NICK BARKER…. boards and blues

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NICK BARKER…. boards and blues

Melbourne singer/songwriter recently celebrated 30 years in the music industry with a special gig at the Yarraville Club.
Back in the eighties Nick Barker and The Reptiles were one of the hot up and coming bands playing heaps of gigs in Melbourne and Geelong.
I caught up with Nick Barker a few years ago and found out that before music, he was right into surfing.
Nick Barker: ‘I was about seven when I got into surfing. My parents used to always take us for holidays down to the West Coast area especially Aireys Inlet. My first real surfboard was a custom made by one of my sister’s boyfriends and it was called a ’Shark’ and I think he only ever made about four boards. It was a five foot eight swallowtail and then after that I got a Klemm-Bell surfboard.
We used to surf a place called ‘Grinders’ which is near the Jamboree Camp at Anglesea and we used to surf Bells a bit and other weird places like Eastern View and places like that which don’t happen very often. I used to do a lot of surfing around Gibsons Steps too and around the coast a bit more, Johanna occasionally.
The most amazing thing that I saw down that way, there is a break called ‘Suicide’ where you have to jump off these rocks and I saw Wayne Lynch surf it one day. I was too scared to even go out on the ledge and all of a sudden he has just walked down with his board and just jumped off and I didn’t hang around long enough to see how he got in but it was pretty amazing.
Originally I got into surfing just to get out in the water. I think that it has changed a lot over the years and I’ve noticed the guys who are fitter do better whereas years ago it was never as competitive or quite as radical as it is now. There is a lot more emphasis on fitness and training. The reason I got into surfing was just to get outdoors, get into the water you know although you have to be pretty keen to surf in the temperature of this water though!
If I had a choice between being a professional surfer and being a musician, I’d taking surfing for sure. When your in a band it is great but if you had a choice between being a musician and working in an asbestos mine for your health, you’d probably be better off working in an asbestos mine. You just get sick of being out at night in pubs all the time whereas it would be really nice to be outdoors and be out in the water for a living and just travelling around the world surfing. If you had a decent sponsorship it would be fantastic!’
Nick Barker and The Reptiles are still gigging 30 years on. I wonder if he is still surfing???
Written by John Foss