Australia’s Century of Surf

Australia’s Century of Surf marks the centenary of the great Hawaiian Olympic swimmer and surfer Duke Kahanamoku’s visit to Australia in 1914. Duke was not the first to ride a surfboard in Australia, but his surfing exhibitions in the Summer of 1914-15 set in motion a great wave of oceanic obsession that continues to this day. Surfing has morphed from exotic curio to regimented training for lifesavers, from counterculture revolution to respectable mainstream sport. Along the way, it’s shaped our coastal migrations, spawned vast business empires and design innovations, produced sport stars and spectacular casualties, and helped the beach overtake the bush as our national, natural habitat of choice. Australia’s Century of Surf weaves all these threads into a compelling story of how the simple act of wave riding came to shape a nation. And how that nation, in turn, came to shape the surfing world.

“Tim Baker’s Australia’s Century of Surf is as much about story-telling as it is about documenting our rich history and there are some ripping yarns in this hardcover. Every page is warm with character and spilling over with unique personality. There’s no punches pulled either, it covers the drugs and the forgotten icons and challenges the history of surfing as it has been documented and taken for fact. Not something to sit around and look pretty, or to be stored for reference (although it can sufficiently serve those purposes too) this is a killer read for any Australian surfer.” Surfing World Magazine

“It’s unlikely any book will ever be able to tell the full history of surfing in Australia but this one goes further than any of its predecessors.”  John Morcombe, The Manly Daily

“You know that a culture has finally come of age when it no longer resorts to self-congratulatory myth-making. This alternative history of Australian surfing is an impressive and welcome milestone in surf culture’s maturation process, giving fresh emphasis to neglected elements of its history. Provocatively, Tim Baker argues that the most influential surfer in this history was Sir Adrian Curlewis, president of the Surf Life Saving Association for 40 years. Other revisions include crediting the shortboard and power surfing revolution to the ‘cruelly marginalised’ Peter Drouyn. Baker also dares to criticise the surf industry for doing ‘more harm than good’. However, while he acknowledges the gender bias of the surf media and the misogyny that has warped surf culture until recently, he does little to redress the imbalance. This said, there is much to relish in this bold and refreshing work.”  Fiona Capp, the Melbourne Age

“Beautifully written and lavishly illustrated.”  Brisbane Courier-Mail.

“A beautiful publication with really well chosen subject matter and topics and only the very best photos from the period. A better Christmas present for any Australian surfer I could not imagine. Deserves to be studied endlessly in school homes and libraries all over this great land just like ‘A Pictorial History of Surfing’ was when I was a kid. Loved Bob Pike and Ant Corrigan on the inner sleeve.”  Monty Webber, surfer, writer, film maker

Watch an interview with 1939 Australian surfboard champion Harry Wicke here.

Listen to Tim’s interview with Geraldine Doogue on ABC Radio National here.

Read Tim’s article about Australia’s most influential surfer in the Daily Telegraph.  

Read Tim’s interview with Swellnet about Century of Surf.