Cronulla? No, it was Boxing Day on the little beaches at the groyne near Half Tide Rocks off Ettalong Beach.
The scene unfolded over several hours as more and more four wheel drives unloaded their cargo and jet skis onto the beaches. Some people left vehicles on the dunes while others cluttered up nearby streets parking illegally near intersections. Some took an hour to gather their fl otilla of up to 12 jet skis on the water, taking up much space at the water’s edge.
One group used two skis to drag large fl oats and occupants around in the busy waterway, where the ferry, speed boats and yachts travel. Most jet skis rode around making unreasonable noise. Other drivers performed unusual, irregular manoeuvres for their mates. Testosterone and bravado prevailed. The mood on the beach in response was becoming unpleasant. Over the recent years, the number of jet skis has been increasing.
This Christmas reached saturation point and patient and tolerant beachgoers seemed to have reached boiling point. It was a very hot day, people on the beach were making gestures to jet skis, voices were raised in several places and some families left the beach. Finally two groups of people nearly came to blows over the jet skis and their riders’ need to be right in front of swimmers. Lots of jet skis took up the space along the edge of the water, the vocal argument between four people was heated, abusive and threats were made.
Two jet ski riders and two swimmers argued for several minutes: the pleasant use of the quiet little beach was spoilt. It was not safe to take your eyes off the kids as the craft came and went. The noise was intolerable and jet ski riders were aggressive and antisocial with their craft. There was also a lot of smoking. Another small group of six had made their home base further around east of Anderson’s Wharf. They constantly came and went from the sandbar.
A local told me that their language and behaviour was also disgusting and inappropriate. And another group put up camp at Ettalong wharf. Several jet skis came and went, a Staffordshire cross dog that was with them roamed menacingly at will. Home owners along that area are enduring ongoing noise all day and I have witnessed jetski groups at this location many times this month. So much for a pleasant swim. Some women are saying that they now feel uncomfortable on the Half Tide Rocks beach and you may wish to think about what this means for your wives and sisters and mothers.
The elderly feel that it is now not safe to swim at their favourite local beach. People with disabled children and adults frequent this area because in the past it has been safe and quiet, the waters are calm and shallow, the sand is not very wide and access is easy for the incapacitated. Families having a rest from their week’s work, come for a quiet and safe time of fun and respite from the noise and activity of their working days. But no, these friendly, calm, safe shallows which were a gem are now suffering from the infl ux of these watercraft.
On the Boxing Day, I was there and witnessed the chaos. There were craft from the Waterways, Police, and life savers and jetski police booked some of the jetski people. Why so much appreciated, but wasted effort, to no avail? Our leaders and law makers in our area must fi nd this embarrassing. The recent coordinated plan to address the watercraft is to be applauded. However, the situation is untenable and it will only get worse, as it has done, over the last three years.
There are several under currents including political, social, gender and racial. There is a simple and easy solution. Get the jet skis off our Brisbane Water before the situation escalates and becomes complicated and further inflamed. The ramps are overflowing. Fishermen are not happy.
People in Killcare, Hardy’s Bay, Booker Bay, Orange Grove, Ettalong, Blackwall and Woy Woy are not happy. Those of you that read this, take a moment and write of your concerns to the paper, Council and local member Kathy Smith. Take photos, videos, registrations of vehicles or jet skis, simply say what has happened. Don’t complain to each other. More voices need to be heard. Our leaders and the authorities need to know how the community is thinking and feeling. Do something. Help to get rid of the jet skis. Why should the Brisbane Water become the playground and dumping ground for craft ejected from Sydney Harbour?
Email, 21 Jan 2017 Arlene Bridges, Woy Woy
This article appeared first in the Peninsula News, Feb 6, 2017