With the Era Beach Ocean Challenge just around the corner – Saturday, 19 March 2022 – we spoke to Era Beach Surf Lifesaving Club President Dave Staples about the unique history of the Era Beach shack community and the amazing swim course that will welcome swimmers who venture into the Royal National Park.
Built over 100 years ago, the first shacks, in what is now the Royal National Park, were made out of bark and scarp.
“The shacks started getting built in the Depression,” said Mr Staples.
“They started off as lean-to’s when the area was a farm and then they have morphed into weekenders over the years.
“In 2012, the shacks finally got their state heritage listing for their architectural and cultural significance.
“The shack community really has kept going since it first began with shacks being passed down through family generations.”
Not long after the shack community was formed the Era Beach Surf Lifesaving Club was established.
“The club was formed in 1938 after there were a couple of drowning in and around the Era and Garie beach area,” said Mr Staples.
“Pretty much the shack community got together and decided to form a surf club. They went through all the right channels to get it a part of the association.
“Since then we have been actively patrolling the beaches in the summer months non-stop since 1938.
“Most of our members are intertwined with the shack community and there are plenty of multi-generational members.
“My kids are now in nippers at Era surf club and they are the fourth generation of Era surf club members.”
Introducing people to the shack community is at the heart of the Era Beach Ocean Challenge.
“The best part of the event is bringing people down from outside the shack community and introducing them to it,” said Mr Staples.
“It really opens people’s eyes to what happens down here and we get to share the shack community history.
“It’s also a really beautiful swim because swimmers get to swim across sand then reef and sand again.
“And when they breathe (to the right) they get to take in the stunning bushland, which makes for a beautiful scenic swim.”
This year, participants of the Era Beach Ocean Challenge can learn about the shack community with select shacks open to explore along the path of the swim.
“This year we will have shacks open in the Era and Little Garie area which is the community next to Era,” said Mr Staples.
“Swimmers will get to stick their heads in and get an insight into the community and learn a bit about it.
“Everyone that comes down will see the Era hospitality in full swing and people can hang around, rehydrate, get a fed and mingle with the community after they finish the swim.
“The community loves talking to those that don’t know much about the shack community and sharing the story and history behind it.”
To join Mr Stapes and the shack community at the Era Beach Ocean Challenge on Saturday, 19 2022, head to the Era Beach Ocean Challenge listing to enter.