Iconic? And bloody historical! Welcome to Manly

February 12 2012 | Posted in Blog


Hard to believe it was once ILLEGAL to go swimming. But it was.

Local newspaper editor William Gocher defies the law and takes to the water at Manly, this defying action later saw the legalisation of surf swimming in Australia. Nice one, thanks Will.


A few years on, Will's naughty swim results in the beginnings of what will become a cultural identity.

The volunteer Surf Bathing Association of NSW is formed with the aim of maintaining and improving safe swimming conditions on all public beaches.


A bloke from Hawaii, Duke Kahanamoku introduces surfing to Australia at Freshwater Beach. 

Just a few minutes later, the Duke is dropped in on. Well, technically not really – but he does pluck Isabel Letham from the crowd and takes her for a wave. She is petrified, but makes the drop with Duke’s help.


All State groups joined together to become the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia. No one realises at the time, but budgie smugglers will one day be the costume of choice for free-thinking, independent and apparently sane, men who belong to these clubs. Amazing.


1st ever world surfing titles held at Manly Beach.

Bernard “Midget” Farrelly wins the men’s, Phyllis O’Donnell wins the women’s. Two Aussies at the top of the heap from Day 1! 

American Kelly Slater would have won, but he wasn’t born yet.

Midget, a permanent fixture in Manly's surfing history. 


Infamous Coke Surf-a-bout final with Larry Blair defeating Wayne Lynch.

Larry rides a perfect 7-second barrel – a tube so good, it’s still mentioned on surfing websites 34 years later.

World's richest? maybe, but not enough money to afford comfortable chairs for the judges.

Australian Larry Blair victorious after defeating Wayne Lynch.


Damien Hardman and Gary Elkerton surf off for the world title in the semi-finals of the Coke Classic.

Hardman wins. Gary nearly wins three more times.

Damien Hardman on his way to winning his first (of 2) world titles.


A teenager by the name of Taj Burrow, wins his first ever world tour event, the Coke Classic. It’s the most recent ASP Men’s Pro Tour event to be held at Manly. Burrow returns 13 years later to compete in the Australian Open of Surfing. Welcome back, kid.

The last Mens World Tour event to be held at Manly was in 1999.


Manly local, Layne Beachley, becomes Australia’s most successful-ever competitive surfer by winning her fifth world title on the trot. She wins two more just to put the achievement beyond all doubt. Like really, really, really beyond doubt. She still rips. Keep an eye for her around the event.


Tyler Wright sets a new ASP record as the youngest ever competitor to win a world tour event, the Beachley Classic, via the trials. She is 14. Wright returns to Manly four years later to compete in the Australian Open of Surfing. Welcome back, kid.

Australian Tyler Wright claimed her maiden world tour victory as a 14 year old at the Beachley Classic


The Australian Open of Surfing takes place on Manly Beach. Swimming is still legal. Dudes are still wearing budgie smugglers, the skating is incredible, the Channel [V] music stage goes off. Isabel Letham and Duke are riding perfect waves in the sky, (@#duke&izzy)