Cronulla Back Then


Cronulla Back Then, 1958

For more than a century Cronulla has been a popular swimming and wave-riding mecca. Throughout this time the Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club has maintained its fine record of safety for all. As a young member of the club back in 1958 I remember the beach well.

The 16ft surfboard paddlers depicted on the beach have returned from a training session with seaward paddles to Wanda Beach and beyond. Among these plywood hollow speed craft is what's now known as the "transitional board" (purely designed for wave riding). Its inspired arrival occurred during the American Life Guard Team visit to Australia in conjunction with the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. The team visit to Cronulla was an amazing awakening for us all with the witnessing of their balsa wood surf craft and the skills they displayed on small waves off Cronulla Point.

Without the availability of balsa wood in Australia for several years, our innovative surfboard builders managed to create similar craft from plywood timber, nails and glue. The result was the plywood, hollow, rounded wood rail surfboard with a deep single tail fin. Seen here is a lucky surfer with the transitional board proudly held under his arm, and two mates checking it out. Up the beach the speed boys are doing some time refining their beach flag skills. Most of these members were also beach sprint runners. Busting its way out through the shore break is the Cronulla surf boat about to put in some power rowing as part of their training program. During this era the Cronulla rowing teams excelled in inter state and national rowing titles. Along the beach the coach of the R and R team is laying down some rules to heighten their performance. Our fastest ocean swimmers were the strength of the R and R teams.

The original surf club building is depicted here, including the beach pavilion as it was built back in 1937. I remember it well as a young surf club member in 1958 and have painted it as it was back then.