Peter Troy

A Global Surfari with Peter Troy

Just over 55 years ago, a young surfer named Peter Troy left Torquay and Bells Beach in Victoria, Australia on a global surfari to wander the globe and discover the brave new surfing world. He became the “Messiah” of surfing, spreading the word and introducing surfing to more places globally than could possibly be imagined. He travelled to more than 150 countries leaving his mark and memories deeply embedded into the beach and surfing cultures worldwide.

His introduction of surfing created surfing cultures that today are dominant in the world of competitive surfing. He was a young accountant when he left on his journey in 1963. He took a suitcase and his 3 metre wooden surfboard and headed off hitchhiking his way right around the world. Over the next 3 years he travelled to places like Brazil where he introduced surfing for the first time, he discovered and surfed now world famous destinations like “Tamarind Bay” in Mauritius and “Punta Rocas” in Peru. He also became the European surf champion, surfing his way all around Europe including such unthought-of places like Norway. He even met and partied with the Beatles on Jersey Island.

global surfari

In his travels, he managed to see and surf much of the surfable coastline the world had to offer. He travelled over most of the African coastline after Europe, surfed Indonesia, discovering such places as “Nias” and famously hitchhiked his way from the world’s southernmost town in Tierra del Fuego to the northernmost, Spitsbergen in the Arctic Circle.

global surfari

In an interview not long before he passed away, Peter explained some of the feeling of being one of surfing’s first true grass-roots ambassadors: “Well, to me it was a total opening, because people had never really met a travelling surfer …. And it just kept on going. For some reason or another you’d look at the map and think ‘Oh I’ll go on down there’ and when you got down there you met other people and you started to acquire languages and you started to acquire experience …you met some guy and he’d say ‘Well why don’t you go out to the Galapagos, you know the Chilean navy can take you out there, here’s a little letter,’ and he’d write it on a table napkin or something and you’d give it to the admiral of the Chilean navy and you got a free trip in those days. And each time you became more extroverted in what you did, the easier it was to get to the next place.”

Peter Troy

Peter was born in Hamilton, Victoria and moved with his parents to Torquay in 1948, when it was still more or less a small country town; his father ran the local general store. He was enthusiastic about the water from early youth, surfed Bells Beach with fellow local Owen Yateman on blow-up surf-o-planes when he was 10, and became one of the Torquay surf club’s top board paddlers, winning a gold medal in the surfboard relay at the Vicco championships. He later was responsible for the beginning of the Bells Beach surfing competition in 1962, which subsequently became the Rip Curl Pro in 1973.

Peter Troy

In his later life, he managed to purchase the lease of his dream, “Old Woman Island”, a small island off the coast of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, which had been his home at this time for many years. This island was a surfer’s dream, when the conditions were right the waves were possibly some of the best available in Australia. Perfect lefts on one side and hollow grinding rights on the north side. On the island was a small cabin that had been built by a previous owner, it was very basic and almost primitive, however it was right in the middle of paradise. He spent a lot of time on the island feeling some true peace and tranquility and living a surfers dream.

Peter Troy

Old Woman Island

Peter Troy

Old Woman Island left-hander

His influence and inspiration spread to other surfers he had left behind in Torquay, who began to think maybe there was a way to eke out some sort of a living from the sport they all so dearly loved. This was to be the beginning of what would later become some of the most famous and dominant global surf brands, such as Rip Curl and Quicksilver.

global surfari

A journalist Sean Doherty collated the many letters Troy had sent home chronicling his travels and published them in the 2011 book To the Four Corners of the World. “There won’t be another Peter Troy because that world’s just not there anymore,” Doherty said. “That world’s gone.”

Peter Troy

Peter Troy was honoured with an Order of Australia (OAM) for his outstanding commitment and service to the sport of surfing in 2007 and sadly passed away on the 30th September 2008. He is sadly missed by all those who knew him and by the many whose lives he had affected and changed forever. It is now the 10th anniversary of the passing of this great man and great surfer and now we should all take a moment to remember him!

For more Aussie Surfer stories please visit our blog page!

Please subscribe to our Blog (subscription link above) to receive updates when new and interesting Blogs are published!

Peter Troy Peter Troy Peter Troy



  1. Just looking at Peters Map really is interesting. The adventures he must have had and very Gutsy to Travel in some of those Country’s. As you can see he hit most of the known Surf Spots around the World, but to be the First to take on unknown waters must have been Fantastic. Should be Awarded for representing Australia in Surfing and starting the new Culture of a Surfing to isolated places, which have prospered over the Years.
    Anyway I’m sure some of us included me would have Dreamed about taking on a World trip looking for Surf Spots, and a lot of us have like Peter maybe because he found them for us.
    Back in the early days it must have blown a lot of people out by Peter rolling up with his 9ft Board and Surfing a break that no one had ever seen, would have been a mission getting around the World with his board.
    I’d like to read his Book, there must be a lot of good stories in it.
    To live on an Island with a Left and a Right would have great and getting away from it all to Chill.
    Sorry to Read that he has passed, but what a Life he lived !

    • Yes he had nothing short of an amazing life! The island is a special place indeed, before Peter bought the lease I was the house-sitter for the previous owner and had the key to the cottage for a few years and surfed there regularly.

      • I hope you cut a key 😉

        • Haha, yes it was so nice there ….. unfortunately later the beautiful cottage was vandalised over the years and then finally destroyed.

    • Hi Martin, Peter did receive an Order of Australia in January 2007. I am reprinting his book “To the Four Corners of the World” hopefully in time for Christmas 2018, Libby Troy (Widow of Peter Troy)

  2. Brilliant!
    Cheers Martin
    Peter was my inspiration to leave NZ and Surf-travel back In 69
    I was aware of the book but don’t have it
    You’ve inspired me to seek it out which I will do once home from surfing California (still traveling to surf LOL!!) where I currently am
    Thanks again

    • Thanks Thommo, he was a great man, great surfer, fantastic mentor to me and a true friend!

  3. I used to go to talk to Peter and listen to some of his stories when he had Surf Ratz surf hop in Mooloolaba and I lived on River esplanade back in the late 80’s .He had so many stories to tell and was a really nice bloke .

    • Yes he was not a person to boast in any way, however when asked the right questions he could deliver endless intriguing stories!

  4. Book is available?

    • As far as I know the book was being reprinted a few months ago.