The Immortals of Australian Surfing by Phil Jarratt

Reviewed by Richard Tutin

Catching a wave from a point or beach along the Australian coastline is a favourite pastime for many Australians. For those in the elite ranks of the sport it is the source of their livelihood though even if they weren’t paid they would still be out and about looking for the best break.

Phil Jarratt and Gelding Street Press have honoured the elite surfers of our nation by featuring them as part of their Immortals series of sports books. As Jarrett says in the Introduction, the list of the immortals featured in the book is purely a subjective one. Not every great surfer has made the cut. To counteract some criticism of who has been included or left out there is a chapter of honourable mentions towards the end of the book that lists surfing greats such as Mark Occhilupo and Sally Fitzgibbons.

Jarratt reaches back to the early days of competitive surfing to begin his list of immortals with the first chapter dedicated to the life and achievements of Bernard “Midget” Farrelly. He then moves on to other greats such as Mark Richards, Pam Burridge, Mick Fanning and Steph Gilmore to name a few.

He tells their stories in an easy style and provides enough information to get a good picture of each immortal without the chapters being too long or boring. The accompanying photos have been used well but sparingly. Trying to take a still photo of a fast-moving surfer on an equally fast-moving wave is obviously not easy when standing on the beach.

For a non-surfer like me the book is a good resource of what has become in modern times one of Australia’s, if not the world’s, most popular sports or pastimes. It’s also the sort of book that can be read at leisure without spoiling its continuity. Each chapter is self-contained. This makes it a great coffee table book that can be referred again and again.

Jarratt uses his vast experience as a surfer and writer to introduce us to those who have become household names over the years as they follow the track of the endless summer. For some of them it has not been an easy road while others have been fortunate in finding good mentors and supporters who have helped foster their love of the sea, especially the waves, and their desire to make surfing inclusive especially in the areas of sponsorships and competition prize money. What they have achieved during their often short careers have and will help future lovers of the waves to achieve their dreams.

Phil Jarratt is a journalist, author, publisher and filmmaker with more than 50 years’ experience in Australian and international media. He is a former editor of Tracks, associate editor of Surfer and editor and publisher of Australian Surfers Journal. Her is regarded as one of the foremost global authorities on surfing and has worked inside the executive ranks of two of the world’s biggest surf brands – Rip Curl and Quiksilver.

The Immortals of Australian Surfing

by Phil Jarratt

(2023)

Gelding Street Press

ISBN: 978 064520 709 5

$39.95; 199pp

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