Newcastle surfer Ross Bailey at the Cowrie Hole, Newcastle 1966, photo John Nute, courtesy Ross Bailey
Had the absolute pleasure today to meet veteran big wave dare-devil Ross Bailey, who travelled south from Newcastle to fill me in on his early years surfing around Merewether, Bar Beach and the Cowrie Hole and the various near-death experiences he and his friends like Ted Harvey, Robbie Wood and Norm Stamn notched up when the surf got nasty and the lifesavers said “you’re all bloody idiots”. Tales of furious storm surfs, impossible drops, concussions, smashed teeth, bikies, hodads, Ford Customlines, chicks, surf movies, jazz, dolphins and Dewey Weber. Ross started surfing as a kid in 1957, on a balsa ‘teardrop’, and kept it up through his adult years as a milko, surfing daily after knocking off at 8am – earlier if he could manage it. He even worked as Mel Gibson’s surfer double in the 1977 production Summer City.
Luckily his good friend John Nute took plenty of photos throughout the 1960s.
Ross Bailey at the Cowrie Hole Newcastle, photo by John Nute 1966
Ross Bailey off the rocks at Merewether, photo by John Nute 1966
Ross Bailey ‘Classic Soul Arch’ Merewether storm surf, photo John Nute 1962
All photos and info courtesy Ross Bailey