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Byron Shire
March 1, 2024

‘Matriarch’ of The Pass rides her eternal wave

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Mullumbimby is a colourful place. We love all the events, workshops, activities and markets – it all adds to...

We will be celebrating Maggi Luke’s wild and colourful life at the Pass this coming Saturday 27 August – drop in if you dare!

Born in The Vale of the White Horse in Berkshire, Maggi broke the mold and blazed her own rainbow path of adventure.

As a teenager, she marched for four days from Aldermaston to London on the first CND Ban the Bomb protest. They marched because ‘If we make no protest now, we have given our consent to its use.’  She had a fierce sense of justice, a deep love for the environment and a passion for seeing women succeed.

Maggi excelled at school in Wallingford, then escaped to study nursing on the Isle of Jersey, where she met her first big love, Al Fraser, with children Melanie and Tommy Fraser following shortly thereafter.

When she first saw surfers out in the ocean, she was transfixed, and just had to try it. She rode her first wave all the way to the beach. The lure of the surf was Maggi’s compass from that moment on.

Maggi and her daughter Hanabeth. Photo supplied.

Founding member of the Canadian Surf Club

On Vancouver Island, she was a founding member of the first Canadian Surf Club, before she threw the boards on the roof for Malibu, California in the 1960s.

A long way from sleepy Didcot, Maggi chatted with Elvis and Tom Jones in Las Vegas, who both went on to quite successful careers after meeting Maggi!

Maggi, Al, Tommy and Melanie returned to the UK, piling into their brand new Hillman Imp to drive down to Cornwall. Maggi paddled straight out at St Agnes Trevaunance Cove, and bought a house as close as she could to the waves.

It was called Dunroamin, which they were not, so she renamed it Goofyfoot.

It was there that this untameable adventurer met Doug, an unemployed Cornish surf bum, who eventually became stepfather to young Tommy and Melanie.

Doug and Maggi married in 1979, honeymooning and surfing in Biarritz, France.

Hanabeth was born in 1980. Tommy grew up to become a carpenter and master builder on the Gold Coast, while Melanie became a teacher in Verona, Italy, where she brought up her two children Lydia and Dylan.

Maggi Luke. Photo supplied.

After working as a teacher at several different Cornish schools, Maggi decided she’d had enough of English winters. In 1981, Maggi, Doug and Hanabeth travelled to Australia via Bali, where she purchased a large number of batik dresses that they sold at markets along the Australian east coast. With an eye for business, she borrowed £5,000 from the bank and went back to the magic island of Bali for more stock.

This was the start of ‘Maggic Island Boutique’, Perranporth’s first surf shop, and an endless summer for at least a decade of Maggi’s life.

She made bright, colourful dresses with her Balinese friend, Koni, and surfed Uluwatu.

At the age of 55, Maggi ‘retired’ to Byron Bay to surf The Pass on her new rainbow McCoy. With help from Hanabeth and Doug, she established the Surf Craft jewellery business that was a great excuse to visit shops and waves from south of Sydney to the Sunshine Coast.

Tommy and Doug built them a house, and Maggi surfed daily at Wategos and The Pass, right up to age 80.

She loved the Rails and the Beach Hotel at sunset.

Maggi was a long-time member of Byron Environment Centre, and a big supporter of The Greens, running for Byron Shire Council on two occasions.

She and Doug played a major role in the successful Paterson Hill Blockade, which led to the saving of the stunning Paterson Hill heathland and the formation of the Arakwal National Park.

Famously, she ran out into the middle of the road in her dressing gown, forcing the workers truck off the road, buying precious time needed to save the hillside from overdevelopment.

In her later years, her last four great loves were her young grandchildren, Kingwell, Tristan and Connie – and salsa dancing, all of which brought her huge joy. She remained close to her children to her last day, and was extremely proud of the achievements of all three.

Wild, fierce, colourful Maggi led an exciting life, but age and illness took away some of her joy when she could surf no more. She passed away at her leafy Byron Bay home on August 6, 2022.

August 27 celebration

The celebration of her life will take place at 1pm on Saturday August 27 at The Pass, followed by a paddle out and drinks and nibbles at the Pass Cafe until 5pm with music from The Lonesome Boatmen. To attend, please contact a family member or call 0430 092 071. Wear flowers in your hair and bright colours, please. Any donations can be made to Byron Environment Centre: BSB 732573 a/c 563015.


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