The Big Issue : Edition 449
26 THE BIG ISSUE 10 -- 23 JAN 2014 Why would a strapping local who could even do on-board headstands be upstaged two years later by a visitor? Because, Baker suggests, Duke makes a better story. Also, his book makes clear, because surf-bathing – let alone lairising on a board – was regarded as disreputable behaviour well into the 20th century. In 1907, Mayor Watkins of the Waverley shire (which included Bondi Beach) protested in the Telegraph: “What we saw at Bondi was disgusting! Some of these surf bathers are nothing but exhibitionists, putting on V trunks and exposing themselves… They are in a worse manner than if they were nude.” Yet within a few years it was clear that Mayor Watkins was fghting a losing battle. In 1911, The Argus in Melbourne declared: “No man who has learnt to shoot breakers can ever give up the surf. It calls to him always afterwards. It becomes a passion, almost a vice.” Then Duke came calling in his form- ftting cossie. And even women – women, Mayor Watkins! – broke out the boards. Australia, Baker claims, “became the greatest surfng nation on earth”. In a neat piece of symmetry, Baker was there in Hawaii, Duke’s country, last month when Australia’s Mick Fanning nailed a couple of rides to snare his third surfng world title. But the Seagulls’ Tommy Walker wouldn’t have been overly impressed. Fanning used his feet, not his head. by Alan Attwood Australia’s Century of Surf, by Tim Baker, is out now. All photos featured are from the book.