Surf's Up: The Waxhead Diaries

2y ago


Words: Karlee Sangster Photography: Luke Ray

Growing up on Sydney’s northern beaches, an area rich in surf history, Matt has not only become one of the country’s best surfers, but one of surf culture’s greatest historians. His attraction to the past has influenced every aspect of his life, from his surfing style, to his musical tastes, to the car he drives.

Surfing was introduced to Australia in 1914, but it was not until the late 1950s and early 1960s that it really gained popularity. Before this time surfboards were long and harshly constructed out of a variety of wood products; hence the activity was almost exclusively reserved for experienced water men and lifeguards.

The year of 1957 was Australia’s first introduction to a lighter, more user friendly surfboard called the ‘Malibu’. Coupled with the emergence of Hollywood films, music and television programs like ‘Gidget’, surfing really hit the mainstream and people’s lifestyles around the world began revolving around the ocean.

Emerging surf culture has influenced Matt’s life, in the same way as it influenced the lives of youngsters worldwide 50 years ago. By the early ‘60s a complete genre of ‘surf’ music had developed along with a popular dance style called the ‘Stomp’, which challenged the popular 1950s rockabilly and blues played throughout the western world. An evident shift in clothing, hairstyles and even language further tested the dominant ‘rocker’ image, and a clear rift formed among youth in the towns along the East Coast of Australia.

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