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Despatches from the Top End vol.2

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Created by MangoDingo 4 months ago, 21 Feb 2019
MangoDingo
NT, 251 posts
21 Feb 2019 4:31PM
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I've always been fascinated with the history of boardriding in Australia.
I recently finished reading the Complete History of Surfboard Riding in Australia by surf historian par excellence, Phil Jarratt.
It's an incredible read and highly recommended. It goes right back to when people (on the eastern seaboard) really started engaging with the ocean - and were often prohibited from doing so unless they were fully clad. Some classic photos of very early days when Bondi was nothing but a stretch of untouched beach and sand dunes as far as the eye can see.
Anyway, it got me thinking about the history of SUP and where its origins lie. There's not much around, some stories (apparently bogus) say that SUP was a traditional Hawaiian sport/mode of transport.
But more likely, SUP (sort of) emerged in Hawaii at least in the 1950s as part of the Waikiki Beach Boy scene and then later in 2000, when Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama on Maui and Brian Keaulana, Mel Pu'u and Bruce De Soto at Makaha started SUPping outer reefs during flat spells.
Here in Oz, Chris de Aboitiz is often credited as critical to the success of SUP through his energies bringing the sport to Terra Australis.
It all got me wondering though... people up here in the Top End and across northern Australia have been living with the ocean for 50,000 years. Christ, it's been critical to people's ability to populate the landmass and Indigenous people's relationship to the ocean is deep.

Coastal crew up here identify as 'Saltwater people' (or Freshwater people as you start to go inland, or desert mob if you're from Central Australia) and many have totemic connections to crocodiles, fish, certain winds, dolphins, sharks, the ways in which the colours change on a whale's back as it breaches the surface, the mutant colour-shifting ways of octopuses, sunsets and on it goes. Some really heavy songlines talk about the different ways in which the water changes its appearances depending on different winds and people use that as metaphors for how people should behave toward one another and of course people are related to all of these things in different ways. And on it goes, it's all incredibly compelling stuff - infinitely complex and utterly fascinating.

BUT - what about SUP? Have Indigenous people been paddling...




Yep.

DaveSandan
VIC, 804 posts
21 Feb 2019 5:46PM
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Now that's a dugout SUP and the extra height on the sides help keep Crocs at bay!

MangoDingo
NT, 251 posts
21 Feb 2019 9:08PM
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Indeed Dave, and while there's plenty of room to put the Magpie Geese that you catch, I reckon it's only just slightly less fast than the Sidewinder

lam
VIC, 47 posts
21 Feb 2019 10:10PM
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Fishermen all over the world have been standing solo in their small vessels for thousands of years. Chan Chan is ground zero of a rich and ancient Peruvian civilization. Bordered by fertile lands and an ocean that teemed with life, Chan Chan was once the largest city in South America. On its shore near the village of Huanchaco is a coveted surfing beach where caballitos de totora which translates to "little horses made of reed" are straddled and then surfed by the local fishermen. To aid in maneuvering the vessels into the waves, a split and hollowed length of bamboo serves as a double ended paddle. 3,000 year old shards of painted pottery depict the unchanged design of these same famously photogenic reed boats. It's not hard to imagine young, virile fishermen showing off to their peers and potential mates by standing on a caballito and skillfully paddle surfing it to shore!
an article by Marina Andriola.
great topic

Bighugg
NT, 186 posts
21 Feb 2019 10:28PM
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Your a word smith MD, cheers for the trip down memory lane...
I saw locals standing in bark dugouts like that when I was a kid around Qld border on upper Murray . We made our version out of a sheet of corrugated iron also standing to spear Euro carp.
Such a contrast to the construction of the boards we riding today.
A big world wide thankyou to all past n present Stand UPers that have got us where we are to day......

supthecreek
1722 posts
22 Feb 2019 4:05AM
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It's always fun and enlightening to research the history of anything!

#1 lesson from indigenous people anywhere is:
The great respect and understanding they have for the earth and all that share life on it.
They always seem to move through nature with a 3rd sense that comes from a deeper understanding.

JEG
VIC, 1156 posts
22 Feb 2019 7:07AM
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that would be an interesting read about SUP history if they ever made one but please leave the egotistical part.
I like Indigenous people knowledge of the land.

MangoDingo
NT, 251 posts
23 Feb 2019 7:09AM
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Select to expand quote
lam said..
Fishermen all over the world have been standing solo in their small vessels for thousands of years. Chan Chan is ground zero of a rich and ancient Peruvian civilization. Bordered by fertile lands and an ocean that teemed with life, Chan Chan was once the largest city in South America. On its shore near the village of Huanchaco is a coveted surfing beach where caballitos de totora which translates to "little horses made of reed" are straddled and then surfed by the local fishermen. To aid in maneuvering the vessels into the waves, a split and hollowed length of bamboo serves as a double ended paddle. 3,000 year old shards of painted pottery depict the unchanged design of these same famously photogenic reed boats. It's not hard to imagine young, virile fishermen showing off to their peers and potential mates by standing on a caballito and skillfully paddle surfing it to shore!
an article by Marina Andriola.
great topic


Thanks for the article link Iam.
It's incredible stuff eh and the more I start researching the history of paddling ( in one form or another) the more fascinating and inspiring it sounds. (This is what happens when I'm surf-starved).
I like to think in some way we Supsters are all part of an incredibly old tradition.

It's onshore and crap today so I'll be delving back in to the SUP archives and see what new stories can be found!

MangoDingo
NT, 251 posts
23 Feb 2019 7:13AM
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Select to expand quote
Bighugg said..
Your a word smith MD, cheers for the trip down memory lane...
I saw locals standing in bark dugouts like that when I was a kid around Qld border on upper Murray . We made our version out of a sheet of corrugated iron also standing to spear Euro carp.
Such a contrast to the construction of the boards we riding today.
A big world wide thankyou to all past n present Stand UPers that have got us where we are to day......


Great stuff BiggH!
unreal man - the 'Corro dug-out SUP' - absolutely classic!
Yeah - it's endlessly fascinating eh. Might need to write a book on the history of SUP I reckon.

MangoDingo
NT, 251 posts
23 Feb 2019 7:15AM
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Select to expand quote
supthecreek said..
It's always fun and enlightening to research the history of anything!

#1 lesson from indigenous people anywhere is:
The great respect and understanding they have for the earth and all that share life on it.
They always seem to move through nature with a 3rd sense that comes from a deeper understanding.


True that STC!
It'd be good to hear any yarns you've picked up on your travels - any old SUP tales from around the globe?



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"Despatches from the Top End vol.2" started by MangoDingo