October 10, 2012
It is a sunny Sunday morning and Secret Harbour is empty.
Located on Perth’s southwestern outskirts, Secrets, as the locals call it, is a stretch of beach that forms part of the coastline surrounding Rockingham.
“You looking for the shop,” assets a man approaching me.
The man introduces himself as Gone Surfin’ Surf Coach Doug Kitchingman.
He is referring to the shop that used to be next to the Surf Life Saving Club.
“June last year [the landholders] told Al (the owner) to go, then they told him he had a year and then it was month by month,” Mr Kitchingman said.
“What was he supposed to do – you can’t run a business like that.
“And now no-one comes here anymore.
“There’s no surf shop and no place to get a feed.”
Standing adjacent to the defunct shop is the current surf club building which is owned by the City of Rockingham.
A $4.8 million redevelopment of the club is set to open in 2014 next to the existing club and empty shops.
I ask Mr Kitchingman what surfers think of the new club.
“What do you think?” he asked rhetorically.
“We’re pissed off.”
However, Rockingham Council’s Community Infrastructure Planning Officer Dean Burton says there is a need for a new surf club.
“The surf club outlined a need back in 2008,” Mr Burton said.
“They then came to us with an audit on the infrastructure and a feasibility plan.
“We also looked at the population projection for the area.”
Mr Burton says the new building will also house a bar, cafe and recreation room but that the surf club will be the major benefactor.
“The surf club will be our major tenants,” he said.
“They’ll need to take a lot of ownership.”
Mr Burton says the redevelopment will not guarantee more surf patrols.
“That’s managed by surf life saving,” he said.
“(The redevelopment) will enable more training and membership – which could potentially lead to bigger patrols.”
Mr Kitchingman laments the days when Secrets was a secret.
“Twenty years ago it was just me, Al and a few others in our vans bush-whacking our way down here,” he said.
“I keep saying it took 20 years to get here.
“You need to be thinking 20 years ahead.”
Photos: Belinda Cameron