Long Road to Bells Beach

Bob McTavish, Bells, 1965. Photo: John Witzig
Rip Curl, Torquay, early '70s
Quiksilver's Alan Green. Photo: Stephen Cooney.
Wayne Lynch, Bells, 1970. Photo: Colin Spencer
Geoff McCoy, 1971

Morning of the Earth and Tracks made it look as if Australia had forsworn surfing competition altogether. In fact the Aussies never really took to the anti-contest barricades with the same enthusiasm as the Americans—hardly surprising, given that cricket, tennis, soccer, swimming, and Aussie rules football provided a background hum for the entire country, and that most Aussie surfers cut their teeth at surf carnivals. It was practically expected that surfers like Midget Farrelly, Nat Young, a...

“Easter Bells” would come to mean the Bells contest itself, the pilgrimage to and from Victoria, lots of extracurricular surfs sessions at nearby breaks like Winkipop, and at least three big nights at the Torquay Pub, where the barkeep, as one surf journalist noted, “announces closing time with the aid of a fire hose."