Old Lucky Bay shop to reopen at centenary celebrations

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By David Sly

It was 100 years ago that Eyre Peninsula farmers first created their own summer playground at Lucky Bay.

Escaping the hot dry interior with their families, canny farmers erected ramshackle shacks along a golden, but often seaweed strewn, stretch of sandy beach near Cowell.

Now, current generations of those pioneer families will return on January 12, 2019, to celebrate the centenary of the first shacks being built – and many of their beloved summer rituals will resume.

Lucky Bay beach in 1939.

Sue Chase, who is now president of the Lucky Bay Shack Owners Association, remembers in her childhood how she sat up on the counter of Cornelius’s Shop, a pop-up deli run by the Cornelius family that would only be open for five weeks after Christmas.

Wide-eyed and excited, she loved choosing individual favourite treats for her paper bag of mixed lollies. Much later, her children’s customary treats from the same shop were freshly buttered finger buns after completing their morning swimming lessons on the beach.

Her father had been a shop customer, too, and now Sue’s grandchildren will get a taste of the shop’s wares when Shannon Cornelius, son of the original operator, reopens the pop-up for the first time in a decade, as a pivotal part of the Lucky Bay centenary celebrations.

“Going to that shop became a symbol of summer for me, and having it open again will bring back a flood of happy memories for me and a lot other people who enjoyed their holidays at Lucky Bay,” says Sue.

New Years Eve Day, 1922, at Lucky Bay.

Other attractions on January 12 will include the Lions Club of Cowell moving its monthly foreshore market to the Lucky Bay beach.

A collection of Lucky Bay memorabilia and historical photos showing various shacks and beachgoers through the past 100 years will be displayed in the local hall – along with a nostalgic display of swimwear through the decades, which Sue explains will only be a static exhibition.

“We couldn’t get any volunteers who were game enough to act as models,” she offers with a chuckle.

While the pace at Lucky Bay remains slow, things have changed in the past decade, since a harbour was dredged nearby to accommodate the Wallaroo-to-Cowell ferry.

A family outside one of the first beach shacks at Lucky Bay.

This finally brought a bitumen road to Lucky Bay, which has increased the flow of traffic and attracted more day visitors.

The centenary celebrations will hark back to simpler times, especially an array of old-fashioned events being among organised beach sports activities, with three-legged races, a sandcastle building competition and egg and spoon races for children, and a giant tug-o-war and greasy pole climbing competition for adults.

The beach activities will be completed with an IronMan and IronWoman competition, kayak races, and a fishing and casting competition.

For full details of the Lucky Bay centenary celebrations, which will include a live music concert and fireworks display on the beach after dark, visit the Lucky Bay South Australia Facebook page.

Let us know via the Brand South Australia Facebook page if you have any old photos of Cornelius’s Shop.

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