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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.

Midget Farrelly at Palm Beach, 1964

John Witzig

type C photograph on paper (mount: 81.5 cm x 101.8 cm, image: 46.5 cm x 70.0 cm)

Bernard 'Midget' Farrelly AM (1944–2016), surfer and boardmaker, grew up in Sydney and first surfed at North Bondi in the early 1950s. By 1961 he was the Australian surfing champion. The following year he won the Makaha International Championship in Hawaii, becoming the first Australian ever to take out a major surf title. The first World Surfing Championships were held at Sydney's Manly Beach in 1964; more than 60,000 people saw Farrelly take the men's crown. He remained one of the world's leading surf competitors through the 1960s, finishing second in the 1968 and 1970 world championships. In this period he co-wrote A Surfing Life and How to Surf and began to shape boards; over the 1970s he built up a successful blank-making and chemicals business, Surfblanks. Farrelly was inducted into the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame in California in July 2007.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2007

Accession number: 2007.32

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

John Witzig (age 20 in 1964)

Midget Farrelly (age 20 in 1964)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Mark Richards, 1976 John Witzig
Mark Richards, 1976 John Witzig
Mark Richards, 1976 John Witzig
Mark Richards, 1976 John Witzig

Off the wall

Magazine article by John Witzig, 2008
Photographer and surf mag editor John Witzig tells the stories behind his iconic surf images.
Dame Edna Everage, 1982 Lewis Morley
Dame Edna Everage, 1982 Lewis Morley
Dame Edna Everage, 1982 Lewis Morley
Dame Edna Everage, 1982 Lewis Morley

Bare

Degrees of undress

Previous exhibition, 2015

Bare: Degrees of undress celebrates the candid, contrived, natural, sexy, ironic, beautiful, and fascinating in Australian portraiture that shows a bit of skin. 

Nat Young, c. 1968 by Albert Falzon
Nat Young, c. 1968 by Albert Falzon
Nat Young, c. 1968 by Albert Falzon
Nat Young, c. 1968 by Albert Falzon

Arcadia

Sound of the sea

Previous exhibition, 2014

An exhibition of photographs by John Witzig, drawings by Nicholas Harding and film footage by Albe Falzon, expressive of the free-spirited, hot-blooded energy of Australian surfers under the cloud of conscription to Vietnam.

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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.