Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

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surfresearch
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Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by surfresearch » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:37 pm

I recently had correspondence about surfing on the northern shore of Botany Bay in the 1960s.
Robert wrote (edited):

“G'day, I came across your site while searching for pics of surfing inside Botany Bay.
Impossible to locate but proof of life is demanded by my sons who I remind constantly that I use to surf under the road (Foreshore Road) we are now travelling.
Absolute heaven of a wave that evolved out of the sand dredging for the Port of Botany.
Of course what most guys in those days did not realize while surfing in offshore NE was that one of the best waves produced in Australia was actually just out of view at the very edge of the reclamation which is now the end of the break wall that protects the port.”


I was unable to help apart from noting:

“Unfortunately this break had possibly disappeared by the time I began surfing and driving (1969) and I have never seen it referred to in books or magazines and have never seen a photograph.
However:
One day when returning from the South Coast past the airport in about 1971, one of the surfers in the car mentioned a break in the northern end of Botany Bay that worked on large southerly swells and northerly winds that had now disappeared due the extension of the airport runway.
From (admittedly from a somewhat diminished) memory, by their description I thought it was at the entrance to either Cooks River or the Mill Pond stream that flows from Eastlakes.
In particular, it was mentioned that if there was heavy rainfall (often associated with strong southerly winds and swell) large amounts of rubbish would be dislodged upstream and flow out through the break making the conditions potentially unhealthy - if you fell off, it was advisable to keep your mouth firmly closed.”


Robert responded:

“To clarify, the break I spoke of was a number of breaks all resulting from the dredging of the entry of Botany Bay proper (reference to dredging for port botany would define time lines).
This resulted in largish swells entering straight into the bay instead of wrapping around Kurnell and onto Taren Point.
The general area I speak of was directly in front of the Botany Golf Course and extending past the old Joseph Banks Hotel.
Those who remember the landscape at that time will recall that the golf course was end of land
and then the bay commenced.
I have surfed it at 6 foot plus.
Any doubt on size should use a reference point the size of swell now diverted by the break wall and into Yarra Bay which unfortunately has no shape to speak of.

I have located someone who ‘claims’ the have a friend with pics.
I am pursuing these with great vigor and would be willing to send them along if ever they do exist and I get my hands on them.”


Any one with memories of this now defunct break would be appreciated.

Geoff.

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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by marcus » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:54 pm

geoff
i have never surfed there, too young, however i do know that the dredging of the port was to make the waves refract away from the port loading side and into the wetland area of Tarren point and towra point (which now needs protection from waves ... the little terns nests etc).
i can imagine how dirty the surf at the entrance to the cooks river would be, as it was once the most polluted river in Australia, draining right through industrial south sydney.
good luck with your research, cant wait to see some pics of a break that is now a road.
Oscar Wilde - "I am not young enough to know everything"

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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by longbum » Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:08 pm

my dad tells me of surfing off the airport back in the day, don't think he'd have any photos altho he does horde alot of shit, i'll ask him...........

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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by purple pyramids » Sun Sep 19, 2010 5:07 pm

i just got back from at northern botany/larpers.
sounds like i was 40 years too late.

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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by eel » Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:01 pm

I was just working under a house and found an old newspaper from 1981 and the front page was an article on the destruction of port botany. And it had before and after aerial shots of the container terminals being there.

This immediately bought back stories my mate's old man and co. had told us about the waves that used to break there before the terminal was built.

The shots in the paper werent the clearest but one of my collegues suggested i look on Australia National Library website as thats where most historical photos come from.

I'm not sure if its just a bad photo but heres what looks like waves breaking where the container terminal now sits

http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemLarg ... mID=169764

heres the photo from the paper, no waves but you can see the setup was vastely different.

http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemLarg ... mID=125345

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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by Lucky Al » Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:37 pm

Stories of defunct surf spots, yeah! Dad grew up at North Wollongong and I loved to hear his stories about the left off the pools before the northern breakwater went in at the harbour. Thanks Geoff, hope you can dig up shots and more stories for the Sydney Airpot spot!

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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by oldman » Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:14 pm

Entirely possible surfresearch.

It used to break in the middle of Botany Bay. Literally in the middle, probably within half a km of where the end of the runway now sits.

But that was in the 70's, and only during those freak storms, but I can claim an eye witness report on it. I have seen it, and remember a Daily Telegraph, or was it The Sun, with a front page of a surfer in the middle of Botany Bay surfing a nice set with a huge tanker in the background.

I'll ask a very knowledgeable senior gentleman of the waves who used to be a regular from Bondi to Bare Island. If it broke there, he will know about it.
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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by clackertyjack » Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:09 pm

As a wee young grommet ( early 70's). somtimes on a giant swell we would surf at dolls point which is about 300 metres south of ramsgate baths. I had heard of guys surfing the runway pre extension
i belive it did happen.

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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by carvin marvin » Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:21 pm

Surfing World January 1966.
Airport Alley: Man - Made Surf.
Story by John Coote.
A big swell had been kicked up by a strong southerly which lasted for 3 days. We all expected Cronulla to be big and hoped for an all time surf at the point. On saturday morning a light westerly was blowing and we headed straight for the point. All of Cronulla beach from south to Voodoo was closing out and strong rips were running; however the point was not as big as expected and also uneven.
Knowing that we would not get any surf at Cronulla, we thought we would have another day playing snooker up at the local. Then somebody mentioned that in the last big swell Ken Williams, Ray Wheeler and Allan "Jughead" Jones had surfed a perfect left hander where the Mascot runway is being extended into Botany Bay. We found this hard to believe, because it was hard enough to get a swell into the bay, let alone a surfable wave.
Now that you all know where it is I'll let you into a little secret- you can't surf there anymore. It seems they want to finish the runway and don't want surfers interfering, and since they work 24 hours a day on it I don't think it will be surfed again, day or night.
We decided to give it a go and headed for the airport. When we got there, we parked the car opposite the only shop around the place and looked over at the surf. From where we were the surf looked very small, but when we saw a surfer take off on a wave we realized it was a lot bigger than it appeared to be.

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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by carvin marvin » Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:48 pm

I will post up the 2nd half of the story and photos tomorrow.
Just then I had almost finished typing the 2nd part when I hit the CTRL button instead of the shift button and all the words disappeared.
What a bugger.

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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by purple pyramids » Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:02 pm

carvin marvin wrote:I will post up the 2nd half of the story and photos tomorrow.
Just then I had almost finished typing the 2nd part when I hit the CTRL button instead of the shift button and all the words disappeared.
What a bugger.
thanks for that.
you've heard of the undo function, right?

Little
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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by Little » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:12 pm

Bare Island was occasionally surfed in big swells. I've got a copy of an old Surfer mag from '66 with a several page spread. Is that a semi regular occurance these days when there's a bit of swell?

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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by homebush » Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:04 pm

I totally agree with this story as I watched from Sir Joseph Banks Park people surfing from the tip of Yarra Bay all the way to where the customs boats used to dock. It would have been around 73 or 74 and the waves were perfect lefts about 2 metres.As you head south on southern cross drive past the control tower on your left is a large red brick building & inside they had a wave pool of the whole of Botany Bay for their studies for the airport runway extensions. I also confirm the story of surfing out from Dolls Point out towards the channel marker near Sandringham in very sharky waters around this time

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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by purple pyramids » Wed Apr 20, 2011 9:38 am

woolly wrote:....
And pp, where the hell is the 'undo function'? Adjacent to the 'any' key? :?
look under the edit menu of whatever program you are in. the keyboard shortcut is apple Z for mac, control Z for PC (that's 'personal computer', not peter crawford)

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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by carvin marvin » Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:00 pm

Here is the rest of the 1966 surfing world story.
The walk to the surf was about 1/4 mile across sand which was covered in jellyfish, so we knew that there would be alot in the water. The wind was light off-shore and the waves showed great shape - they were about 4 to 6 feet hollow and fast. The take off was exciting and a fast hollow section built up near the end of the wave. It was such a fast breaking surf that only the experienced surfers made them from right inside.
The waves were only breaking onto a shallow sand bottom, so when you wiped out, hitting the bottom didn't worry you much, but the mass of jellyfish was almost unbelievable. They were so thick you could almost walk on them and nearly every wave you took off on, you could feel them hitting your fin. Regardless of the jellyfish, it was one of the best left hand surfs I have ever experienced.
The outstanding surfers were Ray Wheeler, Frank Latta ,Mick Kent, Rod Stever and Dave Ferguson.
Also, on the other side of the sandbar was a righthander , which was a fast and short ride ending in a wild shore break. Although it was not as good as the lefts there were more surfers riding it. Mick Moylen tore it to pieces by getting unbelievable nose rides, etc., on the shorebreak and still making the wave.
As the surf only works well in a big swell and a westerly wind, when the north easter came up in the afternoon we were all disappointed. Since I had been surfing all day until the northeaster came up I did not think the surf would be good enough to take some photos; however I set my gear and took some shots.When you consider that these shots were taken after the surf had deteriorated a little, think what it was like when it was good.

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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by purple pyramids » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:08 pm

damn. that sounds like it was much more than just a novelty break. that'll give you something to contemplate over a shandy at the yarra bay sailing club.

here is Scott Dillon, First Wave, Bare Island Bombora, circa 1962.
Photograph : Jack Eden
Image

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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by chrisb » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:23 pm

purple pyramids wrote:damn. that sounds like it was much more than just a novelty break. that'll give you something to contemplate over a shandy at the yarra bay sailing club.

here is Scott Dillon, First Wave, Bare Island Bombora, circa 1962.
Photograph : Jack Eden
Image
The photo didn't quite work pp - here's a link that shows the same photo:-

http://blogs.hht.net.au/surfcity/?p=909

The Bare Island Bombie still breaks in large swells but I haven't seen anyone surfing it. Maybe they all go to "Ours" these days instead.

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Re: Surfing Sydney Airport, early 1960s.

Post by oldman » Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:28 pm

Interesting photo.

My old mate surfing scholar actually has a picture of himself, very similar to that one shown, which was from the Daily Telegraph, sometime back in the late 60's/early 70's.

I asked him this evening and although he says he never surfed the Yarra Bay left he does remember other people surfing it.

He is as honest as the day is long and not prone to making things up. If he says it happened, I believe him.

And the jellyfish that used to infest Botany Bay on whatever conditions, god I remember them. They are those big fat ones. We used to get thrown in to the baths at Brighton on school swimming carnivals in spite of the fact that you could almost skip across the water on the backs of these things, which also invariably carried sea mites and related bities with them.

God I hated those days.
Lucky Al wrote:You could call your elbows borogoves, and your knees bandersnatches, and go whiffling through the tulgey woods north of narrabeen, burbling as you came.

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