Dick Hoole on when Burleigh was the centre of the surfing universe

Solua Middleton
Swellnet Dispatch

Burleigh Heads on Queensland's Gold Coast was where the 'real men' surfed during the '70s and '80s, and photographer and filmmaker Dick Hoole was there with camera in hand to capture it.

Now living in Byron Bay, there was a time when Hoole called the Gold Coast home while living the nomadic surfing lifestyle.

Dick Hoole. (ABC Gold Coast: Solua Middleton)

"In 1975, Burleigh was the main arena," Hoole said. "Just like Hawaii had Sunset Beach and later Pipeline — on the Gold Coast, Burleigh was the arena. Burleigh was the centre of our surfing universe since and still is."

''There was no superbank. If someone said 'I'm going down to surf Snapper Rocks', you'd probably say 'okay, when you develop your ability and you get good enough to come out here and surf with the real men at the Burleigh'.

"We knew where the quality waves were."

Crowds on Burleigh hill for the Stubbies Pro (Photo: Dick Hoole)

Media demand for surfing

To find the best surfers of the era, Hoole followed them to the competitions. Before there was the Quiksilver Pro or even the Billabong Pro there was the Stubbies at Burleigh.

"In the beginning it was only the Coke contest in Sydney, and the Bells contest in Victoria," he said.

"The Stubbies event put the Gold Coast surfing on the map. It was the most spectacular performance and surfing was in demand by the media."

MP in his late-70s prime (Photo: Dick Hoole)

"It was like Young Talent Time, everyone was interested in surfing, it was like a surf movie a tribal gathering."

Hoole started his career as a surfboard shaper in Byron Bay where he moved to from Sydney in 1967 as a 17-year-old.

"I remembered how polluted the surfboard manufacturing industry was," he said. "I was doing the glassing and sanding and I remember the environment was so polluted and toxic that I swore to myself I didn't want to be still working in a surfboard factory when I was a senior citizen.

Dick Van Straalen and Burleigh's best, including Thorton Fallander, Peter Harris, and Joe Engel, outside Dick Van Straalen Surf Design in the 1970s (Photo Dick Hoole)

The pay wasn't much

While he worked in the shaping shop, the stories of Hawaiian trips made by his older co-workers inspired him to take the same path. He figured the only way people would believe he made it all the way to Hawaii was to start taking photos to show them he was really there.

"That's basically where my interest in photography happened," Hoole said.

Richie West at Burleigh (Photo Dick Hoole)

"One of the photos I took there was put on the cover of Surfing World — Tom Stone surfing Pipeline.

"Seeing your name in print and seeing your photos published, that was about as exciting and rewarding as it needed to be, because remember you didn't get paid much.

After bouncing around Honolulu for a while he met fellow photographer and filmmaker Jack McCoy and his career changed gears after the two connected.

Dick Hoole, at left, and Jack McCoy with the equipment they used to make Tubular Swells. (Supplied: Carmel Hunter)

Bringing surfing alive on screen

Hoole returned to Australia to make the Gold Coast his home and embark on a film-making career.

"Basically, without a script or the Indiana Jones formula, we decide we're going to make a film," he said. "There was no script and no budget. We bought the camera and we just started filming the surfing that we saw around us," he said.

"It was just the simplicity back in those days that made it so unique. It was purely to make a film that was shown in the theatre on the big screen and that's when it came alive."

After the success of In Search of Tubular Swells, Hoole and McCoy followed up with Storm Riders. (Supplied: Dick Hoole)

Hoole and McCoy made history when they made surfing film Tubular Swells. "Tubular Swells was the first feature film made in Queensland, it was more incidental because there was no film industry up there," Hoole said.

"All the processing and sound mixes were done in the facilities of Sydney, but the film was actually made in Mermaid Waters."

They followed Tubular Swells with Storm Riders, which starred MR, Rabbit Bartholomew, Gerry Lopez, Wayne Lynch and Tommy Carroll.

Hoole said he was glad of the opportunity to document surfing history "because after all, we were just living our surfing dream".

© Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


philosurphizingkerching's picture
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philosurphizing... commented Thursday, 25 Apr 2019 at 9:31am

Gee... Richie West sure looks a lot like Peter Drouyn.

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Giovanni commented Thursday, 25 Apr 2019 at 9:47am

Exactly what I was thinking...

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P'tai commented Thursday, 25 Apr 2019 at 10:38am

Peter Westerly Windy??????

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Optimist commented Thursday, 25 Apr 2019 at 3:57pm

Dick looks well in that photo, always enjoyed handing my money over to that friendly face at the door when going to see his great movies over many years and all over the east coast. He just seemed to pop up everywhere God bless him.

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Tarzan71 commented Friday, 26 Apr 2019 at 6:17am

Had Storm riders on VHS back in the day, inspirational as a grommet, would love to have another look at it
Does anyone know of digital sales ?

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stunet commented Friday, 26 Apr 2019 at 6:30am
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warddy commented Friday, 26 Apr 2019 at 7:42am

Burleighs a circus now , like the rest of the Goldie...
When it gets big the metal horses arrive ...

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pcrisp commented Friday, 26 Apr 2019 at 8:37am

it's now got the highest % of kooks

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truebluebasher commented Friday, 26 Apr 2019 at 5:28pm

tbb was Burley Paper Boy mid 70's & knew the Town better than any.
Only fair to paint the larger picture as to why Burleigh then & there & not elsewhere!

Brisbane Pac Hwy used to intersect GC Hwy @ Broady International > Pacific Fair
Surf Companies based at Northern Mermaid to capitalise on Briso visitors (in < > out)
Even The Beatles & Rolling Stones Bodybashed Broady.
Surfers hung out a Broady Beer Garden until late 70's...So what changed?

1976-85 Pacific Hwy interchanged at Burleigh Heads/ GC Hwy
Surfshops sprung up either side of Burleigh Hds.
All Sydney & Bne (East coast)travel was now via Burleigh Heads
Sydney hitch hikers pooled @ Tallebudgera Fitness Camp.
Brisbane Hitch hikers pooled @ Burleigh Drive -In
Pick up spots had space & headed off the Tabilban St short cut,ensuring a ride.
Night trippers (chix) rode up front with XXX truckerz @ Drive-In Perve Stop

1970 NSW(Tweed River) tick gates lost 1 hr south
> 1985 Lift Bridge lost an hour each way
So crossing the Tweed River meant a 1hr penalty for Brisos...> (Camp at B'Hds)
Tweed travellers Bne < [1] >B'hds seldom had a Jam South so could check BHds .

Playroom R&R HQ / Alt' Pubs (Miami) Start up bands (Iconic Stubbies do's)
Camp Grounds were hot beds packed with strangers passing in the night.
Rockpool Jumps South Or Natural Arch Jumps North all [huge] centred off Burleigh.
tbb's North Burleigh Boardriders coincidentally rode the exact same [1] H'wy wave.

So Yes! At this point of time Burleigh was East Coast Central / Junction as a fact.

Note: 'Kirra Surf' later positioned well near Hwys/Airport/South points Gateway.
Then the Bypass left them dry as it went south again so on & so on.

tbb & fellow Groms were first in late 70's Point line-up and last to class.
Featured Groms:
Sylvester (Tall skinny grom -grey shirt in Shop photo)
Dwayne Harris (Peter's younger brother -yellow shirt in Crowd Photo)

Ask any for same answer of '70's standouts- Joe Engel,Peter Harris,Guy Ormerod.
Joe because of his innovative full throttle power pocket moves...(like wow?)
Peter because he rode the deepest barrels & impossible lines
Guy because of his rad vert timing
...tbb is preaching to the converted here.

History billboards surfing's butch side by 1982...not just Burleigh Point.
That whole {M.R} thing killed off the cool vibe & ushered in 'Look at Me' divas.
No! Surfing never recovered...Selfies & Jock claims are now the only game in town.

Late 70's Grom's view: Tubular Swells & Storm Riders were Top 3 with Free Ride.
tbb recalls that Mermaid Beach (Home) Link...Love to hear more on that! Anyone?

Other Qld linked Surf Film
1974 Bob Evans -"Drouyn & Friends (premiere S 'Paradise Theatre' Aug 14/15)
Drouyn (Picture Records-Gold Coast phone Number) Anyone?

There were other films made on Gold Coast even one at Burleigh Heads...
GCB 5/6 March/1965 (Horror Flick) 'La Seance' was filmed at B'Heads
Brisbane film maker Anthony Thomas (Release 1966?)re:GCB 4 +26 March'66
UQFL 216 Box 1

Around the same time a UFO club started up by our neighbours up on The Point
Burleigh was & still is Oz UFO hotspot + Burley Bunyip still ruled the swamps then.

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Roadkill commented Friday, 26 Apr 2019 at 8:11pm

DVS shapes today still look similar to those in the photos. I have a Reef Runner and can see where the DNA came from.

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truebluebasher commented Thursday, 2 May 2019 at 2:07pm

History Repeats?
tbb also rode a similar DVS shape of time & place as Roadkill points to.

Major 1970's Surf products also aided Burleigh's influx of Hwy interchange surfers.
Surf Board Racks meant Brisos 'raced direct' to The Point.(Few to no Red Lights then)
Legropes meant No board retrieval so each set got more crowded with learners & all.
It's not the rocks that worry me...The Point was now as tame as a Boxing Day Sale.
Affordable light weight vests invited more winter crowds each year.

So could & would it all happen again. Yes! But locals aren't so welcoming this time!

The Light Rail (Timeshare Trolley)again feeds Briso Crowds to Broadbeach Concerts.
2021-2028 (approx) Light Rail is to interchange all E'Coast /Airport transit @ B'Hds.
2020 Pacific Hwy 6 lanes to B Hds...Yes! Like a blast from the past interchange era!

Free Surfboard travel on Trains (off peak +w/e) >Trams (All) >proposed to The Point.
Varsity Stn Bus is 20mins faster but H'vale Tram has (hands free) Surfboard Stands.
On board Light Rail promotes these new techno Briso surfers < >The Point.

Local Traffic
Light Rail shuts Locals Beach runs-access points & adds Paid [P] to The Point.
Major setback further shutting out local surfers into gridlock away from the beach.
Ratepayers lose access but also fork out for Brisos & Touros to crowd their break.
More Pop Up Pubs tiding more marine debris into the WSR.

Tram & also Bus Routes are ultra expensive real estate back to the Train Stations.
Mainwest Route has 20 Red Lights for Pushies soon only the idle rich will surf.

So yes for sure it's likely that Burleigh will have another bash at East Coast Title.
Locals only wish to return faster long promised intercity Airtrain link before the Tram.

(GCA< return >H'vale)*2038 Train-:50m *1903 Steam Era-2:40m *2028 Tram-3:20m
Between 2028-2038 (approx) Gold Coast will operate on pre Steam Era Time Table.
No joke! Translink replace faster Bus Network Maps with Tram Top 10 Maps.(full on!)

All fed & state leaders fund their Tram by starving our Train money for decades now!
B'Hds Tram Hub loses 1 Hour citywide. 'West Burleigh' Train Hub saves 1hr citywide.
Each complete Tram loop lag freezes $550,000 of spend from economy so why Tram?

100 Red lights slow travelator to roll out high density gold upzones of duties & rates.
Tram timetable can bankrupt the city so long as it coughs up for Govt cronies first.

[Beach Lockdown News]...
Since tbb wrote this review!(27th April) Developers have Muscled GCCC.
Claiming B'hds Pop Up bars show need for 24/7 Tidal Fenced Beach Bars.
Star Casino proposal for Spit + Restauranter bid for Broadbeach.
Locals sniff pay [P] + Paid Exclusive Beach Entry off the back of it.
I can assure crew that GC locals are fighting Beach Takeover! We must win!

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philosurphizing... commented Saturday, 27 Apr 2019 at 5:25pm

DVS shapes today still look similar to those in the photos. I have a Reef Runner and can see where the DNA came from.
Back in the days when the words 'Spear' and 'Semi-Spear' were commonly used to describe a surfboard shape.

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truebluebasher commented Saturday, 27 Apr 2019 at 10:48pm

Dick Hoole's photos capture turning points...the shop photo seems around 1977
The DVS board in Centre was bread & butter design that Richard Harvey also shaped.
A standard size was then 6'8"-6'10" & cost around $170-$200

Immediate years following this photo plenty other Surf Shops moved in nearby.
North to Miami (North Burleigh)was a Mixed Shop / scratch'n'dent.(A bit pricey)
1978 Hohensee (GC Pioneer)+Best 2nds range/price on GC across from Miami High.
Next Door to DVS was Hot Stuff (Billabong Boardies were just down the way).
1979 Hot Stuff (Bugs): 'had the best rails' re: Joel Single Fin Wins.
Burleigh GC Hwy Standard Mixed Store had 2nds/Hire/ Leggies /Wax/Wetties
1978 Tony Dempsey Tube line (Twin Fins) High performance.(Tony ripped at 'Point)
Palm Beach Currumbin- Geoff Darby etc...(tbb also thanks Veggie for boardz).
These shapers all knew or surfed together for 10 years or more by that time.

1983 Richard also put together an important Surfing book that we Qlders Salute.

Dick's other amazing Stubbie's Photo hides some weird facts.
1st) That people paid a good bob to attend the Stubbies.(Didn't deter the crowd?)
2nd) No leggies saw competitors rotate up thru crowd mid heat back down to cove.
Some still managed to win heats. Imagine the tears today! Skate Board up hill Tows.

*Extra Stuff that tempted or repelled visitors to Burleigh back in the day.

1970's Val & Bill's Burger Bar + Fishos opposite Goldie -Quality a/h Hangover pitstop.
1976 Burleigh Lefts was an actual thing.A serious storm water alcove.(Chunky inside)
1976 Hang Gliders off Burleigh/North Burleigh Heads also Rescue Chopper HQ
1976 Groms Skurfing in Talle Creek/Surfing under Talle Creek Bridge pre Groyne
1977-8 (Big Skate Ramps)
1978 Few realize that Groms had 2 fun parlours & 4 top rate milk bars for chiko rolls.
1978-9 Talle Groms wire up Burleigh Left Point after groyne...Genuine(Spot X)
1979 North Burleigh Boardrider's Chix start up own comps
1979 Playroom Book was released
1979/80 (Miami Hotel) Worms, Ratpack, Strand, Sigh of Relief, 7 Ballerinas.
1980 Alan's Record Bar (1st GC Indy music Shop) + Tolmies come on good as well.
1981/82 Social Cancer played their 1st & Last Punk Gigs @ West Burleigh.

tbb never had it better...ready to roll again if only to save the town.

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Spuddups commented Sunday, 28 Apr 2019 at 7:39am

I think Storm Riders had more of an affect on me than The Endless Summer back when I was a grom. The copy I had also had Kong's Island on it. I must have watched that vid 50 times.

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tworules commented Sunday, 28 Apr 2019 at 8:25am

I've heard the radio hits broadcast over the beach set the mood, a pie cart with a smoke stack, if you dare, and the Neilson bros, tbb?
7 Ballerinas, were they any good?
Am i right saying chisel played the playroom for the stubbies weekend ,each night that is

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truebluebasher commented Sunday, 28 Apr 2019 at 11:37pm

tworules... radio waves ruled most beaches until sound laws kicked in.
Back in the Hokey Pokey days the local surfers were fed up with the shit!
Buses,Utes,Mokes all pumped out sound +Patrol Towers > DJ booths over beaches.
Radio Station DJ's tossed down promo stickers & freebies to groms on beach.
Stubbies were not so different in the song department. (Blokey Banter overlode).

Pie Cart...Uncle Tom's Pies was another iconic '70's Surfer's Pit Stop at Mullumbimby.
I can't say if Pie Cart was theirs but I can say they'd be lost without it!
The Top Tucker Van (Photo) Sold mostly Dagwood Dogs / Chips / Cans of Drink
(Radioactive)Microwaves were still suss No quick reheating of pies > (Pie Cart!)
tbb can't recall so they must have been pretty darn pricey!

tworules I kept to local Surf Shops...as Dick says Burleigh 1970's could fill a book.
Luckily tbb was also the Surfer's Papergrom during mid '70's
Neilson Bros(Own boards)Centre Arcade Surfers Paradise +skate/mags/supplies.
2x Rent was exy so it stocked Chix gear,Bikinis,Boardies(Not a bad thing)
'70's Boardies KAS lasted the longest, Hot Tuna were Popular,Billabong OK summer.
Winter was Golden Breed Sloppy Joes & drawstring baggy long pants with Uggs
To be honest many local surfers were decked out in Neilson's half price rack gear.

Drouyn was up the beach end of Cavill Ave Mall next door to Charlies(Surfer's Hang)
Drouyn's shop was even smaller but near beach...Bikinis + One of everything in store.
Oddly had wide mix of aged boards...I think all the hire boards were for sale as well.
Charlie's Coffee shop was a meeting place for Surfers Beergarden Arvo Bands

Mermaid Surf Collective is probably oldest still running.(Needs a whole forum)
tbb recalls Adler ,San Juan right up to Nev but so so many shapers thru here.

tbb mentioned that Miami Hotel was The Stubbies Comp Pub for Pro Surfers.
Plenty of quality venues weren't gonna lie down to the Playroom...it was always on!
Ratpack & The Strand were house bands at Paradise Room & Miami.
Local Surfers hassled & booed local bands for denying them their boring covers.
Local Bands united to pen GC skegz as dumb shits into all lyric for evermore.

'Seven Ballerinas' New Wave Sound as in The Cure or Joy Division(Good Covers)
The song "Sometimes I feel" broke the GC mould for accessible Alt Radio airplay.
Flip > long regarded as AA side "Circles"
tworules asks if Seven Ballerinas were any good...This live clip impressed tbb.
Alone on a Bridge(live) Surfers Raceway...as in U2 festival quality.(Wish I was there!)

A lot of Seven Ballerina's songs lyric the 'Suicidal - Die Young' nature of the time.
Macarbely very danceable & the Chix loved it! ...tbb likes them more each listen.

'The Strand' @ Miami were the best live act...a classic cover to show their range...
'The Strand'@ Miami (Original Song) That 'Sunny Boys' later covered...

11th-12th-13th March 1983 Cold Chisel Played Playroom.
Stubbies was always early March because Bells is always Easter.
tworules was right and I think he always knew so...(No other 'Chisel dates match)

tbb Salutes Swellnet ,ABC,Dick Hoole in celebrating Burleigh & GC Surfing History.

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tworules commented Monday, 29 Apr 2019 at 8:17pm

tbb lotta good times there, thanks for the glimpse, when the times are right ya gunna miss'm when there gone. How lucky we've been to share waves and music
That paper boy were you just chuck'n em out the side window of the ute, or the 3 speed dragster good for a dog attack

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truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 30 Apr 2019 at 2:26am

'The Tele" [CITY FINAL] was final News each day (Better than TV news) Popular!
Cost 10c (Hard to milk aTip) So Paperboys needed to be slow handed with change.
Customers were generous with brownies (1c & 2c) so no complaints.
1974-75 Telegraph Paperboy Age 11-12 Straight from School to Newsagent.
Tied on Money Apron grabbed 20 under each arm & race to the Burleigh Pub sell half.
Often sell all across Main Intersection back to News agents Repeat for Goldie Pub.
Strictly not allowed to sell to car drivers but all hook & look the other way for 2 bob!

All shops needed their Daily Paper Boy greet..(About 5km walk around Burleigh)
Fishos give me free Potato Scallops + Goldie Barmaids my free crushed red drinks.
Yell..."Tele Sir!" or "Paper Mam!" 1000 x a day or until Papers ran down.
You could only start the Paper Round once you wore down the in- Store stack.
I reckon I'd sell 60 - 80 outside of Shop deliveries. Many Shops had orders not sale.
Running late you'd sneak in front of shop to unload them but get busted.(Not here!)

(Paper Selling $2.40/wk + Paper Round $2.80/wk)...Tips would Tally more on sales.
Best Burleigh paperboy tip ever ... Burleigh Pub had all The Galoots.
Pissed Bastard:"Hey Paperboy here's $5 for all your Papers + a lend of Money belt?"
I came back for Money Apron! (Bloke was prancin' as a paperboy after losing a bet).
tbb got near all papers & Apron back for 2 weeks pay.(Grandma made my Apron!)

Done, sort tips from sales. (Paper Round starts @ 4:30 you'd wish)
Out the back for a decent box then fourfold not roll News Papers.
You'll note that folk carried papers in folded fashion then, hence the delivery mode.

Burleigh Heads Paper Round was the largest on Gold Coast > 40 deliveries @15kms
tbb knew paperboys over years & towns and none go near 10kms...
Burleigh >North Burleigh return >The Point > Around NP on GC Hwy >Across Talle >
Down to PB Soccer Fields & (Training 1 x week)> Back across Talle > Koala Park >
Up Tabilban Hill to finish around Drive In Area & Home about half an hour after dark.

Papers bounced less on back rack & Low flat bars were best for longer sweep toss.
Best toss rocketed 3 floors up onto Ladies Tea Tray no drips. Thumbs Up-Cool!
Karma as lady was my best tipper... so was rewarded tbb's best toss!
You'd still lose 1 or 2 so ...no tip so No Paper Sorry 'bout that...in your dreams
You can't dupe same guy twice a week so you had to think hard. All rung up the boss!

tworules - Dogs everyday either jump at speed 'on you' or if slow will bite you & did!
No fences so Dogs had longer run-ups gaining speed for deadset aerial assaults.
You have some pretty epic stacks over handlebars with broken arms/wrists'n'all.
Yes! It was a race alright every night... Never Easy in the slightest all bare foot.
tbb breezed Age champ of 2 years older high school sports...all's well that ends well.

1976 tbb mentioned he Sold Papers in Surfers " Beer Garden was Gold Mine"
You see all those little tables had little coins spread all over them to gift Paperboys.
3 paperboys shaming rockstars fighting off Town folk to claim Beergarden Gig.
Paperboy Code never allowed two on same patch! Yes! It was an actual thing!