SURF-O-RAMA… A historical look at the beat of the beach.

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SURF-O-RAMA… A historical look at the beat of the beach.

Lorne surfer Murray Walding has just updated his book SURF-O-RAMA. The original book was an amazing treasure trove of surf art, posters and music. The new edition packs in more boards, more posters and a forward by surfing legend Bob McTavish.

As a young surfer and writer, Walding was influenced by surf and beat culture in the sixties. “The beat/hippy speak of surf mags in 1967 to around 69 – I liked that ‘stream of consciousness’ style. It took me a while to get that style out of my system. But I was a trained teacher so had read widely and picked up a few hints about dynamics – the rest of it I made up as I went along. I wrote a feature on shipwrecks at surf-spots in Ted Bainbridge’s Breakaway Magazine in the mid seventies, but didn’t do anything more until I had a feature in the Herald Sun about Melbourne discotheques. I was then asked to put together some brief news pieces for Phil Jarratt when he started the Australian Surfers Journal. He ran a newsletter in conjunction with it and because my wife and I were running the Lorne Surf Shop, we had a bit of insight into local surf news.”

Walding enjoys writing about surfing and poster art, with Californian artist Rick Griffin being a big influence. “The work of Rick Griffin, whether its his gig posters or surf posters are what I really love… so my number one favourite is Pacific Vibrations. After that, I’d go with the Endless Summer, High on a Cool Wave and the Hot Generation.

“The Melbourne night club scene of my era and pop poster styles are also my favourites. I’m too old to write much about the contemporary music scene but I’m always researching historic pop venues. It’s the history hidden in their walls that intrigues me. That’s my current project.”

The first edition of SURF-O-RAMA came out in 2008. It was groundbreaking in the way it celebrated and explored aspects of Australian surf culture, from the first surfing demonstration by the Duke in 1915 to the explosion of surf culture in the sixties. “We’ve always had a unique surf culture in this country that was mostly based around the surf life saving movement, but when surfing first exploded in the late fifties and early sixties, there were no contemporary youth/teen magazines. So surf magazines, in a stilted kind of way, opened up youth culture. It was a similar thing with the Gidget, Rock and Roll, and Beach party movies. As cheesy and as exploitative as they were, kids were able to dial into what was happening – whether it was jazz or surf music, or fashion. But the surf flavoured mags and flix certainly got people in the water on boards, and then into the surf clubs doing the stomp. Listen to Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs ‘Mashed Potato. You can’t do the Twist or the Jive to it, but you can do the Stomp – same with Poison Ivy. And that cross over between music and beach culture continued right up to bands like the Mentals and Oils. It all went hand in hand, until the surf industry decided to run with skate and street wear, then it lost its identity and all fell apart.”

You can pick up a copy of the new edition of SURF-O-RAMA at most good book stores or visit Murray at his shop Wild On The Beach in Lorne, opposite the Erskine River.

Written by John Foss