Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Peter Troy (1938-2008)

Australian surf adventurer Peter Troy passed on, 29 September 2008.

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 29 September, 2008 - Australian surf adventurer Peter Troy has died from a bloodclot. Troy is best known for his discoveries in Bali and Java. In 1975 he was one of the first to surf Nias He is also known for his part in Paul Witzig's 1971 classic 'Sea of Joy' where he and Wayne Lynch surfed newly discovered Tamarin Bay on Mauritius.

A true adventurer, he claimed to have visited 130 countries, many in Africa. He surfed Jeffreys Bay in 1966. In Australia Troy ran a Sydney surf-movie-only theatre as well as a Noosa Heads motel. Peter was born in 1938 in Torquay Australia.

Austalia Broadcasting Company's George Negus interviewed Peter Troy. It was broadcast on August 23, 2004:

Peter Troy was a leading figure on the international surfing circuit in the sixties. He discovered the surfing potential of countless locations, including Nias in Sumatra, Indonesia and Bell's Beach, Torquay back home.

Peter has hitchhiked from the world's southernmost township (Tierra Del Fuego) to its northernmost (Spitzbergen), sailed from Gibraltar to Antigua and driven across the Sahara Desert in a goat wagon.

GEORGE NEGUS: During the '60s, Peter Troy was a leading figure on the international surfing circuit. Have board, will travel, Peter took off to discover the world's most thrilling surfing locations. But apparently, his nomadic instincts were not prompted just by wave spotting.

Peter, good to meet you.

PETER TROY: Thank you, George.

GEORGE NEGUS: What did make you go charging off? The ultimate wave or what?

PETER TROY: Well, basically, I worked for a firm of chartered accountants in Melbourne.

GEORGE NEGUS: That's thrilling!

PETER TROY: Yeah, that was great thrilling. After five years, I decided that wasn't what I wanted. But I was too frightened to break with tradition. So I simply got on a boat and left the country.

GEORGE NEGUS: So surfing basically sent you off?

PETER TROY: Yes. I wanted to go to Hawaii and challenge the big waves. I grew up at Bells Beach. I was a big wave rider. I wanted to go to Hawaii.

GEORGE NEGUS: Any idea how many countries you've been to?

PETER TROY: Yeah, well, approximately 140.

GEORGE NEGUS: Right. There are only about 200 in the world.

PETER TROY: A couple of hundred. Yeah.

GEORGE NEGUS: So half the world. I was looking at the things you've done. Hitchhiking in the Kalahari Desert. A yacht trip from Gibraltar to Antigua. That's... that's quite a sailing exercise.

PETER TROY: Yeah, well, it was an attempt to go from Europe to Hawaii to go surfing. And, uh, the aeroplane at that stage was just so expensive, you know. A trip by plane from Australia to England was seven months of work. And today now it's maybe two weeks. If you could get on a yacht or a cargo boat, that's the way you went.

GEORGE NEGUS: Probably my favourite, I think, was that you went from the world's most southern town, right? Puerto...Puerto Williams.

PETER TROY: Puerto Williams in Isla Navareno. It's just south of Tierra del Fuego.

GEORGE NEGUS: Tierra del Fuego. To Spitsbergen.

PETER TROY: Yeah, to, uh... Actually reached 81 degrees north at the tip of Spitsbergen where in those days they were doing polar bear hunting.


PETER TROY: Yeah, by myself. It took nearly a year to hitchhike.

GEORGE NEGUS: So it was only when... The surfing kicked it off.


GEORGE NEGUS: Then the rest of whatever you were about took over. Travelling became a way of life.

PETER TROY: Well... Surfing was interesting because being at the forefront of...of the sport and carrying a 10-foot surfboard under your arm, you were an oddity and that was your ticket to travel. It was... If you were in India with a 10-foot surfboard trying to get on a suburban train in Bombay people started asking questions.

GEORGE NEGUS: I'm getting a picture!

PETER TROY: Yeah. I often liken it to travelling around the world with a grand piano.

GEORGE NEGUS: (Laughs) Right. Not a bad comparison. These days, of course, surfing is so sophisticated. And become such a media event. When you did it, it was nothing like that.

PETER TROY: No. And I think, uh, this modern trend of surfing where it's a life-threatening sport now. It's an extreme sport. And there's big wave surfing where they're surfing 70-foot waves and being towed in 100km off the coastline is...it's very demanding. Only a few people in the world are prepared to...

GEORGE NEGUS: Is it better or worse as a result? That it's become so extreme and there's so much money involved, it's so professional, it's such a glamour sport.

PETER TROY: I think the clothing labels have taken it into a casual clothing thing where once upon a time, we looked at Yves St Laurent and Pierre Cardin. And these days now, the European and North American and those people don't want to wear those things. They want something that's created by people of their own...

GEORGE NEGUS: Hence the Rip Curls and the Billabongs, etc.

PETER TROY: Exactly.

GEORGE NEGUS: Your feats as a... as a surfer were considerable. You are in the Surfing Hall of Fame.

PETER TROY: Um, yes, I'm...I'm honoured to have been put into that. We've now got, uh, 23 living surfers that are in the Hall of Fame. And, uh, our sport is only, in the modern sense, since 1956. So most of the guys that ever started it are still all alive.

GEORGE NEGUS: We forget it's a pretty young sport.

PETER TROY: Very young in the modern sense.


PETER TROY: The malibu came in conjunction with, uh, the Olympic Games. It was our demonstration sport at the Melbourne Olympics.

GEORGE NEGUS: Right. Right, yeah. Yep. I mean, if you, um... I guess... What's another way of putting it? If you were starting out as a traveller now, right, what recommendations would you give based on your previous experience to young travellers, potential nomads like yourself?

PETER TROY: Yep, I think...I think it's necessary to avoid the aeroplane.

GEORGE NEGUS: If you can.

PETER TROY: If you can.

GEORGE NEGUS: At all cost.

PETER TROY: Find some place - I'll just take a group of islands in the Pacific - if you fly there on Air New Zealand and you get off, then make the attempt to go by local cargo boat or inter-island canoe or whatever and then go and live with the people on that island.

GEORGE NEGUS: Get close to people. It's the difference between travelling and touring.

PETER TROY: Exactly.

GEORGE NEGUS: A traveller is a different thing from a tourist.


GEORGE NEGUS: Where do you call home?

PETER TROY: Um, home is... is on the Sunshine Coast. And, um...I live in Coolum Beach. But it's growing very quickly to be a big town now. I'm getting a little bit scared that the whole south-east corner of Queensland is going to become a Southern California, Los Angeles to San Diego. And, um, so perhaps it's, uh...

GEORGE NEGUS: Might be time to take off again.

PETER TROY: Find a second home to live in part-time.

GEORGE NEGUS: Peter, lovely to talk to you.

PETER TROY: Thank you, George.

More about Peter Troy can be found at: SURFING INDONESIA, Google Books


  1. I am so sorry to hear that Peter has died. I remember him being a very nice guy and with lots of funny stories. May his radiant soul progress through all the worlds of God.

    I was with him when we discovered Lagundri Bay in 1975. There were three Aussie surfers (Peter and two guys, one named John and I forget the name of the other) as well as my friend Rick Waite and me, Michael Day.

    Rick and I were just travelling and were in Nias where we met the Aussie surfers.

    They were running down to try a tiny shore break wave in Teluk Dalam. The locals were following them, laughing and having a good time. Peter, even though a world famous surfer (I remembered him from surfing magazines), was not stuck up at all but warm, friendly and funny.

    The were amazed when the surfers paddled out, turned and stood up on the tiny waves. Then a local teacher had a go, stood up for a few seconds and fell off. The crowd applauded. They had never seen or even heard of surfing before.

    I had been a surfer and so was interested to go with them when they said they were going to check out a place where they heard there were waves.

    We were all amazed when we arrived and saw the waves. It was Lagundri Bay and had never been surfed or seen by surfers before. They went out and surfed, and I body surfed a bit.
    I could speak Indonesian so they asked me to ask the locals to build a hut for them, at the place where the village now is. So I did ask a guy, and he agreed to build the hut. I guess that the was the start of the settlement there.

    At that time there were no dwellings, but the locals told me they used to enjoy watching the waves. I think they were amazed to see the Aussies riding the great waves that day.

    The Aussies asked me not to tell anybody about the place which we called Spot X and Express.

    I didn't tell, and was amazed 13 years later to read a story about Nias in a surfing mag I saw in a shop. The break had become famous.

    I haven't been back, though I did end up covering Indonesia as a journalist more than 20 years later.

    In 1975 Peter was travelling through Indonesia on motorbikes with his girlfriend, Wendy. I saw them later in Nepal.

    Anybody interested in more anecdotes about the discovery or about Peter from that time, please contact me at michaelvday@gmail.com

  2. 2 of us went to Lagundri in 1984. Two buses a boat ride, back of a motorcycle and we were there. The locals built us a hut that day. Before long a massive swell turned up which freaked us out .Back in OZ I came down with malaria. What a trip!!!


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