This photo of Tommy Walker at Main Beach Yamba during the 1912-1913 season could be the first surfing photo captured in Australia.
This photo of Tommy Walker at Main Beach Yamba during the 1912-1913 season could be the first surfing photo captured in Australia.

Is this surfing's first photo?

A 1912 photo of Tommy Walker surfing at Main Beach looks set to add another jewel to Yamba's already glistening crown – the home of Australian surf photography.

The photo of the man, credited with introducing surfing to Australia, taken by former Maclean professional photographer Oseric Notley, could be Australia's oldest surfing photograph, according to Manly Surf Life Saving Club life member and historian Ray Moran.

Mr Moran said Mr Walker was a member of both the Manly Seagulls Surf club and Yamba Life Saving Brigade when the photo was taken.

“As Manly club historian I have had numerous opportunities to look at hundreds of old photos and I can't find anything that pre-dates this one of Tommy Walker surfing at Main Beach, Yamba,” he said.

While there are photos of people with surfboards that predate the shot of Mr Walker in action, Mr Moran said they did not show people actually surfing.

“There is a 1909 photo taken of Tommy Walker at Manly standing alongside his surfboard on the beach – it's a nice portrait, but he's not surfing. If there is one that is older I would definitely be interested in seeing it,” Mr Moran said.

The search is being driven by Yamba Festival of Comedy, Music and Arts chair Debrah Novak.

Inspired after being shown by a friend an old newspaper clipping of a man riding a surfboard at Main Beach, Ms Novak said she was yet to hear of the existence of an older photo.

If you have any Australian stand-up surf board riding photos pre-dating 1911, please contact Debrah Novak (66461174) or Ray Moran (99776667).


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