He may have last danced across the waves of Cronulla more than 50 years ago, but the spirit of local surfing luminary Bobby Brown will forever remain part of the local surfing landscape with the official opening of a Wanda Beach lookout named in his honour.
Sutherland Shire Councillors and Surfing Sutherland Shire joined with members of the extended Brown family and Bob's fiancé, friends and contemporaries of the late surfing legend to unveil a plaque in his honour. The 'Bobby Brown Memorial Lookout' overlooking Wanda celebrates Bobby's life and strong connection with the popular surf spot.
Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Steve Simpson, and fellow Councillors Michael Forshaw, Carol Provan and Marie Simone attended the opening. Mayor Simpson said he was delighted to welcome so many of those who had known Bobby well during his lifetime to participate in the event.
"Bobby Brown may only have lived a very short life, but he certainly made a profound impact on the lives of all those who knew him and a lasting and significant impact on the surfing culture of the Sutherland Shire," Mayor Simpson said.
"Council has been working to honour the history of our local surf culture, with the installation of plaques and signage to acknowledge not only the unique geographical characteristics but also the local characters who really put our local surfing scene on the map."
The lookout is only a short ride from the Wanda Surf Life Saving Club, the place where Brian Jackson famously made Bobby's first balsa wood surfboard, glueing balsa offcuts together and shaping it with a tomahawk.
Bobs brother John said it was so heavy they left it in the bushes because it was too hard for the brothers to carry it back to their family home in Girralang Rd.
"Bobby loved that board," John said
American surfboard manufacturer Floyd Smith also started the G&S surfboard label in Australia using Brown as his star rider, poaching him from Jackson's with promises of world recognition and the lure of "just going surfing"
Cronulla local Bobby Brown was born in 1946 and, after first taking to the waves in the late 1950s, was quickly identified as a surfing talent of exceptional promise.
Taken under the wing of local board manufacturers, surfing filmmakers, photographers and leading lights of the sport, Bobby took on the best in the world as a competitor in the first World Surfboard Titles held at Manly Beach in 1964 after winning the NSW title.
Sadly, his fourth place in the competition will forever remain among his most significant achievements, after his life was cut short in a tragic incident in 1967, months shy of his 21st birthday.
Bobby's brothers John and Terry Brown were among the family members in attendance for the official unveiling of the tribute to the late surfing identity. Terry said that it would serve as a fitting legacy to his much-loved brother.
"Wanda was the first beach Bobby ever surfed, and it was the last beach he ever surfed at, too, so it's a wonderful thing to see the way he has been honoured like this."
John said he was the older brother, but they all lived in Bobby's shadow-and it was a beautiful shadow.
John recited a poem written for his brother, who he said is always with you on the waves.
"For his spirit celebrates beyond the grave for he is no longer surfing, for he is each wave, so go dance with Bobby, be by his side and he'll be sure to give you a beautiful ride."
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