PYLON HISTORY

Below are a few of the press releases and stories surrounding the raising of the pylon and exploits by members of one of Perth's surf clubs.

Some of the photos are missing, check them out in the swanny photo album

 

Mission: Raise the Cottesloe Pylon

 

Anonymous Press Release Wednesday 14th May:

 

Famous Australian Icon goes missing!

Cottesloe beach's famous pylon has disappeared!

 

The top of the pylon was dislodged from the base in a winter storm in 1995. Since then it has laid right beside the base for two years, until last Tuesday evening.

 

Bemused patrons of the Indiana Tearooms and members of the public at Cottesloe Beach watched as a group of 20 people clad in wetsuits entered the ocean near the pylon around 10.00 pm on May 13th.

 

In their quest they carried only several long timber beams, some chain and two surfboards. Over the next hour they were seen duck diving and swimming around the pylon, before slowly moving towards shore. Eventually they emerged from the surf to drag the pylon from the water, before hauling it off along the beach.

 

Using only their own strength, they were carrying the pylon, attached by chain to the timber beams which they held in their hands, six to a beam. One can only imagine the team work and lung capacity required to perform the same feat in the ocean were the pylon was in water over 3 metres deep. They used no mechanical assistance nor flotation devices in the removal of the pylon, which was carried out in still conditions under moon light.

 

Raising the pylon was a popular topic of discussion after it was dislodged. The Cottesloe council even commissioned an engineers report on the prospect of its reinstatement.

 

But for a small group of beach goers, raising the pylon became a mission that had to be achieved using ingenuity and resourcefulness alone. The group is known to have made several reconnaissance visits to the pylon. Last winter they measured it's dimensions to determine the weight they would have to lift, estimated at over 800 kilograms. More recently they tested their chosen lifting method, having devised and rejected many schemes.

 

The group was pressed into action when they found out that another unsuccessful salvage attempt had been made by others on Monday.

 

Determined not to lose their prize, they assembled their group, and now have the trophy they sought. The group has indicated they intend to display the pylon in their front yard in the near future.

 

The attached photograph shows the recovered pylon safely secured in the groups garage, somewhere in the western suburbs.

 

 

The pylons origins date back to 1925, when Simon Ettelson died after being attacked by a shark while swimming at Cottesloe. In 1934 the Cottesloe Council decided to enclose the main swimming beach in a shark proof net.

 

Two pylons were built, an identical pylon to the existing one was built against a long jetty that ran out from the foot of Forrest Street. The masts were light poles, designed to light the pool for night swimming.

 

But things went wrong during construction of the enclosure. Winter storms in 1936 carried away the "twin" to the existing pylon off the foot of John Street, as well as wooden "dolphins" sunk into the reef and the project was abandoned.

 

The jetty was blown up in the 1950's, and the pylon off John Street remained as the sole remnant of the ill fated project. It was diminished in size during the 1995 storm. Cottesloe council replaced the pylon in 1996 with a new concrete mast.

 

However many still regard the original pylon as the true icon of Cottesloe Beach, recognised the world over as one of the top tourist beaches in WA.

 

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Resulted in articles being published in the Post and Inside Cover in The West Australian.

Press Release Monday 19th May:

 

Swanbourne saves Cottesloe Icon.

Cottesloe beach's famous pylon has disappeared!

 

Inside Cover was outraged. Cottesloe Council doesn't seem to care. The rest of the beach going public is wondering about the fate of Cottesloe beach's pylon. Inter surfclub rivalry was behind last weeks night time military style raid that saw the old Cottesloe Pylon retrieved from the waters and spirited away.

 

Members of the Swanbourne Nedlands Surf Life Saving Club have revealed that they were the mysterious wetsuit clad group who raised the pylon last Tuesday evening. They wanted to lift the pylon as the ultimate "trophy" for their Annual Dinner held on Saturday, 17th May.

 

Video footage of the raid, dubbed with the Mission Impossible theme, was shown to an appreciative audience at the conclusion of the dinner.

 

It was planned to raise the pylon late on Friday evening, but Swanny was prompted into action when members of Cottesloe Surf Lifesaving club tried unsuccessfully to lift the pylon on Tuesday afternoon. A series of phone calls altered members to a 9.45pm briefing. The operation commenced with deployment of operatives at the Cottesloe Beach carpark at 10.00pm.

 

Lengths of chain were shackled to oars from one of Swannys surfboats and the group slung the chain under the pylon before carrying first under water then along the sand some 2.2km to their clubhouse. The entire mission was completed by 12.30pm, which proved very fortuitous for at 5.00am the next morning members of the Cottesloe Club turned up at the beach to retrieve the pylon.

 

After their unsuccessful attempt to lift the pylon Tuesday afternoon Cott had returned with more floatation aids and several extra helpers. They sent a swimmer out to pin point the location of the pylon as they prepared their lifting gear. From this point confusion reigned as the swimmer couldn't find the pylon, and the rest of the group looked on in disbelief.

 

One doubting Thomas even entering the water after stripping down to his underwater to make certain it was gone. After that all hell broke loose.

 

Where had the pylon gone? They knew then that only one group could have done it - Swanny!

 

Swanny has been one up on Cottesloe SLSC all during the 1996/97 season. Cott were beaten by Swanbourne Nedlands in their annual footy match despite resorting to using several WAFL reserves players.

 

Then they were beaten in the run swim run and board tube race components of the Champion Patrol Competition by Swanbourne Nedlands, despite having Uncle Toby's ironman Mark Finucane in their team.

 

Finally they have had their own piece of history, the Cottesloe Pylon hijacked by Swanny from their own beach under!

 

But what do you do with 800kg of concrete that is a heritage symbol to thousands of Western Australians? Decaying marine growth means the pylon is starting to smell, and the concrete is starting to crumble after 60 years in the elements, the last 2 of those underwater.

 

But Swanbourne Nedlands is a Club of code and tradition. Thus whilst they may have hijacked the pylon temporarily, they know where this West Australian heritage icon belongs.

 

A club spokesman revealed that Swanny are going to present the pylon back to Cottesloe SLSC to be placed in the their Surf Club courtyard.

 

A permanent reminder that once again Swanny beat them to it!

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Don't believe anyone else claimed to have the pylon unless they can tell you its dimensions (length 2.1m diameter small end 0.3m large end 0.45m) and can show you the video of its retrieval or photographs of it being carried!

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Unfortunately Cottesloe had by this stage had stolen the pylon from our boatshed, and informed the media. We unsuccessfully tried to bluff The West that we still had it, but to no avail. Had to admit that we no longer has the pylon in our possession. Follow up press release sent later that afternoon.

 

 

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Press Release later on Monday 19th May:

 

Swanbourne saves Cottesloe Icon.

Cottesloe beach's famous pylon has disappeared!

 

It seems that Cott have in fact snatched back the pylon.

They took it from our patrol tower at 1.00am Friday morning.

 

The humiliation of turning up at 5.00am Wednesday morning to find it gone was obviously too much. They didn't actually lift the pylon, but winched it onto a boat trailer.

 

But Cottesloe have no honour nor code.

 

It's like stealing someone's Olympic medal and claiming you won the race!

 

Resulted in articles being published in the Post and Inside Cover in The West Australian.

 

 

Shorebreak Exclusive - The pylon in pre mission status!

 

 

The pylon after we carried it over 1 km along the beach to the North Cottesloe boat ramp

 

 

Loading the pylon onto a boat trailer at North Cott

 

 

 

The pylon arrives at Swanny on the boat trailer

 

 

Members of the Pylon Raising Mission with their trophy in the Patrol Tower at Swanbourne Beach

 

 

 

 

 

Mission: Paint the Cottesloe Pylon


Cottesloe may have stolen back the Pylon, but Swanny will remembered as the group that raised it. And we werenít going to let Cott gloat over the Pylon for too long. Immediately after the disappearance of the Pylon was discovered, intelligence missions were mounted to find out its location.

 

After several false leads, Cameron came up with the goods, bluffing its location out of a Cottesloe member:

We know were the Pylon is!

No you don't

Yes we do

Where is it then?

It's at Peter Willey's house

No its not, it's at the Fisheries Department...oops

 

As soon as we knew the location a reconnaissance mission was mounted, and the Pylon was duly located at the rear of the Fisheries Department on South Terrace in Fremantle. Unfortunately Cottesloeís rough handling of the pylon when they stole it back meant it would unfeasible to lift it again without breaking it in two. So what better than way to let them know that we knew than to paint the Pylon in our Club colours.

 

In a dangerous mission conducted under the cover of darkness, 3 pylon possessed persons unknown painted the Pylon bright red with a white stripe, and left a calling card Where there is a Willey there is a way.

After retrieving several pieces of the Pylon with had broken off, and recording their exploits for prosperity, they melted into the night. Swanny Shorebreak has the following exclusive photographs from the mission:

 

 

Swanny man admires his paint work!

 

 

Painted Pylon and Calling Card

 

 

A press release we never got to issue:

 

Famous Australian Icon goes missing - Part 2

Cottesloe beach's famous pylon has disappeared!

 

Inside Cover was outraged. Cottesloe Council doesnít seem to care. The rest of the beach going public is wondering about the fate of Cottesloe beach's pylon.

 

But one Perth mother is hoping that after that after last Tuesday's secret salvage operation all the fuss surrounding the pylon will die down. For the second in 6 months she has woken on a Saturday morning to read the West Australianís Inside Cover and found that the pylon has made the news.

 

And she knows that her son is involved. Very early on Saturday November 2nd 1996, together with two mates he painted the mastless pylon to celebrate the wedding that day of two popular beach goers.

 

And for more than a year and a half he has been fixated with lifting the pylon from its watery grave, since its fate was revealed in a local newspaper after winter storms.

 

On Tuesday evening, using the code name Ginger, he coordinated the secret night time salvage operation that retrieved the pylon with military precision. Luckily the water was cold and his wetsuit was tight, because Ginger described the salvage mission as one of the most exciting nights of his life.

 

 

In another first for Swanny Fiona Taylor has negotiated with The West Australianís cartoonist, Dean Alston to get the cartoons associated with our exploits.  Normally selling for $120 each, Fiona has managed to get them for 2 bottles of white wine per cartoon. 

Well done Fi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Painting the Pylon

 

Reading this edition of Swanny Shorebreak would lead you to believe that Swanny has Pylon obsessed in the past few weeks. Nothing could be further from the truth. Swanny has been Pylon obsessed for years. Swanny Shorebreak has gone the extra yard and done some research on previous Pylon episodes. This is one of them:

 

SWANNY LEGENDS PAINT PYLON

Two Swanbourne Surf Club legends, with the assistance of a Trigg mate, successfully painted the Cottesloe Beach pylon a few weeks ago.

 

The legends, who wish to remain nameless for fear of a vendetta by Cott SLSC, painted the pylon in Swanbourne colours of red, white and blue, the night before the Cottesloe Senior Carnival on February 16th. A spokesman from Cott said "We're spewing!! It was OUR carnival, at OUR beach, and those pricks from Swanny came and painted our pylon!!" (Cott boys have always been a little bit sensitive about their pylon!)

 

The legends apparently formed the intention to do the job early in the week, and preparations were made. The two Swanny members and Trigg associate attended parties the night of the painting, and remained there until late in the evening, in order to provide an alibi should they be questioned later.

 

BEATEN TO IT

Just before midnight, with paint at the ready, the trio arrived at Cott beach in a car driven by a fourth member to the conspiracy, and surveyed the scene. To their shock, the pylon had already been painted in the blue, white and yellow colours of Freo. Despite being furious, they soon overcame their rage and formulated their plan.

 

The traditional Swanny pact was made - the job was to be done I.T.N. Casually strolling onto the beach, the trio discarded their towels and ran into the surf and made the swim, in high surf, without incident. Upon reaching the pylon, they discovered the Freo paint job was still wet. As they climbed onto the upper part of the pylon to begin their work, a fair amount of knacker-scraping was experienced, but they soldiered on.

 

MASTERPIECE

The painting was then underway. The Freo blue was left unaltered, but the yellow was painted red and blue, as were the backsides of the trio. Whilst two painted the upper portion of the pylon, the other legend set about painting the lower portion, but experienced difficulties with high surf and further knacker scraping.

 

By now, a crowd of 20 or so had gathered on the beach to view the spectacle of three white bums, accompanied by several hoots and obscenities associated with the scraping. All the while the getaway car was kept running should trouble present itself.

 

The painting was finished without incident, whereupon the trio dived into the surf, and cracked a few big waves onto shore, where they dived into the car, and made their getaway.

 

KIDNAPPING AND NUDITY

It is here that a change of plan occurred. One Swanbourne legend was kidnapped by the others and attempted to be whisked off, to continue the earlier party in Morley, contrary to his wishes.

 

Luckily, the car stopped at a set of traffic lights, where the legend made his break. He threw all the paint and clothes out of the car and went to jump out, only to be grabbed by the others, by his arm and a leg. As he stood there in the middle of the busy intersection, wearing nothing but a lot of blue, red and white paint, the other Swanny legend tried to push him back into the car. Suddenly the lights went green and the car was forced to drive off, leaving the two legends standing on the road, ITN, with paint cans rolling down the street.

 

THAT BURNING FEELING

Luckily for them, they were picked up as the others came back, and they went back to the club to wash the paint off. One legend decided that as he couldn't find any turps, paint stripper would do. It seemed to work, until the legends discovered to their horror that the combination of knacker-scraping and paint stripper proved quite lethal. Despite the intense pain, they managed to find some ice and apply it to the irritated areas. Finally, the legends made it home, content with their yet undiscovered victory over Cott.

COTT SHAMED

The next day at the Cott Carnival, there were two very upset groups of people, namely, Cott and Freo surf club. The Cott boys set about hunting out who it was that put them in shame at their own beach. They spent most of their time harassing Mike and Noodles, due to the flecks of paint over their bodies.

 

Mike explained he had been painting his bike the day before, whilst Noodles explained an unfortunate incident in a hardware shop that week where 14 tins of paint fell on him. The Cott boys left convinced, but still nonetheless shamed at the humiliation cast upon them.

 

The day was a good one for the Swanbourne club, as they basked in the glorious work of these two Swanbourne legends, and the shame of the Cott boys.

 

STOP PRESS: The pylon painting incident has become so legendary that it recently made the latest edition of the "Trigg Pirate", the esteemed and very popular Trigg Gossip Magazine. The beautiful paintwork still remains in tact today, and is being considered by the National Trust to be of historical significance.       Swanny Shorebreak, 1991

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pylon History

 

The incident which sparked the construction of the pylon occurred in a few tragic minutes on 25th November 1925 and is described in the following detail in Edwin Jaggards book "A Challenge Answered".

 

In 1925 Cottesloe was still regarded as the main beach in the metropolitan area. The jetty was a great attraction and hot summer weather always attracted vast crowds to the home of surf lifesaving. At this time too, surf club members could not go a great distance out to sea because no surf boats had yet been bought by W.A. clubs. Furthermore lookout towers were almost unknown. However,the shark attack on Simon Ettleson changed forever the methods of patrolling local beaches.

 

Easterly breezes had been blowing continuously for several days prior to Sunday 25 November. By afternoon it was quite warm (32 degrees ƒC) and humid, with clear skies and little breeze. Seas were glassy, in fact it was the kind of day which even now is still referred to by older surfers as ëa good shark day'. The jetty was crowded, swimmers stretched the full length of the beach, while out to sea several North Cottesloe club members were in the process of needling their rivals by swimming along to the jetty from the north.

 

Ettleson, a bookmaker's clerk, who was swimming about 30 yards from shore at the northern end of the beach near the club house was savagely attacked without any warning. The club captain and vice captain, Jim Paton and Phil Andreas were in the building when they heard loud shouts and rushed down to the water's edge to see what was happening. By this time Ettleson was floating face down in a patch of bloodstained water discoloured by his torn thigh which had been almost stripped of flesh.

 

Within seconds of the attack three swimmers and a dinghy manned by four club members rushed to the victim's aid. When the frenzied shark turned towards the swimmers, one hastily returned to the beach while the others were hauled over the side into the now overcrowded boat. Ettleson was soon reached but as he was being taken from the water the shark returned to attack and had to be beaten off. In its thrashings around the boat three members of the crew received slight injuries from the shark's tail, but soon the dangerously overloaded craft reached the shore.

 

Ettleson's injuries were so shocking that he died soon afterwards from shock and loss of blood. Meanwhile the water had been cleared while the shark continued to cruise around the vicinity. Rifles and dynamite charges were used in an attempt to kill it, a shark line was baited and placed in the water, club members walked two miles north and a mile south from the scene of the attack, warning swimmers to stay out of the water, Towards evening the pilot boat Lady Forrest arrived from Fremantle Harbour to try unsuccessfully to kill the shark.

 

At the same time, a contemporary newspaper reported that: 'a well known Cottesloe bather whose contempt for sharks has earned him the title of Shark Bait, arrived on the beach determined to take his customary dip'. It was only after some very forcible arguments from the club members that he was persuaded not to swim that night.

 

Efforts to catch the shark were finally successful although old Cottesloe identities still argue about whether it was the attacker which was hooked. While a shark was caught by the Fisheries Department the following Thursday, many do not believe it was the killer. They maintain that the fish involved in the attack was a white pointer, while the one taken by the Fisheries Department was a tiger shark.

 

It will be of great interest to all surfers to now that in the 1920's, sharks were common around Cottesloe. The owners of Lowicks Tea Rooms, near Cottesloe Beach, kept "shark gear" which was lent to anglers. The gear comprised a large hook on a chain and drum and was frequently set off the jetty. on one Sunday morning alone they pulled in three sharks. Some of these fish were up to 10 feet long and must have represented a threat to swimmers.

 

Years after wards local surf boat crews often set to sea with appropriate gear and offal as bait for shark fishing. Their favourite "shark hole" was off Leighton Beach and tigers white pointers and hammer, heads were often taken from there. When a shark was hooked it was pulled to the boat and clubbed with an appropriate piece of wood before being towed, tail first, to the beach. Often the shark was kept in a tent near the clubhouse and the public charged a fee of 3 pence/adult and a penny/child to see it.

 

 

The tiger shark blamed for the death of Simon Ettleson, caught off Cottesloe four days later. Bob Irvine believes that a white pointer killed Ettleson.

 

The crowd on Cottesloe Beach shortly after Ettleson was attacked. The shark remained in the area swimming within 15 metres of the beach, much to the concern of terrified onlookers.