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Plastic Machine

Bob McTavish. Photo: Ron Stoner
Bob McTavish, 1967. Photo: Bruce Duncan
Nat Young, 1967
Midget Farrelly,1967. Photo: Dick Graham
Keith Paull, 1967. Photo: Jeff Carter

Bob McTavish missed the 1966 World Championships, as the US Department of State had red-flagged McTavish, a known stowaway, as a deportee and wouldn’t issue him a visa. He also (mostly) steered clear of the contest’s blustering Aussie vs America postscript. In February 1967, McTavish moved from Queensland back to Sydney. He got a job shaping for Keyo Surfboards in Brookvale, and took a room with surf moviemaker Paul Witzig—John’s older brother—in the quiet shorefront suburb of Palm Beach. Fou...

It was a bizarre piece of surfcraft: thicker in the rear than the middle, with a sloping squared-off tail that looked as if it belonged on the back of a yacht. Across the bottom, in huge psychedelic longhand, McTavish wrote "Plastic Machine." The name stuck.