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Big surf threatens to wash away club’s history


While surfers welcomed the large swells that smashed Newcastle shores last week, Cooks Hill Life Saving and Surf Club members say the massive waves were too much for the club’s ageing elements.

The rising tides and monster waves that hit on Sunday 24 May wreaked havoc on the club’s beach-side building, with the whitewash leaving behind a soggy structure that is now inaccessible to the public.

Club spokesperson Nina Mills said the deck, now deemed unsafe to use, was not the only area to suffer.

“The storms caused the deck to move and, in some areas, detach from the surf club,” she said.

“Beach side of the original surf club, ground floor areas, including the patrol room and men’s changerooms, have been flooded with sand being swept up under the doors.

“The salt water and air also damages the internal fixtures and some equipment during these storms and over time.

“The current state of the deck is deemed to be unsafe until it is resolved.”

Originally constructed using club funding, Ms Mills said the damaged area was part of the structure built in the 1930s.

“The money to build the deck came from surf club funds,” she said.

“In addition, the surf club was part of a Great Depression work project and is the last remaining section of the grand structure that once stood on Bar Beach.”

For the club, first established in 1911, this was not the first time the premises have been damaged by large swells.

“Unfortunately, this is the fourth time it has been damaged within 15 years,” Ms Mills said.

“In 2007, it was damaged with the Pasha Bulker storm not long after it had just been built.

“It was damaged again in 2010 and again in the 2015 April super storm.”

Ms Mills, who is the club’s administrator, said the group hoped to receive a grant to assist with repairs.   

“Previous damage to the deck was repaired using surf club funds, however, this time there’s uncertainty if we’ll be able to fix it again ourselves,” she said.

“Cooks Hill SLSC recently submitted a grant seeking funds to relocate the patrol room into the new building along with the construction of a replacement deck with better access in and out of the boat shed and easier access for wheelchairs.

“The club is reviewing the situation and consulting with City of Newcastle to progress the current discussions around repair versus replacement.”

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