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Video clip synopsis – Huge, heavy and finless, the first Aussie surfboard was actually handmade by a visiting Hawaiian in 1914 using a piece of local wood.
Year of production - 2004
Duration - 3min 56sec
Tags - popular culture, sport, surfing , see all tags


First Surfboard

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About the Video Clip


First Surfboard is an episode of the series National Treasures produced in 2004.

First Surfboard
Surfing may well be a quintessential Aussie pastime but who introduced us to the modern-day art of boardriding? Warren Brown gets the lowdown from former world champion surfer Midget Farrelly. He tells the story of Duke Kahanamoku, a champion Hawaiian swimmer, who showed Australians how to ride a wave at Sydney’s Freshwater Beach in 1914, using a board he built himself from a lump of local timber. Huge, heavy and completely finless, the first Australian surfboard has pride of place in the local surf club.

National Treasures
Take a road-trip of discovery with the irrepressible Warren Brown – political cartoonist, columnist and history “tragic” – as he reveals a fascinating mix of national treasures drawn from public and private collections across Australia. On its own, each treasure is a priceless snapshot of an historic moment. Together, they illustrate the vitality and uniqueness of the Australian experience.

National Treasures is a Film Australia National Interest Program. Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Curriculum Focus


Community engagement.

Students present points of view on contemporary issues and events
using appropriate supporting evidence. They explain the different perspectives on some contemporary issues and propose possible solutions to problems.

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


It is generally accepted that Polynesians from Tahiti and Hawaii were the first people to surf waves, riding wooden surfboards carved from the timber of sacred trees.

In 1915 Hawaiian Olympic medallist Duke Kahanamoku made a surfboard from a local tree, and became the first person to surf a wave in Australia.

During the 1950s and 1960s a surf culture developed around the sport of surfing. Surf culture is multifaceted. It includes clothing brands and styles, music preferences, literature, films, language, attitudes and values.

Surfing has a global connection, with many surfers trekking the world to find the perfect wave, and cross-pollinating various cultural aspects.

Surfing may also be affected by environmental changes due to global warming. Global warming may produce bigger waves, or a return, through altering ocean currents, to a new ice age. Oil spills and toxic algae growth can threaten surfing regions. ‘Sea change’ discovery of small coastal areas may lead to population pressures that deter surfers from using certain areas.

Technological changes are also evident in the sport. Surfboards have undergone great changes in design and manufacture; in some places there are now artificial reefs that encourage waves; and the development of jet skis has meant that some monster waves that could not be caught before are now able to be reached and ridden.

Classroom Activities

  1. Understanding the video clip
    1. What is the object shown?
    2. Who made it?
    3. When does it date from?
    4. Where was it used?
    5. How is it different from modern surfboards?
  2. Exploring issues raised in the video clip
    1. A sport such as surfing can help us understand the nature of laws, and of ethical or good citizenship behaviour. Brainstorm to decide what ethical or citizenship issues might be associated with surfing. What formal and informal rules might be needed? What sort of behaviour might be desirable and undesirable, and why?
    2. Create a ‘code of ethical behaviour’ for the sport — that is, who has what rights and responsibilities.
    3. Compare your code with that created by Robert Connelly, which was given a place in the Surfing Hall of Fame in 2006. You can see this at Discuss why each of the elements in the code is needed. Do you think it is a good and effective code? Could you suggest any changes to it?
    4. You might like to create a similar code for another sport in which you are active — for example skateboarding, basketball, netball, etc.

Further Resources


For more National Treasures and video clips go to Investigating National Treasures