Surfers their stories: Grant Newby

Australian National Surfing Museum

The 'Surfers their stories' series explores the personal surfing journeys of 12 Australians. This is the story of New Zealand born surfer and board maker, Grant Newby.

Grant Newby portrait, Grant Newby, 2010, From the collection of: Australian National Surfing Museum
Grant Newby
Grant Newby was born at Te Kopuru, a small country town in the North Island of New Zealand in 1956. His father was a plumber and his mum owned and managed a shop called Newby’s Babyland. He grew up in the timber town of Dargaville and went to school at Selwyn Park Primary and Dargaville High School. It was while at school that Grant developed a lifelong love of Rugby.
Grant Newby and surfboard, Grant Newby, 1971, From the collection of: Australian National Surfing Museum

Grant started surfing when he was about 11 years old at Baylys Beach, sharing a 9 foot 6 inch Dunlop surfboard with Sally Philpott who helped carry the big surfboard down to the waters edge.

“I think I must have been taught by the Philpott sisters, twin girls Judy and Jill that were a couple of years older than me. I don’t remember my first wave but with living so close to the ocean I grew up loving the water, the sea and body surfing and swimming in the ocean. I ended up with the Dunlop board that was really too big for me so my dad took a metre out of the middle of it and glued it back together with 2 broom handles as dowels to hold it together”.

Grant Newby at Currumbin, Grant Newby, 2011, From the collection of: Australian National Surfing Museum

Grant moved to Australia and now works in the advertising industry as a graphic designer but has also spent time as a dive guide.

“Surfing has given me the time to unwind after sitting in front of a computer all day. It gives me the balance to keep doing what I do as I really am an outdoor person”.

Grant Newby surfboard shaper, Grant Newby, 2011, From the collection of: Australian National Surfing Museum

Grant makes his own surfboards and has a particular interest in hand made hollow timber boards, “These days I make my own surfboards and that’s a very rewarding and special connection for me. To feel out and understand the boards I build is very satisfying”.

Grant Newby Fish Fry, Grant Newby, 2011, From the collection of: Australian National Surfing Museum

Twice a year at his beloved Currumbin Alley Grant runs surfboard celebration days. One called the ‘Alley Fish Fry’ is all about small twin fin (or multi-fin) surfboards called 'fishes'. The other is a gathering of timber surfboards, that have seen quite a revival over the last few years.

Grant Newby at Currumbin, Grant Newby, 2011, From the collection of: Australian National Surfing Museum

“I surf mostly at Currumbin Alley and have done for many years here on the Gold Coast. I surf with a very friendly social group of people that are mostly regulars. Lots of them I know very little about and some I don’t know their real names. But that is not important, we have a common bond with the surf and our time in the water. We watch out for each other and give each other space and time to enjoy the waves we share. It’s a special kind of relationship, made all the more special knowing that this is not a common experience for lots of people when they go surfing”.

Credits: All media
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