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Save Naval Base Shacks - 3rd and 4th generation have their say

Posted: 10th April 2011

I believe the Naval Base Shacks should remain and be preserved. I was horrified to hear that the Naval base Shacks are facing extinction. Naval Base Caravan Park has been used for recreation by many generations of families from not only Cockburn but from a wide range of metropolitan and country locations. It has a exceptional social historical value as a popular and well used holiday destination and is a good example of holiday camps which used to exist along the WA coastline but have disappeared in the face of development. Now it looks like Naval Base may be next. This year City of Cockburn increased rates 100%. Next year they are expected to go up again (which will make them over $3000) They used to be under $500, and in 2008 were just over $1000. This certainly seems excessive to myself, and almost a ploy to ensure that what was once an affordable holiday destination for families to enjoy becomes increasingly out of reach. There are also a number of retirees who can not afford such prices. I do not agree with the valuation given and think it should be compared with out Shack communities – I wonder what it was compared to when valued? I would like to see Council repeal the lease fee decision and reset the fees at a realistic value. I have since heard that 2 options had been given for their future, Return the site to bush or make it a caravan park. Luckily Councillors of the City of Cockburn have thrown a lifeline to the shacks, with a third option for the site to remain as is. I certainly hope that the importance of the Naval Base Shacks can be highlighted. I have been visiting the shacks since birth, as did my mother, and now as does my daughter. I hope that we can continue this long standing tradition. As well as a spot to visit friends, exercise, and enjoy our beautiful coast. In contrast to other areas of WA Cockburn is all ready very heavily industrial, with a Marine Industrial area, as well as Mining and Processing Giants Alcoa (Who leave a very heavy footprint) however they are not being booted out. I think that the Lease fees of the Naval Base shacks should be reviewed by Council as they are ridiculous and that Council should acknowledge the historical significance of the shacks, to preserve them. I am aware shack owners are more than willing to work with council. They've been there for 70 years and are part of a vanishing history of Australia. They should be heritage listed and left as they are. Appropriate legislation should be passed providing council indemnity if that is your concern. Also, rates should not be raised, the point is not to get "market value", it should be to remind people of a time when people made do, and could have a good time with alot less. This is the stark contrast which the existence of the Naval Base Shacks provides to society. It is my opinion that the Naval Base Shacks should retain their Category B on the Coty of Cockburns Municipal Heritage Inventory, or if any change is to occur it should be upgraded to a category A, as an example of the vanishing Beach Shack Sub Cultures that once existed throughout Australia. It should be noted that in the last decade in other jurisdictions within Australia, most notably Tasmania and New South Wales, the continued existence of "shack communities" has been facilitated while addressing economic, social and environmental issues It is my opinion that such a location could have significant tourism appeal for the region, and that it is a unique site with historical significance. All of the visitors we have ever taken to the Naval Base Shacks, located on Cockburn Road, have been amazed that such a location could co-exist within the surrounding environment, allowing visitors to step back to what life was like before the hustle and bustle of the technological era, and enjoy a relaxing weekend/week 'away' without having to travel for hours, catch a plane or spend a fortune. I also disagree with the statement in a Council report that it was “sheer good fortune” the shacks had not caused injury is false. I am aware that in 60 years no shack has cause injury to anyone. During those 60 years no less than six cyclones have passed through the camp site and surrounding areas. The shacks survived with no or just minor damage. I am also not aware in mine or my mothers lifetime (Born in 1962) of any serious injury inside or at a shack (and I can assure you that in such a tight knit community news travels pretty fast!) The Shacks are very neat and tidy, and well loved, with Shack owners regularly undertaking maintenance, and upgrades, including the addition of many new sustainability initiatives including solar panels and wind turbines for energy/electricity. My pop, Colin Reynolds became involved at the Navel base shacks in the 1950's. We still have the shack,  which has been enjoyed by all of his children, grandchildren and great grand children. A number of his brothers and sisters have also had shacks over the years, allowing us to all get together around major holidays and festivities. He passed away recently, on the 13th of November 2010 - after being affiliated with the site for approximately 60 years. Whilst we have lost pop - we do not need to lose the shacks. It is to be noted, that with 11 brothers and sisters, many of my pops family visited the Naval Base Shacks and all have wonderful memories. What does not seem to change is the things that people enjoy. A favourite for me was always the annual fun day and running races, which is also a favourite for my children and then when I spoke to my mother it was on her list too! (As were the swimming lessons which used to be held at the beach) She spoke of how they would go down for the entire 6 week school holidays, with pop going to and from work during that time. Interestingly we did the same thing on school holidays and will be doing so with our children this Christmas. My 2 year old Ariana said, “Are we going to the Shacks” I said Yes. “Will we sleep their” Yes. “I like the shacks” she remarked, we can have fun, go swimming and play.” Yes I said. It is a wonderful place. Always welcoming many visitors who take a walk through and look at the unique location, stopping for a swim and to enjoy the laid back surroundings of the area. We are still able to live much as our ancestors did 70 years ago. I encourage City of Cockburn to think about saving this unique location and preserve it for generations to come. I hope others agree. Let's not let the sun set on the Naval Base Shacks for ever.... SAVE THE Naval Base SHACKS!!