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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The soul surfer’s manifesto

Two eminent surfers, friends Wayne Lynch and Bob McTavish, walk across a creek in the hills behind Byron Bay in northern New South Wales, in a portrait that also captures a dream.

Photographer John Witzig took this picture of his friends as he was putting together the ‘Country Soul’ issue of Surf International in 1969. The portrait accompanied text urging readers to abandon their socially-conditioned, state-sanctioned aspirations and come ‘share the brown rice’, a call that would resonate with the blossoming alternative lifestyle movements of the 1960s. As Witzig explains, ‘it got taken simply because I carried my camera around a lot’. Such was the case with many of the photographer’s era-defining shots, leading to the incidental creation of timeless visions of passion for surfing, nature and freedom. As for the duo captured, Wayne Lynch is now renowned as one of the world’s great ‘soul surfers’ – not for his competition results but for his unparalleled physical and spiritual connection with the ocean’s waves – while Bob McTavish, a surfer since childhood, began work in the surfboard business in 1961 and still sells his boards worldwide.

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The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
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ABN: 54 74 277 1196

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency