In 1954 a cyclone came in at the south end of New Brighton and wiped out a whole village of fishing and holiday shacks.
In 1974 waves pushed down Jonson Street as far as the Surfside Hotel (now the Beach Hotel) and smashed the concrete front of the then surf club. Several houses at Belongil went into the sea. The solution then was to drop rusted car wrecks onto the sand. It didn’t work. Then later, rocks were used. It didn’t work. The ocean kept coming.
The beachfront at Cavanbah once boasted a full multiple rainforest dunal system. It has been degraded historically by sand mining, a railway line, four-wheel drives, illegal camping and now a rapidly warming climate. It is now down to its final back dune.
Another major cyclone event and we may well see the ocean enter Shirley Street. In surfing terminology these kind of monster waves are called ‘Bluebeard Swells’; they happen once every 20 or 30 years. We are now more than overdue.
The proposal to dump further rocks at Belongil and take sand from Tallow Beach in an attempt to bolster properties is not only naive folly; it is simply nuts! It insults the Arakwal people across whose land the pipeline would go. It threatens a hugely popular surf beach and could subsequently disturb and destabilise every other beach in the area. It insults the ratepayers of this area, whose money will be used to pay for a hollow attempt to rescue the houses of a wealthy few who were short-sighted enough to build their houses there in the first place.
This proposal is a kneejerk reaction born of an unholy alliance of interested players in an unholy rush to embrace a plan that is as deluded as it is doomed. The only rocks I can see in this proposal are the rocks in the heads of the pro-development bloc of councillors who are pushing this idea.
Surfers, residents and ratepayers – it is time to stand up! The Huns are at the door.
Ron Curran, Mullumbimby