Don’t Knock The Nulla

Some Sydneysiders knock Cronulla as being just one long beach with fickle surf conditions, however Cronulla is a lot more than just one beach. Some of the best reef breaks on the East Coast can be found within a few minutes of that one long beach. Cronulla Point, Shelley, Sandshoes, Windy Point, Voodoo, the Merries Reefs and of course the infamous Shark Island are all there.

Cronulla or the Nulla as it is called by some locals is a pretty unique place. Bounded on three sides by water Cronulla was fairly isolated with travel in and out of the area fairly difficult prior to the opening of Captain Cook Bridge in the sixties. Hot summer weekends in the fifties and early sixties would bring thousands of beachgoers to Cronulla by train. Cronulla was a Mecca for the original westies.

Nowadays Cronulla is a lot different, the beach culture has always been part of Cronulla's heritage and is deeply entrenched in the make-up of it's people and traditions. When Malibu's first appeared on Sydney beaches during the late fifties members of Cronulla's three Surf Clubs were quick to get on them. During that period Surf Carnivals included malibu boardriding events and the late Bobby Brown, a member of Wanda Surf Club started winning everything.

Within a few years malibu riders split from the surf clubs and boardriders clubs began to appear. The original Cronulla Boardriders Club was established in the early sixties, with surfers such as Ken (Major) Williams, Brian Jackson, Terry Tumeth and Frank Latta being members. I recall attending what I think was the first Club meeting at Wanda Surf Club, that must have been over forty years ago. As a typical grommet of that period I had no idea who was on the committee or who did what, I just wanted to be part of it. The Club was very successful with a huge membership and survived until 1966. A ferry cruise organised by the club turned out to be a pretty wild night. Brian (Jacko) Jackson hit the water even before the ferry had left the wharf. I think the aftermath of the ferry cruise was what brought the club down.

The late Keith Paul was on that ferry cruise. Keith was just one of many top surfers of those days that had moved to Cronulla. Graham Black, Peter Townsend and Michael Peterson all spent lengthy periods surfing in and around Cronulla.

Bobby Brown was a member of the elite Windansea Club and his younger brother Terry, who had also performed well in the Surf Club events, joined Wanda Beach Boardriders Club. WBBR as it was known was formed in 1965 and survived officially until the mid 70's, however past members will argue that the club is still alive in spirit.

After Cronulla Boardriders folded it didn't take long for a new club to be formed. I attended the first meeting with Mick Kent and a few others in a small room on top of South Cronulla Surf Club. We decided due to the amount of surfers now coming from the St George area, north of Botany Bay (Captain Cook Bridge had opened) that we would name the new club St. George Boardriders Club. We all followed the St. George Rugby League team back then, prior to the Sharks Rugby League team starting up. St George was a very strong club, however by 1972 there was something like seven boardriders clubs in Cronulla. Most of them folded during the mid to late 70's.

Around 1979 a new Cronulla Boardriders Club was established. This club, known as the Sharks has been going ever since and is now one of the strongest shortboard clubs around. Occy was a member of the Sharks and occasionally returns to the Nulla to have a surf with the club.

Throughout the seventies and early eighty's a few mals were still being ridden. In 1984 a Cronulla mal rider named Dave Ryan won the Byron Bay Malibu Classic from a field of 96. The final was a tough one with John Giles and Rusty Miller finishing second and third respectively. At the presentation Dave pledged that he would start up a Malibu Club in Cronulla on his return.

Later that year in the spring, the Southside Malibu Boardriders Club was born. Membership forms were handed out at the beach and a letter appeared in TRACKS magazine. Within 3 months the club had about 30 keen members. Luke Streater, Paul Lawson and Paul Van Dam were original members and are still members today. Photographer Tim Vanderlaan was an early member of the club as was Dave Wilson and son Dane. Initial sponsors were most notably Jackson Surfboards and Malibu Rum. Jackson Surfboards are still a major sponsor of the club.

Southside Malibu Club Cronulla Inc. now has over 100 members. The club in typical Cronulla style is very competitive, yet is passionately socially active as well. Among it's members are names from the past such as Terry Tumeth, Andy Britton and Jack Eden all members of the original Cronulla Boardriders Club. Peter Glasson, Jimmy Gilroy, Peter Bazley, Ian McDonald and Phil Farrell to name just a few were also members of St. George Boardriders Club. Another Southside member, Terry (TB) Brown who is probably the oldest grommet around will tell you that his garage is actually the Wanda Beach Boardriders Clubhouse.

Larry Beaver
Historian Southside Malibu Club Incorporated