldor and Chris Brock,both humble legends and pretty sure saltwater flows /flowed thru there veins ......RIP Batchy.
My mate Bobby did a cutback straight into Dane Kealoha, who was at Burleigh for the Stubbies. Bob was elevated to legend status after talking it out with Dane and shaking his hand. We were 15.
Some of the Main Beach crew (Vince, Hilly etc) were inspiring to us grommets. Manga Barry was in my high school a year younger, blitzed us all in the school comps. Then there was Rabbit, Thornton Fallender and a bunch of other surfers down the southern end of the Goldy. Dane King up at Chateau, too many to remember.
That is indeed a great story CRG. Almost brought a tear to this jaded eye.
And can only concur FVG & Ben. Andy Inkster looms large in & out of the water. A good egg.
He also shaped my first custom board as a youngster and many subsequent others. As did Shane Ellis. Still one of the best surfers I've seen to this day. Another good egg.
And then there's Fox Broadbent! When I was a grom and paddling out in the Bay, and Foxy was out, ripping, sheesh, you had to watch yourself. Check and respect. His 360s around, under, and over unfortunate 'interlopers' were a sight to see and learn from.
I also concur that once you start regarding SA, man, what a list! A lot of guys maybe other states wouldn't have heard much about, if anything at all.
Any of you SA boys remember Syd Wilmott ??
He could carve a few good turns.
Owned a couple of twinnies and four fin boards he shaped back in the early eighties.
Syd's long gone but Mark Benson makes boards under his "Mr Damage" label.
I don't know if i would call them legends but iconic decent surfers.
This would embarrass him if he read it as a real humble guy that doesn't really like the spotlight shown on him but down the Island.
Vaughn Platt lived behind our holiday house when i was young, he is a few years older than me, i remember him and his mates when they were grommets and they were the first surfers i can remember seeing, as a real young kid i remember one time sneaking off walking over the dunes from our place and seeing him and his mates surfing it was the first time i really noticed surfing.
Then when i did start surfing i remember seeing him out a Woolamai all the time and always see him on the best bank and one of the best surfers out, haven't seen him about for a while, but still one of the best surfers in the water.
Gremie is also like an icon of surfing down here and probably surfed Woolamai more than anyone, also has one of the best backhands you will ever see, and a bit of a crowd enforcer.
When i lived in Tassie Christian Bradley was the best surfer in the group i hung with, and now a world renown shaper.
Syd's long gone as in left the south coast or no longer with us??
I left SA in '91 and haven't been down the south coast since but have fond memories of some great days and plenty of average days down there.
Long gone from these parts Syd, glad you're still well and truly alive.
And Syd shaped Wild Catz. Was a pioneer windsurf shaper too.
Got my first new boards out of his shop in Port Elliot in the early - mid 80s.
As well as Shane Ellis Surfboards and Andy's Power-Plugs before the classic factory and his own shop.
He bailed to Queensland and worked in the industry there I believe.
Anyone got any further info?
In S.A. in the 70's Seaford was the center of the surfing universe. There was a core group of about 25 "Heads" as we lowly eggs called them, all heroes in their own right with such individual styles and class acts . Who could forget young Gerry Wedd swooping into turns on every bomb set that came through, or Noddys flawless top to bottom backhand attack, Mick Higgins busy MP inspired act, Kym Thompson in the carpark in 2-tone jumbo cord flares blonde hair down to his arse flicking his yo yo around. Ali Boot powering on a tiny board, Greg Frost roundhouse cutback king telling kooks to fuck off to Moana and smashing their boards on the rocks. Jack Howarth , Ray and spider Palmer, Weasel, Mick Dowe, Big A, Punk,
Arab, Wayne and Barry Dale, Kent McDonald, Rob Buckingham. They were the days.
Starker was at least a decade older than me.
My first memory of him was watching from the shoulder as he pulled off the first aerial I'd ever seen in real life. Now that I think of it , I'd only seen a couple in movies till then. By far the best surfer I'd ever seen , not a wave was caught by him that the rest of the beach didn't take full notice of.
He'd disappear and reappear with stories that would trickle down the food chain till they reached the ears of us slobbering grommets.
A favourite was the time he'd gone to the North shore of Oahu and was surfing amongst the many reefs that dot its famed 7 miles. He wasn't sure which wave was which , but he was getting some sick ones. He asked one of the locals which wave was Pipeline and the fella grinned back and told him - " You were just in it , brah ."
Starker was built like a true surfer. Broad shoulders , wiry muscle and not a single ounce of fat. The draw of his charisma wasn't limited to adoring grommets. One time I was sitting on my mates verandah watching the waves with his mum and his sister and Starker was getting changed into his wettie next to his car .
Out of nowhere my mates mum , an otherwise formal and respectable woman , states in a husky tone whilst fixing Starker with a look that could only be described as hungry -" You know , if I was going to run away with any man in the middle of the night , it'd be him."
Starker died of a smack overdose at the age of 27.
Parko came outa retirement in the mid 70's and started surfing with us groms early in the mornings at our slice of heaven, he was such an inspiration, he had transformed from longboard stylemaster to an incognito twin fin ripper who fitted into our scene with a real cool presence, got to know us ,made us boards and left me with some of my best memories.
Thanks FR & TT for the kind words, glad you enjoyed.
Thanks everyone else for your stories, some special memories for you all by the sounds of it.
Just goes a little way to show how special surfing is to all of us and how lucky we all are.
Some bloke called Wolfman. At Pink Rocks.1984.
It was about that time or not long after that Evan Jones was obliterating the Rocks. He was a master in that line up, Mick Mackie had nothing on him out there.
Late 60's Merewether Beach, Jimmy McGuinness on a balsa shortboard
Saved me from a grommet bashing once when a few mates threw some crackers into the older crew's shed. We worked for the same newsagent on afternoon paper runs.
Has been Nat's farm manager near Grafton since the 70's
Growing up in Brisbane in the 80s didn’t lend itself to having many local heroes or inspire much grommet awe, unless you count Dennis the Drinker and Percy the Paedophile down the park as role models. A move to the Sunshine Coast in the late naughties and I quickly discovered who were the keen and competent at the Point and better beach breaks, performing well above the level of surfers who had lived and surfed there their whole lives. One of these blokes was Kurt. Although I didn’t see him in the surf as much as most, each time I saw him he seemed to stand out. From 2 foot wind-affected beachies to 6 foot double-up swells at the Point, Kurt would be out there letting his surfing dominate, often laughing and joking with his friends in between sets (I rarely saw him surfing alone). After recognising me from a handful of surfs, he introduced himself and asked about me.
“I’ve just moved here from Brisbane” I said sheepishly, and waited with a cringe for the expected diatribe about blow-ins and their incompetency that comes from some life-long locals.
“You’ve made the right choice” was what he said, or something along those lines.
Over the next 2 years I saw Kurt fairly often, mostly when the Point was breaking. I even had a first-round heat against him in a local boardriders comp which he won and I ended up coming (a very convincing) 4th. At the Point he would give me tips about conditions, take-off spots and wave selection, even throwing me the occasional set wave. But I learnt as much from watching the subtleties of his positioning and technique each time he surfed that I tried to emulate on the days he wasn’t around.
One day the Point was breaking heavily but “wasn’t really doing it” (it rarely ever did) and I took a grower inside the pack. My grower grew as it hit the ledge and I was projected out and down awkwardly, headfirst towards the shallow rock platform. I hit the water and somehow avoided hitting the bottom with my head, saved by a line of backwash whose forerunner had bucked me from my board. When I popped up in knee-deep water on the ledge, Kurt had paddled towards me to see if I was ok after seeing my wave while paddling back out. Still a bit stunned, he warned me of the approaching wall of whitewater from the next set wave which both of us had to duckdive. He waited until we were both in deeper water to tell me (while laughing) how terrible that had looked, hence why he had paddled over to see if I was ok. He resumed his position on the outside of the pack, waiting in line for his next wave.
After a couple of good years work sucked me back to Big Smoke and my wanderings north became more infrequent. On the odd occasion I got to the Point when it was breaking it would be full of new faces with various abilities and etiquettes. One Sunday the Point was breaking okay following an incredible swell at a nearby sand bar the day before. Kurt and his mate were out discussing yesterday’s session while waiting for the decaying sets. I sat inside them, close enough to hear the stories but not sure whether I would be recognised.
“G’day Andrew, haven’t seen you in a while mate. Where’ve you been surfing?” Kurt asked when he spotted me while his mate paddled for another wave, hooting ironically as he took off on yet another large but gutless wave.
“I haven’t been surfing much at all. Had to move back to Brisbane.”
“Ahh that sucks. Sorry to hear it mate. But you should get a few today – the tide is dropping and it’s definitely get better…”
The news was on a couple of Sundays ago and the lead story was about two mates who had died when their Monaro crashed into the wall at high speed after a race. Reports say the throttle jammed and the car accelerated though the finish line and into the end wall. The driver tried to turn to avoid the wall but the car had slammed into the wall side on, killing both occupants instantly. A picture of one of the men on the beach holding his two young daughters appeared and I screamed in shock as my heart sank. I was devastated. It was Kurt. My partner comforted me with a concerned but puzzled look wondering why I had reacted that way. “How do you know him?” she asked eventually. All I could muster was a limp “I used to see him in the surf”.
Kurt was the third person I had met through surfing that had passed on far too young. I felt like a fraud for mourning his loss knowing that his family and close friends would be hurting much more than I could ever be. I learned so much about him after his death that I never knew from our surfs together. He had a young family, a successful business and a love for fast cars. Especially that yellow Monaro.
I can’t stop thinking about his daughters and their immeasurable loss.
I missed his memorial and paddle-out because I was at home looking after my son. Seeing the impact of his loss on his friends I don’t think I could’ve handled it anyway. Hundreds did. The sun was out and a new east swell filled in for the occasion.
I was pretty much in awe of most of the local crew when I was a grommet. They all seemed so hardcore, turns out most of them are, sadly better know for their out of water exploits mostly.
Two stand out though, my 'nemesis' (who I much much later found out was called Eddie). He was a much better surfer than me, a year or two older and much bigger, but we always seemed to be in the water at the same time and wanting the same wave. It wasn't much of a rivalry, he could surf circles 'round me, and almost always got the wave. I still remember the death stares (from both sides) and the positional hustling and psyche outs. I simultaneously hated and worshiped that bloke. Taught me a lot about standing your ground though. And any wave got off him, there were a few, were ever so much sweeter.
The second wasn't really a local at my local but surfed there a lot. I remember staring in grommet slack-jawed awe at one of his cutbacks when one of the crew noticed and laughed. 'Don't get too close boy, the spray offa those cutties'll leave bruises'. If you've ever seen a full blown Richard Cram cutback you'd struggle to argue. I always dreamed of being able to crank a cutback like him ... well, a man's gotta have a dream.
Wow Andrew, amazing post but also truly sad. Fraud, not at all, you had a connection and no matter how small it was Kurt made an impact. Thanks for sharing.
Amazing story Andrew. At least on one hand you got to spend some moments with & appreciate Kurt on a meaningful level (to you).
On a lighter note, crg, your story was very vivid & an enjoyable read. Cheers.
I spent a few years living and working in Yamba, was about the time I was progressing my skills to about intermediate level. One day some big lines were rolling in on a fast break called spookies and a local Guy I had become friends with came and grabbed me early and took me down. He shoved a semi gun in my hand and told me to paddle out after him. I still remember the take off and feeling the drive under my feet, quite memorable. Also being caught inside and having my first decent hold down, also quite memorable. His face and precence reminds me of these experiences, though to him was probably just another day out at sea..
The Winton Brothers...Norah Head..Just enjoyed watching them surf.
growing up on the mid in the 70's was special. Gerry Wedd in his pink wetsuit absolutely ripping along with all the other "heads" that old dog mentioned. Later moving west i loved surfing with Mick riding his Sky twines coming so hard off the bottom, still the keenest surfer i have ever met.
is this a trick question, not sure i'll ever grow up!
Rabbit, the harris Bros, Mp was on the fade but still a legend. Guy Omerod, joe engel, too many to name.
MR ... set the benchmark for me , a hellman and a gentleman.
undie man, bogey , ET, Balls Mckinley, grums, to name a few.
Balls mckinley stands out though. I hadnt been surfing long and we got a freakish cyclone north swell , long period, pulsing 6ft with 8ft sets. Freddy frog took me down the coast and I was packing turds in my gruts thick and fast. He skinned up some of his famous orange roughy and we got real baked before paddling out. I was way out of my league and barely keeping my shit together when I saw a macking set approaching, Way out the back on the outside peak was balls mackinley , casually paddling into a bomb, he slides sideways down the face ,fins disengaged until they bite, he grabs a rail a rail and pigdogs into the most perfect barrell I had ever seen. He gets hammered and I think to my self, fuck that was off chops and what the fuck am i doing out here, how do I get back in without getting pasted all over those boulders. Havnt had a north swell like it since, that was 95. Rare as fuckin hens teeth and rocking horse shit.
my old man! & the old bastard still rips. bloody makin me go out as a grom, double over heavy, shakin in me suit. "cmon boy, I'll keep an eye on ya". several snapped leg ropes, over the years, " go & grab another one from the car, boy".
There have been many ...
ABDAMAN (Ab, da man) / Acid Al / Adge / Ahab / Animal / Ant /Asthma / BABBA / Bean / Bhudda /Bikehead (wears glasses) / Billy Bullshit / Blister (only shows up when the hard work’s been done)Bluey / Bobalouie / Bombie / Bonzer / Boof / Boofhead / Bobangar Bob / Boomer / Boy Wonder / Box / Bozo/ Brew / Bruce Willis / Bud / Buddy / Bugs / Bumper / Bush Ted / Buster / Buttons / CALYPSO / Chalky / Chappy / Chez / Chewy / Choko / Chops / Chook / Chuck a Luck / Chunk / Claw / Clubbie / Collnarra / Compo / Crackers/ Crimso / Croaky/ DAPPER / Da Cat/ Dark Bones/ Deadly / Doc / Dog / Doink (fell from the womb onto concrete) / Dooma / Dutchy/ FANGA (big on the tooth) / FBI (fkn big idiot) / FISH / Fishtank / Fluff / Foggy (last name Hayes) / Fox / Frenchie / Froggy / Furburger / Fucknuckle / Fugly (fucken ugly) / G’DAY / Geezer / Gerber / Gidget (the Manly one) / GI Joe / Giveashit (couldn’t) / Globite (bloke’s a case) / Gobbo / Gopher / Gofer / Grouse / Grub / Gutter Rat / Gutzer / HAPPY / Hangten / Harry Hungry Hair/ Harry the Hat / Havachat / Hawk / Head / Headcase/ Hippy / Hoppy / Horny / Hugh Jarse /IPOD (always in your ear)/ Inside Bill / JUMBO / Jughead / KANGA / Kero Lantern (he’s a little dim) / Kong / Larpa (he’s from La Perouse / LARRY (the lip launcher) /Laz / Little Dooley /Loose Leaf /Lovedog /Rene%20Magritte
MAD John / Maggot / Magoo /Marino /Marsupial / Marylin (he so pretty) / Midget / Mister X / Monk / Moose / Mousey / Mr Wolf /MudGuts / Munga / Muscles / NAPPER / Ned (last name Kelly) / Nightlight (he’s as dim as Kero lantern) / Nipper/ Noidsy (bloke’s paranoid) / Noodles / Not Very (last name Bright)/ Nude Nut / Nugget / One-legged Jack / OPIUM (slow working dope) / Oroton Bob / Oscar / Ox Head / PANCHO / Pasqual / Penguin (real name Ben Gwynne) / Pete the Pom / Phantom /Pickles / Plank (as thick as) / Popout / Pommie Pete/ Ponch / Pottz / Prince Valiant / Punk /Puppydog /Pygmy /RABBIT / Ratso / Ravesy / Rartz /Red Dog (the dickhead)/ Richo / Rick the Rooter / Risky / Roger the Rooter / Roger the Dodger / Rotten / Roughnut / Roy / SAMSONITE (a hard case) / Saxon / Schvartz /Scruff / Seadog / Seppo / Sharky / Shep /Silvertooth / Sid (a bit vicious / Slab /Smiley / Smooth Pierre / Snowy / Specks/ Speedbump /Spike / Spot / Spotter / Sput / Squirrel / Sticky Rooter (real name Ricky Stewart) / Sticks/ Stitch / Stumpy / Surfshop / T Shirt/ TANK / Taubmans / Tex /The Animal / The Flashing Crimson Wizard / The Biscuit / The Big Stomper (sorry Max. I know she’s the Missus) /The Body / The Boy Bastard /The Bull / The Canadian Kook / The Carny Kid / The Crust / The Duke / The Fish / The Floater (he’s shit in the water) / The Ghost who Walks / The Goat / The Good Doctor / The Throwback (Ben Campbell .. BC) / The Jolly Green Giant / The Little Man on Wheels / The Mexican / The Missile / MX (the missile again) / The Pope (always goes right) / The Professor (clif) / The Ripple Rider (Brian Morris) / The Rodge / The Silent Partner / The White Russian / Tin Head / Toad / Tonguer/ TowTruck (heading for a breakdown) / Tubesteak / Tunga / UNCLE / Ugh /WALLY the Walker / Watego’s Wendy / Wavey Davey /Wheels / Whitey / Wingnut / Wombat (eats roots and leaves) / YANCY / Yob / Yogi / ZOOB / Zoomer / Zulu /
brett hodges, alby ross, sam watts, china, occachupo, rabs, red (this guy shrouped).
guy and will add pinda (kneelo on boog) was an upstart of a new generation, 11th ave crew. There was a coupla older chargers, one was called trev from memory, had a mate called radical. Trev appeared more straight laced, lol.
Frost bros styled as with richo and his mate jason.
There was a knobbly on like a spoon looking board that charged big bp.
Without restricting to stand up, but they stick in the memory bank here.
palmy - border.
you must surf the northern suburb's, eh... of coarse ya do. shit the old bearded clam reckon's i'm as stoned as ten Bob Marley's. for God's sake. Bakers street, with the dozen.