Australia's first surfing photograph

December 30, 2011 | Surfing
Tommy Walker: he performed a headstand on his heavy wooden surfboard in 1912

Australia's first surfing photograph was taken in 1912 and showed Tommy Walker performing a headstand on his heavy wooden surfboard while riding a wave at Main Beach, Yamba.

The historic surf photo was taken by Osric Burston Notley, a former Yamba Surf Club member.

The man accredited with introducing surfing to Australia, back in 1909, will be remembered with the inaugural Tommy Walker Surf Classic, a surf contest set down for Main Beach on January 2, 2012.

Walker spent his childhood on Sydney's northern beaches and had the opportunity to visit Hawaii as a seaman in 1908. In the Pacific islands, he bought his first surfboard for $US2 and traveled with it to Australia.

Historical reports of the Manly Surf Club tell that Tommy Walker and friends tested surfboards around Manly in 1911.

The "Yamba 1911-12" inscription on the back of the photos proves the age of the surf photo legacy, and the photo was kept by several generations of surfers.

The first edition of the Tommy Walker Surf Classic will feature a surfing exhibition, with guests from around Australia riding longboard replicas from the same period, a static exhibition of surfboards, images, and surfing memorabilia from the past eras, in the Pacific Hotel.

All these incredible pieces of Australia's surfing history are studied and recovered by Ray Moran, historian of the Manly Life Saving Club.

"There is a 1909 photo taken of Tommy at Manly standing alongside his surfboard on the beach - it’s a nice portrait, but he’s not surfing," Moran explains.

The world's best surfers and shapers like Rod Dahlberg and Albert Fox, both of Angourie and Tom Wegener, of Noosa Heads, will also discuss the multiple facets of surfing with the general public in several workshops.

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