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bob evans and his bronte surf movies

Evo pulling a toothpick around the corner at the Bower

The Bronte Surf Club must have had the lowest rentals of all the southern surf clubs because that’s where Bob Evans invariably showed up with the latest American Surf Movies – either that or they had an extremely easy going insurance broker as Bob’s audience rarely left any interior walls wholly intact after they had spent a couple of hours of viewing Bud Brownes’ early classics.

The main clubroom was equipped with benches for the paying customers and Evans was given a small table at the back to set up his one-reeler and his 35mm clacker.

What lent the event great tension were the varied forms of surfing exotica Evo produced to assist him in running the show. Bobby Browne, Mick McMahon – Gopher, all of them no-names now but there was never an expectation that was not going to be fulfilled as the noisy throng settled down for some grainy Hawaiian hard-core action.

Almost always in black and white.

Brown, Downing and Trent ~ Makaha in 1953 ~ pic by Scoop Tsusuki

This is the first we saw of it – Makaha’s endless race to the end.

As an aside – it has been mentioned in literature more than a couple of times that anyone who has overheard a crowd of surfers watching a surfing movie – and who has also been unfortunate enough to be standing outside a room where pornography has been shown – could only marvel at the similarity of the expressions of interest coming from both, or either.

Grunts and gasps, howls and sighs, laughter and heavy breathing. Ecstatic groaning. Roaring approval.

There is a thesis in there somewhere.

Farrelly showed up one night to a round of ribald jesting from a roomful of southerners unfamiliar with him. He was gone by interval and rumour had it that he took three hours to find Bondi Junction.

These were hard times.

Seating at this venue was strictly segregated in that Bondi rarely shared a bench with Maroubra and Coogee rarely got to sit on a bench at all. Bronte, the host, was the only one with a key to the beer fridge and it is no doubt that due to their circumspect penury in this regard that relations between the beaches has always suffered.

Anyone from Clovelly was denied entry, no question.

The one enduring mystery of these nights was the whereabouts of Bob and his crew when the lights were eventually turned on – they never hung around for the reviews.

Perhaps the thought of trying to make some sense out of a baying mob of maniacal youths, all bent on finding a forty foot wave RIGHT NOW was too much of an ask.

So we dispersed along the Bronte seafront at midnight, usually in the face of a soft onshore breeze and with the hope of a few small glassy waves at dawn if the overnight westerly kicked in.

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