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Byron Shire
May 17, 2021

SGB platforms on verge of collapse

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Chris Dobney

South Golden Beach will lose its remaining three viewing platforms in coming days as Byron Shire Council workers race against time to dismantle them before they topple into the sea.

The viewing platform at Gloria Street was removed back in March after Echonetdaily published a photograph showing the front three poles suspended in mid-air.

Now, after the loss of a further three metres of sand, the three remaining platforms at Peter, Helen and Robin streets are about to suffer the same fate. One of the platforms is already sitting at a 45-degree angle.

Byron Shire Council made the announcement in a media release yesterday afternoon, after Echonetdaily forwarded a reader’s photographs clearly showing the dangerous state of the platforms.

South Golden Beach resident Jacqui Walsh said that locals were sad to see the platforms go but realised they would need to be removed after the impact of the recent east coast low combined with very high tides on the weekend.

‘The dunes looked like they were going to replenish until we got the northern tip of the east coast low and then we got a two-metre tide that pulled the sand away. It’s a bad combination, an east coast low and a big tide,’ she told Echonetdaily yesterday.

Dangerous conditions

Byron Shire Council’s executive manager of community infrastructure, Phil Holloway, said the beaches in the north of the shire have been significantly affected by last week’s high tides and big ocean swells.

‘There is simply not enough sand present to be able to reinstate the beach accesses,’ Mr Holloway said.

‘When some sand has returned, staff will be able to get in and build better walking gradients for beach accesses,’ he said.

Signage and barricades at the closed beaches have been put in place.

But the council says that despite this, and the obvious damage to the beach accesses, people are removing the barricades, ignoring the signs and climbing down the eroded beach escarpments.

‘The coastal dunes are very water-logged and prone to collapsing. It is not worth putting yourself or others at risk should the dune suddenly collapse as you are climbing down,’ Mr Holloway said.

Although realising the only way to save the structures is to temporarily remove them, Ms Walsh says the community will miss them.

‘Those platforms were like the signature for South Golden Beach. People love to sit on the platforms with a pizza and a glass of wine and look at a full moon. Surfers would use them to check out the waves of a morning,’ she said.

‘The other thing is without the platforms people will go and stand up on the dunes to have a look out to sea, which could end up doing more damage to the dunes.

‘The timber slats with the chains helped a bit as well. We need to have some structure again not to put that pressure of the dunes.’

Ms Walsh suggested that local volunteers would be happy to rebuild the structures if and when the sand returns but Mr Holloway said ‘the timber will be carefully stored at the council works depot until such time that [the platforms] can be safely rebuilt’.

Beach access closures

As a result of the erosion, South Golden Beach access points at Pacific Avenue, Peter, Helen and Robin streets are all closed. Gloria Street beach access is open.

Further down the coast at New Brighton, beach accesses are closed at Strand Avenue, Pacific and Dolphin Streets. Park Street, Ocean Avenue and North Head Road at New Brighton are open.

At Suffolk Park, Jarman and Wareham Streets are closed and council advises that all other beach accesses in the area should be used with caution.

At Belongil Beach, the Manfred Street beach access remains closed whilst Don and Borders streets are open but should also be used with caution.

In Tweed Shire, Fingal Head has lost some 15 metres of dune and, according to one report, there is no more than 20 metres of sand left between the surf club and the open sea.

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