BAR Beach’s iconic war memorial has come under graffiti attack two times in a week, with politically-motivated messages about same-sex marriage and coal mining scrawled across the dedication’s base.
A police investigation is under way after surf club volunteers first reported the attack on Saturday, September 23, when an offensive, anti-same-sex marriage message was sprayed on the concrete and two teddy bears tied together on the railing to imitate a sexual position.
A second attack on Sunday saw the vandal use charcoal to leave a message about climate change.
The words “Clean air 4 Newy [sic]” and “Stop coal mining” were scrawled across the concrete when the Newcastle Herald inspected the memorial.
Cooks Hill Surf Lifesaving Club director of member services John Mayo said volunteers were “genuinely upset” and “extremely disappointed” by the vandalism, particularly given they were commemorating the centenary of the soldiers’ deaths.
Mr Mayo said there were direct descendants of the nine names inscribed on the memorial still serving within the surf club.
“These men, who we didn’t know personally are very much part of Cooks Hill SLSC lore and have been spoken of constantly over the past century as if they were still on the beach with us,” he told the Herald.
“The individuals who desecrated our memorial with profanities need to understand that the loss of these members, our mates are still mourned till this very day.
“Why individuals would do this is something to which I have no explanation.”
Rather than being angry about the vandalism, Mr Mayo encouraged the perpetrators to join the surf club “to learn what we’re all about”.
“I speak on behalf of the surf club membership when I say rather than vandalise our memorial come down and enjoy our beach and great club,” he said.
“We are inclusive as a club and you will be welcomed.”
The Cooks Hill Surf Lifesaving Club overlooks the beach and was first dedicated in 1916 and again at the end of World War I. The club was established in 1911, with two thirds of its membership serving in the Australian Imperial Force during the organisation’s infancy.
Council staff will remove the graffiti this week. Anyone with information should phone Newcastle City police on 4929 0999.