Mandurah has always had a tight-knit surfing community. From the legends of the late 50s and 60s who discovered many of today's popular surfing spots, to the up and comers making a name for themselves in today's scene.
Bruce Ellis, surfer, photographer and Mandurah local, decided to collect these stories of surfers young and old and share them in a 200-page, hardcover book he published in December. The three-year journey, starting with an idea in 2019 and ending with a published book, was a work of labour and love.
Chatting about the inspiration behind the book, Mr Ellis said the idea arose from stories he'd recently read about the community.
"Around that time, there were heaps of crime and drug stories and I was just getting sick of hearing it, to be honest.
"I just wanted to do something positive for Mandurah. I've grown up here, I loved it and still love it," Mr Ellis said.
A surfer for more than 30 years, Mr Ellis grew up catching waves.
"I actually learnt to surf right here [Town Beach] when I was about 10. All my mates at school surfed and so I got into it, and I've been surfing ever since," he said.
The book, 'Mandurah Surf: The Characters and the Coast', is a collection of interviews of 50 surfers throughout the decades who all lived in Mandurah or surfed there regularly. It delves into each surfer's stories of their time in the community.
"Everyone loved Mandurah. It was the place to be, everyone came here to holiday. You speak to the older surfers like Teena Christon, one of the earliest surfers from out here in the 60s. She was living in Falcon and she'd say that all week there was no one here, then come the weekend there'd be hundreds, partying, camping, surfing.
"Stories get lost in time, so I was trying to capture it all here," Mr Ellis said.
While the book explores the stories of past and present surfers, Mr Ellis also focuses on the changes over time to the coastline and how this has impacted the surfing community.
"The main changes have been to the coast. Things like erosion just because coastal developments are built so close to the beach. The waves aren't as good quality anymore since all the development, like the Dawesville Cut. This beach here [Town Beach], there used to be dry sand out there," Mr Ellis said, indicating a few hundred metres off the shoreline of Town Beach.
"People would surf all the way from Doddi's point and all out on this sand bar," Mr Ellis said, again indicating to the same spot a little ways out from the beach.
"But none of this [Town Beach] even breaks anymore. People would come from all over the state and even Australia to surf here, it was quite a hotspot. Now it's gone."
While the changing coastline has impacted some of the more popular surfing spots, Mr Ellis said the surfing community in Mandurah was still tight-knit and similar to how it was back in the 60s and 70s.
"There are a lot more people surfing now so it's really good. Everyone still knows each other," Mr Ellis said.
He added that the response to the book had been fantastic, with local cafes such as Mataya Eatery and DPM Cafe, and surf shops such as Star Surf + Skate, displaying the book in their stores.
"The response has been really good, with those older generations, they've just been loving reading their stories and knowing all the names of the people in the book they hung out with," Mr Ellis said.
"It's the first book I've published. It feels great and like a big accomplishment. It was a lot of time and effort I put in," he said, adding that another book could possibly be on the cards in the future, as there were a lot of surfers he didn't get the chance to interview.
"I interviewed over 50 people, it came to a point when I just had to say 'that's it'," Mr Ellis laughed.
As much as this project was about sharing stories from the community, Mr Ellis also wrote the book for his children.
"I made sure I finished the book to show my kids anything is possible and that anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it."
Mandurah Surf: The Characters and the Coast can be purchased here: https://www.bruceellisphotography.com/ .
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