With its century-long surfing heritage, Manly is widely regarded as the birthplace of surfing in Australia!
Manly was also the site of Australia’s first legal daylight bathing (1902), hosted the first known body surfing contest in 1908, and was the launch site of Australia’s first official surf patrol boat (1907).
Freshwater Beach famously played host to Duke Kahanamoku’s board surfing demonstration in the Summer of 1914 – 1915, and is currently home to two world surfing champions, Barton Lynch and Layne Beachley.
The Manly SLSC has a large exhibition of photos, boards and memorabilia… famously hosted by Ray Moran a legendary face of surfing at Manly and the central coast.
Chat to Ray about some of the most memorable moments in Manly’s history:
About 1 kilometer off North Steyne lies what is shown on nautical charts as Manly Rock. This reef is known to local surfers as the Bombora.
In June 1961 Dave Jackman made the headlines when he became the first person to be photographed cracking the “Bombie” on a malibu board. There are many more unrecorded accounts as well.
Snowy McAlister was always a regular when the swell was up. Reports from around 1949 of locals Lad Thompson, Bob Evans (founder of Surfing World Magazine and surf movie fame), Noel Ferry and George Simmer riding it on the 16-20 ft hollow ply boards of the time and Manly surf club legend Roger “Duck” Keiron claimed to have ridden a 15ft Bombie wave on the day peace was declared in 1945.
During a week in December 1914, Duke Kahanamoku was acquainted with Australian surfing enthusiasts at Manly and Freshwater Beaches.
The Duke was accommodated at Boomerang Camp, Freshwater, were he could experience Australian beaches and hopefully exhibit his renowned surfing skill.
At 11am Wednesday 22 December, 1914 Freshwater Beach famously played host to Duke Kahanamoku’s board surfing demonstration. The Duke a Hawaiian surfing legends, made headlines on a ‘makeshift’ board constructed by George Hudson’s, Sydney timber firm, cut out from a template to Duke Kahanamoku’s instructions.
In 1978 Manly’s North Steyne made headlines, as the annual Surfabout contest scored mind blowing waves!
Fronted by Mark Richard, some true surfing characters emerged, the event also pioneered the man on man format, created by legends Terry Fitzgeralds adding further excitement for spectators and television viewers.
A cheeky Larry Blair laid the foundations for an award wining televised surfing documentary, a first for Australia this cementing modern surfing’s acceptance in society.
Tommy Walker surfing Manly in 1909 is said to have been the first time a board was ridden in Australia.
Manly surfer, Tommy Walker, purchased his first surfboard while visiting Hawaii and upon his return in 1909, 5 years before the Dukes famous exhibition, began riding the board at Manly Beach. Other local surfers joined Walker who in 1921 pulled off his now synonymous trademark headstand thrilling on lookers.
The popularity of surfboard riding saw a growing concern for the potential danger to swimmers. While some wanted an outright ban, others sought to regulate surfboard riding and in 1912 an amendment to the NSW Local Government Act provided for council beach inspectors to regulate surfboard use, depending on prevailing conditions.
The Surf Museum will be open daily during the festival from 9:30am until 3pm.
South Steyne Promenade