Sue-Lyn is hard to pin down. Between wrangling a two year old and writing a fairly research heavy book on surfing in the south west, she’s got her hands full to say the least. I finally managed a few moments with her though on a recent trip to Perth, and was lucky enough to get a glimpse of her studio space in Northbridge.
Sue runs ‘Made in Margaret River’ from quite literally a hole in the wall office on Newcastle Street. The creative space is surrounded by other writers, graphic designers and photographers who have rented similar spots and it seems like a fabulous place to set up and develop ideas.
Having recently sent our commissioned book on the early surfers, ‘Surfing Down South’ book off to the designer, I asked Sue how she felt;
‘I’m relieved to have a break. I always found it hard not to keep following stories because they were all really interesting, so now at least I have a good excuse just to take a breather.’
Sue also mentioned that the book was fairly consuming, as nothing had really been collated and documented on early surfing in the south west before, especially this extensively. She describes the process as; ‘uncovering history and being at the forefront of data mining.’
Sue listened to, and read literally hundreds of stories throughout the process, and had to decide which ones to pursue and how the stories would collectively piece together to make a book.
'I started by talking to Kevin Merifield and Rob Conneeley and from there it became the question of; Who should I see next?… Which stories do I follow?…. There is just an endless amount of offshoot stories, so along the way I was having to judge where to go, and with what stories.’
I asked whether it was hard to visualise the final product, but Sue remembers starting to formulate this network of how everyone was intertwined over the years, and she said it became clear how to piece everything together in the book.
Although there is a sense of relief having completed writing the book, the work isn’t all over for Sue. She has marketing events to attend, and is still setting up a website for people to share and access all the archival photos she discovered during the process. Sue said that during the research process, she met people who had started documenting these stories but hadn’t produced a book or any finished work yet, so they thought about putting this work into an online library, where everyone could access and share their stories.
You can log onto surfingdownsouth.com.au which is still in early stages but is constantly growing in content.
Image courtesy of Ray Geary.
Sue’s little office nook in the city is quite a world away from the subjects she has written about in her book, however Sue had her first job as a journalist at Augusta Margaret River Times, and then went on to work at theThe Margaret River Mail, so has clocked up a few years of the Margaret River lifestyle and is passionate about sharing stories of our community. It’s clear she has a connection to the south west herself, as the book is packed full of these community stories, and the selected archival images speak volumes.
Entering the project, Sue already had a history of understanding the surf culture of Margaret River so I asked what she has actually learnt during the process;
‘I discovered what a golden era the 50s, 60s and 70s really were, and how much Margaret River has and hasn’t changed…. The one constant is the surf. People are still coming down for that and staying.’
Stay tuned for the book's release early next year.