Mark Robley

Geelong Pipes

Whilst the new skatepark development was catching all the attention, a great new underground spot had emerged, although it was only ever ridden by a fairly select few. 

The “Geelong pipe” was a 16 foot diameter steel pipe found at a concrete manufacturers open cut near Corio, outside Geelong. 

It was super smooth, and about 35 feet long, allowing plenty of space for back and forth carving kickturns off the over vert.  On one trip there, I tried skating it on a 36 inch longboard, and after sliding out frontside several times, finally came to grief and just about knocked myself out. Chris Hatten took myself, Mark Daniels and Peter Crae there on several occasions. Peter Crae was definitely the high liner amongst our group, and had begun to show some of his instinctive, gymnastic talent for skating. Peter was quietly spoken and unassuming, but a for a short period from ‘79 to ’81, he was as good a progressive skater as almost anyone else out there. 

Perhaps the concrete company was wary of someone hurting themselves, or maybe they were planning to scrap it anyway, but the pipe got progressively smaller as they cut sections out of each end.

One day it was just gone altogether. 

At some stage shortly after this - and I confess I’m not exactly sure when – the Hill brothers called me and told me they’d heard about a real “desert pipes” size pipe out near Sale, in East Gippsland. Always keen for a road trip, they immediately organised a run to check it out. The pipe turned out to be a steel smoke stack section , destined for the Yallourn power station. It was about 24 feet in diameter, with a “spider” at each end to hold the circular shape and not sag under it’s weight. Several other pipe sections had central spiders, which kind of got in the way, but the major one had a clear length of about 30 to 40 feet. Being so big, this was the first time I could remember a skate spot’s sheer height being a real factor. Even on the smooth steel surface, bailing from 15 feet up added quite a “pucker factor”. I only went out to the Sale pipes twice, but with more time and local knowledge, you could definitely have gone higher than we did. There was a weld seam about 3 feet past the vert mark that we cleared a lot – I’m sure skaters like Russell Morrison, Peter Crae or John Mcgrath could have hit much higher lines. As it was, you really only had a couple of hours to session, probably hurting yourself to some degree in the the process, and then drive another 3 hours back to Melbourne. 


After Doveton, similar (but thankfully slightly smoother) parks were built at Ringwood and Parkdale. Ringwood was the better of the two, but was close to being dangerously deep – a solid 12 foot , with a “half pipe” section that was essentially unrideable except for the shallow end. Ringwood was skated heavily for many years, and eventually, persistence and lines honed through endless sessioning meant that lonerippers like Tony Mead and were able to beat even the gnarliest tranny kinks into submission. Ringwood’s bowl was where “Ching” (Clinton Chin Quan) really started to shine on vert, mastering new generation moves like inverts, rock ‘n’ slides, backside ollies and several layback variations. 

Adrian Jones from TWS Magazine

Corio Bowl

Ringwood rapidly became the local spot for myself and many of the Glen Waverley guys, and was a fun, more varied alternative to the numerous back yard quarter pipes that had sprung up across Melbourne. 

If anyone remembers Poz, he used to set his board up atop the bowl, and stand there, poised to drop in for maybe five minutes at a time, every day. After a while, we’d just tell him to piss off and I think it was a long time before Poz actually made that drop. Not that this was too hard to understand... 

Ringwood was finally dozed and filled in some time during the 90’s, but I’m sure no-one missed it in an era of 40mm rock hard wheels and inconsistent, crap-kicker flatland skating. 

Apparently there’s been talk recently of excavating the old mother, but realistically, with all the quality new concrete around, why would anyone bother? 


The last major skate event of the period was the Coles Wild Ramp demo/ competition, organised by Tony Bradford and the GFI team and run across Moomba 1980. The ramp itself was a classic ‘70’s style demo half pipe – only 8 feet wide so it was trailerable, with no flat bottom. The wild card was that it had two 4 foot high, removable vert sections which could be craned into position to make a 14 foot high monster. The ramp’s narrowness and height made it feel pretty unsafe , but it was definitely a crowd pleaser, attracting skaters from New Zealand - Rodney Barnett, and the U.S. - John Waterman, who had been a pro team rider for Sims. 

John McGrath was back from Sydney, and showed his usual fly–weight agility and new generation tricks such as extended layback air “roll arounds” and inverts. Wedge came down and competed too, and ended up paying a heavy price for attempting to drop in off the extra vert and slamming heavily. 

The GFI team enjoyed the lime–light, and even some attendant girly action, but those demos were particularly memorable for me. I only just avoided serious injury after the rope holding the extra vert section broke whist it was being swung into place, pinning me to the ground. 

These demos pretty much marked the swan song of the demo skate teams, and within months all of them had been disbanded. 

The Hill brothers managed to scam some further sponsorship from Lightning Bolt and even Nike, but the short run of the Melbourne skate teams was over. 

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