By Jed Smith
From the street it bears the unmistakable smear of character. Opposite a monstrous block of glistening post-modern units, in a street teeming with luxury cars, the house strikes an odd pose. But it won’t for much longer.
This once sacred place of the local surfing community is set to join the ever-growing list of Bondi’s blue-collar monuments decomposing in the Botany tip. For 30 years the property played ‘pass the parcel’ among the Valley’s core boardriders, the original lease taken out by a local surfer known only as ‘Big Al’.
Shane Wilson is man whose relationship with the house spans three decades, his brother living there for 12 years. He remembers a building that played more than a minor role in the evolution of the local surfing identity.
‘It was a meeting place and it continued to be right up ’til recently. We would leave our boards and hang our [wetsuits] out under there,’ he says, motioning to a spot underneath a fire-mangled fire escape at the rear of the house ‘as did the grommets of today’.
During the late ’70s through to the beginning of the ’90s ‘Lamrock’ as it was affectionately known, was but one of a network of surfing homesteads.
‘You had the Biltmore place down there on the beachfront, with [local surfers] Rick Scott, and Deadly. That place was crazy,’ recalls Wilson with a knowing nod. ‘Then just down the road here you had the ITN flats with [former pro surfer] Ant Corrigan and [current channel nine CEO] David Gyngell. And Elksy [another former professional surfer] was in the garage downstairs with his ding repairs.’
Garages are a central part of any surfing community. On a weekly basis any number of unscrupulous happenings will play out in garages all along the coastline of Australia. The Lamrock garage can lay claim to a more colourful history than most. As a geologist examines layers of rock to decide the age of a landmass, one need only examine the layers of carpet in the Lamrock garage for an idea of its history. From impromptu recording and practice studio ‘ culminating in a jam session featuring two members of the world’s premiere death metal band, Sepultura ‘ to a shaping bay for fledgling local board shapers, a ding repair business run by local surfers and always a hang spot for local kids, Lamrock was home.
On the day I visited, you could literally smell the history of Lamrock as its remaining contents festered in the sun, strewn across the lawn where once a proud tribe of surfers would sip on longnecks after a long day in the water. Old surf magazines, beer bottles, broken boards and a solemn bong leave no doubt as to who lived here. In the coming years, this is sure to change.