Manly Beach, Australia

Photo: Murray Fraser/

Manly and Freshwater Beaches: The Birthplace of Australian Surfing
Manly has held a central place in Australian history since Governor Phillip’s eventful meeting with the local ‘manly’ aborigines in 1788. Just over a century later Manly became a premier beachside destination for Sydneysiders, which lead to surf bathing and a number of Australian ‘firsts’ in the surf. The first recorded body surfing in the 1890’s, the first legal surf bathing (1902), the first surf life saving club (1903), the first surf boat (1903), the first boardriding (1910), site of Duke Kahanamoku’s famous surfing exhibition in 1914 and 1915 at Freshwater Beach, the first world surfing championships (1964), and home to two world surfing champions: Barton Lynch and Layne Beachley. Manly and Freshwater Beaches enjoy the title of the ‘birthplace of surfing in Australia’ and so it is entirely fitting that Manly and Freshwater Beaches now join the ranks of other iconic beaches around the world as a World Surfing Reserve. The reserve incorporates Freshwater Beach and all of Manly - from Queenscliff to North Steyne to Manly and Fairy Bower. Each of these sites in their own right has a rich surfing history and outstanding surf with many legendary feats being recorded by those rescuing wayward swimmers, as well as those who have taken on the giant surf on boards and even surfboats at the Queenscliff Bombora, Fairy Bower and Deadmans.
Manly-Freshwater is the most surf-centred community in Australia - no other beaches can boast such history, popularity and consistent quality surf, rideable in places to 20 feet. Four surf life saving clubs, one surf club and three boardriding clubs formally acknowledge the community’s interaction with the surf. On any day the number of people swimming, surfing or just walking the boardwalk all attest to a strong bond between the Manly and Freshwater communities and their beloved surf.  
Manly-Freshwater represent all that is embodied in a World Surfing Reserve – a very rich history and surf culture, coupled with its consistent and quality surf with waves always in abundance, to be enjoyed by past, present and future generations.


*Manly and Freshwater Beaches were formally approved as a World Surfing Reserve on February 3, 2011 and were officially dedicated on March 10th, 2012. Click here to read more about the Manly-Freshwater dedication ceremony. 

Photo: Murray Fraser/

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