Thursday, 3 August 2017

Skateboard Park at Doveton

This article (reproduced below) about the City of Berwick skateboard track, was published in a journal in 1979. I don't know which journal,  I only have the article and not the complete issue, but  I presume a local government publication. The article is by Michael Backhouse, who was the City of Berwick Municipal Recreation Officer.  The article says that the City of Berwick has recently constructed the first municipal skateboard facility of its type in Victoria. It was located at Doveton and the cost of the project was $9,000. Mr Backhouse  wrote that the first skateboard track in Australia  built over three years ago at Albany in Western Australia is still being well used and indicates that skateboarding is more than a 'fad' This sorts of project was so rare that at the beginning of the project only limited design information was available and this only concerned the basic layout of tracks in New Zealand and a proposed track for Salisbury in South Australia, as Mr Backhouse wrote.  The design was done by Charles Nichol and Graham Long of the City Engineer's Department and the work supervised by Robert Spark. Local skateboarders had input into the design who felt that the track should be able to be used by inexperienced riders, without being so easy that experienced riders would soon tire of it due to lack of challenge.

The finished track was 28 metres long, beginning with a saucer shaped area 8 metres in diameter  which turns into a 5 metre wide half pipe ending in a bowl 8 metres in diameter and 3 metres deep. It was officially opened June 27, 1979. 


Skateboard track sticker

There is an interesting website produced by Noel Forsyth, on the history of skateboarding in Victoria, https://www.vicskatehistory.com/.  Noel has this to say about Doveton - he has a very different perspective about the skatepark than Michael Backhouse's article.

DOVETON - (VERY) ROUGH DIAMOND by Noel Forsyth
In mid ’79, Doveton in Melbourne’s far South East was chosen as the site for the first of what proved to be numerous huge concrete skate bowls. ​Generally poorly planned, designed with little in the way of informed skater input , and often hopelessly kinked, these parks sprung up across Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs between 1979 and 1981. 

​Even when finished, Doveton still looked like the concrete top coat was yet to be laid. The surface was as rough as guts.......with the added challenge of a “sag kink” to vert throughout the whole shallow half pipe/keyhole bowl design. Despite the huge disappointment at how it turned out, Doveton immediately became the focal point of Melbourne skating, if only because it was our first purpose built park, and just barely rideable. 
The face wall in the bowl was about 10 feet deep , with maybe 2 feet of wobbly vert. By pushing straight down the guts, momentum could just about overcome gravity and the inbuilt “surface drag” to get you to the top. The opening weekend saw just about everyone trying to be first to wheel it. A virtually unknown Nunawading local , Mark Anderson was the first to do it, beating me out by a couple of runs, which I remember pissed me off, no end. Sponsored by Surf Dive n' Ski, the comp got TV coverage, some of which can be seen in Hardcore’s Tic Tac to Heelflip video. Terry Probin was the clear winner, having mastered the virtually impossible by maintaining a speed line over Doveton’s pizza-textured surface. Another local skater, “Trog” Tregillis came second, and I scraped in third, just ahead of Clinton “Ching” Quan. 

Doveton really was a pain in the arse to ride. But it certainly managed to pull a crowd, a fact not lost on many other councils who quickly initiated concrete park projects of their own. The thinking seemed to make good sense - skate bowls showed that councils were receptive to the needs of local kids, they were used virtually constantly, required no maintenance and could be built on even the least appealing plots of flood plain. 
Unfortunately, many councils apparently assumed the Doveton bowl was “the” skatepark design, and set about building copies of Doveton’s flawed layout.


City of Berwick Skateboard track article by Michael Backhouse. Click on the images to enlarge them.