by Sean Mortimer

Not one to fear a mullet, serious speed lines or spraying granulated coping—Chad Bartie’s hometown influence is apparent from his first push. Skating in a wide-open tropical land with an abundance of unconventional skateparks molded Bartie’s distinct style. (The fact that his father owned the area’s major skate shop probably didn’t hurt either.)
Another unique aspect of Bartie is his schedule. I’ve never in my life had to call back a pro because he was already out of the house at 9 A.M. But Bartie called back (another rarity with a majority of pros) and gave us the lowdown on Aussie Rules skateboarding circa-1985.

I started skating when I was living in Gold Coast in Australia. It’s a long thin town that runs along the coastline. It would be similar to the strip of coast from Oceanside, California to Encinitas. There are less people in Australia and there’s lots of open bushland and it’s beautiful. It was very mellow back then but it’s getting busier now. It’s similar to what Southern California was like 40 years ago. But it’s still different compared to here. When you go to a skatepark in Australia, it’s way mellow—kids seem to skate just to skate for fun in Australia and not all about sponsorship.

The Gold Coast has tropical weather—really hot, humid summers. Tropical storms would roll out every afternoon. We’re the exact opposite seasons compared to here (Dec—Feb is summer is Australia). For some reason the sun is way worse than here—you get really burnt. Some days were so hot that we had to find undercover areas to skate until it would cool off, but when you're that young you don't care.

My dad owned a BMX store and he got a few skateboards in the store in the early ’80s and I started pushing around on the sidewalk outside the shop on my knees. I was eight years old, little surf shorts on and just cruised around on my knees running into old ladies.

Over two or three years, my dad’s store turned into a 100-percent skate shop and that’s when the whole Bones Brigade thing was massive. This was around 1985. We had so many kids coming to my dad’s store.  We had a high school up the hill from the store and everybody would meet at the store on Saturday mornings and we’d all go skate the high school. Sometimes it’d get up to around 20 people. We had a corner store, ledges, stairs, bumps—everything we needed was in that little area.

I had a group of five friends that I consistently skated with and we got given a lot of sh-t in high school. We grew up in a real heavy surf area. There were probably only five other skaters in my whole school. There were a lot of surfers and footballers (rugby—very Aussie). Back then there wasn’t a strong connection between surfing and skating. We were just a small group to pick on. It wasn’t anything major, just annoying.

We got around easily. The bus system there is really good. Every 15 minutes, the bus would come along the one main road. We’d catch a bus up and down the coastline and skate different spots and there were probably four or five cement halfpipes up and down the coast. I guess they were built in the late ’70s early 80’s.

Photos: Mike O’Meally (except the old school photos)

What was great about our group was that no one was too far ahead. We all pushed off each other and excelled as a group. Andrew Currie lived across the street and was one of the kids I would push around with on my knees from the very beginning. He turned pro out here and was a pro for SMA and Foundation. Australia has a lot of talent—it’s always been there but we never had the photographers or filmers back then that would get the names out there. It’s kind of happening now, which is great.
Back then you had to come to California to be seen and get noticed by companies. That’s where skateboarding was happening. Nowadays some companies are based over there but back then you were in the dark (Kewday, Chad’s company with his brother, is based out of Australia). When I was 15, I came over to skate with Matt Mumford. Matt had a lot more direction than me because I was younger. He was super motivated. I didn’t know him until I was around 13—he lived up in Rock Hampton, which is about 10 hours from where I grew up. He moved down and worked in our shop and we became friends.

But it can be a hassle to get over here. It’s more of a pain in the ass than hard to move here from Australia. There’s a lot of stuff you have to do—paperwork, lawyers, companies to help you. But we both did what we had to do. Mumford used to live three blocks from me (in Encinitas), but now he lives six or seven blocks away. I’ve always rented here but I’ve got an apartment on the beach in Burleigh Heads. My goal is to have it paid off before I’m finished as a pro and it looks like that will happen.

Sean Mortimer has written books with Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen, Daewon Song, Steve Olson, Mike Vallely, Chris Haslam, and more.

Hawk: Occupation Skateboarder

Mullen: The Mutt
Daewon, Olson, Haslam: Stalefish