Famous Beach In Byron Bay On The Brink Of Disappearing

Erosion Caused By Beating Tides

As extreme weather persists on slamming northern NSW and south east Queensland, the famous beach in Byron Bay has almost disappeared. Coastal erosion occurs with tides surges, being badly hit by rain and wind.

The said beach has been completely covered by water and with fallen trees along the coast. These trees are also causing issues.

For instance, a man tried walking along the partially smashed walkway as a tree fell and collapsed in the ocean. Although the man fell, he was not hurt badly. That said, the king tide is expected to hit its peak yet.

With hopes of protecting businesses on the coast, including Beach Restaurant, sandbags were used. Establishments remained open despite extreme weather conditions, with erosion is a hazard to them.

According to the owner, Owen Ben Kirkwood, the flood defences that were recently installed were doing their job.

“I would say if it wasn’t for the wall we wouldn’t be here right now. It’s doing its job. Thank goodness it got installed when it did,” he told media.

He added that were more and more onlookers trying to watch the show adding that the area of the Main Beach most suffered during the hammering.

Mr Kirkwood also cited that in June this year, he estimated around 18m of sand dunes were lost when high tides smashed the area.

There are multiple flood warnings for rivers in the area including the Tweed, Brunswick and Wilsons Rivers, with warnings rain will continue.

Erosion, flooding fears in northern NSW as communities await further deluge

A severe weather warning is in place for damaging winds, heavy rainfall, abnormally high tides and damaging surf in the Northern Rivers, and parts of the Mid North Coast and Northern Tablelands. In the far north, thunderstorms may concentrate heavy deluges and lead to further flash flooding.

A spokesman for the SES said crews were in “watch and wait” mode after rain eased off overnight Monday.

Calls were down to 56 on Sunday night after about 700 people required assistance throughout the weekend – and there had fortunately been no more flood rescues, after five people had to be pulled from floodwaters on Saturday.

“We were expecting quite a bit to hit us last night,” the spokesman said, but the low-pressure system was yet to come in off the coast.

“It may hit later this morning… [we’re remaining] pretty vigilant.”

SES crews have been evacuating caravans in particularly at-risk areas as a precaution and are door-knocking and assisting with preparation in those communities.

Byron’s Bay’s main beach has been extensively sandbagged by council workers due to coastal erosion but no properties were under threat on Sunday.

Beaches at Byron Bay have been sandbagged.

Beaches at Byron Bay have been sandbagged.Credit:Nine

The fringes of the system were affecting Sydney and the Hunter on Monday, where a few showers are expected throughout Monday and more rain on Tuesday.

In Sydney, Tuesday looks like the biggest rainfall day with 20-30 millimetres forecast, Ms Reid said.

People walk along a beach in Byron Bay.

People walk along a beach in Byron Bay.Credit:Nine

“By comparison, it will be easing in the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast [on Tuesday], but they can still expect about 100 millimetres,” she said.

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Military technology to combat coastal erosion at Kingston’s boat ramps

Military devices usually deployed for beach landings will be rolled out to combat coastal erosion at Kington in south east South Australia.

The Kingston District Council has purchased a moveable aluminium panel, known as a FAUN Trackway, that is traditionally used by armed forces coming ashore.

After initial delays due to supply chain issues with the United Kingdom-made system, the council has confirmed it will arrive in the town before Christmas.

Chief executive Nat Traeger said the system will be used to provide a stable access-way for vehicles to the town’s boat ramp.

The council won’t receive the loader attachment that’s included here.(Supplied: FAUN Trackway)

“Just picture a boat ramp on a roll,” Ms Traeger said.

“This is the first time it will be used in Australia for boat ramping and a non-military deployment but the concept is pretty straightforward.

The council originally ordered 50 metres of the track and a loader attachment to help with instalment, at a cost of $215,000.

Low availability of the product meant the council instead spent $70,000 to receive just 30 metres of track.

A mat is laid out on a sandy beach, the ocean in the background, and a tank is driving over the mat
The technology stabilises the ground, creating an access-way for vehicles.(Supplied: FAUN Trackway)

Ms Traeger said it would connect the Maria Creek ramp to the car park to allow locals and tourists to launch their boats.

“So quite often, the difficulty is not actually launching your boat from the concrete boat ramp, it’s actually getting to it,” she said.

“So we’re hoping to mitigate that through having a stable track that takes you from the carpark and down onto the concrete ramp.

Council staff will manually deploy the system, as council was not able to purchase the loader attachment.

But Ms Traeger said the structure was strong enough to be left out for long periods of time.

“It’s not the sort of thing that needs to come in and out, we’re hoping that once we’ve got it established, we can roll it out, say October long weekend, and notwithstanding severe weather conditions, leave it out until Easter,” she said.

Added benefit of tourism

Ms Traeger said she was hoping to see an increase in visitors with the boat ramp being more easily-accessible.

“Once you’re on our beaches, normally in summer, they’re very firm, and you can drive along them,” she said.

“So we’ve got locals here who are quite excited about the thought whilst they may not have a boat, they can use this trackway to get on and off the beach and then drive along it on those beautiful summer weather conditions that we have here in Kingston.”

All the way from the UK

FAUN Trackway head of marketing Rachel Roberts said the system was first built in the 1960’s, in partnership with the UK Ministry of Defence to improve the mobility of vehicles and aircraft in the armed forces.

A head shot of a woman with blue eyes and long auburn hair
Rachel Roberts says positive to see the technology is now being used for non-military purposes.(Supplied: FAUN Trackway)

She said the technology also had a history with the Australian military.

“We actually sold to the Australian Army about six or seven years ago, and the requirement was for a UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] drone runway,” she said.

“[The technology] is used predominantly within the military for use of bridging ingress and egress and over the shore operations.”

Ms Roberts said she was pleased that the system was being used by groups other than the military.

“A few years ago, we diversified into the commercial sector because that was exactly what the intended use was … we wanted to reach out to businesses, governments, councils, wherever there’s a ground stabilisation requirement,” she said.

“We’ve sold boat-ramp kits around the world and for exact scenarios like this, so it’s a fantastic order and we’re really happy to be able to provide the council with such a solution.”

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More coastal erosion likely as low pressure system brings dangerous surf to east coast

As parts of NSW sit teetering on the edge after last fortnight’s storms, a low pressure system is bringing yet more dangerous surf to the east coast.

These destructive storm systems often come in a series of events and the impacts are only expected to get worse as the sea level rises.

So why do they do so much damage and what can we possibly do to combat coastal erosion?

Storm surge

‘Storm surge’ is the term used to describe is the increase in sea level as the result of a passing storm.

When this high water combines with high tide and ferocious waves it can spell disaster for our sandy dunes.

“A really strong storm surge usually comes at the same time with pretty large powerful waves because they’re both generated by the same storm,” University of Queensland geography lecturer Daniel Harris said.

If the surge comes on top of the high tide or from an unusual direction there is even greater damage.

Dr Harris said there was a list of familiar locations for coastal erosion events along the east coast.


Palm Beach, Kingscliff, Old Bar, Jimmy’s Beach, Wamberal (which suffered so much damage in the last round of storms) and Narrabeen (with the infamous pool in the ocean incident back in 2016) are just a few well known erosion locations.

But beaches all around the country suffered from coastal erosion.

“Even places that are pretty well known like Manly, or where I’m from Cronullahave had some erosion issues as well,” Dr Harris said.

Erosion can be a good thing

According to Dr Harris, dunes naturally moved in response to a storm event.

“The dunes get eroded and that sand is put in the surf zone, which protects the coastline by increasing wave breaking and taking the energy out of the waves that are coming to the coast.

“It’s a very natural process. It’s well known; we’ve known about it for decades.”


Kathleen McInnes, leader of the climate extremes and projections group at the CSIRO, said it was a seasonal cycle.

“If there weren’t buildings there, then during these stormy seasons you would get erosion of the back dune area and then during the calmer seasons of the year the more moderate waves actually transport the sand back onto the beach and build up those dunes again,” Dr McInnes said.

“But the problem is that when the dune system is intersected by buildings it creates a situation where the coastline can’t respond in a natural way to the natural forces that occur on a seasonal basis.

“Added to that, of course, we’ve got rising sea levels, which are pushing the area of impact further inland anyway.

“So that makes it an even worse situation.”

What can we do about it?

Dr McInnes put it bluntly.

“There’s no easy solution to protecting a sandy coast from coastal erosion,” she said.

Putting in place hard structures like concrete or rock walls along the coastline could protect the dune, but Dr McInnes warned there could be consequences as a result of that protection.

Tumbled rock on the beach
Foundational rocks tumbled onto the beach as the surf lashed the Central Coast during last week’s storms.(ABC News)

“If we value our coastlines for their beaches, building seawalls, depending on how they are constructed, can actually accelerate the loss of the beach in front of it,” she said.

“It might protect the buildings behind it, but you’re not going to have a beach in front of it.

No-one wants to be at the end of the wall

According to Dr McInnes, the sea walls could also be problematic if you did not have a consistent approach along the entire coastline.

“One of the issues around when people try to protect their own properties is that they can make it worse for their neighbours,” she said.

“This is why it can be quite a tricky problem to deal with, to try to get a solution that is a solution for everyone and doesn’t benefit some and make other people experience even worse impacts.”


The other major option for immediate protection is nourishment regimes, where the sand is manually replaced on eroded beaches.

One of the most well known nourishment regimes is currently in action on the Gold Coast.

But Dr Harris warned there were always long-term costs involved with both of these measures.

“One of the things that I would like to see more of are plans that are put together to have a fairly long-term view of how we’re going to go with the beach system,” he said.

“You want a continually functioning beach system; you don’t want the coast to be concrete.”

How to factor in the rising seas

Dr Harris said there had been a push in the geographical literature to stop seeing erosion itself being a problem, because erosion was the process that naturally allowed shorelines to move up in response to higher sea levels.

An aerial view of a home's veranda foundations exposed after the whole front yard collapsed into the sea.
A house teeters on the edge after strong surf batters the coast at Wamberal, on NSW’s Central Coast, on July 16, 2020.(ABC News)

“The ideal approach of a lot of management is to try and get the coastline to be able to respond to these events without there being all the damage,” he said.

“‘Managed retreat’ is the term that gets used a lot and it probably strikes terror into the hearts of people who are right near the ocean.”

It’s the process of removing infrastructure in locations of risk.

“But the idea is that, not now, but over decades, many decades, you’ll slowly create a system that allows for some of that erosion to occur without it ending up getting houses.”

The aim was that over longer-term timescales the natural movements of those shorelines would be able to return.

An excavator shores up sand on Port Beach after erosion from a storm.
Coastal erosion is not just an east coast problem. Shoring up after damage done at Port Beach, WA, in June 2019.(ABC News: Nicolas Perpitch)

In the meantime, things like seawalls were being used to try to protect current infrastructure, according to Dr Harris.

“This is one of the questions that I wish I had the perfect answer for, but there probably isn’t a perfect answer,” he said.

“I live near the coast as well. There’s a lot of emotion in play here.”

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