In March 2020, Australians joined the rest of the world in practising social distancing techniques to slow the spread of the global pandemic Covid19. Unprecedented measures were put in place to stop gatherings including closures of restaurants, gyms and beaches.1 Those policing the closures in NSW were quick to reassure the public that local beaches could still be used for exercise and activities given there were no more than two people (or households) and they were 1.5 metres apart.2 It was during this time that a series of driftwood shelters appeared along Old Bar Beach.
The shelters ranged from simple tepees to elaborate structures complete with log seats, seaweed decorations and shell walkways. One boy, Daniel Hill, remarked that he had a design in mind but this design changed as he collected materials for his hut and worked out how best to use them.3 Hamish and Ethan, inspired by their engineer father, created a different design preferring a flat roof.4 One builder considered his dog in the design by crafting a mini tepee nearby.
The huts (already there are 15) are spread over a kilometre and children come to work on and admire their masterpieces. This is not an organised activity but one that has grown organically. These structures are transient and will be washed away in the next big tide, but for now they are an emblem of how children in 2020 at Old Bar spent their time during Covid19 isolation. Heritage isn’t just about ‘old’ stories.
Author: Janine Roberts (23 April 2020)
1 NSW Public Health (Covid-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020.
2 Manning River Times, 8 April 2020, online.
3 Conversation with Daniel Hill and his mother Melissa Hill, 21 April 2020.
4 Conversation with Hamish and Ethan, 20 April 2020.