Surf City, Sydney

an Historic Houses Trust blog

Archive for the ‘1970s’ Category

Russell Lewis


Around 1975, apart from Peter Crawford, who defies words, Russell Lewis was ‘the’ surfer on Dee Why Point. Nick Carroll describes him as a gentle bloke with a sharp, static style (see  Whatever happened to Russell Lewis…?) but I remember him as an elastic, orangutang-like surfer with the hottest re-entry, surviving impossible drops over that sucky bowl. Lanky like Peterson but blonde and positive. He now runs a surf school on Kauai, Hawaii, coaching none other than amputee ‘soul surfer’ Bethany Hamilton. Here’s a few shots from my files…


Russell Lewis in a promotional shoot for Henri Surf Shop, Curl Curl, around 1975, courtesy and copyright of Hugh McLeod.

The old Henri shop on Griffith Road, North Curl Curl, is now a restaurant.

Russell Lewis on Dee Why Point in a Surfing World spread, taken by Hugh McLeod in 1976, courtesy and copyright of Hugh McLeod and Surfing World magazine.

Hugh McLeod shot of Russell Lewis worked into graphic print on ‘sloppy joe’ spotted at Deus Ex Machina surf swap 2009.

Russell Lewis with pro surfer and shark attack victim Bethany Hamilton in Hawaii, from the Soul Surfer movie credits.

Written by garycrockett

May 25th, 2012 at 11:20 am

Posted in 1970s

Michael Peterson by Tim Baker

leave a comment

A great tribute to Michael Peterson by Tim Baker for Coastalwatch (photo Dan Merkel)

Written by garycrockett

March 29th, 2012 at 8:15 am

Posted in 1970s

Michael Peterson died today

one comment

Sad news today that Michael Peterson has just died. Here’s a Peter Crawford photo from the Telegraph article, showing MP out on the point at Dee Why around the mid 1970s. One of the very few ‘really interesting’ Australian surfers. Will be plenty of obits and retrospectives coming our way in next few days and weeks.

Tracks cover February 1972 with Michael Peterson doing ‘that cutback’ at Kirra in Morning of the Earth, shot by Albe Falzon. Magazine courtesy Australian National Maritime Museum.



Written by garycrockett

March 29th, 2012 at 4:54 am

Posted in 1970s

Puberty Blues screening this Saturday

leave a comment

Best mates Debbie (Nell Schofield) and Sue (Jad Capelja) with their new Emerald surfboard, about to stir up the boys on the beach in Bruce Beresford’s 1981 movie Puberty Blues 1981

We’re screening the 1981 movie Puberty Blues this Saturday at the Museum of Sydney along with commentary from film archivist Jamie Leonarder, film critic and curator Paul Byrnes and surf blogger Rebecca Olive. Its a spot on, frankly told – and pretty uncomfortable – coming-of-age tale, set on the coast at Cronulla in the late 1970s. If you haven’t seen it in 30 years or even if you’re a ‘pubes’ fan and cultishly re-watch it regularly, this will be a great arvo of discussion and cringey nostalgia for a time many of us would rather forget.

With Jamie Leonarder, Paul Byrnes and Rebecca Olive

Saturday 18 February 2012
From 1pm

Museum of Sydney
Cnr Bridge and Philip Street, Sydney

event info here

Written by garycrockett

February 15th, 2012 at 10:43 am

Posted in 1970s

Paul Clarke on Surf Music

leave a comment

Sunday 5 February 2012
2pm – 3pm

Museum of Sydney
Cnr Bridge and Phillip Street, Sydney

FREE with museum entry

event details here

Surfing, unlike any other sport, religion or lifestyle, comes complete with its own soundtrack. This Sunday afternoon, pop culture buff Paul Clarke – who wrote and produced the surf doco Bombora – the Story of Australian Surfing and car doco Wide Open Road, is talking about surf music and its deep and narly roots in surf culture – from the shrieking reverb and cowboy cool of Dick Dale and the jangling psychedelia of The Easybeats in the 60s through to the salty grunge of Midnight Oil and the Go Betweens in the late 1970s and beyond.

Written by garycrockett

February 1st, 2012 at 3:22 am

Posted in 1960s,1970s,exhibition

Paul Scott on surfing mags

leave a comment

‘We used to get out kicks reading surfing magazines / good looking people wearing Lee Cooper jeans / gonna get a Kombi and go from beach to beach / be the kind of people the authorities can’t reach’
The Go-Betweens, Surfing Magazines 2001

Tracks magazine courtesy Australian National Maritime Museum

SURF MAGS OF THE 60s & 70s
with surfer, writer and academic Paul Scott
Museum of Sydney
Sunday 4 December 2pm – 3pm
[free with museum entry]
check out event in HHT calendar 

Australian surfing magazines first appeared in Sydney in the early 1960s, stoking the phenomenal craze of boardriding by celebrating and defining surf culture. Along with surf movies, music, language and fashion, the magazines charted social and cultural shifts in the post-war economic boom and became iconic symbols of youth, mobility and hedonistic individualism. The magazines were also terrific sources of information on board design, where to surf, the rising stars of the sport and the latest moves both in-and-out of the water.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by garycrockett

December 1st, 2011 at 10:39 am

Posted in 1960s,1970s,exhibition

Long Reef surf, stilts, motorbikes, handstands, 1970s

leave a comment

Matt Holle forwarded me a note from Bruce De Graaf regarding… a movie that a couple of mates of mine set up in the late 70’s…it was all super 8 which they adapted and threw onto Youtube – it takes me back. All of these guys surfed with me at Long Reef and skateboarded around the local schools when there was no surf. One mate’s wife sang the backing for it.

According to youtube … Original 8mm footage from the late 1970s at Long Reef on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, surf, skate, motorbikes and stilts! Footage re-used courtesy Murray Ingersole and Dave Seymour. Screened at 2010 New York Surf Film Festival []. Beach Boys cover and original song Sweet Dreams performed by Rosie and The Thorns [].

Big thanks to Bruce and Matt.

Written by garycrockett

October 6th, 2011 at 12:16 am

Posted in 1970s

Shane Egan, Little Narrabeen

leave a comment

Mid 1970s Shane Egan decal art for McCoy surfboards, photo Gary Crockett

Was a pleasure to meet Shane Egan at the Surf City opening last Friday and hear about his early surfing years around Sydney and, of course, his work as a sticker artist, using ‘indian ink and derwent pencils’ to draw some of the most memorable surfboard decals of the 70s including those for McCoy and Morning Star.

Shane recently sent through a couple of photos along with some accompanying notes…


Shane & (younger brother) Dale Egan, Little Narrabeen surf check, circa 1964. Photo courtesy Shane Egan.

There was something of a transient element even among local surfers who had to walk, ride, drive or skate to the surf. The ever shifting sand-banks were catalytic in forming bonds and breaking them. A group of local surfers would form around a good sand-bank which may last a season or more. Living at Narrabeen allowed you ready access to surf with mates anywhere between Long Reef and Mona Vale – the pubs being a common ground. We lived within a walking distance encompassing North, South & Little Narrabeen, Warriewood and Cooks Terrace. The closest mate to the break had the honour of being the temporary “store-a-board”.

When boards were big & heavy a couple of times I opted to paddle to North Narrabeen via the small creek that runs behind Narrabeen High School & Warriewood Mall and feeds into the lake and eventually spills out at the legendary sand-bank off the point. As surfing spread its opiate tentacles inland and its trendy image grew, the “Westies” began to come in droves. Mona Vale Road and the Manly Ferry were their main arteries to the “name” beaches. Back-beaches like Little Narra and other surf breaks off the main drag remained hidden for a short time but eventually succumbed to the rising surf population.

I was probably the last to hesitantly abandon Little Narrabeen in the late 60’s after the sand left and a road was cut down the steep hill and out the point to run the sewerage outlet pipe.


Dale Egan & Simba the surfing dog, Narrabeen flower power. Photo courtesy Shane Egan.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s surfers were fringe dwellers of the Hippie movement – but with an agenda.

The first time our dog Simba tagged along on our walk to the surf at Little Narrabeen, she followed us right out to the jump-off shelf on the point. Being a Labrador she didn’t stop there and dove in after Dale & I. We hadn’t realised till we looked back and saw Simba negotiating the suck-up rock in a solid 10 foot swell. The next trick was to get her to body surf back into the beach.

Thanks to Shane Egan for text and photos.

Written by garycrockett

September 26th, 2011 at 7:17 am

Posted in 1960s,1970s

Roslyn ‘Dallas’ Watson

leave a comment

Cronulla surfer Rosyln Watson with her treasured Hohensee surfboard, ‘her first love’ around 1970

Thanks to Leisha Distefano who sent in photos and a note about her mum Rosyln ‘Dallas’ Watson, who according to Leisha, was a ‘surfie chick’ during the 1960’s and early 70’s and was tickled pink when I showed her your recent blog about The Kurranulla Wahines, as she knew many of the names and faces in the photos. She also knew many of the guys from that era such as the Brown brothers, Midget and Shane Stedman. I have attached some photos of her photos from that era. We also have the two surfboards in those photos – one of which was shaped and owned by the late Frank Latta, a Peter Clarke board with Frank’s name engraved along the stringer.

A page from Rosyln Watson’s photo album with images of future (non-surfing) husband Terry Cousens. Notes and photos courtesy Leisha Distefano

Written by garycrockett

September 16th, 2011 at 5:21 am

Posted in 1960s,1970s



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