The Flyer: Don's Country

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)

Last November, the Swellnet crew took an early-Christmas trip to the South Coast of NSW. Being a goofyfooter from the land of right-hand points, Steve used the trip to satisfy his frontside appetite. When group decisions were being made he jumped on any opportunity to suggest a left, and the ‘one person, one vote’ system crumbled under his insistence that the natural-footers (who outnumbered the goofys BTW) go backside.

Though I shouldn’t grumble, the calls were good, we scored almost every session.

Pulling up in a dirt carpark, the surface riddled with gnarled she-oak roots, Steve looked around and spoke emphatically: “It’s God’s country down here.”

An old saying, yet at some places the description fits. This being one of them.

My first memory of the South Coast was here, or more precisely fifty metres away inside the grounds of Don’s Cabins. The smell of casuarina, the sound of Combat Rock, from our doorway I watch older kids return from the surf, chattering and swearing.

Built in the sixties by WWII veteran and peace activist Don Hearn, Don’s Cabins at Cunjurong Point were designed from the outset as a sanctuary from the modern world. Perpetual renovations weren’t part of the agenda which created a rhythm of consistency through all my subsequent visits: no change, no pace, everything within its place, to borrow lyrics from another Don.

The sentimental bullshit (who needs it anyway?) is that I became one of those older kids, swearing too much, losing myself in surfing, and it might even explain my enduring love of The Clash. It certainly explains my affection for that patch of land.

The kicker, however, is that it may be about to end. So let's move the conversation from memories to facts.

Though Don Hearn died in 1991, Lexie Meyer assumed stewardship and remained faithful to Don’s vision of the cabins. In 2002, the lease ran out and despite repeated requests the State Government refused to renew it, instead granting Lexie a lease that ran month to month.

This short-term arrangement discouraged capital investment - why sink money into a place whose future isn’t assured? Nevertheless, for more than two decades Lexie maintained upkeep of the cabins, replacing worn materials, abiding by building standards and fire codes - after all, Lex is an ex-captain of the RFS - all the while seeking a long-term lease.

Last November - the same month we were scouting the coast for lefts - Lexie opened an envelope and the wretched wheels of bureaucracy began to turn. After two decades of ignoring her requests to improve the amenities, someone somewhere decided the lease had to be terminated because, and this is the perverse part, the amenities didn't meet standard.

It’s not a done deal, yet. Each justification for eviction - there were three - can be refuted and/or remedied, so Lex and friends returned serve. They were granted a stay of execution and are now playing the bureaucratic game.

To that end, a petition has been organised, and if you live in NSW, it needs your signature. If 20,000 people sign then the eviction will get tabled and spoken in parliament.

So let's move from facts to action. Click this link for the petition, it takes just seconds to complete.

- Stu

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bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Monday, 12 Feb 2024 at 5:05pm

The Save Dons Cabin petition has 1,285 supporters this afternoon 12/2/24.
Don was a kind man who enjoyed simple pleasures. There is a calm spirit that lives in the area.
The cabins bushfire APZ would probably need tree/shrub thinning & a colourbond fence to deflect the radiant heat. A fence might diminish the ambiance though.