All posts by Bryan Hughes

The old/new Surfing” Safari..

There’s always a better surf up the coast, over the hill or around the next point.

So how do we get there? First we check the internet. Obviously some weather guru from “” can point us in the right direction. Hop in our state of the auto-art, globally connected, GPS controlled plastic surf-mobile and off we go.

No need to get the mates, they’re already on the same app; and you can talk to them through your well-connected dashboard while driving.



Don’t bother to stop and look, all the best weather guru’s have little camera’s that shoot a streaming video straight to your tablet, precisely mounted so you can see it while driving, ahh the marvels of modern surfing.



Well, believe it or not some surfers back in the old days actually looked at a weather map in the paper and tried to work out what all the little lines meant. For the really advanced there was the barometer hanging on the oldies wall.



So began the best trip of all, the old surf safari. Get all the mates together, see if you could pool enough money to fuel whatever beast someone had bought that resembled a car. Hopefully it had racks, although they weren’t really necessary, then all pile in and off you go.

It almost didn’t matter which way you went, and even if others were already there that would be fine. Congratulations all round for being on the ball in finding the spot and into the waves.

No hassling, no agro, just a bunch of old and/or new friends having fun.



Yep, it must be fun nowadays driving up or down the coast knowing every surf school graduate with a smartphone is on the road with you. If you can make it through the parking lot rage unscathed you can hit the water and enjoy a surf with your new friends. They’re the ones that don’t talk to you and scowl if you actually get a good wave.

Things just aren’t what they used to be, and the new Surfin’ Safari just got old.

In the immortal words of Bruce Brown, “ya shouda been here yesterday”…!


Endnote: All these photos were taken in the late 1950’s or early sixties by Ron “Babalooey” Graham. The blokes are all old mates of his and were the early surfing crew at Manly (Sydney, Australia)….. and out of interest I just reckon there’d be a few Bennett Surfboards on those old cars as well.


Words by Bryan Hughes, photos © Ron Graham.

Australians in Hawaii 1962.

Australian surfers were always good at travelling and in 1962 a bunch of blokes all met up on the ship to Hawaii. They hadn’t planned it that way but all had the same idea to travel that year and ship was the best and cheapest way to get there back then.

Manly surfer Geoff Bull was one of those blokes and being a photographer with “The Sydney Morning Herald” he always had a camera. He also had a custom Bennett semi-gun made for the trip.

Geoff sent these photos to me some years ago and as we look back at our surf history it’s shots like these that become the real treasures of the past.

Aussies in Hawaii '62...Here are the boys walking along a street in downtown Honolulu. Robert “Doc” Spence is on the left, eminent Sydney surgeon and future president of the Australian Surf-riders Association. Geoff is third from the right then Robert Conneeley and Ken Adler. The rest of the blokes names I’ve misplaced but Bob Boot was one and Norm Stamm another. Owen Pilon took the photo with Geoff’s camera.

hawaii 62 bThis next photo shows “buying gas” for the old cars they bought to get around in. “Waipio Service” is on the sign, Waipio being not far from Pearl City on the way to the North Shore. Check out the classic cars and the big wave boards on the racks.

What a great time they must’ve had, no huge crowds in those days and the north shore would’ve been pretty laid back. The memories of that trip would last forever.

Endnote: Geoff Bull became an abalone diver in Tasmania and went on to become one of Australia’s iconic winemakers with his Freycinet Vineyard on Tasmania’s east coast.

Words by Bryan Hughes, photos © Geoff Bull.



Our First Women’s Surfing Champion.

beth 1

Beth Jackman, a quiet, unassuming girl from Freshwater won the first women’s surfing event at the first Australian Surfboard Titles.

Held at Avalon 27/28 May 1961, it was a time when women’s participation in most sports was classed more as a novelty than serious competition. Beth won that day, and along with all the girls who competed probably did something for women’s surfing that wasn’t really recognised at the time. Competition surfing obviously continued to develop and some of the girls went with it, but most just went surfing. Beth continued surfing but marriage and children came along and surfing took a back seat.

Beth married Maurie Lee.

Maurie was arguably one of our best big wave surfers, one of the original four “Bower Boys”. He had travelled the world before it was trendy to do so and was also a very keen fisherman.

They moved to Seal Rocks in the 1970’s, this catered for all the thing’s they enjoyed in life. Family came first but surfing was never far away and although Beth didn’t ride a board much any more she was always in the water. On the nice peaks at Treachery in a summer nor’easter she would body surf and always looked at ease.

So times have changed since the early sixties, but Beth still has that sparkle in her eye when you mention those days, the sign of a true surfer.

beth 2


Endnote: Beth’s brother Dave was an employee of Bennett Surfboards in the early 1960’s. A big surf pioneer and great waterman he sadly passed on early this year. There is a paddle out and memorial at Freshwater Beach on the 7th of September.


Words by Bryan Hughes, photo’s from the Lee Family Collection.