Paipo - Belly boarding in Australia

Jeff Callaghan sharing a wave with Nat Young, 1969.
Surf International (Vol. 2# 4). Photo by John Witzig.
Later versions of the photo airbrush Jeff out.

Final comments

Bellyboarding has appealed to both novice surfers, for whom the bellyboard was a transition to riding a surfboard as well as to competent bodysurfers and others who saw opportunities for going faster or for obtaining greater manoeuvrability than bodysurfing or longboarding offered. In the 1960s bellyboarders were often found where there were hollow waves or at rocky locations, which were hazardous to surf before leg-ropes became popular. Fast, hollow waves were suited to the planning speed that a bellyboard could obtain while the reduced buoyancy was a bonus in getting out in big surf.

Rather than a passing fad, riding prone has been an essential aspect of the surfing experience historically, while the fun of riding prone continues to be rediscovered. This is well illustrated in a 2009 interview involving a group of pro-surfers (Binns 2009):

MO: Oh yeah, when no-one's around I don't even try, you cruise. Early mornings at D-Bah, with no no-one around, it's so good to not even try, and just go across.
OW: I lie down sometime and just enjoy the waves.
MO: Me too!
OW: Yeah, you just go across and you're like 'this is the funnest wave of the session. I'm gliding'. (p.70)
Appreciating something of the history of bellyboards won't revolutionise the surfing world, though it does give recognition to surfers who were having fun with a shortboard revolution of their own.


The work of Geoff Cater is an inspiration and source of invaluable information. Also, both Geoff and Rod Rodgers provided useful comments on earlier drafts. John Milliken provided invaluable assistance in turning a jumbled text mass into this document.

This account would be empty without the information provided to me by the people who I phoned or e-mailed (see reference section), or the photos that have been generously provided. Mike Brown, Jeff Callaghan, John Clark, Gary Clist, Kit Carson, Bryan Hayden, Henry Marfleet, Ray Moran (Manly Surf museum), Bob Smith, Leigh Tingle, John Burn and Phil Trigger have been especially generous with their time and assistance. The Surfworld museums at Currumbin and Torquay have also been of assistance and are always worth a visit.


Adler, Ken (2010). Telephone interview. December 22.

Anderson, Ian (2008). E-mail correspondence. October 15.

Anderson, Ian (2013). E-mail correspondence. September 15.

Anderson, Ian (2015). E-mail correspondence. December 20.

Ash, Dick. (2009). Phone interview. September 26.

Ash, Dick. (1978). Get inside on a bellybogger. Surfing World, Vol 27(5).

Ash, Dick. (1994). Bellybogger. The fastest way to get your guts across a wave. Self-published advertising booklet.

Ash, Dick. (1994). The bellybogger brings back the real art of bellyboarding. Tracks, October.

Australian National Travel Association (1934). Picturesque Australia. Melbourne, Osboldstone & Attkins.

Barr, Kevin (2010a). E-mail correspondence. February 23.

Barr, Kevin (2010b). E-mail correspondence. September 8.

Beattie, H. (1919). Traditions and legends. Collected from the natives of Murihiku. (Southland, New Zealand) Part XI, pages 212-225

Best, E. (1924). 'Games and Pastimes of the Maori: An account of various exercises, games and pastimes of the natives of New Zealand, as practised in former times; including some information concerning their vocal and instrumental music': The Board of Maori Ethnological Research, for the Dominion Museum, Wellington.

Bills, George. E-mail interview April 15, 2013.

Binns, Chris. (2009). The Sumbawa Sessions. Australias Surfing Life, July, 52-73.

Bloomfield, John (1959). Know-how in the surf. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.

Bowes, Peter (2009). Surfoplanes. Kurungabaa post, July 22

Brawley, Sean (1996). Beach beyond : a History of Palm Beach Surf Club 1921-1996. University Of New South Wales Press Ltd.

Brown, Mike (2009). E-mail correspondence. November 15.

Brown, Mike (2009). E-mail correspondence. May 8.

Browne's holiday house advertisement (1949). The Weekly News. Christmas Number, October 14, page 5.

Buising, John (2015). Phone call December 2015.

Burn, John (2015). E-mail correspondence November 30 - December 24 2015.

Butler, Steve (2011). E-mail correspondence December 12, 2011.

Butt, Tony (2011). Interview November 5, 2011.

Callaghan, J. (2010). E-mail interview May 16.

Carson, Bob 'Kit'. Telehone interview. May 5 and 13.

Cater, Geoff. (2009a). Pods for Primates : A Catalogue of Surfboards in Australia since 1900

Cater, Geoff. (2009a). Pods for Primates : A Catalogue of Surfboards in Australia since 1900

Cater, Geoff. (2009b). Pods for Primates : A Catalogue of Surfboards in Australia since 1900

Cater, Geoff (2009c). Surfboard Shooting in Australia, 1909-1940.

Cater, Geoff (2009c). E-mail correspondence. November 16.

Cawsey, Lewis(2014). Phone interview March 9, 2014

Clark, John (2009). E-mail correspondence, 16 October.

Clark, John (2010a). E-mail correspondence, 23 August.

Clark, John (2010b). E-mail correspondence. 25 August.

Clark, John (2010c). E-mail correspondence. 26 August.

Clark, John (2010d). E-mail correspondence. 27 August.

Clist, Gary. (2009). Telephone interview. October 21.

Conneely, R. (2011). E-mail dated June 5 fowarded by Dennis Lindsay .

Cool(ite) (1971). Letter: Cool(ite). Tracks, November, 1971, page 7.

Core, Steve. (2010). Telephone interview. November 6.

Crandall, Gary. (1970). Potato Chip Thrills In a Washing Machine. Surfer Magazine, 11(2), 112.

Crockett, Gary. (2010). Surf City. Surfing Sydney in the 50s, 60s & 70s. Blog

Curtain, Keith. (2009). Introduction. Interview with Chris Carey. Australian Surf Business magazine, 32, 10.

Curtis, Brett (2010 a).E-mail interview.

Curtis, Brett (2010b).

Dahlberg, Rodney (2013). E-mail communciation January 24, 2013

Davey, Emily. (2005). Secrets of the Island. An Oral History of Tasmanian Surfing. Howrah, Tasmania: Tassurf Publishing.

Dawes, Tony (2010). Telephone interview, October 25, 2010.

Dibben, Len (2010). E-mail correspondence. May 12, 2010.

Everybodys (1964). Which one is the board for you? Everybodys, November 18, page 26-32.

Ex.D.Y surfer (1964). Mail Call: Please, something on belly boards. The Surfing World, 4(2), April, p.32.

Farfor, Jamie. (2009). E-mail correpondence. September 2

Farfor, Jamie. (2010). E-mail correpondence. 15 Jan 2010

Farfor, Jamie. (2011). E-mail correpondence. March 18.

Farrelly, Midget & McGregor, Craig (1965). This Surfing Life. Adelaide: Rigby Limited

Farrelly, Midget. (1971b). Advertisement. Tracks, December, page 23.

Farrelly, Midget. (1971b). Advertisement. Tracks, November, page 24.

Farrelly, Midget. (1972a). Advertisement. Tracks, January, page 6.

Farrelly, Midget. (1972b). Advertisement. Tracks, February, page 7.

Farrelly, Midget. (1972c). Advertisement. Tracks, March, page 26.

Flett, N. (1967) 'At you leisure", Photo Auckland Star: January 28, 1967, page 38.

Forrest, Yvonne. (2009). E-mail correpondence. November 25. Librarian, Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority, Darwin.

Friendly Bear (1964). Letters: Belly Boards. The Surfing World, 3(5), January, p.3.

Galton, B. (1984). Gladiators of the Surf. The Australian Surf Life Saving Championships - A History. Frenchs Forest, AH & AW Reed.

Gannon, Paul (2011). E-mail interview, March 24.

Goddard, Larry. (2009). E-mail interview.

Goetz, A. (1963). The Victorian Surfer, 1, 33. Cited in:

Gray, Mark. (2008). Getting Wood. Understanding the resurgence of the wood surfboard. The Surfers Path, 67, 81-91.

Griffiths, Bob. (2010). E-mail correspondence. September 24 and 25.

Griffiths, Llyod "Bozo" (2012). Phone interview. July 9, 2012.

Growney, Jim (2009). Interview by John Clark.

Guard, Tim. (2011). E-mail April 18

Hall, S.K. (2008). Mana, Rangitira.The Legacy of Duke Kahanamoku’s Visit to New Zealand. The Surfers Journal, 17, 2, 10-11.

Hall, S,K. (2012). E-mail communication March 20, 2012.

Hayden, B (2010). E-mail Interviews.

Hedges, Len. (1965). Bellyboard kit advertisement. The Surfing World, 7(2).

Hedges, Len. (1966). Bellyboard kit advertisement. The Surfing World, 7(4).

Hennessy, Bruce 'Fox' (2011). E-mail to Ray Greenway 23 August 2011.

Hohensee, L. (2009). E-mail correpondence. October 26.

Horton, Terry (2010). Telephone call June 26.

Hosking, Robert (2011). E-mail correspondence to Gary Clist. December 14, 2011

Hosking, Robert (2012). E-mail correspondence to Gary Clist. June 13, 2012

Hutchins, Barry. (2009a). E-mail correpondence. November 6.

Hutchins, Barry (2009b). E-mail interview

Jackman, Dave. (2011). Replies to letters received May 2 and June 23, 2011 and interview November 5, 2011.

James, Marcus (2011). A Waterman's Life: Dave Jackman. Pacific Longboarder, 14(4), 54-59.

Johnson, Gary (2011). Telephone interview July 9.

Kelly, John M (1965). Surf and Sea. New York: A.S. Barnes and Co.

Kenvin, R. (2014). Surfcraft. Design and the culture of board riding. Cambridge: Mingei International Museum and MIT Press.

Kidman, Andrew. (2010). What is building surfboards in the 21st century. Surfing World, 303, 44-50.

Kidman, P. (2011). Telephone interview April 11 and 12.

King, Warren. (2010). Telephone interview. September 4.

Kovar, John (2010). E-mail interview December 8.

Klein, H. Arthur (1965).Surfing. London : Kaye & Ward.

KUK (1963). Letters: Chest Boards? The Surfing World, 3(2), October p.4.

Larkin, Joe (2009a). E-mail correpondence. November 17.

Larkin, Joe (2009b). E-mail correpondence. November 18.

Larkin, Joe (2009c). E-mail correpondence. November 19.

Larkin, Joe (2010). E-mail correpondence. April 22.

Lawrence, Michael (1994/2005). One person's point of view, in E. Davey (2005). Secrets of the Island. An Oral History of Tasmanian Surfing. Howrah, Tasmania: Tassurf Publishing.

Lawrence, Michael (2010). Telephone interview. June 23.

Lawson, Ian. (1963). Letters: Chest Boards? Chest Boards? The Surfing World, October, 3(2), p.4.

Laycock, Dick (2009). Telephone interview. October 20.

Laycock, Dick (2009). Telephone interview. October 20.

Lester, Gary. (2007). The Cronulla Story - a century of surf lifesaving, vigilance and service. Caringbah, Playright Publishing.

Markson, Dennis. (2010). E-mail correpondence. September 11.

Markson, Dennis. (2011). E-mail interview 25-26 January.

McAlpine, Andy (1968). Children of the Sun. Auckland, New Zealand: McAlpine Film Productions.

McDonagh, Denis. (2009). Telephone interview. October 20.

McDonagh, Greg. (2009). Telephone interview. October 18.

McGetrick, Patricia. (1966). 'Be in it, girls! says Candy. The Australian Women's Weekly, December 7, page 24.

McManus, Kevin (2015). October 20-26 Facebook communication.

McNamara, Jim (2015). Phone interview September 9, 2015.

Marfleet, Henry (2009). E-mail correpondence. November 5, 2009.

Marx, Robert. F.(1990). The History of Underwater Exploration. Into The Deep (2nd ed.). New York, Dover.

Mason, Te Haumihiata (2011). E-mail correspondence December 16, 2011.

Meacham, Steve. (2007). Lifesaving's unsung hero brought to life. The Sydney Morning Herald, September 7, 2007.

Moseley, Charles "Bill" (1960s).Edited footage supplied by Mariln Moselely.

Moynier, R. (2010). E-mail interview, July 5.

Osmond, G. (2010). ‘Honolulu Māori’. Racial dimensions of Duke Kahanamoku's tour of Australia and New Zealand, 1914–1915. New Zealand Journal of History, 44, 1, 22-34.

Peden, Ian. (2010). Telephone interview. August 18.

Pennings, John. (1965). New South Wales Discovery: Willinga Reef. The Surfing World, 6(2), May, 13-16.

Pollard, Ken. (1996). History of Torquay Surf Life Saving Club: The Fiirst Fifty Years, 1945-1995. Torquay, Torquay Surf Life Saving Club.

Pool, John. (2010). Telephone interview. June 26.

Potter, Michael (2010). Telephone interview. August 10.

Quirk, Phil. (1972). Tracks interview with George Greenough. October, pp19-20.

Regan, Barry, (2010). Telephone interview. August 9.

Richardson, Gary (2015). Phone call December 2015.

Rose, Bob (2010). Telephone interview. December 25th.

Telephone interview October 24, 2010 with revision March 6, 2011 via e-mail.

Ryan, Ray. (2010). Telephone interview. October 4.

Sams, Dave. E-mail and phone interview December 20-26, 2014.

Sawden, Eddie (2009). Telephone interview. October 26.

Shearsby, B-J. (2010).

Seddon, Joe (2008). Coogee Surf Club : A century of vigilance & service. Singapore: Tien Wah Press.

Shapter, Rick. (2010) Post to paipo forum. September 26.

Shapter, Rick. (2011). Personal interview. December 3 2011 Simpson, Gordon (2010). Telephone interview December, 28.

Sharp, Gary (2012). E-mail correspondence June 12 2012

Skinner, W. H. (1923). Surf-riding by canoe, The Journal of the Polynesian Society, XXXII, 125, page 35-37.

Sly, Rod (2015). Letter. November 2015.

Sly, Rod (2015). Letter. December 1 2015.

Smith, Bob (2009a). E-mail correspondence. 28 October 2009

Smith, Bob (2009b). E-mail correspondence. 29 October 2009

Smith, Bob (2009c). E-mail correspondence. November 22.

Smith, S.P. (1921).The use of the Surf Board in New Zealand. The Journal of the Polynesian Society, XXX, No. 117. Page 50.

Sobels, Pete (2015).Interview March 14, 2015.

Stark, Barrie (2011). Phone interview. August 23, 2011.

Stewart, J. (1973). Bondi. Tracks. Issue 32 (January), page 29.

Sutherland, Mark. (2008). Being Paul Joske. The Surfers Path, 67, 74-80.

Sutherland, Mal. (2009). The Innovator. Greg McDonagh, Interview. Pacific Longboarder, 13(1), 44-49.

Sutherland, Mal (2010). E-mail correspondence. April 21.

The Sunburnt surfer (1965). Mail Call: Please ed, what about belly boards. The Surfing World, 5(5), January, p.38.

Taylor, Col. E-mail interview.

Taylor, Ron (2010). E-mail correspondence. 9 May, 2010.

Tingle, Leigh (1967a). 'Go tame a wave. Barracuda bellyboards', Surf International, 1(1), p.18

Tingle, Leigh (1967b). 'Go tame a wave. Barracuda bellyboards', Surf International, 1(2), p.30.

Tingle, Leigh (2009). Phone interview September 14.

Tommasi, Wayne (2009). E-mail correpondence. October 21.

Turton, Ron. (2011). E-mail correspondence. August 22, 2011

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Unknown (1962). Spotlight on Hawaii, Surfabout 2(6), pp.13-19

Unknown (1964a). Bellyboards. Surfabout, 3(1), 44-46.

Unknown (1964b). Salt Creek. Body surfing and bellyboard contest. Petersen's Surfing Magazine, 1(8), November, p. 35.

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Wazza (2010). Joe Cool-ite. Letter. Surfing World, February, p.108.

Wegener,Tom (2010). Telephone interview May 10.

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White, Peter, Interview February 28 and phone interview January 29, 2012

Wilkinson, Peter (2015). Phone interview December 2015.

Williams, Peter (2012). E-mail correspondence January 9, 2012.

Witzig, Paul. (2011). Telephone interview July 27 and August 13.

Wright, Cliff. (2010). Telephone interview. October 6.

Wright, Richard. (1965). Mail Call: Belly board contest wanted. The Surfing World, 6(2), May, p.38.

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Section Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Paipos, bellyboards, lameroos, chestboards - what's in a name?
  3. Australia pre 1950s
  4. New Zealand pre 1950s
  5. The mixed fortunes of bellyboards since the 1950s.
  6. Queensland
  7. the North coast
  8. Manly to Palm Beach
  9. Maroubra to Bronte
  10. Cronulla and south
  11. Victoria
  12. Tasmania
  13. South Australia
  14. Western Australia
  15. New Zealand from the 1960s
  16. Final comments, acknowledgements and information sources