Inside the push to honour Midget Farrelly with statue at Palm Beach

LEGACY IN STONE: A mock-up of what a statue of Midget Farrelly at Palm Beach could look like. Photo: Supplied
LEGACY IN STONE: A mock-up of what a statue of Midget Farrelly at Palm Beach could look like. Photo: Supplied

For decades surfing legend Midget Farrelly made his mark on the northern beaches. Now, one group is hoping to set his legacy in stone with a statue at Palm Beach.

Gordon Lang, a life member of the Palm Beach SLSC, is part of the Recognition Organising Committee behind the statue. He was friends with Midget Farrelly for many years, and surfed alongside him.

"I have spent many hours surfing with him and he's been an amazing part of Palm Beach for the past 60 years or so," explains Gordon. He's an amazing man and an amazing surfer, and he's got a fairly unique title which is an 'inaugural Australian world champion'. There are a lot of world champions but very few inaugural ones."

In 1964 Midget Farrelly won the first World Surfing Championship at Manly Beach. He was also the first president of Australia's oldest surfboard riders club, Dee Why Surfing Fraternity. Midget passed away in 2016 and was posthumously inducted as a Member of the Order of Australia the following year.

"He was a guy that you like being around," says Gordon.

"Just look at what he did with Surf Life Saving. He took the younger people, mainly girls, who didn't have much experience in the surf, and he built up their water confidence, surf skills and fitness."

SURFS UP: The iconic photo of Midget Farrelly the statue mock up was based on. Photo: Perrott

SURFS UP: The iconic photo of Midget Farrelly the statue mock up was based on. Photo: Perrott

While some have suggested a statue be put at Manly in recognition of the surfing title he earned there, Mr Lang said Palm Beach would be the ideal location as it was Farrelly's "spiritual home".

He believes the statue, which would be entirely funded by donations, would "bookend the region" and be a tourism drawcard for the area.

So far the group has locked in $50,000 worth of pledges for the project. They hope to raise $150,000 to cover commissioning, fabrication, installation, launch and initial maintenance so the only cost to council would be ongoing maintenance.

With local MPs and surfing legends like Layne Beachley already on board, Gordon is confident the group will be able to get the rest of the funds together. After the committee presented their pitch to council, Midget's wife, Beverlie Farrelly wrote to council expressing her support for the project.

If approved, a competition will be held to find the right artist and a design for the statue which represents Midget's "style, fluidity and grace". The location of the statue will be selected in conjunction with council, but the committee suggests the new Palm Beach Plaza would be an ideal spot.

"I think it's just recognition for an amazing surfer and an amazing person, and a Palm Beach person through and through," said Gordon.

This story Inside the push to honour the first world surfing champion first appeared on Northern Beaches Review.