Northern beaches of Manly-Freshwater versus Bondi Beach
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 21 November, 2017 - The jury is still out, seemingly. Where is the true and historical birthplace of surfing in Australia? Some say Manly while some say Bondi.
Two Australian Prime Ministers (current and former) are riding different waves of historical interpretation – at odds between the classic northern beaches of Manly-Freshwater - or the CBD cosmopolitan Bondi Beach; two high-powered electorates and surfing beaches separated by a harbour entrance and political and personal divides.
At noon on December 2, the current Liberal PM, Bondi Icebergs swimmer, former investment banker, Republic of Australia champion, Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull MP, will declare Bondi Beach, via the NSW Crown Lands Act of 1989, gazetted as Australia’s 20th National Surfing Reserve – and by the office he currently duly holds: the ‘birthplace of Australian surfing culture’.
There is, however, a historical point of contention between eastern suburbs Turnbull and his northern suburbs counterpart, Tony Abbott MP (who Turnbull deposed as PM) as to which side of the nations’ harbour is the authentic surfing birthplace icon.
“Northern Beaches Manly-Freshwater is most accurately the embryo of Australian surfing culture,” says surfing historian Brad Farmer, founder of National Surfing Reserves and Surfrider Foundation Australia, adding “but I will leave it up to the people and the politicians to be the better judge.”
Editor's Note: Duke Kahanamoku demonstrated the Hawaiian board riding technique at Freshwater (or Harbord) in Sydney in 1915
In what began in 1992 in Australia as a simple conservation initiative by Farmer, National Surfing Reserves has grown into a global phenomenon with over 30 Reserves worldwide from Hawaii to Malibu, Portugal to Phillip Island.
In 2012 Hawaii adopted the National Surfing Reserve model led by Senator Fred Hemmings and other nations are following closely in an expanding movement to recognise surfing destinations of intrinsic sporting, social, historic and cultural importance to surfing nations. South Africa, Indonesia, Fiji and the United States are also candidates for future National Surfing Reserve status assessing which iconic sites should be nominated.
Bondi will become the 20th Australian National Surfing Reserve in the award-winning program and the fifth in Sydney, after Manly-Freshwater (also a World Surfing Reserve) Maroubra, North Narrabeen and Cronulla.
National Surfing Reserves formally acknowledge the surfing way of life and link past, present and future generations with our oceans, waves and coastline, including Traditional Owners, Gadigal of the Eora Nation.