Manly Beach: birthplace of Australian surfing

Manly Beach is the next World Surfing Reserve (WSR). After Malibu (California) and Ericeira (Portugal), the iconic Australian wave site prepares for a special moment. One hundred years ago, Manly Beach saw the first surfboard hit the water shores.


Kelly Slater will officially declare the World Surfing Reserve honour, at a civic ceremony on March 10 2012, at Manly Beach.

“I'm very stoked to be working alongside WSR to lend a voice and help ensure we honor and recognize the beaches that have brought all of us the lifestyle we love so much,” said Slater.

The World Surfing Reserves concept is inspired by UNESCO’s World Heritage model recognizing outstanding zones of universal value. Manly-Freshwater offers four kilometres of outstanding waves.

Surfing has helped mold the unique culture of Sydney, the largest city in Australia, combining the vibrant and cosmopolitan character with a natural coastal lifestyle.

"Manly hosted the first World Surfboard-riding Championship in 1964, which was won by Australian’s 'Midget' Farrelly and Phyllis O’Donnell. Since those days, there has grown a long list of locals, including surfers and surf lifesavers, who have won national and world championships," said Mayor of Manly Jean Hay AM and Chair of the Local World Surfing Reserve Steering Committee.

The birthplace of Australian surfing hosted the first known body surfing contest in 1908. Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku presented Australia's first ever surfing demonstration, in 1914.

In addition to its cultural and historical significance, the coastal and marine environment of the Manly-Freshwater World Surfing Reserve provides habitat for an important ecosystem.

The Reserve boasts one of the largest resident populations of protected weedy sea dragons and a number of threatened and protected species including the eastern water dragon lizard, the grey nurse shark and little penguins.