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Surfing in the Sixties

surfing in the sixties book cover

available nowThe book to be published by New Holland Publishers captures through photography the feeling of being a surfer in the early to mid-1960s, an era that has become known as the golden age of surfing. Hard cover and 320 pages of photos and stories from four pioneering photographers Barrie Sutherland, Bob Weeks, John Pennings and Mal Sutherland.

Chapters include: The Malibu era, On the beach, Beach Fashion, Lifestyle, Surf Lifesaving, Competitions, Surfmobiles, The shortboard revolution, Pop culture, Favourite places

The book is available now from our retail section and costs $55.00. Perfect Christmas present and a must have for collectors.


Contrasted with this era when the whole planet goes surfing, in Australia in the sixties, riding a surfboard was the exclusive domain of either the very poor, or the wealthy. Why? Because they were the only ones who had the time to master this new and difficult sport. Consequently, many of us chose the poverty path, throwing our fate to the winds, rejecting the post-war consumerism and the suburban, Saturday Evening Post dream. We just went surfing, with no thought to tomorrow.

Consequently, our cars were old jalopies crammed with bodies and boards, to share the petrol pennies around. Our wardrobe was goodwill – and sparse. At one stage I had one pair of shorts I surfed in, slept in, and shaped surfboards in. Our diet was high on cheap carbs (fresh bread and bananas) and low on style. Alcohol was pretty much in excess, but only once or twice a week. Pub nights happened when we could afford it. No drugs. Our dreams were of next day’s surf, which meant five or six hours of paddling, take-offs, speed trim thrills, and attempting new manoeuvres as they were developed. We made better and better boards as our skill level quickly increased.

Hunting for new surf spots was a major part of our culture, both alongAustralia’s massive coastline, and soon broadening out to our surrounding lands like New Zealand and Indonesia. We were penniless, but mobile.We surfers of the era, and you the reader of today, are so fortunatethat a few guys had cameras, and a talent for capturing the essence ofa situation. Bob Weeks hung out with the tribe from southern Sydney;Mal Sutherland the warm Queensland crew; Victoria was Barrie Sutherland’sbeat; and John Pennings covered Sydney’s northside. Together theycovered the original tribal territories of the Aussie surfers of the sixties.What an era! What a fine portrayal is captured on these pages!The era has passed but the adventurous spirit and sheer joy of surfingthat shines through these great photographers work lives on for ourpleasure!

Bob McTavish, Byron Bay, Australia

Surfing in the Sixties

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Surf World Gold Coast is a charitable institution and is endorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) covered by Items 1 and 4 of the table in section 30 -15 of the Income Tax Assesment Act 1997. All donations over $2 are tax deductible.


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