I would have bought my first mag in ’82. All the older crew were reading Tracks so you got into it.
I read every issue for years but all the boys would borrow them so I could never keep them for long. I started collecting because I figured no one was saving them and I wanted to be able to pull out old issues for the local boys [who were in the mag] so they could show their kids. I stumbled around for 10 years picking up bits and pieces, whatever I could find, and threw them in a box. I used to carry a list around in my wallet recording what issues I needed.
I’m pretty fanatical about it. I hitched up to Byron once to get a few missing covers and brought home 60kgs of magazines on the train. I could barely carry them. I’ll tell you a story. A few years back I was living in a car with my dog. We were homeless. A mate offered me a thousand bucks as bond for a house so I could get back on my feet. At the same time a bloke on eBay listed the first 25 issues of Tracks. I said to my mate, ‘give me your credit card and I’ll buy the mags instead of the moving into the house’. I was homeless for another six months.
I’d say there might be half a dozen full sets of Tracks out there. Al Hunt’s got one. Mick Mock, maybe Terry Fitzgerald. Al’s collection is on an- other level but I’ve actually found magazines that even Al didn’t know existed. I fixed up his webpage so that the first six covers are the real six covers. Everyone thinks the Newcastle Steelworks was on the first Tracks cover. It’s not. See I’ve talked with Alby Falzon and John Witzig. They chose the newspaper format so they could get it out quickly. But the newsagents wouldn’t give them the newsstand space so they folded the mag in half and used a wrap-around cover. The real first Tracks cover is a surf photo of Chris Brock. Not many people know that. They did what I call the false covers for six months until the newsagents gave them more shelf space.
I used to buy all the other surfing mags but I got to a point where I went I’d rather have one complete set of Tracks than three half sets of crap. I’ve got to the stage where I’ve found a single word cut out of an issue and I’ll spend the next three months trying to find a replacement for it. If there’s a scribble in a mag it gets replaced. I’ve spent the last two years scanning every page of Tracks. Through that process I was able to find missing pages that I wouldn’t have realised were missing. I’ve been able to track down most of those but at the moment I’m still missing six special editions, three calendars and a single page. The missing page is 71/72 from issue 252 which came out in 1991.