Born in 1928 in Geelong (or Deadsville as he called it), Owen moved to Torquay in 1940. He was one of the first members of the Torquay Surf Lifesaving Club (founded in 1946. Yatey joined the Surf Club in 1947, and gained a reputation as a legend on 17 foot surf skis. With Vic Tantau, he was one of the first to surf Bells beach in the late 40’s. He was a legend of the surf, winning medals in competition and skied with Brian Beck in the Double Ski competition.

A man of the sea, he became a Cray fisherman in 1956 and was known to catch waves at Bells in his boat for the amusement of himself and locals. He was well known for rescuing many boats that floundered in bad weather off Fisherman’s Beach and towing them to safety.

The stories of his colourful antics are legendary and include surfing a double ski and competing in surfing competitions. He would take surfing legend Peter Troy to Bells in his motorcycle sidecar on the old disused Cobb & Co coach track and watch him ride the waves on his rubber Surf-o-Plane. He was a long time member of the “D’s Club, (Drinkers Club of the 1960’s) an offshoot of the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club, which Owen was a long time and foundation member. The D’s club began in 1960, and a lot of time was spent at “Boot Hill” off Darien Road, where the boys of Boot Hill enjoyed an ale and a lot of fun. In the beginning the D’s were not actually recognised by the Surf Club, however as time went on and the membership grew both of the Club and the “D’s, the D’s became well known and were instrumental in many fund raising pursuits.

He was equally passionate about music and played the trombone. His first band was called the Sand Dune Savages but later played in the better-known Big Fat Brarse. By all accounts “Yatie” lived life to the full and his gigs were known to reflect his love of life.

Ever youthful and professing he didn’t start growing up until he was 50, the age when he had his first heart attack, Owen married three times and fathered six daughters, five with his first wife Trish, and one with his second wife.

A true local identity, a founder of Bells and a stalwart of the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club, and the “D’s” Club, Owen’s legacy lives on.

Owen receives his award from the Torquay Surf Life Savings Club

Comments (3)

  • Avatar

    Brett Mitchell


    I grew up with “Yatey” (as Owen was known to all of we Torquay SLSC members and D’s Club members knew him) I recall him singing all of his songs in the Torquay Pub Beer Garden when it was run by the Pawsons (John as I recall). I was only allowed into the D’s this year, at the behest of Steven Taylor, whom I knew as a junior (both he and I). I happened to be Hon Sec when we rebuilt the clubrooms after the old one burnt down.
    Thanks for letting me have a say.
    Brett Mitchell

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    Jolanta o'halloran


    I give my a..se for a glass of Victoria, Victoria, my beer…… Never forget the pleasure I got from seeing The Big Fat Brarse….. Owen Yateman, at the Eureka Hotel when I was only 16! R.I.P Owen, but thank you for the enjoyment you always gave us.

  • Avatar

    Bruce A Schroder


    Yatie’s Big Fat Brarse was legendary on Saturday afternoons in the beer garden at Pawson’s Torquay Hotel

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