Americans, Malibus, Torpedo Buoys, and Australian Beach culture
North American Society for Sport History
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences
When the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia (SLSAA) invited American and Hawaiian lifeguards to compete at an international surf lifesaving carnival at Torquay, Victoria, in November of 1956, it did not foresee the far-reaching consequences of the tour. Noting that historians of the beach, and surfing in particular, frequently refer to the epochal significance of 1956, the paper utilizes predominantly surf lifesaving sources to explore the circumstances culminating in the month-long visit, discusses the appearance of Malibu boards, and then analyzes the consequences for Australian surf lifesaving in particular. The great irony of 1956 was that by welcoming the Americans and Hawaiians the SLSAA weakened its previous control over the beaches, as Australians found new ways to enjoy the surf.