Photos | Storms devastate Cronulla and Brighton-Le-Sands beaches

Holding back the sea has proved to be a near impossible task when Cronulla and Brighton-Le-Sands have been hit by major storms.

Photos in the Leader's archives show the extent of foreshore damage, which has been very costly to repair.

One wacky suggestion for meeting the cost was made by a Sutherland Shire councillor in 1967.

Cr K L Hewson (Independent) proposed charging Cronulla beach-goers a five cents entry fee.

Just how the fee would be collected wasn't explained, but the councillor withdrew his notice of motion when it became obvious he had no support.

The earliest of the Leader's photos was taken in 1950, when the sea wall at Cronulla was washed away.

In 1968, a huge storm largely destroyed Brighton baths and caused major damage at Cronulla and Kurnell.

The weather event sealed the fate of the baths, which Rockdale Council had been finding difficult to maintain. The facility was replaced by a much simpler enclosure a few years later.

The damage done by this storm and earlier events left the Cronulla beaches with little sand, so beach-goers flocked to Elouera, where the sole beach inspector was overwhelmed with work.

Another major storm occurred in 1974, with huge seas pounding the foreshore at Brighton-Le-Sands and washing a children's playground into the water at North Cronulla.

The storm was caused by an east coast low (intense low-pressure system), the most significant of which occur between June and August each year.

"A wave of destruction" was the headline on the Leader's front page report in the June 5, 1974 edition.

"The violent storms on the weekend before last have left scars on Cronulla beaches and Botany Bay foreshores that won't heal for a long time," the report said.

The caption on a front page photo of Cronulla beach said bulldozers and graders had been at work for a week "after huge seas battered the foreshore".

A photo of North Cronulla beach carried the caption, "A child's slippery dip washed from its cement laid foundations lies amid the debris caused by huge seas".

Another edition contained a photo of the federal Minister for Repatriation and Compensation, Senator J M Wheeldon, inspecting Cronulla beach with Sutherland Shire Council representatives.

Senator Wheeldon indicated the federal government would provide assistance.

"It is a national natural disaster and we can't place the entire restoration burden on Sutherland Shire," he said.

The report said, during the storms, massive concrete slabs from the seawall were uprooted and turned over, lengths of railway line used in the foundations were twisted and bent and dangerous cliffs of sand were caused by sea erosion.

The damage led to the Prince Street seawall (The Wall) being built, but it would be more than a decade before it was in place.

Another east coast low was responsible for the most recent case of beach devastation.

In June, 2016, huge waves sucked thousands of tonnes of sand from Cronulla and North Cronulla beaches, exposing masses of boulders which had been placed there as a seawall after previous big storms.

At Dolls Point, waves crashed over the seawall, inundating a number of houses in Carruthers Drive and the street behind.