16 Aug 2020


Senior Author

Photo: Aitionn/Surfing World

Photograph: Aitionn/Surfing Global


The next is an excerpt from Sean Doherty’s new ebook – Golden Days: The Best possible Years of Australian Surfing – which tells the tale of Australian browsing during the lives of the Australian Surfing Corridor of Reputation individuals, three hundred and sixty five days at a time from 1963 to nowadays. Ultimate week we leap in with the tale of our 1990 Global Champ, Pam Burridge, when she used to be a 13-year-old Manly grommet in 1979, this week we meet Kong in 1982.

Australian browsing had discovered its new spirit animal. Kong.

“Input the following figurehead of Australian junior browsing. 175lbs of red meat ricocheted across the professional circuit pinball gadget this 12 months all the time out at the fringe of full-tilt. The Kong projectile lit up all of the proper specials all through impressed video games at North Narrabeen, Burleigh Heads Cove and Victoria’s Winkipop, any one who watched would should be inspired, the Kong taste embodies a cultured adulthood spiced with out-there on-edge full-blown energy. We’d had a couple of tastes of his browsing in 1981, sufficient to understand the uncooked possible, however the marvels of recent delivery didn’t convey us the overall dose until this 12 months. What extra are you able to say? This new animal blew everybody away.”

This used to be how Surfing Global mag heralded the coming at the scene of 17-year-old Sunshine Coaster, Gary Elkerton, who via this degree had ceased answering to that identify. In number one faculty he’d been “uncommonly massive and uncommonly bushy” and when one of the most women yelled, “Display us your bushy balls King Kong!” he used to be typecast for lifestyles. In 1982, Australian browsing had discovered its new spirit animal. Kong.

Kong used to be residing along with his oldsters at 22 Tombarra Boulevard, Alexandra Headland, however spent maximum of his days both within the surf or out on his father’s prawn trawler. He labored as a deckie for “The Bullfrog” – dad, Keith – as they did runs between North Stradbroke and the southern reaches of the Nice Barrier Reef. Kong took a board with him and jumped overboard to surf all kinds of reef passes and empty seashores, browsing on my own in waters stalked via tiger sharks. It used to be a difficult lifestyles, and one in stark distinction to the opposite lifestyles that used to be now calling him. “I need to stick with the prawn trawler,” he instructed Surfing Global on the time, “then move all out to be a professional surfer. I’d by no means give it up as a result of there’s such a lot of issues you’ll be able to be informed from the ocean and being on a ship is a good way to be informed them.”

Photo: Bill McCausland

Photograph: Invoice McCausland

Kong would fish via evening and surf via day, checking the waves because the Pass over Bernadette motored again during the heads in the beginning gentle. He burned sunlight. Together with browsing and fishing, Kong additionally highway motorbikes, performed tennis and did karate, even though, “I best do karate in wintertime as a result of in summer time I surf until a couple of quarter to seven and karate begins at six.” When requested if he lived at a quick tempo he answered, “Quicker than any individual else.”

Kong went laborious, and via this degree had already damaged each legs, a collarbone and a wrist. “One afternoon I used to be going online down at Alex and there’s a hill that’s about half of 1 mile down at 45 levels. I used to be flying down it on my pushbike with my board below one arm when this wasp came about to get beneath my blouse. It began stinging me so I threw my board towards the grass at the facet of the street, however subsequent minute it hit the telegraph pole and breaks in part. After the wasp had stung me seven occasions in the only spot I fell off and my left leg stuck within the pushbike and I went down the hill face first. It took pores and skin off my elbows, my abdomen, my legs, my face. I broke my leg in two puts. So I were given again as much as the highest of the hill rode my motorbike house and waited two hours in agony for the docs to open.”

At 17, Kong surfed like a person. He had the load to throw round and having grown up at sea used to be supremely relaxed in maximum the rest it threw at him. He surfed with uncooked energy… and partied with uncooked energy. Simplest 17, he had all of the grownup vices already down. He used to be a standard on the pub, drank longnecks and smoked pot, and as his browsing notoriety unfold he simply went tougher. “It’s been a little bit radical,” he stated on the time, “too many fights and I’m no longer into combating. I love to have a rage, move house, have intercourse and fall asleep.” It gave the impression of younger boasting for the surf magazines who have been lapping it up, however Kong lived as much as his personal billing. The large, boofy Queensland child within the pink and white famous person trunks used to be speedy changing into a cult hero to each and every laborious residing Aussie surfer.

Via 1982 he used to be spending extra time at the Gold Coast, tearing via junior contests and presentation events with boundless reserves of power. He’d met Rabbit Bartholomew, who took him below his wing. He then met a thin child named James Jennings – “Chappy” – who’d moved to the Gold Coast from South Australia and shortly changed into Kong’s cool animated film sidekick, the pair inseparable.

Photo: Peter Crawford

Photograph: Peter Crawford

Kong quickly landed a maintain Scorching Stuff surfboards. He cherished their airbrushed designs and Rabbit’s Insects Bunny emblem, and shortly sufficient he had his personal Kong emblem, a large ape at the rampage during the town. The emblem became out to be prophetic, and Kong did his highest to stick in persona all through 1982 as he travelled the circuit. “I’m most definitely going to must do something positive about it in any case,” he stated of his raging, considering for only a 2nd, “however it’s no longer protecting me again at the present time, so I’m no longer being worried about it.”

The primary large contest of 1982 used to be the Cue Cola Professional Junior at Narrabeen; the most important junior match within the land. Kong and Chappy travelled to Sydney and arrange a tent in Mark Warren’s Narrabeen yard and right away set about getting on it, their birthday party program interrupted best via the occasional warmth. Surfing on simply two hours sleep, Kong and Chappy made the general and needed to surf towards every different. Chappy idea the general used to be 20 mins. Kong knew it used to be part an hour. Kong gained the usage of his trademark layback tube stance and used to be passed 1000 buck winner’s cheque and trophy. “I take into accout Mark Warren’s cat, and to at the present time I nonetheless need to kill that fucking factor,” gives Kong. “I had my trophy sitting on best of Mark’s refrigerator with a couple of Mickey Mouse ears sitting on best of it, and the cat has jumped up there and I’m staring at it in sluggish movement because it’s knocked the object off the refrigerator and it’s simply smashed into 1000 items and I’m like… ‘That fucking cat!’ And I’m off after it looking to kill it.”

The pair partied that evening and have been woken the next morning via Hugh McLeod and Bruce Channon from Surfing Global, who spirited them south on {a magazine} highway commute. “We were given blind that evening after the general,” remembers Kong, “went into the Go, and have been that hungover the following morning when Hugh and Bruce come round actually early. They simply threw us within the Saab. We handed instantly out and subsequent factor we get up and we’re like, ‘Shit, we’re in Victoria!’”

Photo: Bruce Channon

Photograph: Bruce Channon

It used to be on that commute that Kong used to be presented to Quiksilver founder Alan Inexperienced down in Torquay. Greeny, with a wild streak himself, took a shine to the child who he used to be now paying $750 a month in “bills”. Kong technically couldn’t be paid on contract, as he had his center set on profitable the Global Beginner Name later within the 12 months. He’d flip professional after that. With Quiksilver setting out, Greeny noticed the promoting possible of the child named Kong. It used to be whilst they have been on that commute that Kong, in a throwaway line whilst strolling into the Apollo Bay pub, had stated, “If you’ll be able to’t rock ‘n’ roll don’t fucken come!” It might change into the identify of the Surfing Global tale and later, the slogan for one of the crucial well-known surf trade campaigns ever run.

Kong used to be Australia’s solution to the clean-cut aggressive vibe popping out of The united states, being led via Tom Curren, who used to be favorite to win the Global Amateurs because of be held at the Gold Coast later within the 12 months. Curren and Kong have been already topic to breathless hype on their respective facets of the Pacific, however the fit up at the Gold Coast by no means came about. Warming up for the Aussie Titles in Sydney, Kong speared himself within the leg with the nostril of his board which took him out of each the Aussie and the Global Titles. Not able to type the American citizens out within the water, he as a substitute did it in print, labelling the brand new crop of younger American surfers “a host of soppy cocks” in a Tracks interview which went midway to inflicting a significant diplomatic incident.

Kong and Chappy flew to Bali in the midst of the 12 months, making plans to stick and surf at Uluwatu however have been met via Made Kasim on the airport who knowledgeable them they have been heading instantly over to Grajagan at the first boat. Kong and Chappy stayed within the jungle at G-Land for a month with only a handful of team within the camp, the waves slightly losing beneath 8 ft the entire time. On one of the most smaller days Kong ventured as much as the highest phase of the reef at G-Land which at that time hadn’t been surfed. The wave nowadays bares his identify. Whilst they have been there, one of the most provide boats from Grajagan village overturned at the reef and a neighborhood guy drowned, throwing some dangerous magic over the camp. Kong and Chappy have been awoken later that evening via camp personnel shouting at midnight. The native guy’s frame, which have been saved below one of the most losmens in preparation to be shipped again to the village the next morning, used to be being dragged into the jungle via a tiger.

Hawaii used to be subsequent, and whilst Kong couldn’t wait, the ones round him have been anxious. Born wild and without a operational clear out, Kong used to be at brief odds to finally end up in some more or less hassle over there with the Hawaiians. Rabbit, nonetheless scarred from the difficulty he’d discovered himself in over there a couple of years previous, may just see it brewing and stored his distance. “That is what came about,” remembers Kong. “Once we first were given to Hawaii we went down the seashore at Pipe to fulfill Rabbit, and on the time there used to be this type of large factor about me coming to Hawaii, and Rab is going, ‘That’s nice, I’m browsing out right here… however you’re browsing down there!’ And we walked down and surfed Log Cabins! He despatched me all of the means down there! However he used to be freaked out on the time clearly. We ended up getting on all proper with the Hawaiians… simply no longer in addition to Chappy.”

To bring to a halt any hassle on the cross, Alan Inexperienced had slipped Hawaiian Mickey Neilsen some cash to regulate the younger Aussies. Mickey used to be subsidized via Quiksilver, and the Hawaii Kai guys took Kong and Chappy below their wing. The team were given alongside famously. They confirmed Kong and Chappy the ropes out at Sundown and Pipe, and so they’d head into Honolulu in combination the place they frequented a nightclub known as 3 Ds. The younger Aussies have been minimize some slack. Using house one evening from the town, the automobile they’d borrowed off Mickey took a detour into the canefields. The automobile in the end rolled again to the North Shore on its rims the next morning, banged up and lacking some hubcaps. The Aussies rendezvoused with Mickey at Banzai Bowls to go back his automobile. Mickey took one take a look at the automobile and is going, “Brah, that’s no longer my automobile. That’s considered one of Eddie’s!”

Kong on the other hand used to be welcomed via the Hawaiians. Chappy used to be absolutely followed via them. Insects used to be nonetheless in limbo, however all used to be just right. The trio have been even invited via the Black Shorts to have beers with them on New 12 months’s Eve. The one hassle they ended up in used to be with the safety out on the Kui Lima hotel. With Typhoon Iwa bearing down at the islands, Kong, Chappy and Rabbit launched into a longer Lengthy Island Ice Tea consultation. They emerged into the evening because the typhoon hit, and Chappy used to be stuck in a gust of wind and blown down the street and into the evening. He returned a minute later, browsing at the bonnet of a resort visitor’s automobile. Lodge safety got here after them in golfing carts and so they did the runner onto the golfing route. Kong shimmied up a tree, Chappy made it again to the condo and concealed within the mattress with Rabbit’s spouse, whilst Rabbit himself used to be the one one apprehended.

Within the surf Kong took a direct shine to Sundown. Chappy in the meantime took to Pipeline fearlessly. One well-known wave, captured via photographer Don King, would make Chappy a cult hero. Gerry Lopez noticed the wave and later stated to Kong, “I noticed this little runt flying previous me, and all I may just say used to be, ‘God bless him.’” Kong and Chappy would keep in Hawaii for 4 months, browsing themselves into the bottom and studying how the North Shore labored. Hawaii in time would change into a 2nd house for Kong and the environment for his largest victories.

As soon as house to Queensland, Kong gained the Jesus Professional-Am stoned out of his thoughts. He can’t take into accout what he stated on the acceptance speech to the assembled crew of Christian Surfers, however it didn’t move down smartly. The trophy, within the form of a crucifix, would later finally end up snapped in two. He returned house to Tombarra Boulevard with the 2 halves and gained a swift clip to the ear from his mom Joan. Kong had survived Hawaii intact, however have been shortened up via his mum.

Kong had met Jack McCoy at G-Land the former 12 months. McCoy and Dick Hoole had simply launched Hurricane Riders and Alan Inexperienced, seeing a cut-off date, commissioned Jack to position a brief movie in combination starring Kong, Rabbit and Chappy. He met the trio on the Surf Air Lodge at the Sunshine Coast and mentioned the venture. As they talked, Jack watched waves wrap round an offshore island to the south. Mudjimba Island – Previous Lady Island – did certainly have waves. The uninhabited island used to be in fact leased on the time to Peter Troy, who lived within sight. Jack’s thoughts began spinning, and Mudjimba Island quickly changed into Kong’s Island. Jack exclaimed, “Get me a fucking boat!” The taking pictures for the film best took two weeks, with sequences shot at Mudjimba, Lennox, and Spooks Level. It used to be the comedian sequences on the other hand of Chappy automobile browsing, Kong’s Magic Cream Puff Tree and the tribal chant of “Koooonnngggg” that made it an fast cult vintage.

“Jack used to be so forward of his time,” remembers Kong. “I’d simply move together with him however couldn’t visualise what he had in thoughts. But if it pop out, geez, Kong’s Island used to be massive. We had a premiere down right here in Coolangatta on the Jet Membership and the entire position erupted once we walked in. The Sunnyboys have been taking part in that evening. Chap were given known as up and used to be making a song Tunnel of Love with them. I didn’t realise the have an effect on that slapstick little fucking film would have at the global. But if we have been doing it, take into accout, we had no thought it used to be going to come back out like that. I used to be simply smoking bongs, rooting chicks, browsing my brains out and filming Kong’s Island. I used to be in heaven, mate.”

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