January 28 - February 3, 2024: Issue 611


Bush to Beach 2024

Having fun at South Narrabeen SLSC. Photo: Duncan Schieb

South Narrabeen SLSC is home to the 2024 Bush to Beach from Friday 26th January to Sunday 28th January, with around 35 outback kids involved in a three-day surf camp to learn new skills, build confidence, and experience an environment unlike the one they know.

This will be the 19th year Bush to Beach has been hosted by South Narrabeen SLSC.

Since the program began, almost one thousand children from northwest NSW have attended a Bush to Beach camp. The program participants must attend school throughout the year to take part, and, as a result, Brewarrina and surrounding areas have reported reduced truancy.

South Narrabeen Surf Lifesaving Club President Duncan Schieb said yesterday (Saturday January 27th) the youngsters had been given the ‘full Col to Narra experience so far’ with lessons in both Collaroy and North Narrabeen rock pools and playing right along the beach – a cricket match, the usual handstands and cartwheels in soft sand, along with learning about surf and water safety.

‘’These kids are amazing, ‘’ Duncan said, ‘’when they arrived on Friday many had not seen the ocean before but they loved it, immediately.

‘’The smiles on their faces are just awesome, and they are just really enjoying being here. My kids, I have 4, have been with them all weekend and they’re having a great time together.’’

‘’To see these youngsters giving themselves this opportunity, by attending school, is just wonderful. South Narrabeen Surf Lifesaving Club is stoked to be able to be a part of this.’’

‘’They jumped straight in and got their swim proficiency for Nippers. Their fun weekend ahead includes learning to surf, snorkelling, beach sports, surfing education.’’

On Friday former Miss World Australia Kristen Wright, who is a diving instructor, was again teaching the youngsters how to snorkel.

Bush to Beach brings young people and their carers, from Brewarrina, Goodooga, Bourke and surrounding communities in far Northwest NSW to our area for a three-day camp each year. The trip away provides the young people with a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore new places, while learning valuable skills. 

The program is offered as a reward to kids who have demonstrated good school attendance and behaviour throughout the year. Our local Branch of SLS (SLSSNB) work with the local communities around Brewarrina to encourage young people to stay engaged in the education system.

Bush to Beach Founder Jack Cannons AM met the late Aunty Joyce Doole and other Aboriginal Elders in Brewarrina (far north west NSW) in the early 1990s through local fundraising and volunteering initiatives. And in early 2000, Joyce and Jack had a conversation over a cup of tea that sparked the idea for Bush to Beach.

They connected over their shared passion for learning and shared concern about truancy preventing local kids receiving a proper education.

“Education is the only way that young people can grow and survive.” - Jack Cannons AM, Founder Bush to Beach

Jack Cannons AM with this year's visiting youngsters. Photos: Duncan Schieb

Since 2005, with support of the South Narrabeen Surf Life Saving Club, Bush to Beach has facilitated an annual trip for children in Brewarrina and surrounding communities to visit our area.

“Over the last 12 years, we have watched school attendance and behaviour improve, as the kids have a real reward to look forward to at the end of the year. The program has such a huge positive impact on the behaviour and morale of the students, which flows through to the wider community. Now that everybody wants their child to come. If I find out there is a kid who hasn’t been going to school or doing the right thing then I say to them ‘You can’t come with us until you start going to school.” - Aunty Joyce Doole, Aboriginal Elder of the Brewarrina community said a few years back.

South Narrabeen SLSC’s President gets it;

‘’I grew up in a town in a regional area, not far from where these kids live. To have access to a great school and a great chance to a Summer break by the seaside simply by attending, is a great program. Jack Cannons and Aunty Joyce Doole, who initiated the Bush to Beach, along with their supporters, have done a great thing in ensuring these kids can have some fun on our beaches.''

Mr. Schieb also had high praise for all the volunteers who help out over the weekend;

‘’To all the amazing bronzes, SRC and water safety legends who have helped these kids have the most amazing experience possible over this weekend, I thank you for leading these kids on a journey that could change their lives.

To all the volunteers who have helped make the food, tell the stories, help out with activities, we thank you. ’’

Today, Sunday, the youngsters from the bush are joining in with South Narrabeen’s Nippers Program – more great memories and learnings – and more friends being made.

You can find out more about the Bush to Beach program and support this initiative at: www.bushtobeach.org

Photos by and courtesy Duncan Schieb - a few more happy snaps below

Report by A J Guesdon