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Byron Shire
April 17, 2021

Dune loss at Clarkes Beach

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Len Bates, Mullumbimby

Clarkes Beach is suffering its worst beach and dune loss ever; in fact the dune has now gone.

Twenty years ago there were two dunes at the back of the beach and scraping (using a bulldozer to replenish dunes) used to be done. This was stopped by the environment groups to save the pipi cockle shellfish on the beach that are only there a few times a year.

Once the dune is gone it’s gone forever. The reason it has been left to go is the philosophical approach by some councillors that nature should be allowed to take its course and that by leaving the dune exposed it will lead to the beach being replenished naturally.

That might be the case on some beaches but not in Byron. The sand travels from the south on the current and most of it can’t get around the lighthouse promontory and heads out to sea, finishing up at Tweed Heads.

Twenty years ago the coastal council of NSW president Professor Thom on visiting Byron said the beach dune system should be protected by a toe wall to stop the dune system eroding. This was regarded as a no-go by Council as the cry was ‘no rock walls on the beach’. The result is the beach is eroding all the way from The Pass to the Belongil Estuary. It all needs to be protected by a toe wall to protect the dune and the sand on the beach and be replenished from time to time with sand scraping, otherwise the beach will be no more.

All beaches that have urban areas behind them need protection from the ocean. In Byron township the Middle Pub is two bricks above sea level, that’s why the town centre is protected by the carpark rock wall at the end of Jonson Street.

It’s time to bite the bullet and have a toe wall all the way from The Pass to Belongil Estuary.

Please, no angry responses about rock walls eroding the beach downstream etc; I know that. Get properly informed first before you respond. There are many very detailed studies by ocean engineers, the coastal council, and others on beach erosion in Byron over the years.


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