1945-1960 [text version]


At the end of World War II Sydneysiders hit the road and headed back to the coast.Returned soldiers and eager youngsters joined regimental lifesaving clubs, paddling giant hollow longboards, or ‘toothpicks’, and patrolling crowded beaches. A handful of eager ‘boardmen’, however, were surfing for pleasure.

Lightweight and agile American malibus arrived in 1956, bringing a radical change in boardriding and surf culture. Films of surfers on hair-raising waves abroad and the sugary teen-flick Gidget soon followed, stirring up trouble and sparking a hunger for adventure.

Ross Renwick and Gordon Woods (centre) at Dee Why
Photographer unknown, c1957
Courtesy Gordon Woods
Green shorts

Homemade bikini
Courtesy Naomi Barwick

Camping area, Palm Beach Caravan Park

Photographer unknown, c1950
Warringah LibrarySydney is one of only a few capital cities around the
world that can boast sandy beaches and lively surf at
its doorstep. Since the early 1950s, tourists, holidaymakers
and daytrippers have travelled to Sydney’s
coast to enjoy its well-known attractions, including
idyllic Palm Beach, windswept Wanda and the gritty
urban enclave of Bondi.

Men’s swimming costume

Manly Art Gallery & Museum

Sea wall and barbed wire entanglements on the beach front at Manly

Photographer unknown, 27 November 1942
Australian War Memorial

Sydney’s beaches faced the threat of enemy attack
during World War II. Tank traps, bomb shelters
and barbed wire fences were built along several
city beaches after houses in the Eastern Suburbs
were struck by shelling launched from a Japanese
submarine in June 1942.


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