Captivating Photo Series Reveals Bali In The 1970s – Before Tourism Exploded

Back in 1975 and 1977 when Chris White travelled there, Bali, Indonesia was virtually unknown. It certainly was not a ‘hot’ tourist destination. It was so unknown that the locals had never seen westerners before. The landscape was pristine and the beaches spotlessly clean.

Things have changed in time, and not for the best, it seems. Bali is now a magnet for backpackers and party goers, and the beautiful white beaches are now littered with rubbish. Congestion and mounting piles of trash is a huge problem.

Rewind the clock to the 1970’s and you will see the collection of photos that White took when he was first there. Untouched areas, white beaches, quiet dirt track roads, with no westerners to be seen was what you could expect if you visited the island.

The collection of images showcases a rural existence and a peaceful way of life. This is a complete change from now, with the island being invaded by some 4 million tourists a year!

Before the tourists arrived: Australian surfer and photographer Clifford White, 62, travelled to the virtually unknown island when he was 20 in 1975 with several friends (above, Sanur beach, which is now a popular resort town)
Before the tourists arrived: Australian surfer and photographer Clifford White, 62, travelled to the virtually unknown island when he was 20 in 1975 with several friends (above, Sanur beach, which is now a popular resort town)
Making a splash: During his stay, White shot images of the rural landscape and a number of Balinese locals who had never even met Westerners before
Making a splash: During his stay, White shot images of the rural landscape and a number of Balinese locals who had never even met Westerners before
Jungle trek: White said some people paid a small fee to have their surf boards carried out to the ocean. He added that the man in the foreground of the above shot, barefoot under the straw hat, is former Australian politician Ian Cohen
Jungle trek: White said some people paid a small fee to have their surf boards carried out to the ocean. He added that the man in the foreground of the above shot, barefoot under the straw hat, is former Australian politician Ian Cohen
Flashback: White said he found Jalan Tegal Wangi (above) such a 'nice sleepy small street' when he visited Bali in March 1975 but today it is one of the busiest parts of Kuta beach, with modern buildings and a tarmac road 
Flashback: White said he found Jalan Tegal Wangi (above) such a ‘nice sleepy small street’ when he visited Bali in March 1975 but today it is one of the busiest parts of Kuta beach, with modern buildings and a tarmac road
Authentic: Kuta beach is now a bustling tourist spot flooded with sightseers. When White visited in the late 70s, he said he encountered small markets, 'selling only local products, long before the days of fake products'
Authentic: Kuta beach is now a bustling tourist spot flooded with sightseers. When White visited in the late 70s, he said he encountered small markets, ‘selling only local products, long before the days of fake products’

Thinking back on his first visits, White said that he and his friends were the first Australians to ever visit Bali. The island is now littered with tall hotels and resorts. It is a surfer’s dream come true.

Reminiscing about his early travels, White, from Sydney, said:

“Back then we were some of the first Australians to visit Bali. “It was totally unspoiled. The island has developed a lot since then and Kuta beach now has hotels and resorts the length of it.”

“It was every surfer’s dream and and the locals were the friendliest people you could ever meet,” he said.

Still undiscovered: White notes that a large resort now sits off the road where he took this shot (left), meanwhile on the beach he was happy to pay locals a small fee to carry his surf board through the wild terrain (right)
Relaxed pace of life: A quiet road leading down to the now wildly-popular Kuta beach (left) and local girls carrying food supplies down to the beach ahead of a day of surfing (right)
Dying businesses: White returned to this store in 2011 but he found it had disappeared, with lots of tourist stores in its place and a Hard Rock Cafe within walking distance 
Dying businesses: White returned to this store in 2011 but he found it had disappeared, with lots of tourist stores in its place and a Hard Rock Cafe within walking distance
Self-portrait: White sits to have his photo taken while a small monkey perches on his shoulders  
Self-portrait: White sits to have his photo taken while a small monkey perches on his shoulders
Catching some waves: White says he remembers catching some 'nice, clean' barrels during his trip to Bali in April 1977 (above, pictured in the waters off Uluwatu)
Catching some waves: White says he remembers catching some ‘nice, clean’ barrels during his trip to Bali in April 1977 (above, pictured in the waters off Uluwatu)

The main airport carries 11.1 million people there every year, with the majority of holiday- makers being backpackers, couples and surfers. White says that it is very scary at just how busy the island has become. The green lands that he saw before have all been filled with beach resorts and the airport construction.

At your service: Some of White's fondest memories involved surf trips in the Nusa Dua area of southern Bali. He said they would 'park in a field with no buildings except the small shack that served drinks and snacks. The drivers would wait for hours while we surfed, and they were very honest - I would leave my camera with them'
At your service: Some of White’s fondest memories involved surf trips in the Nusa Dua area of southern Bali. He said they would ‘park in a field with no buildings except the small shack that served drinks and snacks. The drivers would wait for hours while we surfed, and they were very honest – I would leave my camera with them’
No cares in the world: White said he was struck by the ‘happy and smiling faces of the beautiful children’ (left), he was also enthralled by a coastal cave he discovered during a return trip to the Indonesian island in April 1977 (right)
Chilled vibe: White said he would see this 'very laid back' fortune teller just about every day on Jalan Pantai Kuta - a road close to Kuta beach 
Chilled vibe: White said he would see this ‘very laid back’ fortune teller just about every day on Jalan Pantai Kuta – a road close to Kuta beach
All green and then it was gone: White captured this view as he came in to land at Denpasar International Airport in March 1975. It was his first trip to the 'beautiful unspoilt island'. Today, monster resorts are peppered along the coast line
All green and then it was gone: White captured this view as he came in to land at Denpasar International Airport in March 1975. It was his first trip to the ‘beautiful unspoilt island’. Today, monster resorts are peppered along the coast line
Country walks: White came across a farmer casually walking ducks, somewhere close to the town of Ubud, in the uplands of Bali
Country walks: White came across a farmer casually walking ducks, somewhere close to the town of Ubud, in the uplands of Bali

The iconic collection of pictures takes us back to times when life was a far slower pace, families were important, and there was far less hustle and bustle.

White recently shared the pictures of his early Balinese trips on social media and one of the boys in the shots recognised himself and got in touch.

“One of the children in the pictures is now in his 40s,” he said.

“He recognised the shots from when he was younger and got in touch. That was pretty incredible.”

Footsteps in the foam: A group of local surfers head out to the water to catch some waves on Kuta beach, widely considered one of the best ocean fronts in Bali
Footsteps in the foam: A group of local surfers head out to the water to catch some waves on Kuta beach, widely considered one of the best ocean fronts in Bali
Group outing: White met a local man called Wayan Dartayasa and his family at their home in Kuta beach. It appears that they are sourcing fresh water from a well
Footsteps in the foam: A group of local surfers head out to the water to catch some waves on Kuta beach, widely considered one of the best ocean fronts in Bali
Hustle and bustle: White took a photo capturing the first time he arrived in the Indonesian capital of Denpasar via a local bemo bus. He said he found it 'scary' how busy the place was even then
Hustle and bustle: White took a photo capturing the first time he arrived in the Indonesian capital of Denpasar via a local bemo bus. He said he found it ‘scary’ how busy the place was even then
Rise in popularity: Bali was marketed as a 'tropical paradise' in glossy tourist brochures and travel websites during the 80s and 90s. It soon became the 'Mexico of Australia', with flights from Sydney taking around six hours
Rise in popularity: Bali was marketed as a ‘tropical paradise’ in glossy tourist brochures and travel websites during the 80s and 90s. It soon became the ‘Mexico of Australia’, with flights from Sydney taking around six hours
Smiles all round: White appears to be surrounded by a bevy of beautiful women as he heads to the water to surf
Smiles all round: White appears to be surrounded by a bevy of beautiful women as he heads to the water to surf
Moment of reflection: White takes a break from surfing on the cliffs of Uluwatu and snaps a quick photo of a local  
Moment of reflection: White takes a break from surfing on the cliffs of Uluwatu and snaps a quick photo of a local

Bali, in South East Asia, is one of the world’s most popular tropical holiday spots.

In the 80’s and 90’s it was known as a ‘tropical paradise’ but recently it is better known as ‘the Mexico of Australia’ with flights taking around six hours.

In 2000, the island’s main airport carried 4.4 million passengers and by 2011, this number had skyrocketed to 11.1 million

Source: Daily Mail

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