Red Herring Surf, previously known as Seaworld, was the very first surf store opened in Tasmania and has been a massive part of the Tassie surf culture since Bill Thwaites established the business in 1971.
Thwaites, a pioneer of Tasmanian surfing, passed away in 2019. He is acknowledged as discovering many of Tasmania’s iconic surf spots and was 1965 State Champion. Operating the store with his mum Cecilie, they were major sponsors of surfing throughout the state and according to Surfing Tasmania President Mick Lawrence, they “were kind, full of goodwill and encouraged surfers of all ages and gender”.
The Thwaite’s sold to Peter Creet who sold to Pieter Van Der Woude, a commercial abalone diver who also operated an oyster and mussel farm at Coles Bay. Pieter grew the business through the 90’s with the acquisition of Y.D. Watersports in Hobart and Launceston and the addition of Seaworld stores in Launceston and Burnie and the introduction of the first Red Herring Surf store in Hobart.
Starting with the business in 1991 was a young Victor Tilley. A keen surfer with a background in retail, Victor ran the operational side while Scott Leitch took care of buying and marketing. Victor worked for Pieter Van Der Woude for 10 years before taking the plunge with wife Wendy, and their young family, buying the business in 2001.
Victor’s love of surf, retail and business led him to the ISRA group (Independent Surf Retailers Alliance). ISRA is made up of “like-minded and non-competing” surf retailers from across the country. It was through ISRA that Victor would meet Anthony “Macka” Wilson who he would eventually sell the business to some 12 years later.
In 2011 Victor and Macka’s shared passion for the sport of surfing and the industry saw them both on the foundation committee of the industry association, the SBIA (Surf & Boardsports Industry Association). Macka served as the Association’s President for 10 years, stepping down in 2021 and continues to serve on the SBIA board.
Macka, a passionate surfer and retailer who is based on the NSW mid-north coast township of Port Macquarie, has owned and operated the Saltwater Wine
“Victor and I have been mates for a long time, in 2017 when he said it was time to sell, and asked if I had any interest, the more we spoke the more it made sense” said Anthony Wilson. “being family owned businesses meant we had a lot in common”
“Red Herring is an exciting new chapter for us, I’m really looking forward to building on the culture and legacy Victor and those before him created and of course supporting the Tassie surf community!”
Red Herring Store Burnie