Norah Head Declared

The Norah Head coastline between Hargraves Beach in the north and Pelican Point in the south is the first stretch of seashore on the Central Coast to attain National Surfing Reserve status. This small and unique strip of coastline features unspoiled world-class surfing options in all wave and wind conditions including at least nine beach breaks, two point breaks, three bomboras and two reef breaks.

The Norah Head National Surfing Reserve Committee has been working with the community and essential stakeholders for about two years to achieve the Surfing Reserve honour. A public Dedication Ceremony was held on Saturday, November 26 at 11am where a plinth and plaque were be unveiled on Soldiers Beach headland.

Committee Chairperson, Debbie McGuigan said the motivation for seeking National Surfing Reserve status was a genuine love of the beautiful Norah Head village, beautiful beaches and breaks as well as an appreciation of the rich and colourful surfing history.

“Our coastline is considered sacred by locals and our beaches have been surfed since the 1950s,” she said.

“The first committee meeting was held in November 2020 following an acceptance of our initial proposal and permission given by the National Surfing Reserve Board to proceed with our official submission which involved creating an information booklet and designing a plinth, plaque and road signage.”

Although COVID-19 restrictions made the process challenging, the small but passionate committee pushed ahead and with the help of other groups the project began to move forward. They included Darkinjung Traditional Landowners and Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, NSW Crown Lands, a wide range of individuals from both the surfing and broader community, Norah Head Surfing Fraternity, Norah Head Bowling and Sports Club, Women in the Waves, Volunteer Land Care groups, Norah Head Ratepayers and Coastcare Association, Soldiers Beach Surf Lifesaving Club, Central Coast Council, members of Federal and State Parliament, Norah Head Lighthouse Trust, Norah Head Surf Coaching, Norah Head Tourist Park and other local businesses.

“All have a shared sense of community and vision to celebrate our rich history and connection to the environment, to honour our splendid surfing achievements and to preserve our iconic surf coastline,” McGuigan said.

Dedication of a surfing site as a National Surfing Reserve is a community and government recognition of the contribution surfing makes to the Australian lifestyle and the significance that surfing sites have made to the development of surfing in Australia.

National Surfing Reserves are iconic places of intrinsic environmental, heritage, sporting and cultural value to a nation. They embrace all people to enjoy, understand and protect unique coastal environments of universal value to the surfing world. A National Surfing Reserve encourages stewardship and creates another community voice to unite and protect sensitive surfing resources.

The power of a National Surfing Reserve also comes from creating awareness of surfing assets and the ability to influence people and governments to protect these assets.

McGuigan says it could also come from working with Central Coast Council to be included in their Coastal Management Plan.

“What is good for surfing – protecting dunes, breaks and water quality – is good for all water sports,” she said.
“The stewardship component of a Surfing Reserve encourages the community to continually monitor the surfing environment and its landscapes to address situations before it is too late.”