Thwaites Family Gift to Tasmanian Junior Surfers The development of future junior surfers is assured following a gift to Surfing Tasmania by the Thwaites family of Hobart. In announcing the bequest, President Mick Lawrence, acknowledged both the generosity of the grant and the significant legacy the Thwaites family have already given past, present and future Tasmanians. Jack Thwaites was born in England in 1902 and his family migrated to Hobart in 1913 where he attended the Friends School in North Hobart. During these formative years the principles of the Quaker faith and a love of the outdoors helped shape the future direction of his life. On leaving school in 1919 he joined the Government Printing Office as an apprentice compositor. In his spare time he immersed himself in bushwalking and skiing, and from 1928 began undertaking major journeys into remote areas of the state. He went on to become Supervisor of The Scenery Preservation Board and a member of the National Parks Board. Amongst his many achievements he was a founder of the Hobart Walking Club, member of the Royal Geographic Society and a driving force behind the Y.H.A. around Australia. He was in the first official crossing of the Overland Track in January, 1931, responsible for much of Tasmania’s National Park nomenclature, particularly in the Frenchman’s Cap and Lake St. Clair regions and pushed strongly for the conservation of Tasmania’s wilderness and historic areas.
Known as Gentleman Jack, the approach to Federation Peak, Thwaites Plateau is named after him. His first of several failed attempts to climb Federation was in 1948. Not to be deterred he eventually reached the summit at the age of 75. He died in 1986 aged 83.
In 1935 Jack married Cecilia Cripps, of the local bakery family and had one daughter, Anne and one son, Bill. Both were raised under the Quaker ethos and attended the Friends School. While Anne went on to become an outdoor education teacher, Bill had a number of jobs, including a short stint as a baker. However he had his father’s inbuilt love of the outdoors and became a life guard at the Clarence and Hobart pools until he and his mum discovered surfing.
Acknowledged as a local surf pioneer Bill was also held in high regard in the Coolangatta region. In the early 1960’s he and his mum used to winter there and he quickly gained high respect for his surfing in large waves. He went on to use his Queensland surf connections to source surf products and establish Tasmania’s first surf retail outlet in 1971. Seaworld has since become Red Herring and is now part of one of Australia’s largest surf retail chains.
Bill was State Champion in 1965 and along with his mum, discovered many of Tasmania’s iconic surf spots. Both were kind, full of goodwill and encouraged surfers of all ages and gender. As retailers they were a major sponsor of surfing throughout the state and were also at the forefront of local windsurfing. Following the death of Mrs Thwaites, Bill went on to build a waterfront house on the aptly named Blinky Billy Point in Sandy Bay where he lived until his death last year. For those privileged to have known them both, they are held in surfing royalty, the Matriarch and Patriarch of Tasmanian surfing.
Upon advice of the bequest, the Board of Surfing Tasmania met to discuss the best way to meet the family’s request that the money be used to benefit young Tasmanian surfers. Rather than adopting the established practice of sending selected juniors to the mainland for professional coaching, the board decided instead to establish a fund to have a pool of local coaches trained and accredited.
The program will be known as The Thwaites Legacy and will be managed by Surfing Tasmania through board rider clubs around the state. Selected applicants will have the course and accreditation paid in return for a set number of coaching clinics per year. The aim is to have a nationally qualified coach at each board riding club in the state within five years, providing one on one advanced skill development for some 200 junior surfers annually.
Mick LawrencePresidentSurfing Tasmania Inc.