10 January 20
The Waves & Wheels exhibition at the Australian National Surfing Museum celebrates the relationship between surfers and their cars in the 1960s and 1970s.
Through rare surf film footage, vintage surf photographs, interactive displays, panel van experience and Great Ocean Road game, visitors can immerse themselves in the surfing road trip and experience surfing’s sense of adventure.
Shorter, lighter surfboards fed a surfing boom as music, fashion and language became centered on the beach. Surf adventure became a central part of the surfing experience as surfers and their friends started exploring the Australian coast in wagons, vans and other trusty surfmobiles in search of fun times and perfect waves.
The major car companies (Ford, Holden and Chrysler) released surfing specific models and often appropriated surfing culture in their mainstream advertising. Sandman, Sundowner and Drifter panel vans were soon hitting the road, available in hyper colours featuring over the top graphics and advertising that made serious surfers cringe. For many van life was reality, with surfers greeted by a wide open road, and very few rules.
For flat days surfers invented skateboards (miniature wheeled surfboards) to maintain their stoke, invading footpaths, roadways and carparks to go sidewalk surfing (as the American’s called it). Originally inspired by surfing, skateboard moves would find their way back to the beach, with modern surfers adapting skateboard moves into their surfing repertoire.
The exhibition features vintage surfmobile images from around Australia, classic surf vehicle footage pieced together from his extensive archive by premiere surf film maker Jack McCoy, a multi media panel van experience featuring a trip down Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, interview footage and surf music, model surf cars, skateboards, roof racks and occy straps, selected quotes from the book “Surfing Roadies”, a tyre off the first vehicle into Bells, a door off the “Charger” South Australian Seaview Road Boardriders club mobile clubroom, and a Great Ocean Road game kids can play.
Open every day 9am - 5pm at 77 Beach Road Torquay, Waves and Wheels will run until December 2020.
REPORT BY CRAIG BAIRD / AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL SURFING MUSEUM