Surf City, Sydney

an Historic Houses Trust blog

Ralph Callaghan, North Steyne, February 1965

leave a comment

Ralph Callaghan on his Scott Dillon 9’6″ at North Steyne, February 1965, unknown photographer, courtesy John Smythe

According to John Smythe, this is Ralph Callaghan on his Scott Dillon 9’6″ at North Steyne, taken the same day as the group shot of the Manly Pacific Boardriders in front of the surf club. The image was used in Surfing World. Photos taken on the same day by Ray Joyce, of Warwick Smith, Dave Smythe and Robbie Lane appeared in American Surfer.  This one may have been taken by Peter Rae.

Written by garycrockett

August 23rd, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Posted in 1960s



McGrigor team pose for photo shoot early 1970s, photo courtesy Bryan Hughes

I asked Bryan to supply some info on McGrigors…

McGrigor Surfboards started around 1970 by Brian McGrigor and was more than likely backed by Ken Bevan (Geronimo) founder of the “Dee Why Surf Shop”. McGrigor soon left to continue his travel’s and Ken took over ownership in the very early day’s.

Ken’s ability to create outlets for the boards with his “Dee Why” and later “Surf ‘n Gear” shop’s saw a factory that was always in demand of workers and the list of shapers alone is long and impressive. There is many a tradesman in the industry that owes at least some part of their learning to a stint at McGrigors.

Harbord Road in Brookvale has always been a surf factory road and McGrigors was no exception. Originally at 238 and ending at 186 the boards came out the door under Geronimo’s ownership till he sold to master laminator John Fleck who continued under the same banner until the factory closed in the late ‘70’s.


I was an old employee of Ken ‘Geronimo’ Beaven and knew him very well. I worked in many of his shops over the three year period of ’65, ’66 and ’67. During that time I worked in our Rockdale, Bondi [two locations; Bondi Road and then Curlewis Street – where the IGA is now] I also worked in the Dee Why Long Reef store.
In the colour McGrigor photo – that’s Geronimo, hands on hips, in the white fur vest and Russian-style hat.
And Darryl Sykes [an old long-lost friend] was a Cronulla Point-based knee-boarder and originally a Kiwi – he ran the huge Cronulla Dee Why Surf Shop on Gerrale Street in the late sixties for Geronimo. Hence the obvious McGrigors connection there. He returned the New Zealnd in the early seventies and I am not sure where or what he does these days.  [THANKS STEVE]


McGrigor advert in Tracks Magazine, August 1972: L to R…Daryl Sykes, John Fleck, Barry King, Ian Grosvenor and Michael McCormack with Flecky’s dog ‘George’ in front… info Bryan Hughes

Written by garycrockett

August 22nd, 2011 at 10:09 am

Peter Hellmrich, off to Vietnam 1969


Received this photo of young Peter Hellmrich (centre) heading off to the Vietnam War, from Kerrie Hannan today along with some other great stories of her late husband Bill Hannan, the Manly big wave surfer of the 60s.

Kerrie writes…

I have a couple of shots of Pete surfing in Vietnam, or not actually surfing, exiting the water carrying a surf board and the other standing on a beach. The beach could be any beach – no barbed wire or anything – the only thing that makes the photo a bit different is the fact that Pete is wearing an Army dog tag ID around his neck.

Pete was definitely a Sydney surfer in the 60s, from North Steyne along with John Smythe, both founding members of the Manly Pacific Board Riders’ Club. A few years after returning from Vietnam Pete moved to Ballina and then to Pambula where he lived for several decades before passing away on 1 January 2010. He remained a keen surfer all his life.

[Thanks for this Kerrie]

Peter Hellmrich, Vietnam c1969, photo courtesy John Smythe

Peter Hellmrich and mates in tent, Vietnam c1969, photo courtesy John Smythe

Gordon Woods Malibu on the beach at Vung Tau, Vietnam, titled: Back Beach, Vung Tau, November 1968, Photo Kerry Seebohm.

Photo courtesy of the fantastic blog Charlie Don’t Surf

Written by garycrockett

August 15th, 2011 at 10:15 am

Posted in 1960s

John Adair, 1969

leave a comment

John Adair sent this in yesterday. I like the chopper alot. This is what John says about it… Here’s a drawing/advert I did of SHANE surfboards around 69/70, after Shane was featured on a gaming show on TV. He was seen shadowy behind a curtain veil. [[does anyone remember this?]] Contestants were asked to guess what was going on… he appeard to be shaping/glassing a board on trestles.

Big thanks to John Adair

Written by garycrockett

August 13th, 2011 at 2:10 am

Posted in 1960s

Webber Brothers, John Adair and others, North Coast

leave a comment

Beautiful, jewel-like travel log of Bondi boys, including John Adair who’s been busy sending me heaps of great images and info, on a North Coast trip in the mid 1970s and 80s. Uploaded by Monty Webber to his excellent youtube page. Here’s what the description says… Featuring each of the six Webber brothers plus John Adair, Paul Bucknell, Rodney Dahlberg and Wayne Williams. Filmed by Paul Bucknell, John, Greg and Monty Webber. Edited by Monty. The opening waves are of Spookies. Dan’s wave is at Flat Rock, filmed by John. Ben’s wave is at Spooky Beach. The other waves are Angourie Point, except John’s long right-hander, which is at Lennox Head and was filmed by Paul Bucknell. Diving by Mont.

Written by garycrockett

August 13th, 2011 at 12:56 am

Posted in 1970s

Baba Looey, surf wagon, early 1960s

one comment

Great photo of Baba Looey’s illustrated ’37 Ford, with a load of boards in the early 1960s. Names and details to follow…

in the meantime Steve Core dropped me a line today… hmmm Gary… I might have to bring you to task on the new photo caption…That’s not a ’34 Ford. I am pretty sure that’s definitely a ’37 Ford. Maybe even might even be a smaller Lincoln Zephyr [which was also made by Ford]. I’ll need to do Google image research x-comparison exercise to identify it correctly! Would be nice to point out too that it’s a pre-WWII vehicle! Interestingly, the car would have been manufactured in the US at the legendary Dearborn Assembly Plant, which started producing Model A’s in the late 1920s and continued production through 2004.  (big thanks Steve)

Photo courtesy Baba Looey/Ron Graham

Written by garycrockett

August 11th, 2011 at 1:58 am

Posted in 1960s

Ross Bailey, Summer City 1977


Ross Bailey – Mel Gibson’s stunt double in Phil Avalon’s Summer City – poses for promo pic at Tamarama, 1977

Mel Gibson made his big screen debut in Summer City, directed by Phil Avalon in 1977, which tells a story of surfing up the NSW coast in the 1960s. Newcastle surfer Ross Bailey stood in as Mel’s stunt/surfing double and even helped out with the storyline and action. Big thanks to Murray Walding’s Surforama for info and Ross Bailey for photo and ongoing support.

Written by garycrockett

August 8th, 2011 at 1:28 am

Posted in 1960s,1970s

The Ultimate Life 1965


Mona Vale film maker and surf history archivist Russell Shepherd sent this in today with the following comments…The Ultimate Life was shot on a Bolex 8 mm camera 1963-5, for music i mixed Beach Boys, Dick Dale etc onto an old 3 inch reel to reel (kinda sync)!! It featured Nat Young, Richard Harvey, Geoff and Bruce Channon, Peter Hughes, Bob McTavish, Midget and Peter Wilcox surfing at MONA VALE, NARRABEEN, BALMORAL, SOUTH COAST, NOOSA, SCOTTS HEAD. It was shown at Mona Vale surfclub and various board riding clubs along the coast [in 1965].

Thanks Russell

Written by garycrockett

August 8th, 2011 at 1:20 am

Posted in 1960s

Long Reef Boardriders 1970s

leave a comment

Long Reef Beach surfers hang out in local derelict house late 1970s, photo courtesy Warren MacKenney

Got a pile of photos from Warren MacKenney today so I asked him a few questions about the board riding club scene and life around Long Reef in the 70s…

Were you part of a board riding club?

We were all part of the boardriders – it was less competition and more social, there were so many small groups and this [the boardriders] combined the beach. The thought behind it was the more people the more parties you could go to.

Where were you guys living – were you locals?

Yes the ones that formed the boardriders were true local neigbourhood kids – we had a block of land and a derelict house [the shack hangers] that we used for years as a hang and no one seemed to mind too much there was a bit of noise we made that made some unhappy but there were other groups like the Motelys, the Forry guys the L.R.B.Ps.

What kind of things did you get up to at the beach besides surfing?

What did we get up to? – Friday nite was Timo the Time N Tide Hotel [Flowers/Glasshouse], the Narrabeen Antler [Midnight Oil], 1066 Wine Bar Collaroy and give the publican shit when they tried to kick us out at 10 timo, 12 Antler and then party at someone’s house on the same sat nite. We surfed all weekend, wagged school during the week, surfed and just hung around at our beach. Played touch footy, baseball, skated as a group of guys and girls just for fun. We also snorkled, played pinball at Cons in the back room [Long Reef milk bar] tennis, fruit fights.

Terry Ward with yo yo, Long Reef 1970s, photo courtesy Warren MacKenney

How old were you all at this stage?

The ages ranged – the older ones picked on the younger ones in fun, everyone was close and we all still are in touch having made great friendships.

What was the relationship to the clubbies, if any?

Everyone picked on the carpark ticket collector. The Clubbies were our friends too. I was one untill I got too many ‘penalty patrols’ then I thought I’m doing this for free and if you couldn’t make it you got more for punishment – still good friends with a lot of them – a good connection.

Outside the clubhouse, Long Reef 1970s, photo courtesy Warren MacKenney

Who took the photos?

There were a few guys that took photos – the main ones were Trudie Woods, Jeff Morris, Chris Sellers, Clifford White and Mark Andrews that i’m still in contact with. Cliff took the photos of Stuart. Trudie took photos mainly around the carpark.

Written by garycrockett

August 5th, 2011 at 12:04 am

Posted in 1970s

Tim Vanderlaan, Cronulla 1970s

one comment

Tim Vanderlaan and home made ‘spear board’, 1974 courtesy Tim Vanderlaan.

Thanks to Tim Vanderlaan for sending this and a great pile of other Cronulla pics from the 70s, which I’ll post in coming weeks.

I asked Tim to tell me about the boy and the board…

This kid is me, taken in front of the family home at Wanda, Cronulla. It was early 1974 and I’m displaying my first home made board.

My older brother Rick and myself made the board and bought the materials from Graham King’s home at Grays Point. The blank and materials cost me $33, that was a lot of money considering the milko i helped do morning deliveries paid me $1.25 for 3 hours work.

The board was 5’10” and 13″ wide. My brother read somewhere that the width of a board should be the measurement between your nipples plus 2 inches.

We had seen magazine shots of Terry Fitz riding something similar at sunset in hawaii and we thought the spear shape would work at a Wanda beach break. I persisted trying to ride it for ages but Icouldn’t turn the thing.

I later sold to to Max Garlings of the Benz shop in Cronulla. He had the board on display amongst all the bikinis. (big thanks Tim Vanderlaan)

Written by garycrockett

August 4th, 2011 at 5:23 am

Posted in 1970s