When Paul Mason Jones died tragically in 1979, Illawarra’s Surfing Community and the Thirroul and Sandon Point Communities were devastated.
Lost was an outstanding citizen who, in his short life of 27 years, had developed knowledge, skills, values and attitudes every community would be proud to nurture. Paul was a dynamic student at Thirroul Primary School, Bulli High School and Wollongong University. Paul’s outgoing, friendly, happy nature and his ability to set and achieve goals was sincerely appreciated by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.
As well as being a gifted natural-footed surfer, Paul was the President of the Southern Pacific Boardriders Club and the founding President of the Sandon Point Boardriders Club, a club which is still going strong today!
Paul, affectionately known as “Jinxy”, was the youngest electrical engineer ever employed at BHP Cordeaux Colliery. He lost his life in a coal truck accident as he drove to work. Following Paul’s packed funeral, a meeting was held in the Thirroul RSL where it was decided that Paul must not be forgotten and Paul’s personal dream of a park on Sandon Point would be a most fitting tribute for his outstanding efforts in our community.
Plans were developed and the unique concept of having parklands between the carpark and the surf was adopted. Fundraising was undertaken and work commenced. One sensational highlight of the reserve’s construction was taking a coaltruck to Tallowa Dam, Kangaroo Valley, followed by a huge convoy of surfers cars – complete with surfboards. The crew then loaded the river stones which were used to stabilise the foreshore of the headland of “The Point” where erosion was becoming a serious issue. Gravel roadways on “The Point” were covered with hundreds of tonnes of soil. Turf was then laid and watered! The trees now present in the park and new walkways were projects of Wollongong City Council,Sandon Point SLSC and the Bushcare teams.
The naming of the Reserve has been this committee’s ongoing project with Wollongong City Council for the past seven years and the Paul Mason Jones Park Committee is delighted to have the support in these endeavours of the major community groups in the Northern Suburbs. These include the; Illawarra Local Aboriginal Lands Council, Neighbourhood Forum Area 3, NIRAG, Sandon Point SLSC, Sandon Point Boardriders Club and the Thirroul Village Committee. Paul’s sign is proposed to be placed on the grass on the eastern side of the carpark so as not restrict or hinder walkways or sight-lines and in front of the existing garden bed.
Paul’s service to our community and the contribution by the community to create this Reserve in his honour, has been acknowledged in the soon to be adopted Plan of Management of Sandon Point McCauley’s Beach.
A petition to further support this naming is currently being undertaken in the Illawarra with copies in the local surfing retailers stores – Byrnes, Skipp, DP and Finbox. Bulli Bowls and Sports Club, Thirroul Bowling Leagues &Recreation Club, Beans Talk, Sandon Point Preschool and Flemings Cake Shop also have copies of the petition.
The Paul Mason Jones Park committee sincerely appreciates and thanks everyone for the support we are getting for this petition and we warmly invite everyone to Wollongong City Council’s meeting when the Plan of Management for Sandon Point and McCauleys Beach is on the agenda, possibly in December. At that Council meeting we will present to Wollongong City Council our petition; “to approve the naming of portion of parklands on Sandon Point the “Paul Mason Jones Reserve” . Also, a presentation will be made acknowledging the contribution to the City of Wollongong by Paul and the endeavours of the Surfing Community and the citizens of Northern Illawarra to honour his memory.