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Byron Shire
May 10, 2021

‘Sinkholes’ appearing in Byron Bay

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Massive, spontaneous potholes like this one are a common occurrence in Byron Bay's Sunrise. Some residents claim they are sinkholes. Photo supplied
Massive, spontaneous potholes like this one are a common occurrence in Byron Bay’s Sunrise. Some residents claim they are sinkholes. Photo supplied


Chris Dobney

Byron Shire Council say they have fixed a massive pothole in Sunrise Boulevard that opened up ‘overnight’ this week, according to an Echonetdaily reader.

Long-time Sunrise resident Niqui Yazdi said she believed the pothole, which was large enough to put a wheelie bin in, was in fact a ‘sinkhole’ and that a dozen of them had appeared equally spontaneously around the Byron Bay suburb of Sunrise in the last decade.

Ms Yazdi said a similar sinkhole that appeared ‘just around the corner from this one’ about a month ago was large enough to fit a shopping trolley.

‘We do get a lot of potholes out here but these along Sunrise Boulevard can be quite deep. They can be in excess of a metre deep,’ she told Echonetdaily.

‘Council’s theory is that there might be a leaking water pipe under the road,’ she said, ‘but some of these holes actually occur in side-roads as well, so it’s not just Sunrise Boulevard.’

Toilet shifting

‘This whole area is built on sand, and the theory was given to me by a plumber a few years ago that a lot of the houses out here actually have gaping holes underneath them where sand has literally sunk or shifted.’

Ms Yazdi said her toilet was ‘actually moving’ and ‘that was his theory as to why the toilet was shifting: there wasn’t anything solid underneath.’

‘He says he does find that in some of the houses out here he finds there are sinkholes where the sand has literally shifted underneath the houses.

She added that a few years ago one pothole that opened up in the road ‘would easily have swallowed a motorbike’.

A Byron Shire Council spokesperson said the large pothole had been fixed.

The council’s director of infrastructure services, Phil Holloway said Sunrise Boulevard’s recent sinkhole is not a common occurrence in Byron Bay.

He said sink holes can be caused by a number of reasons including natural processes or human activity such as failed infrastructure.

‘They can be a couple feet in diameter as was the case in Sunrise, or as was recently seen in Sydney, very large. They can appear suddenly or gradually over time,’ Mr Holloway noted.

‘Water erosion can hollow out naturally occurring underground cracks or small cavities.  When the surface can no longer support its weight, it collapses.

‘Similarly failed underground infrastructure such water main breaks, sewer collapses or old pipes giving way can cause a hole to appear.

‘The Sunrise Boulevard sinkhole was due to a collapsed drainage pipe under the road and was repaired immediately,’ he said.

Mr Holloway said the pipe in the area has collapsed several times over the years due to its age and on each occasion repaired.

‘Following the recent collapse, we are sending a camera down the pipe to check for any further defects. If found, they will be prioritised into our works program.

‘Drains are periodically inspected with a camera to help inform drainage programs,’ he said.

Mr Holloway also pointed out that road and drainage engineering over the decades has changed significantly.

‘What was once acceptable 20 years ago, is not the case today.

‘In Byron Shire we have a significant number of old roads and drainage that need to be replaced and combined with sandy soils on the coastline, it is challenging problem.’

He said he wasn’t aware of a resident’s claim on ABC radio that Sunrise had vacant holes underneath the ground.

‘It’s the first I’ve heard of such a thing,’ he said.

‘In the past 7 years, I’m aware of a handful of minor sinkholes occurring throughout Byron Shire. They have occurred due to failed pipes, following rain events,’ he said.

Sinkholes should be reported immediately to the council on 6685 9300 during office hours weekdays or the emergency number 6622 7022 after hours.

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  1. Fix The Roads & Streets. The shire council should be ashamed of the state in which the roads are around the local area. Going over to Butler Street is a nightmare, just having to drive in or out of Bryon is a joke. Instead of fighting people in courts wanting to do better for the town get in and clean the streets up and provide more lighting so it is safe walking the streets of a night.When are the CCTV camera going to be installed ? Also in Bay St there has been a car parked for 3 weeks ans still nothing done, the rangers drive pass, no tickets have been issued so wouldn’t vans park for free these people are.

  2. DEEeeeeeR
    as my brother so rudely used to say to me and my sister when we were all children ( er sound held long and said with great conviction when he though that we were being stupid) .

    The houses are built on sand.fULL STOP.
    No further explanation required. ……………….

    Further Musings from MatiJo
    And the houses on sand will fall down . ALL in GOOD TIME.

    as my Mother used to say.

    We lack The Common sense to speak the truth .

    People dont want to speak the truth because they have invested their money in REAL ESTATE .

    We mostly dont want to acknowledge when we have been have been foolish or greedy or whatever it may be.
    We Dont like to acknowledge out mistakes so we cover them up and deny the obvious truth which is staring us in the face. These youses ought never to have been built with any idear that they would last for a long time. Shacks is what you have at the beach. Places you go to to have a holiday and which dont cost an arm and a leg to build. ……….
    DER DIR DUR and three times der .

    The biggest Dir around is that we dont listen to the Original people on the Planet (who were living in harmony here with the land for thousands of years.Before we came. .
    The voice of the lLnd and its people is screaming at us if we choose to listen .
    However we dont Listen ….. Instead we choose to judge the original people for the pollution which we have inflicted upon them (alcohol, money corruption etc) and forget the pure stream which was flowing before we got here such a very short time ago..So we miss the Wisdom . Such a Shame.

    Permanent houses on an ocean edge. which could be swept away in a moment and we continue to turn a Blind Eye because we think we need to protect our investment. Der.
    hi to any of my Friends in Byron who might happen to be reading this, I miss you all. I am still in LOndon. L ove MatiJo

  3. Thankyou Echo, for passing on the second hand anecdotal theory of a plumber about sinkholes in sand. I have been somewhat amused if not enlightened any.

  4. This is just to let everyone know that I have successfully fooled the messaging system and I am in fact a robot and they didn’t stop me.


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