Local surfing legend remembered

FAREWELL: Local surfing icon John Hunt was farewelled by family and friends on Tuesday night with over 80 people paddling out on their surfboards at Port MacDonnell's Posties Surf Break.
REMEMBERED: Well-known surfing icon John Hunt was bid a sad farewell by family and friends during a special ceremony at Port MacDonnell’s Posties Surf Break this week.

WITH hands linked and teary eyes, surfers from across the region this week said a final goodbye to local icon John Hunt at one of his favourite Port MacDonnell surfing locations – Posties Surf Break.

Gathering at the beach on Tuesday night, over 80 friends and family members jumped on their surf boards and paddled out into the ocean, forming a circle and paying their respect by releasing flowers and peacock feathers.

At 67 years of age, the passionate surfer sadly passed away earlier this month, leaving behind many memories with his loved ones.

Mr Hunt “discovered” many surfing spots along the coastline including one that has been named after him be fellow surfers – John’s Joke.

First meeting Mr Hunt around 30 years ago when he was in his early teens, Jeremy Ievins said it was an emotional night on Tuesday as they farewelled a man who has touched the lives of many in the region.

“I was the last to enter the water and as I walked down the path to the beach I could see the surfers all holding hands in a perfect circle and it looked amazing,” he said.

“It was a moving moment for everyone and awesome to be a part of.”

When the surfers finally broke away from the circle, Mr Ievins said almost every one of them made their way out towards Posties Surf Break to catch a few waves for Mr Hunt.

“This on its own was quite spectacular as there were about 70 surfers out riding the waves, resembling something you may only see on the Gold Coast, but we all seemed to work in harmony with each other,” he said.

Spending the rest of the night sharing memories of Mr Hunt and watching the sunset, Mr Ievins said he will be missed by many in the region.

“John’s presence will be dearly missed in and out of the water around the South East and our thoughts are with his lovely family who have just lost a great husband, dad and an awesome pa,” he said.

Reminiscing on their time together, friend Andrew Ripper said Mr Hunt will always be remembered for his kindness and generosity.

“He had such a big heart, you could meet him tomorrow and he would be your best friend,” he said.

“There probably wasn’t a person at the ceremony who hadn’t had their surfboard repaired by him, he was always willing to help anyone.”

Surfing together for many years, Mr Ripper said he cannot recall anyone who has surfed for as long as Mr Hunt.

“It was his greatest passion, he started before wetsuits were even invented and would go out in a football jumper to keep warm,” he said.

Known best for his love of surfing, Mr Hunt also held a passion for football and as a child was known to be quite fearless.

“I’ve known John since we were teenagers, we met in school in Adelaide and quickly became friends,” John Newland told The Border Watch.

“He was a crazy brave footballer and him and his brother were completely fearless on the football field.

“They got up to all sorts of crazy antics as boys on the farm.

“At one point they had become fascinated with planes and flying so they decided they would parachute off one of the farm sheds using a sheet as the canopy, his brother ended up breaking his leg.”

Growing up together and “doing what lads do”, Mr Newland recalled going to the Nelson pub for a beer, travelling to Adelaide for 21st birthdays and going to parties with his surfing friends.

“We went through that wild period together and even as we grew older we still had great banter between us,” he said.

Reminiscing on their times together from teenagers to adults with families of their own, Mr Newland said any complimentary adjective would describe Mr Hunt perfectly.

“We sung a hymn at school called ‘praise, my soul, the king of heaven’ and there is a sentence in it that says, ‘slow to chide and swift to bless’,” he explained.

“That was John, he was so generous with his compliments and affections, he really acknowledged the good things that people did.”

Mr Newland said another sentence of the hymn said “the dry flower in the desert does flourish, blows the wind and it is gone”.

“And that is what happened, he was gone just like that, so suddenly,” he said.

“He will always be remembered as being kind, generous, warm and demonstrably loving.”

FAREWELL: Local surfing icon John Hunt was farewelled by family and friends on Tuesday night with over 80 people paddling out on their surfboards at Port MacDonnell’s Posties Surf Break.