Torquay Surfing Pioneers


Rip Curl, Pioneers, Surfing, Torquay history
c Chris Barr

There were many styles identifying the groups of young people in the 70s. There was the Sharpies, the Rockers, the Mods, the Bodgies, the Surfie and then there were the Surfers.

A surfie would bleach their hair with peroxide and put boards on their roof racks and drive around the streets and possibly never go near the water. On the other hand, the Surfers, looking for peace and freedom found it on the beach. While they looked for perfect waves, their girlfriends sat soaking up the sun and waiting.

The early surfers found Bells Beach was great to get a feed of crays, then realizing there were also great waves, which was handy when Torquay wasn’t pumping. The popularity of Bells Beach grew slowly and others outside of the surf club began to be drawn to the surf there.


Mick O’Donnell

A very fit M O'Donnell at Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club during a carnival in 1953
A very fit M O’Donnell at Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club during a carnival in 1953

Michael Joseph O’Donnell (Mick) was a prominent businessman owning and operating the Moffat Beach newsagency, a backhoe and roof cleaning business and Gala Tiles, which apparently was the first tile shop on the Sunshine Coast. Mick was a very experienced sailor who was acknowledged by the sailing fraternity and a pioneer of surfing / surf lifesaving in Torquay. Just before his death, Mick self published the story of his life titled ‘A Little Bit o’ Luck’. This is one of the chapters from his book, posted with kind permission of his son Gary O’Donnell.


Joe Sweeney

s. Geelong Advertiser 2/4/2016
s. Geelong Advertiser 2/4/2016




Peter Troy








Vic Tantau





Kevin “Mumbles” Walker





Surfing Industry

Rip Curl, Boston Road, Torquay, Surfing, Torquay History
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Ripcurl humble beginnings

History of Ripcurl



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