Surf City, Sydney

an Historic Houses Trust blog

Ross Bailey Cowrie Hole 1966


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

Written by garycrockett

May 12th, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Posted in 1950s,1960s

5 Responses to 'Ross Bailey Cowrie Hole 1966'

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  1. Nice Post, it’s will be another reference for my content… don’t forget to surf my blog

  2. i am interested in buying a high res scan or print of the Ross Bailey Cowrie Hole 1966 shot.It is so cool and would a print .It would be for personal use only.

    kerry baylor

    25 Apr 13 at 9:56 am

  3. Are you still keen on this image Kerry …? I can send through a copy and get Ross Bailey’s permission. Let me know. Gary

    Gary Crockett

    18 Feb 14 at 3:05 am

  4. Hello,

    My family and I just moved in to Ross’ old house. Sadly, he passed away earlier this year. We’ve been told Ross was a legend in the Newcastle surf community and we’re trying to get our hands on a high res print that we could have framed as an homage to Ross and the house’s history.

    Do you happen to have high res copies of the photos you published on this article, or a contact of who we could speak with about this?

    Thanks in advance,

    Ryan Nix

    18 Oct 21 at 10:37 am

  5. Oh thanks so much for this Ryan. I didn’t know that. Hadn’t heard from Ross in a while and suspected that he might have been unwell, but very saddened to hear this news. He was genuinely good soul, with a deep love of surfing, particularly ‘back in the day’. We kept in touch off an on over the past decade and his stories of big days out along the Newcastle coast were always captivating. Can you email me on and we can talk about the images – I have several images of Ross surfing. All the best, Gary


    21 Oct 21 at 2:14 am

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