In a recent letter by Bill Hayes of Bangalow regarding the early history of land fronting Belongil Beach, there was a reference made to an ‘Esplanade’ on the Certificate of Title in front of their land.
In actual fact this is part of a Crown Reserve notated as R1082 in a Government Gazette dated 21 January 1884 which covers the NSW coastline from the Tweed to the Bellingen Rivers which had its width set as 5 chains (100m) from the property boundary to the Mean High Water (MHW) at the date of survey in this case 1886 when 200 lots each with 33-foot frontage were created.
This is information that councils and academics are loath to acknowledge with the the ‘Byron Bay – Hastings Point Erosion Study’ (PWD Report 1978) and other PWD reports all failing to make mention of the existence of this Crown Reserve.
The further comment that part of the problems at Belongil stems from the Council’s failure to heed engineers’ advice that sand would be lost if they proceeded with a rock structure near the town beach is critical information for anyone involved to understand and take on-board.
This form of sand loss is substantiated in countless research papers which confirms that engineers have made recommendations and taken actions without understanding the on-going consequences.
One such case came to a head in 2001 when the director of the Griffith Centre of Coastal Management (GCCM) finally acknowledged in print that the engineer approved extension of the training walls at the entrance to the Tweed River in 1962-4 was the classic example of shoreline recession which in his own words ‘resulted in a depletion in supply of sand to the Gold Coast beaches of up to 10 million cubic metres’.
‘The resulting erosion of beaches at Rainbow Bay, Coolangatta, Kirra and Bilinga over the subsequent 30 or so years has had a major impact on the recreational amenity and economic activity of that part of the coast’, the director said.
However, he and his academic colleagues remain reluctant to accept that similar occurrences of sand depletion have taken place since 1862 at some 20 sites on the NSW coast where river training walls have been built which have induced periods of recession to their north necessitating in some cases remedial work to contain erosion.
This includes Coffs Harbour, completed in 1924, which they now accept is filling with sand that in reality should be moving north to maintain the natural position of the shoreline.
However, there is another aspect in the history of Byron Bay which academics have failed to investigate and that is effects on the Byron Bay shoreline from the grounding in 1921 of the Wollongbar within the tidal boundaries set for Crown Reserve 1082.
Photos of this event are available which places this grounding in front of these Belongil allotments, the sand dunes that existed during attempts to re-float the ship, the loss of these dunes by 1925 and the final comment that, ‘The site is now in the surf zone and The Wreck is a popular surf break’.
That is, wave turbulence created by this wreck has eroded the sand from under it which has led to the loss of a substantial amount of the 5 chain (100m) buffer that existed along the Byron Bay foreshore prior to the this grounding and has nothing to do with natural coastline recession or more particularly the notion that this recession is due to sea level rises.
Consequently the situation in relation to the ‘Principles and Problems of Shoreline Law’ presently under discussion in Echonetdaily as to whether the shoreline recession at Byron Bay is a natural event or the result of a man-made obstruction becomes an additional issue for the residents involved to consider.
Thomas W Eady, Kingscliff