The reef that rules put on the map

Surf signs: Deputy Mayor Michael Forshaw officially unveiled the Sandshoes plaque with Cr Marie Simone and Surfing Sutherland Shire's Andy Britton. Picture: John Veage
Surf signs: Deputy Mayor Michael Forshaw officially unveiled the Sandshoes plaque with Cr Marie Simone and Surfing Sutherland Shire's Andy Britton. Picture: John Veage

It started as a secret surf spot when first discovered in the early '60s by Cronulla surfer Terry 'Tossle' Tumuth, who asked his schoolmates if they wanted to "go down the coast" to ride a new reef break.

It's a part of our rich surfing history now as Surfing Sutherland Shire and Sutherland Council unveiled the fifth Cronulla National Surf Reserve location plaque on the Esplanade at the southernmost surfing point in Cronulla - Sandshoes Reef.

Cronulla was built around the surfing lifestyle with land sold off in the early 1900s as a seaside getaway and the winding Esplanade walk is still one of its biggest attractions.

Cronulla was declared a National Surfing Reserve in 2008, acknowledging the role the community has played in developing Australian beach culture and the Sandshoes plaque continues to grow the education series to be seen whilst on this walk.

Surfing Sutherland Shire president Andy Britton said surfing was first pioneered here in the 1960s by some of the people still living here, who became known as the 'Shoes Crew'.

Great:Frank Latta-the Mayor of Sandshoes.Picture Bob Weeks

Great:Frank Latta-the Mayor of Sandshoes.Picture Bob Weeks

"It was these pioneers who named surf spot Sand Shoes. They named it after the sandshoes they wore while surfing to protect their feet from the carpet of sea urchins that populated the reef in the early days." Britton said

Deputy Mayor Michael Forshaw officially unveiled the plaque, which has a picture of the 2021 Sandshoes Boardriding Club and a dominant Frank Latta cutting across a shoes wave. Latta was a top competitive surfer, a skilled and prolific surfboard shaper and designer and a real character of the Australian surfing scene.

Cr Forshaw said even when he was a young man, the Shoes crew were a force to be reckoned with and only Cronulla's best were able to get a wave at the picturesque shallow reef.

Local surfer and former President of the Association of Surfing Professionals Graham 'Sid' Cassidy talked of the glory days when Shoes held early rounds of the Beaurepaires Surfabout event when the worlds best came to ride the hollow little barrels.

Colour: Sandshoes Boardriders club at "the reef that rules":Picture John Veage

Colour: Sandshoes Boardriders club at "the reef that rules":Picture John Veage

The Crown Surfing Reserve displays past champions in the Cronulla Surfing Walk of Fame. It highlights several significant surfing sites within Bate Bay, including Sand Shoes, the Alley, Shark Island, Cronulla Point and Voodoo. It also acknowledges the surfing community and boardriders clubs and the fact that even the legendary Duke Kahanamoku surfed our shores over 100 years ago.