Over the turn of the century the skateboarding landscape was a different place. Companies had only just begun to advertise website urls in their print ads and magazine were king. Transworld was the fattest of them all. The issue I have in my mitts is from November 2000 and measure in at over 13mm wide. 388 pages: 135 pages of editorial and a highly disproportionate 253 pages of ads! A single page ad for Transworld was around 8-10k at the time! 12 issues a year and you are looking at quite the turnover right? The money that was around back then definitely meant better pay for the skaters, more tours and many roving photographers.
One of Transworld’s most senior lensmen and greatest characters was Skin Phillips. He came and stayed in Sydney for the summer of 1999/2000. At that point the Sydney scene had seen a lot of love (and iconic photos) in the much missed Slap – thanks to Mike O’Meally’s talent. But… the fatty boom batty of all print – Transworld finally saw a whole lot more Aussie action after Skin’s temporary move. Clinton Walton was then living in Sydney. He was renting at the headquarters for Time Skateboards on the corner of Crown and Stanley in Darlinghurst. A twenty minute skate away was the Darling Harbour / Pyrmont precinct which houses this splintery out ledge – quite the hotspot of the era.
Initially Gadigal and the yet to be officially recognised Gommerigal tribes walked the area then known as the Go-mo-ra (Darling Harbour). Post-colonisation and the white fellas ‘discovered’ a natural spring in the area. It was named Pyrmont after a similar bubbler in Hanover, Germany. Land was initially granted to Thomas Jones, who then sold to Obadiah Ikin, who then traded a gallon of rum for it in 1799! Before long Pyrmont was known for its amazing sandstone and not its mineral water. The quarries were called ‘Paradise’, ‘Purgatory’ and ‘Hellhole’ – according to their difficulty levels. Many of Sydney’s iconic buildings were built from Pyrmont sandstone. In the 1840’s Darling Island was flattened and joined to the mainland. It soon became the shipyards for The Australian Steam Navigation Company. In 1860 the Glebe abattoirs opened. As the end of a day drew near the workers would have one off the wood at the Butcher’s Arms while the waters of the harbour would run blood red. By the early 1900’s the population of the area had peaked and industry took over. The Pyrmont area saw a gradual decline all the way up until the 80’s when the zone copped a serious makeover. The Pyrmont Ledges were just one spot that popped up in the decade that followed.
“…As the end of the day drew near the workers would have one off the wood at the Butcher’s Arms and the waters of the harbour would run blood red…”
I bet everyone who viewed photos and footage of this gem from a far would have thought it was a dream-like perfect out ledge off a three. In actual fact this thing was terrifying. To begin with it is an out ledge, which are always kind of gnarly. Second the ledge and the landing was splintery as all hell. Any piece of skin that came in contact with it would be soon perforated with splinters. Thirdly there is that crazy razor blade sticking out from the end of the ledge. In the instance of getting stuck whilst getting into a trick this was clearly put there to get you served.
And there is more! If you zung out on a trick there was a small gap on the edge of the jetty that meant your board was going to become a barnacle-infested relic of Pyrmont Bay. It was probably a Saturday when we went down to Pyrmont with Clint and Skin. I think I had made the frontside bluntslide claim on Clint’s behalf. I was pretty nervous for him when we arrived, as I knew there was a major possibility that he could get hung out to dry on this sucker. Before long Clint had combined his effortless pop and his fine balance skills and was sliding the length of the longest ledge there with ease. By the time Skin had started shooting Clint’s before had remained dry. Just as he was about to land it, he lost balance and his shiny Guy Mariano made it in on the full. It was gone for ever unless of course you wanted to cop some gastro and try dive in after it. I don’t know about you, but if I am trying to frontside bluntslide a three-metre-long out ledge I’m not about to try it on my homies board? I thought we were done for sure. But Clint soon grabbed my 7 3/4 inch Mark Baines Blueprint and before you knew it he was gliding across the jetty after a perfect make. So year that’s why the poor guy was sprung in a Transworld Sightings double-pager rocking a Venture tee whilst riding Indys.