Godfathers of Surfing to Launch Surf Festival


The Byron Bay Surf Festival kicks off tomorrow night and is to be launching in style, graced by doyens of the community for its opening night and discussion of the sport’s history.

Bob McTavish and Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew AM are some of the key figures in surfing’s colourful history, certainly within Australia, and will be going tête-à-tête to present two unique insights of surfing’s evolution over three pivotal decades for the festival’s Opening Ceremony.

No less impressive, the evening’s compère will be Phil Jarratt, himself possessing a profound wealth of knowledge of surfing through the ages. Jarratt has written numerous books on a diverse range of topics, from a biography of 11-time World Champion, Kelly Slater to Australian beach culture. Salts & Suits, one of Jarratt’s most recent works, is a documentation of the creation and evolution of surfing as a professional sport, a story in which Bartholomew is pivotal.

Bob McTavish preceded this period, which spanned the majority of the 1970s, an innovator of longboarding then, more profoundly, a primary instigator of the shortboard revolution.

McTavish’s was a time of social outcast, exploration and solitude, Bartholomew’s an unreserved plunge into the limelight, a part selfish but predominantly selfless yearning to create a viable career of the sport of surfing.

Despite their heydays being very much of yesteryear, both eminent gentlemen are still significantly ingrained in the industry, McTavish as head shaper of his own brand, Bartholomew as, until recently, international president of the Association of Surfing Professionals, an association of which he himself was instrumental in establishing. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and honours, including several inductions into Surfing Halls of Fame around the world and the Order of Australia for his work in environmental awareness.

This fascinating dialogue of retrospection will doubtlessly prove to be an inspiring dissection of surfing spanning almost five decades, through board design, its commercialisation, the characters it created and its intrinsic sense of community, culture and creativity – an experience not to be missed by anyone with even the remotest interest in surfing.

At the conclusion of this fascinating discussion, the Band of Frequencies will be performing as part of their national ‘Rise Like the Sun’ album release tour. The Band of Frequencies has been going from strength to strength, a significant musical presence in the surfing community, both in their outspoken support of Sea Shepherd and ocean conservation, but also providing soundtracks to several surf films and featuring at many surf events.

Superb musicians in their own right, their latest release has been receiving exceptional reviews, including being revered as a potent and honest collection of songs that speak volumes about their intriguing journey by Triple J’s Unearthed and receiving the QLD Music Awards ‘Best Blues/Roots Song’ award for the track ‘Golden’.

Guaranteed to get the venue pumping, the Band of Frequencies will ignite the torch and embody the energy that will burn brightly for what is promising to be an absolutely stellar second annual Byron Bay Surf Festival.

Extending the evening’s stimulation, the Opening Ceremony will serve as the launch of a three weeks-long exhibition of work by a swathe of international artists. Event co-founder, James McMillan will lead the display, featuring artists from Hawaii, Japan, Germany, New York, England and New Zealand, including John Witzig, Justin Crawford, Ozzie Wright, Tom Carroll, Shelli Bankier, Michelle Lockwood (NYC), Heather Brown (Hawaii), Karlee Mackie and former Billabong photographer, Hilton Dawe.

Spanning the duration of the festival’s long weekend, this free exhibition at the Byron Bay Brewing Company will feature a stunning array of works in numerous media, including photography, collage, metalwork, printmaking and, of course, paint.

The Byron Bay Surf Festival Opening Ceremony and ‘Surf Culture Now’ Art & Photography exhibition takes place at the Byron Bay Brewing Company from 7pm on Friday, 26th October. It is sure to be an incredibly popular occasion so early arrival will be essential.

The Byron Bay Surf Festival, 26th – 28th October 2012. Please visit www.byronbaysurffestival.com for full event information, program and much more.


  1. Been coming to Byron for 15 years, miss this but you could bring these guys to Melbourne like the Lopez conversations and Morning of the Earth Nights. Huge Interest down here. or move the festival to Sept. Andy

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