“Welcome To Pirate Point” says the sign to what might be Australia’s newest wave, followed by the warning. “Beware of Submerged Childcare Centres.”  However while the wave does look fun, there is an element of gallows humour to what is a serious problem at the wave location of Stockton Beach, just to the north of Newcastle. 

Now we have covered the plight of Stockton before here at Tracks after efforts by the group Save Our Stockton alerted us to the issues. Last July it made the news when the beach was added to Surfrider Foundation’s Endangered Wave List. “Stocko” as it’s known then joined King Island’s Martha Lavinia, Fraser Island’s Double Island Point, North Narrabeen and Bells Beach on the list due to severe erosion that had been occurring at the beach for decades. 

Since then things have only got worse. While the loss of the beach and the associated disappearance of once good sandbanks was a big deal for the surfers, in the last few weeks much more serious issues have hit the tight knit community. 

A set rifles down the line at Pirate Point.

Earlier in August this year devastating erosion forced the permanent closure of Stockton's only childcare centre after engineers deemed the building unsafe. It was the only childcare centre on the peninsula and catered for 44 children a day from dozens of families in the neighbourhood and is now scheduled to be demolished.

That came after a run of big south swells tripped more than 9000 cubic metres, or 1300 truckloads, of sand in recent months from in front of the former North Stockton Life Saving Club building. In the last few weeks the council has been trucking in sand and installed about 150 one-tonne sandbags to stabilise the beach. 

However this is only a short term solution and the council and residents have been calling on the NSW government to fund a long-term fix, which has been costed at more than $30 million. In the meantime there has been one ray light for surfers who have been witnessing the slow decay in the waves and beach for years. The latest erosion event has seen the rock wall combine with a wedgie sidewash off the rocks to create a rippable wave. 

It won’t last though and the surfers and residents need all the support they can get to try and get a solution to an issue that isn’t going anywhere.