some of bondi’s rascals
Lloyd ‘rooster’ Palmer’s comment reminded me that I’ve not done recent justice to many of the old mob who spent their days at South Bondi – this is from ’58 to ’62 – so you can blame him for what follows.
Col was a bit of a double agent in the days when clubbies and board riders engaged in the warfare brought on by Aub Laidlaw’s preoccupation with surfside law and order. Col, you see, was regularly spotted lounging in a brazen manner by the entranceway to the old North Bondi SLSC during those fraught years. This character defect however was quickly rectified when Col got into the Real Estate business on the north coast. Wise move that. I could have used him to get a sweet deal at Wategos when all they wanted for an old home was about seven hundred quid. Pity I only had five.
Wally the Walker.
I can remember as if it happened yesterday. A reasonably powerful surf coming in at the south end, not too many in the water, everybody riding logs and here comes this set with a BIG one in the middle and Wally out there shouting ‘Mine!
Then he did what nobody was supposed to do on a large wave in Bondi on those days. Dropped down, brought it around, got halfway back up the face then walked up to the nose of his board and back. No problems. No arm-waving. Then a graceful cutback and he did the same thing again.
Our life from that moment was changed. But I’ve got to say, riding the nose on those sweet little peelers at the Pass was a lot easier.
When I remember this bloke’s face I can see the half-smartarse smile he used to wear all the time. Like he knows what you’re up to, how much good it’s doing for you and how about I join you next time. Lennie liked parties, especially the ones that didn’t require an invitation. Show up late, half-shot, bottles in hand and barge through the front door in impolite numbers. Bloke was a master of mayhem.
It always had me beat why Wayne wasn’t invited to join a jazz band, the bloke had a way with a trumpet that killed mosquitoes. We knew each other very well in those days and his father Hugh once told me, in strict confidence, that the only reason he built a room for Yatesy in the roof of the family home was because it was too expensive to sound-proof the garage where he usually practiced.
Maybe NickY can let us know if his dad is up to Satchmo standard yet.
As soon as Mick got good on a board he got gone. He was the Where’s Wally of the group but every time he showed up for a wave a bloke could only sit and watch the little master at his work. Mick always reckoned he was an ace at tennis but I’ve yet to hear Mike Bennett ‘The Canadian Kook’ confirm it. Not that it would make any difference, anyone who says he catches so many lobsters he has to throw half back is bending it a little.
I’ve written plenty about that old rooster. We used to hang around Cochran when he was babe-sitting outside the Pit in the hope that one of his many cast-offs might fall our way. Never Happened. Bob Barratt took care of them all single-handed. Now there’s a thing, how come a bloke who could only put ten words together back in the day wrote fifty books? He was the Man in Black before there was one.
It didn’t matter how much you loved that little rascal, the one rule was to never let him too far out of your sight, day or night.
He used to catch the 360 down to the beach in the morning .. but preferred it if you didn’t take the seat next to him because Rob was a very focused individual. He must have been able to hear the sea breaking from his home when it was big, probably laid awake all night planning his big wave moves. I’ve been reliably informed that Conneeley was once heard to utter the immortal words ‘Never mind the shape, look at the SIZE!’ The bloke would go out in anything, then he slipped away down south and won Bells without telling anyone.
The first bloke in Bondi to apply multiple sachets of Napro hair dye in the hope of coming out of it looking like Troy Donohue. Blonde hair was big back in the day and almost instantly achieved by applying large quantities of Napro, peroxide, bleach and lemon juice. Some extroverts used to apply the mixture in broad daylight under the pines across the road from the Astra, remembering here Gary McKell, even though he was a Bronte man.
Another interloper from Bronte. Goofy foot, lithe adventurous, handsome .. Cochran tried to have him banned but nearly all the ladies objected.
One thing about that noisy old bastard, he knew the coast. Going north with Jack meant you took a month to get to the Qld border. And being an stalwart of the Tamarama SLSC he knew who had the keys to all the surf clubs from Port Stephens to Yamba. Tragic dress sense though as he favoured mohair sweaters when going out at night. That’s when we didn’t know him.
Picked his friends carefully did Brian, there was a certain criteria to his choices, mostly to do with fashion and looks. Stylish fellow in the water but not known for going it big therefore was cruelly christened the Ripple Rider by a gentleman as upstanding as Bruce Usher, himself a bit of a throwback on the switchfoot side. One thing about BM though was that I never saw him wearing mohair. Mayes owned that travesty of fashion.
There’s always the one bloke who looks better than anyone else. Dave was Handsome Harry and the golden highlights in his wavy hair weren’t applied up under the pines like the rest of us. Word had it that fifteen of his girlfriends were hairdressers.
I’ve got a very old newspaper clipping stuck in a book that nearly brings me to tears when I read it. Something about something falling overboard from a yacht owned by someone on a reef somewhere. I’m still hoping some of it washes up on Lighthouse beach one day. Murray was close to Fank’nWarren, better known as Warren Cornish and Frank Pickford – mix those three together with Ron Sinclair and Kevin Brennan and it’s little wonder Bondi got the reputation it deserved. Everyone contributed.
Joe the Goose.
Joe was the goods. Sold everything from thongs to hats out of the boot of his car up at the Bondi Royal. Joe looked like a surfer without bothering to get wet, ever, he just took our money for the yank Levis that fell of the back of a boat he had close connections with. You name it, Joe got it. Just as well drugs weren’t invented in 1959. He was also good for a haircut at twice the price as well. Multi-talented was Joe.
Roger the Rooter. Beats me how he ever got that nickname because the old Rog was a modest sort of bloke on the beach. But he did have a good head of wavy brown hair that didn’t get wet too often. He was another one a bit strong on ladies’ company and was seen with female company at Tamarama several times while wearing sluggos. This was not done.
Gary Hey Joe Johnson.
This bloke was the full ratbag. If there was a crowd of bodgies on one side and another of surfers on the other in that park across the road from Campbell Parade all ready for a bit of biff and barge, he’d be standing in the middle taking the piss out of both sides.
Harry Hungry Hair.
Harry drove a black car, had black hair, black eyebrows and black hair on his arms legs chest and back. That’s it. I never saw him in the water. You couldn’t buy a towel big enough to dry all that fur. Didn’t bother the girls though, especially Gidget, who I would have liked to have known better.
Max had so much money he had to have his trousers tailor made and fitted with eleven fob pockets. That’s how come he always had the biggest car and a subtle way with better-educated girls from Double Bay. Max used to cruise Palm Beach with a carload of surfers and when they were out dropping in on Midget Farelly he was appraising the properties overlooking the beach.
Bruce was a big unit. Big and fearsome. Cleared out the Pier Hotel one night when a Queenslander forgot his manners. Came east from the city to Bondi and claimed rights of ownership to half an acre of Bondi sands. Then he filled it up with a motley crew of miscreants and half-naked women. He may not remember it but I have photos. Rumour has it Bruce is first out on the flathead patch on Bruns River most days, him and Beaumont. I feel it for the fish. Someone tell me he isn’t riding a wave-ski. We need to know.
Zulu ate a stinging bluebottle by accident one day and made the newspapers nation-wide. Not a good look. Later on he reckoned it might have tasted better with a little lime and chilli but that was just misplaced bravado. Big smiler, Zulu, before and after.
This bloke was responsible for a serious decline in the relationship between anyone from Bondi and the residents of Newport because not only did he pack about eleven mates in his car for a day at South Newport, he pinched the best car parking spot at the Newie Alms and made serious inroads on the female population.
Note: a lot these boys have since departed us, too many to list.