Manly has held a central place in Australian history since Governor Phillip’s eventful meeting with the local ‘manly’ aborigines in 1788. Just over a century later Manly became a premier beachside destination for Sydneysiders, which lead to surf bathing and a number of Australian ‘firsts’ in the surf.
The first recorded body surfing in the 1890’s, the first legal surf bathing (1902), the first surf life saving club (1903), the first surf boat (1903), the first boardriding (1910), site of Duke Kahanamoku’s famous surfing exhibition in 1914 and 1915 at Freshwater Beach, the first world surfing championships (1964), and home to two world surfing champions: Barton Lynch and Layne Beachley.
Manly and Freshwater Beaches enjoy the title of the ‘birthplace of surfing in Australia’ and so it is entirely fitting that Manly and Freshwater Beaches now join the ranks of other iconic beaches around the world as a World Surfing Reserve. The reserve incorporates Freshwater Beach and all of Manly – from Queenscliff to North Steyne to Manly and Fairy Bower. Each of these sites in their own right has a rich surfing history and outstanding surf with many legendary feats being recorded by those rescuing wayward swimmers, as well as those who have taken on the giant surf on boards and even surfboats at the Queenscliff Bombora, Fairy Bower and Deadmans.
On any day the number of people swimming, surfing or just walking the boardwalk all attest to a strong bond between the Manly and Freshwater communities and their beloved surf.
Manly-Freshwater represent all that is embodied in a National Surfing Reserve – a very rich history and surf culture, coupled with its consistent and quality surf with waves always in abundance, to be enjoyed by past, present and future generations.