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sent to boarding school aged 7 / taught to box aged 7 by the nuns / buggered off out of a bathroom window after 2 years / educated at waverley college, terminated early and without a ticket (a few problems with the brothers – nothing life-threatening) / continued the walk to life at hawkesbury river and tallangatta outward bound /  buried 5 students and 2 instructors who drowned in the hume weir in winter / met the duke of edinburgh at a boat handover – strange fucker him / travelled south and west with the itnerant fruitpickers /  travelled north to noosa with a mate who had a spare seat in his car, that’s Mick / drove past lennox without looking / met bob cooper, bob mctavish and russell hughes at Noosa  / 1963 – grounded in byron with no money and only queenslanders as friends  / didn’t buy any cheap land at wategos / found work and the meaning of life at walkers slaughterhouse / bagged a back seat in Jimmy Keevers’s red merc / lusted after wendy and denice / envied keith paul’s cool riding / saw Tallows firing just the once, breaking like a rivermouth down the beach

1964  – got on a ship and sailed away forever / landed in the uk in winter, found the poms a little moody, the girls though were a different matter completely / challenged a pom to put me in hospital in a street fight and never saw the bottle from behind / did europe in the back of a car with two canadians who didn’t talk to me /  found that portugal had a few waves / found tangier was full of english strange and quality kif and extremely cheap rooms and the whiff of burroughs and kerouac was still strong / got off a ferry at  gibraltar / stayed a year, took certain liberties / just avoided being belted by UK marines on leave from Biafra /  found out that many morrocan men are ‘ hands on ‘ friends /  got on a ship and went to the US forever / bought a wreck in nj and went to mexico via florida along some very strange roads / met a black lady in phoenix who thought australians ate aboriginals / found waves in mexico / had our boards tossed off a cliff and shat upon in baja /  figured yanks for utter hometown dimwits / washed up in a vancouver motel in winter with $54 and two books by steinbeck / sat in a train for four days from vancouver to quebec with a bloke who looked like bob dylan / flew back to gibraltar for the dark haired girl / introduced bob dylan as ambient music in a couple of Arab nightclubs / brought her home to bondi /  worked in enough Sydney pubs to learn how to duck a fight and land a punch / two daughters joined us after a while and they still insist on their supremacy  / washed cars / wired up old river mansions / worked in bars – nightclubs – building sites – slaughterhouses – hotels – farms – orchards – car-yards – game boats – nightclubs – river boats – offices – /

potted surfing history: bondi in the 50’s / byron in the 60’s/ northern beaches in the 70’s to ’10 / back of byron today – friend of some better side of human nature.

header shot is of b’joe head some long time ago – stretch, northcote and one or two others attending. I was under the overhang just waiting for this thing,

meet the family

37 Comments Post a comment
  1. Pete.. love your writing and chuffed you dropped by my near fallow blog. Hopefully I will get re invigorated as shoulder and health return from a pretty replaceable couple of months but until then I’ll dip in here for inspiration.

    November 16, 2010
  2. peterbowes #

    help yeself mick, it’s coming out my bloody ears lately ..

    November 16, 2010
  3. athepower #

    so far the pretence appears to be working – at least it’s fooling me

    November 22, 2010
  4. Beau Anderson #

    Sounds like the sort of life Edwin Reid lived… is to be lived!

    January 17, 2011
  5. Beau Anderson #

    Was Ed present when the 9 boys drowned? I recall my grandma mentioning something that happend at Outward which really affected him.

    January 17, 2011
    • We were both there, Ed was the chief instructor and took it very hard and he always blamed himself for the losses although he wasn’t on that particular expedition – He lost a couple of very good friends in that mass drowning as well as the boys, including Mal Buckman.
      They were all travelling across the Hume Weir in two-man canoes when a storm front closed in and it blew them all into the water – winds of about 70 kn and the boats were very high sided and they all flipped over straight away.
      Most drowned, some died from exposure – it was very cold that day. One lad was found dead of exposure in the fork of a tree he had climbed. One of the instructors wasn’t found for 4 weeks and I was given his watch to take home to his mother – it had been on his wrist the whole time.

      They laid the bodies on the grass as they found them that day, face up, in the rain. Boys my age.

      We went back to the Hawksbury as soon as the Tallangatta school was closed and after that we all dispersed. Ed and his wife Sue and I met at a pub in Sydney where I worked a couple of years later. He was very subdued, Sue was a lovely lady.

      I was a changed man after that, thanks to Ed Reid.

      January 17, 2011
  6. Mr Wolf #

    Pete – the story told in so few words says so much.

    March 24, 2011
    • nc – howareya

      I missed the old boy by a month – never knew he was living at Bruns –

      March 24, 2011
      • Mr Wolf #

        I’m keepin a regular eye on you brother. Love the work. Got that great shot of empty Golf Course you put up a while back as the screen saver – brings back some good memories

        April 7, 2011
  7. Stu #

    Dora hated contests, eh?

    And yet he went in them. Over and over again. His was a public image as carefully created as any in a Torquay/Gold Coast/Orange County boardroom.

    He wouldn’t survive in this day and media age.

    April 7, 2011
  8. Steve Shearer #

    C’mon Stu, he laid a template that is till being followed.

    Where’d ya think Dane Reynolds gets his shtick from?

    April 8, 2011
    • SjH #

      or that corperate “greeny” Rasta and all the other branded “free” surfers …all Cat inspired.

      March 7, 2012
  9. Cecilia Spence #

    I loved the notes on your life, very succinct. Then I saw the photos and coming from this generation I appreciate them all, bless them. A wonderful complement to the writing. Many thanks, Cecilia Spence

    June 9, 2011
  10. . . . then I had to go and have a look at this page didn’t I! So much to cry about, so much to laugh about and all adding up to that one little four-letter word called life.

    June 9, 2011
    • heya Patti, it’s all over too quick isn’t it …

      June 9, 2011
  11. Hey Pete, not sure if we’ve met, seems likely…discovered this stuff only recently and love your take on what old mate McGregor might term “the surfing life”…I’m currently working on a project that would be enhanced by a few of your memories, such as Anzac House 61 etc. Hope you don’t mind if I email you direct on this. Cheers, Phil Jarratt

    June 16, 2011
    • anytime pj, and if you came from north of the bridge we never met – back then anyway –

      June 16, 2011
  12. I’ve got something for you here :

    September 22, 2011
    • onya Jo, flattered but never humble, ta

      September 24, 2011
  13. Hi Pete,
    my book features on your home page (‘byron bay: the history, beauty and spirit’. can I send a better jpeg of the front cover. if so i need an email address pls. thanks and
    cheers peter duke

    December 7, 2011
    • heya Peter, send it here mate

      I bought a copy last year, read it out all at once – especially the 60’s chapters, even recognised a couple of the girls in one of the pics. Makes a good Christmas present.

      December 7, 2011
  14. Mike Bennett #

    Pete, your website was forwarded to me by Barry “Magoo’s” wife and I thooughly enjoyed it. I lived in Bondi from 59 to 65. Was a member of the Bondi Boardriders Club in “the Day.” Then left on a 2 yr surf safari with Bondi locals, Jimmy Robison and Mike Mckelvey. Then spent 20 years in Hawaii. John “Wheels” Williams, Andy Cochrane and I remain best friends for 50 years now. I am forwarding your website to Andy and he will show to John. John still isn’t too interested in computers. I ended up in Arizona but still take surf safaries to Hawaii twice a year to see the guys and have a surf. FYI I submitted a variety of articles to surfing Keep up the good work and I look forward to future ariticles. Mike Bennett alias the “Canadian Kook.”
    Footnote- the gal that “turned in” the Hawaii “stowaways” was Kerry Yates @ the Sydney Daily Telegraph. She was the first journalist to begin reporting on the Sydney surf scene on a daily basis. In spite of her folly Kerry was a great girl and did a lot for the cause.

    January 5, 2012
  15. Howareya mike – have a look at the old ghosts page mate – therein you will find ‘ the canadian kook. ‘ You blokes were a little older than me, we just hung around and took lessons . I’ve been in touch with Deb Magoo lately, she printed the magoo post for the old boy.

    Good to have you in touch mate

    January 5, 2012
    • Mike Bennett #

      Howdy from Arizona Pete, it sure is fun to catch up on the old days of Bondi, especially pulling up at the south end after work, and checking out the surf. After a late surf off to the Astra for a late counter lunch an a couple of middies. It couldn’t get any better than that could it mate. FYI talked to Andy Cochrane this week and he denied everything said about him in your articles- However after I kept “bagging” him he admitted to everything, even carrying the comb in the back pocket of his cozzies! It still p….s me off though, that he has so much hair!!! And of course he still loves the ladies, and they love him. Andy is still pretty new to the internet so I’ll help him to keep up with the goings on. Keep up the good work Pete, every time I check out your site I find a lot more fun interesting stuff. Mike Bennett, “The Canadian Kook.”

      January 8, 2012
      • Arizona coming up Mike – two surfers passing through in’64 – it has everything.

        January 8, 2012
  16. mark #

    Hey Pete just read your bio. Classic stuff. You sound like a legend mate and someone whom I would love to meet.

    Funny you mentioned being on the road with 2 Steinbeck books. When I was around 14 or 15 I lived in the Bay Area and had some sort of dispute with my Mom which resulted in her grounding me from surfing for 2 weeks. I was chapped and simply refused to accept it so I grabbed my 7’2″ Haut single fin and packed, yes, 2 Steinbeck books and caught a ride over the hill to the corner of Highway 1 and 41st ave on the East side of Santa Cruz. My backpack contained some clothes, $240 cash and little else. Wettie and towel in the boardbag.

    Anyway I was scared shitless as I stuck out my thumb on that freezing winter day headed southbound with plans to settle in central Baja somewhere and simply surf and fish. At that moment a car load of friends pulled over from school and asked what the fuck I was doing and I told them and they were like ” get in our car you idiot so we can talk some sense into you” Right as I was about to do that another car pulled over and asked if I wanted a ride? “Where you headed?,” I asked and he said “Los Angeles for a day then San Diego”.

    I gulped and jumped in and made it was far as San Miguel for 10 days or so then called my Mommy and begged for bus fare back.

    Moral of the story? Never read a fuckin word of those books.

    January 23, 2012
    • Tortilla Flat – one of them had to be tortilla flat

      January 25, 2012
  17. mark #

    No I am far too stupid to pack a smaller, lighter book to cart around the west coast. “Grapes of Wrath” and “East of Eden”. Pretty sure I traded em for for a ham sandwich and a dr. pepper somewhere near La Conchita Point.

    January 25, 2012
  18. hey hey bh – nice to see you around

    February 3, 2012
  19. Greg lester #

    my olds hung out with a couple called bowes back in the 70’s in warriewood. Pretty sure their names were Peter & Angela. If it’s you Ken & Jill say hi. Really enjoy your writing (I said that).

    June 12, 2012
    • Ken eh, .. I ripped the blue bag off the letterbox because a letter needed posting and our relationship flipped like a pancake – so say hi back to him. Who’s idea was it to smoke wild marigolds that other day .. ask him that too / howareya greg .. glad you like the stuff

      June 12, 2012
  20. sjh #

    You ever considered doing a bit on bonza , he is a deadset suspect.

    November 13, 2013
  21. Ask him about the time he de-bagged himself doing a fins first take-off at Bondi, the poor bastard spent a month with his nuts wrapped in bandages, how we laughed. Poor old Bob, bit of an arm waver too, him and Magoo.

    November 13, 2013
  22. sjh #

    I gather that would be fin first mate,still has got his chicken wings and drop arse stance , still having though gotta respect that.

    November 14, 2013
  23. Sharon Cochrane #

    Hi, I’m new to the whole Somerton thing but I believe I’ve matched family members from the large photo, the too young Charlie I don’t believe is Carl Webb. I’m not having any luck with Derek or the great nephew, Stuart. I believe they have taken the one smaller photo , matched ” Charlie, Roy, Grandma and grandpa” but I believe the wrong image is being circulated. I’ve found all birthdates of family members and using womans fashions, known images of family members I dated the photo at ’33. Would love to send you some photos and other info for comparison as I feel he deserves to have ” his “face and a name.

    April 17, 2023

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