STOCKTON residents and supporters of the peninsula's beach railled on Sunday to express their frustration and demand action to the rapidly-worsening erosion crisis.
More than 500 people descended on the southern end of beach via the King Street entrance - the only entry point not closed because of erosion - and attempted to form a large S.O.S on the sand representing the catch cry Save Our Stockton.
However, a lack of available beach and the number of people in attendance made forming the letters virtually impossible and forced organisers to settle for a massive group photo instead.
Organiser Lucas Gresham said the amount of people who came together for the rally was quite astounding given it had been organised less than 48 hours beforehand by word of mouth and a few posts on social media.
But the Stockon local whose family has lived in the suburb for five generations said the turnout was hardly a surprise as the lack of action to address the ongoing erosion woes had left locals "boiling" with frustration.
"It's time to act," he said.
"The passion has been boiling below the surface for everyone, for a long time.
"Twenty years ago I went to a meeting, and I heard the same shit in the last meeting that was a couple of months ago, as I did 20 years ago.
"After a period of time people simmer their anger and maybe become to feel a little bit helpless. Well now they're not helpless and that feeling has changed because this is going the whole way. I will not stop. This is going to happen one way or another."
Mr Gresham launched a GoFundMe page at the end of last week to fund a community class action and lodge a claim with the Environment Defence Office.
He said the goal was to raise about $1000 to lodge the claim with the EDO, but by Sunday morning more than $14,000 had been raised.
The extra funds will help the community form a better strategic plan for action and seek a "higher-level" of legal advice about its options.
Stockton Surf Life Saving Club president Callan Nickerson said the club's executive team had met on Saturday to finalise preparations for the season, determining all events would be held at the southern end of the beach.
He said it was an unprecedented move but had to be done to ensure the safety of members and participants in surf events.
"If it's possible to conduct our activities in the southern end of the beach, then that's what will do," he said. "We're working with council to make sure the little beach is also an option for us, for either patrols or for our nippers. We've done things here before, over time, but this is a total change to the way that we usually do business.
"We usually conduct all of our events out the front of the club because it's the safest possible place and most easily accessible considering the location of our club, but because of the erosion crisis that's on our hands we've got no choice but to move."
Mr Nickerson said he did not fear for the future of the club but held concerns about its ability to hold events on the beach long term.
"Our club's 112 years old and the reason we've been able to get to 112 is because over that time we've been able to invent, adapt and overcome," he said.
"The erosion is the worst it's been and our beach is broken at the moment but it doesn't mean that we can't continue to provide a good quality service."
Stockton resident of almost eight decades, Dave Chapman, attended the rally on his mobility scooter and watched on from the breakwall. Mr Chapman, 77, said the only time he could remember similar erosion of the beach was in 1955 floods.
"It's slowly been eroding over many years but the last three years has just got worse," he said. "No one will do anything and now. It's got to the stage of, 'what are we going to do?'. It's disgusting. It was always nice white sand there. [Now] there's no beach at all, you see the waves hitting the rocks up there.
"They've got plenty of money to waste on stadiums, fish markets, but no one wants to talk about Stockton. Stockton is just a lost suburb as far as the state government and the council goes."
Mick Roddom, 53, said he had returned from a holiday in recent weeks and was blown away by the amount of sand that had disappeared.
"Up to four weeks ago it was looking great, but two big swells on the trot and have a look now, there's nothing here," he said. "I couldn't get off the beach the other day, it was too high."
A resident of 20 years, Mr Riddom said the beach meant everything to his family when his three children, now adults, were young.
"A major part of our lifestyle, everything revolved around the beach community," he said, adding it would take "people power" for solutions to be realised.
"If this was in Sydney it would be addressed quite promptly," he said. "But being Sydney's cousin, who spins quite a lot of money for them, we just get pushed to the too hard basket."
Rebecca Cummings, 37, and her partner Lee, moved to Stockton 13 years ago to settle down and raise a family. They now have three kids aged four, seven and nine and have been regulars at the beach over the past decade.
But Ms Cummings said given the erosion of the beach they would likely only be swimming in the local pool this summer, or at beaches elsewhere.
"We just can't come down to the beach anymore with the kids," she said.
"It's super disappointing, the government have shown no leadership. We probably won't enroll in nippers this year; there's no beach."
Lucas Gresham said the lifestyles of residents from Stockton and suburbs further north were being permanently altered by the erosion of the beach.
"Unfortunately the problems here, everyone's been aware of what's needed to be done for quite a while and now it's got to the point where, I don't know, is it past it? Hopefully not," he said. "We need to make headway towards an outcome quickly. This can't be something that goes on and on and on."
Both he and Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp, who spoke at the rally, promised further public events to demand government action.
Mr Crakanthorp said he had been in contact with Environment Minister Matt Kean to arrange a visit to Stockton after the minister said when visiting the region on Friday that he was "very keen" to see the beach.
Mr Gresham said the community would be advocating for the state government to spend money derived from the privatisation of Newcastle port and ongoing royalties from coal exports to fund a solution to the erosion.
"It's money the state government have," he said. "The sell-off of the port was $1.75 billion and they continue to receive royalties today.
"It's like any business model, you've got to have something there for maintenance. You've got to have some percentage of the business, what you earn, aside for maintaining your business.
"Why haven't they done that?"
- Community meeting told Stockton beach losing a metre a year
- Storm damaged Stockton early learning centre
- Childcare centre's future under cloud in erosion saga
- Childcare centre forced to close temporarily
- Council back to drawing board over long-term solution
- Playground set to be relocated as a result of erosion threat
- Fears childcare centre could crumble into the sea
- Stockton solution moves forward with meeting
- Garbage tip washing into the sea at Stockton
- State government handballs responsibility for Stockton beach
- Exposed mine shaft shows erosion problem needs 'urgent' solution
- Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes suggests 'underground breakwall'
- Worst erosion in memory leaves beach exposed to next storm
- Dangerous erosion on Stockton Beach
- Stockton beach erosion | photos, video