Just For Surfing’s Sake


The name Jackman has been synonymous with surfing since the 1950s, a time when boardriding was still very much in its innocence. My Dad’s family grew up in Freshwater, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches which saw the birth of modern surfing in Australia during WW1.

My dad Mick and my uncle Dave were members of Freshwater SLSC, where as kids they quickly learned the skills of the surf and embraced the beach culture that went with it.  By employing young grommets cunning they would ‘borrow’ privately owned 16 foot hollow plywood boards making their first steps into a life of surfing.  As well as becoming proficient watermen they were equally talented musicians, being members of “The Foreshores”, a singing group that backed rockers Col Joye, Johnny O’Keefe and Alan Dale, as well as several TV appearances.  The original surf musos.

Dave was to become one of the foremost pioneers of big wave surfing, after his heroics at conquering the Queenscliff Bombora, in Sydney, in Winter of 1961. The board he rode was a balsa gun around 11 feet in length, built by Joe Larkin. It was the first big wave surfboard ever built in Australia.

Dave was also a member of the first Australian Team to tour Hawaii’s North Shore, featured in several Bruce and Bud Brown(e) films, as well as stuntdoubling in the 1964 Hollywood film, “Ride the Wild Surf”.  After moving to New Zealand in 1963 he continued his involvement in Surf Life Saving, winning numerous ironmen and individual titles as well as building surfboards and boats.  He lived at Murawai Beach until he passed away on 3rd May, 2014, where he was also a life member of the surf club there and a member of the Mangawhai Heads SLSC as well.

Not to be outdone by the boys, my aunty Beth has the honour of being the first Australian Women’s Champion, of which the titles were held at Avalon Beach, Sydney, in 1961.  The 16 year old Beth was presented with her trophy by Isabel Letham — Duke Kahanamoku’s tandem partner of the legendary 1915 surfriding display.  She also competed two years later at Maroubra Beach coming 3rd.

Meanwhile Mick travelled to England in 1962, causing quite a stir at customs with his 9’6” ‘Ironing board’ under his arm.  After saving up working as a council lifeguard in Cornwall, he and friends Bob ‘Neptune’ Walsh and Warren Sullivan left England for a sojourn to the empty and barely surfed waves of Western Europe at the end of summer 1963.  A tradition that lives to this day.

A stint glassing for Bilbo and shaping for Bickers in Newquay led to the opening of Maui Surf Shop with my mum Gill in 1965.  Stocking own built boards, home made bikinis and shorts (the patterns of which were provided by Mick’s mum Mona, who was a seamstress for the Platt’s Label).  True cottage surf industry.

The surf and the culture of the coast has played an important and significant part of my family’s life and continues to do so on various continents, linked by various oceans around the world.