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 Surviving the Sixties, Surfboards, Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, and Ugh Boots

By SHANE STEDMAN

RRP $32 – release October 2019

Words Jock Serong

The production of this book reflects the very characteristics that people love in Tony “Shane” Stedman: he used a long-time mate (Phil Jarratt) as editor, knew a guy whose wife could set images, threw together all the pictures and stories he could think of. The result, of course, is far better than those DIY tendencies would indicate there are a wealth of interesting details in here, and not just of the surf variety.

 

Stedman’s strength is his instinct for storytelling, but there’s evidence here of careful research, with photos from everyone from Barrie Sutherland to the National Archives. There are poems, even an entire song he wrote.

 

We start way back, with the family’s convict beginnings and confectionery business. The atmospherics of a modest farm upbringing his childhood in Crescent Head, and some startling recollections of Aboriginal disadvantage. There’s his engineering training, his musical career. It takes over a hundred pages, and all sorts of fascinating characters and yarns, before we reach Stedman’s surfing life.

 

The Stedman most of us recognise as a surfboard builder emerged in Eastwood, then Brookvale. His early willingness to sell to mixed sports stores marked him as a maverick, an image bolstered by some wild advertising courtesy of John Witzig and Albe Falzon. Stedman’s always found talented collaborators: Terry Fitz, Simon Anderson, Dick Van Straalen, Randy Rarick, Luke Egan and Jon Laurenson graced his business in subsequent years.

 

From there, it was a career in overdrive: Northern beaches surf reporting on 2SM, the complex evolution of Ugh boots (note the spelling). A brief career as a restaurateur, the storied headland home at Mona Vale. Wave skis, Luke’s career, Electric sunglasses…it’s an exhausting inventory.

 

Stedman’s a showman: optimistic and flashy but with a heart warming affection for family, and family history: he keeps photos and memorabilia (including his own Christening spoon and a silver tray.)

 

Surfers are often myopic about the role of surfing in their lives, as though nothing else goes on. Surfing biographies reflect this. It’s heresy, I know, but there’s more to life, and often the land-based stuff tells you volumes about the inner life. Stedman has done a fine job describing the entirety.

 

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and read our feature on Shane Stedman ‘Everything’s Bloody Fantastic‘ 

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