When Clubbies Ruled Australia

Racing 16 boards, Bondi, 1948
Manly Beach, 1942
Freshwater Surf Life Saving club boat
Surfoplanes, Bondi, 1930s
Snowy McAlister

Surfing pioneer work was underway during the 1930s in Lima, Durban, Rio, and a few other coastal cities. But the surf world remained for the most part tri-cornered—practiced in Australia, Hawaii, and California by less than three thousand people total—and each region was separated from the others by layers of cultural and geographic insulation. More than 7,500 miles of Pacific Ocean separated Los Angeles and Sydney, for example, without a single wire, cable, or satellite connecting the two. O...

World War I had brought horrific carnage to this young gung-ho nation—60,000 dead and 170,000 wounded Australian soldiers, out of a total population of 5 million. In the postwar years it seemed like the entire country went to the beach for healing and reconciliation.