High school buddies and beach buggy on Rainbow Beach, Queensland (left to right): Kevin Lind, Graham Willett, Peter Sheppard (seated), Dave Clarke, Bruce Cowper, Norm Tong and Les Nixon. Photographer: Ron Lockens – keen surfer and recognised AFL photographer.
1966 – it was the year Bob Dylan first toured Australia, the US started bombing north Vietnam and John Lennon first laid eyes on Yoko Ono. It was also a time when footballs were being swapped for surfboards on weekends, as popularity for chasing waves was exploding along coasts.
Seven teenagers from Queensland with freshly cut drivers licenses in their back pockets and the sun on their shoulders headed out to Double Island Point, north of Noosa, to catch the perfect wave.
Double Island Point, Queensland Photo: Ron Lockens
Double Island Point was the place of myths and legends for keen wave-riders. A place mentioned in hushed tones amongst local surfers about uncrowded endless breaks. The boys had trucked up their hand-crafted surf buggy to the scrub at Rainbow Beach, to lie in wait for their regular low-tide beach missions to the Point. A petrol drum made do as a tank, with fuel poured down the carburettor to start the engine.
It was the stuff of good memories – cruising along the shoreline in an overloaded unregistered vehicle with no thought for seat belts or beach permits to ‘paradise found’. Surfing the south-side waves after stepping across the burning sands of the Blow. Relaxing in the shade of a Pandanus tree whilst watching the vision of blonde loveliness that was Sue, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, as she wandered up for a chat. Rock-fishing when the swell was down. Unbridled happy times. They wouldn’t miss a trip for quids.
On one cloudy night, misjudging both the incoming tide and the moonlight with only a hand-held Dolphin torch for light, the gang was forced up the hard sand into the soft hills. They hit a large rock hidden in the darkness, spotted too late. With the vehicle crumpled, the boys were left feeling foolish yet lucky for their escape from major harm. Rescued by curious fisherman at sunrise the following day, the young surfers took away their bruises and broken bones but left their beloved battered buggy to rust in the salty dunes. It’s still buried at the spot today.
Almost 50 years on and the guys are still good mates. And while they catch fewer waves together, they do gather each year for a reunion weekend. And you can bet there’s talk of surf and footy.