Fence_finished_c1967

LANDMARKS OF LENNOX: THE TEA TREE FENCE

By Robyn Hargrave

In June 1967, cyclonic seas ripped about 25 metres of sand and vegetation from Lennox Head beach. For a short time, the sea broke through an eroded section of the dunes into Lake Ainsworth.

With more storms forecast, residents took action. On 2 July 1967, some 100 concerned citizens supported Bill Tresise’s proposal that a fence of closely packed tea tree poles be constructed from the ‘break through’ area near Lake Ainsworth south along the beach to Byron Street.

While the Ladies’ Committee provided food and hot drinks for the 50 or so volunteer workers, the community (including adjoining Councils) committed to six weekends of hard labour.

‘It was backbreaking work,’ said John Burrows, a volunteer on the fence and still living in Lennox Head. ‘And we had some awful winter weather.’

The 8,000 poles were around 3.5 metres in length and had to be sunk about two metres into the sand. A high pressure water jet blasted a hole and within seconds each pole was manhandled into place before sand recompacted. Large stabilising rocks were placed behind the fence which was extended by (then) Tintenbar Shire Council northwards to the National Fitness Camp (now Department of Sport and Recreation).

Anxious eyes later watched during big tides and rough seas. To everyone’s joy, sand built behind the fence until it was completely covered.

‘This might seem extraordinary today, but 50 years ago we had to do it to save our beach,’ said John Burrows.

Sources: Secombe, M.E., From North Creek to Lennox Head, Potts, A (ed), Richmond River Historical Society Inc Bulletin No. 162, Lismore, 1997; The Northern Star, 28 August 1967.  Photos courtesy of: 1. Lennox Head Heritage Committee, 2. Malcolm Low, 3. John Burrows

Readers with information on this or other Landmarks of Lennox, please contact, Robyn Hargrave by phone 0412 660 994, email harg1rob@gmail.com.