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Through The Eyes Of A True Local


Max and his mates at The Pass : Byron Bay

We sat down with one of the true locals and all round gentlemen in the Byron Bay community, Max Pendergast recently and asked him to share a few of his photos and the stories behind them.

Can you give us a brief history of the family…….

My dad was the grandson of an Irish convict ( Like many of the early Australian first settlers). He moved up to the North coast in the early 1920’s from the Eden Manaro area, Twofold Bay. Where the family were whalers working with Benjamin Boyd. He married my mother who was a local girl from a farming family at Ewingsdale and settled in Byron Bay. They had four kids three girls and me, so that makes my children Kirra and Jy 4th generation Byron locals & their children Morgan (Kirra’s son) Marley and Hendrix (Jy’s Kids) fifth. Dad and his brother owned a milk run in town and he later worked at the Abattoirs as a refrigeration engine driver until he retired.

What do you think when you see these photos?………..

Well I’ve been riding surfboards here for 45 years now and now when I’m in the water and see no respect, fools dropping in and arguing, crowded surf, out of control in experienced backpackers, no parking, signs everywhere! I just smile to myself and think, no matter whatever else you throw at me, you really missed it! I had the best of it!!!!!!!!!!

Aloha Mau…Max

Max at “Stewies”, (Between the Surf Club and Clark’s) : Byron Bay

Watego’s circa 1970 : Byron Bay

Algy Reid at Stewies (Between the Surf Club and Clark’s) : Byron Bay

Sand mining at Main beach (Between Clark’s and town ) around 1970 : Byron Bay

A Californian surfer and good friend Derek Beckner around 1966. He lives on the big island in Hawaii now, we still keep in touch. Photo taken inside the Pass (Tommo’s) : Byron Bay


The most common question asked of Max is “Have you lived in Byron Bay all your life?” His laconic reply “Not yet!” Born in the Bay in 1943, Max has been in or on the ocean from the age of eight, swimming, surfing. diving, sailing and fishing. You could call him a true waterman. These interests have enabled him to travel extensively throughout the Pacific and particularly to his beloved Hawaii, where 30 years ago his great friends Rell Sunn and Keoki Puaoi introduced him to the true Hawaiian way of life. Max and his wife Yvonne were the foundation members of the Byron Bay Malibu Club of which they are both life members. Although they both no longer surf competitively, for the past 22 years they have organised and conducted a surf contest in conjunction with the Byron Bay Malibu Classic called “The Future Legends” for kids under 12 years old. Each year Max writes and illustrates a colouring-in book for the contest, mainly aimed at water safety, surf etiquette and the ocean environment, to gently try to educate the kids about the ocean. Still surfing “when it pleases me“ Max admits he is a little slower getting to his feet these days but he is trialing a new board which is a radical version of the Hawaiian Paipo so he can “Lay down surf!” and be more relaxed about it. Likes: Hawaiian music (He has an extensive collection), surfing the Cape, or “Little Beach” as it was always known. Early morning walks on the beach, being with family. The description of “Island time”, “Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe not at all!” Dislikes: Crowds, People who take the ocean for granted, inexperienced people that put peoples lives at stake....There is a saying on one of the islands “A fool and the sea is soon drowned!" We are not fools and we are only drowned sometimes...


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