Photo Essay: Surfing at Main Break, Margaret River. Credit Russell Ord.

Early in 2020, award winning photographer Russell Ord had a few jobs put on hold due to the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Surfing for exercise was still allowed and with a bit of spare time on his hands, Russell naturally found himself down at Surfer’s Point in Margaret River, surfing and snapping photos of the locals both in and out of the water. Some insightful images quickly emerged, and after some discussion with fellow surfer Mick Scott, came the idea of a book. Now complete, Main Break isn’t a who’s who of surfing or a history of the place. It is simply a snapshot of the culture and the people whose lives revolve around surfing at this iconic location.

In this photo essay, we explore some of the images captured by Ord which represent more reflective, quiet moments and a bit of nostalgia that is endearingly Western Australian. Copies of the book are available for purchase at the Margaret River Bookshop or at russellordphoto.com

Photo Essay: Surfing at Main Break, Margaret River. Credit Russell Ord.
Photo Essay: Surfing at Main Break, Margaret River. Credit Russell Ord.

Since the late 1950s, the waves at Margaret River have drawn people from everywhere around the globe. The town has transformed from a sleepy outpost with dairy and timber enterprises to a thriving community based around wine, tourism and surfing.

The wave has had a lot to do with this evolution. It has drawn all sorts of people into the area. Most have been determined to build their skills so as to be able to live and work in proximity to this great surf break.

It’s a powerful, consistent, physically and mentally demanding and energizing wave; a naturally beautiful playground slap bang in the middle of Margaret River’s social world.

Photo Essay: Surfing at Main Break, Margaret River. Credit Russell Ord.
Photo Essay: Surfing at Main Break, Margaret River. Credit Russell Ord.

Bob Pett, who became addicted to surfing Marg’s with his mate Ian Cairns in the late 1970s observes that “Margies is fairly unique because of the number of long- term regular surfers who have made surfing this break and the nearby reefs a focus of their lives, and crafted their livelihoods to accommodate it.”

Builder Mark Chadwick arrived in 1979. “It was six foot and glassy, I’ll never forget it. You could see the reef, I couldn’t believe it, there was hardly anyone out. It stayed etched in my brain and I came back six years later to live.” He’s still here, building houses and still surfing at Mainbreak.

Mark is just one example of the many surfers whose lives revolve around this one break, whose careers have been invented or morphed to allow them to surf here as often as possible.

Photo Essay: Surfing at Main Break, Margaret River. Credit Russell Ord.
Photo Essay: Surfing at Main Break, Margaret River. Credit Russell Ord.

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