During the 1960s and 1970s, the wholesome tradition of surf club membership was steadily losing its appeal to the younger generation. Empowered by the short board revolution, local kids bypassed the surf clubs to enjoy the board-riding lifestyle instead. The Nippers program was set up to counteract the decline in club memberships. But, the popularity of surfing continued to grow and the clubbies had to take it on the chin. But, regimes seldom change without some diehards resisting until the bitter end. And so it was with one fearsome Beach Inspector, who took it upon himself to police the division of North and South Bondi, as though an ideological principal hung in the balance.
Recently, the Beach Inspector’s name appeared on Facebook, where a slew of derogatory comments flowed thick and fast. Here are some of those comments:
Mark Coleman: I can remember us paddling out to the boat shed and running in different directions to escape. He used to harass the shit out of us, if we jumped in before the flags were down. Unfortunately, he knew where we lived. So, if he couldn’t catch us, he would try to get dad to hand over our boards. We had a history of disregarding the rules, well, their rules, as well as using offensive language. He could never catch us. But, bugger, he knew where we lived.
Richard Feyn: We paddled all the way to the south end, as he walked along the sand following us. We just hung in the crowd out the back until he left. It was a long paddle, but we laughed all the way!
Michael Zaracostas: I jumped off the rocks at South Bondi, one day, and found the surf was picking up as the tide was dropping. It was so sucky and scary that I paddled north to get in. I saw Johnno walking towards the shoreline, where I was headed, about the middle of the beach. So, when I caught a wave, I gutted it all the way, thinking he wouldn’t take my board, as I wasn’t actually surfing; just trying to save my own life by getting in where the waves were smaller. But, no. He still took my board. No ifs, no buts! Two weeks was the penalty.
Lawrie Williams: The Beach Inspector’s confiscation book reads like an honour roll of Bondi board riders and yes, the infamous Coleman brothers hold the distinction of three siblings listed at different times. I believe I read “cheeky” noted against your entry Marcus! Surprise, surprise! But, haven’t times changed! There are a lot of boardriders amongst the lifeguards these days. I’d like to think I escaped a shit reputation in my time on the beat. A few of my colleagues over the years had a tendency towards being ‘beach cops’ rather than focusing on the big picture, water safety and first aid.
Craig Robinson: He confiscated my pushie for riding on the promenade … made me feel like I’d murdered someone!!