A lively account of the little known story about the birth of surfing in Australia and the early beginnings of our beach culture and sporting heritage. The story centres on the meeting of a young Australian girl, Isabel Letham and the legendary Hawaiian swimmer and surfer, Duke Kahanamoku who visits Sydney on an exhibition swim in 1914.
The narrative begins in Hawaii, tracing the renaissance of surfing after decades of missionary prohibition, and the rise of the Waikiki beach boys as tourism begins to transform the pineapple port of Honolulu.
that summer at Boomerang recreates pre-World War I Australia and tells a tale of our collective loss of innocence via the story of the charistmatic Duke Kahanamoku – Hawaii’s best surfer and swimmer, who comes to our shores one summer and picks an average Aussie girl out of the audience to ride his long board with him. When he lifts Isabel onto his shoulders to ride the wave into shore before a packed beach, it’s a symbol of the seismic change that is already rippling through the nation as the rules and regulations of the 19th century give way to the anything-goes beach culture we recognise today.
The story centres on Sydney, Australia, but moves between Honolulu, Hawaiii, Stockholm and the Olympics in 1912, and even California (where the Duke eventually goes in search of a Hollywood film career, followed by Isabel). But many more characters from history people these pages – such as novelist Jack London, our first sport promoter Hugh ‘Huge Deal’ Mcintosh as well as other sporting greats – as one season, one summer, epitomises the end of an era and the birth of a new one.