Bombora - The Story of Australian Surfing


Please Select Your Pricing Category

2009, 2 x 55 Minutes

A definitive history of surfing in Australia, Bombora tells the story of Australian beach culture through our surfing champions, writers, pioneers, entrepreneurs, mavericks, legends, drop-outs and drop-ins.

The two-part series follows the rise of surfing and its culture in Australia, using archival footage and classic Australian music to illustrate its growing importance in Australian society in the 20th century and beyond. From the time we learnt to bodysurf, to our first attempts on boards, to Duke Kahanamoku’s 1914 visit which kicked off surfing’s roll to popularity, Australians have taken the surf and made it our own, spawning international legends such as Midget Farrelly, Nat Young and seven-time world champion Layne Beachley, along with global surfwear brands.

Set against a changing world, Bombora follows the history of surfing from its maverick early days, through three significant wars and a depression, the development of surf clubs and the ensuing battles between lifesavers and surfers, the sea-change seeking drug culture of the 1970s and its shift to a cleaner, more professional sport in the late 1980s.

Bombora interviews a rich seam of Australian characters, including our first surf champion Isabel Letham, author and surfer Tim Winton, legendary surfboard shaper Bob McTavish, accidental entrepreneur and Rip Curl founder Doug Warbrick and former world champion surfers Barton Lynch and Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew. It looks at the rise of women surfers, such as Layne Beachley, and the explosion of Australian labels including Billabong, Rip Curl and Quiksilver, which helped to cement Australia’s position as a global force in international surfing.

EPISODE 1 Global surfing culture is a mix of wildness, grace and cool that is utterly Australian, but how did a nation of people, who mostly couldn’t swim, turn a Polynesian pastime into a national obsession and international cultural force? From the time we first took on the waves in the late 19th century, Australians were hooked on surfing. Episode one of Bombora looks at the early years of Australian surf history from 1830 to 1964.

EPISODE 2 In the early days of Australia’s surf history, young people found a place to live out their dreams of innocence and freedom in the surf, but it wasn’t to last. With the Vietnam War came an influx of drugs and surfers led a rebellious counter-culture as they dropped out of society to escape to country towns along the coast, while elsewhere a group of entrepreneurial surfers began backyard businesses making wetsuits and board shorts. Episode two of Bombora looks at the later years of Australian surf history from 1967 to the present.

A Screen Australia National Interest Program. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia/Bombora Film and Music, Australia Broadcasting Corporation.

FREE Teachers' Notes - Download here



Producer: Greg Appel

Director: Paul Clarke & Greg Appel

Year: 2009

Running Time: 2 x 55 Minutes

Featured People:

EP1 Professor Richard Waterhouse, Nick Carroll, Ray Moran, Isabel Letham, Nat Young, Charles “Snowy” McAlister, Dick Evans, Gordon Woods, Scott Dillon, Patty Hurst, Bernard “Midget” Farrelly, David “The Mexican” Sumpter, Gordon Woods, John Witzig, Joe Sweeney, Bob McTavish, Tim Winton, Lynne Holmes, Bob Evans, Dick Evans, Phyllis OʼDonnell, Bruce Channon.

EP2 Nick Carroll, Nat Young, Bob McTavish, Wayne Lynch, John Witzig, Rob Conneeley, Tim Winton, Phil Jarratt, Nat Young, Terry Fitzgerald, Doug Warbrick, Alan Green, Shane Stedman, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Rabbit Bartholomew, Mark Richards, Tom Carroll, Simon Anderson, Pam Burridge, Kathy Lette, Gabrielle Carey, Mark Occhilupo, Barton Lynch, Layne Beachley, Doug Warbrick, Paul Paterson, Beau Young.

Classification: M. Consumer advice: Infrequent coarse language. NB A 'schools' version of Episode 2 is available.

Curriculum Links: English; SOSE; Business; Australian Studies and Cultural Studies; Surf Science.

A 'schools' version of Episode 2 is available. See the study guide for further information about how this differs from the broadcast version.


Surf Beach

SKU 200800300
Brand Film Australia

More From This Category