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Byron Shire
November 27, 2022

Byron Bay town centre flooded

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The flooding this morning in Byron Bay Arts and Industry Estate. Photo Jeff Dawson.

The town centre of Byron Bay flooded in the early hours of this morning and many locals are saying that it is some of the worst flooding they have ever seen.

With 275mm of rain coming down in the last 24 hours combined with high tides, it is no surprise that the streets ran with water. However, some locals are suggesting that blocked drains and the works on Butler Street for the Byron bypass have significantly increased flooding in the town centre.

Lawson and Middleton Streets were significantly affected along with some streets in the Byron Arts and Industry Estate.

The water came into our building in the early hours of the morning from about 3am,’ said Jeremy Bennett owner of Byron Bay Property Sales business on Lawson Street in Byron Bay. 

The high tide was at 7am but now (11am) it has pretty much cleared.’

The three businesses, Byron Bay Property Sales, Byron Bay luxury homes and Byron Bay Commercial, located in the building have all been affected by the inundation and Mr Bennett said they will have to shut for a few days to get everything sorted out and cleaned up.

Flooding inside Byron Bay Property Sales reached 20cm. Previously it had only flooded a few cm inside. Photo Jeremy Bennett.

Byron bypass work being blamed for flooding – Council say that’s not the case

It has never been as bad as this before. In Ex-Cyclone Debbie in 2017 we got a few centimetres in the building but this time we got about 20cm through the whole building,’ Mr Bennett told Echonetdaily

We’ve lost several computers, furniture and files and filing cabinets. This is definitely the worst it’s ever been.

There are a lot of people saying that it might have been cause by both blocked drains and the current works on Butler Street and the Byron bypass. They are saying that this could be the cause of the flooding as it hasn’t flooded like this in the town before.’

However, a spokesperson for Byron Shire Council has told Echonetdaily that, ‘The culvert constructed as part of Stage 1 of the Byron Bypass project has increased the capacity of the previous culvert. The culvert was specifically sized in accordance with a flood study for the project and the Belongil Creek Floodplain Management Plan to prevent any increase in flood levels. This was a condition of consent for this project. The overall project has no outstanding works in place that have increased flood levels in the Byron Street drain.

Significant rainfall, elevated ocean levels, the low Belongil catchment and poor CBD drainage infrastructure capacity were the primary contributors to the flooding in the Byron CBD. Improvements in drainage capacity necessary in the Byron CBD are examined in our Belongil Creek Floodplain Management Plan. You can read more about the preferred drainage system on pages 26 and 27,’ said the spokesperson.

‘Further to this, a review of drainage maintenance in the CBD will be conducted as part of our post incident review.’

High tide impacted town centre flooding

The Byron Shire Council also said that the impact of the high tide combined with the opening of the entrance to Belongil Creek will have increased the flooding risk. But it also reminds residents and businesses that the Byron Shire is built on a floodplain and that flooding is a natural consequence of that.

‘The heavy rain, in conjunction with a large high tide, have caused flooding in some areas,’ said a Byron Shire Council spokesperson.

‘Byron Shire Council’s crews are continuing to clear drains and manage the various roads issues, with staff also working through the night responding to emergencies.

‘Earlier this week (Monday, 3 February) Council scraped the entrance to Belongil Creek in anticipation of heavy rain. Further work was done yesterday (6 February) to help the sand bar burst just after 3pm yesterday afternoon. The large high tide and heavy seas, particularly have restricted the flow of water from Belongil Creek to the ocean and this has contributed to the flooding in Byron Bay.

Tallow Creek at Suffolk Park opened naturally to the ocean around 4am.’

Council also has staff inspecting infrastructure across the Shire, checking for flood and water damage. This includes sewer and water infrastructure as well as areas in the hinterland that are prone to land slips.

 ‘We did receive a lot of rain in a relatively short timeframe and this will always causes problems but we are working as fast as we can to get things back to normal,’ Phil Warner, acting director infrastructure services, said.

Problems on roads, including flooding and trees and other obstacles should contact Council on 6626 7000.  If reports need to be made after hours the emergency number is 6622 7022.


For the latest flood and weather warnings, rainfall, river level information and forecasts go to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website – www.bom.gov.au.


For help and information about storm and rain events go to www.ses.nsw.gov.au or call 132 500.

Road information

For information on road closures go to www.livetraffic.com or www.myroadinfo.com.au.

To report road closures or trees or obstacles on roads call Council on 6685 9300 or 6622 7022 (Emergency after hours).


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  1. Wow. I thought they fixed that years ago. I think it was 1997 the floods then were thigh deep in Lawson st
    Isnt the town below sea level anyway ? I remember our Industrial Estate block where the salvos are was calf deep and stunk of sewerage 😮

  2. Byron Bay is indeed built on a floodplain, and I have an old arial photo showing that very clearly. I will send it to you if you give me an email address. Regards James Kewley

  3. The town drain going under the railway corridor into the Belongil Drain behind the Hot Bread Kitchen has not changed since it was built in 1894 . The stormwater outlet pipe going thru the Sandhills has not changed since the 1960s.
    Since then there has been a huge increase in hard surfaces providing immediate stormwater run off and not allowing rain water to percolate into the surrounding ground .
    A second stormwater canal under the railway corridor parallel to the existing one is required but that will be a long drawn out process dealing with ARTC (railways).

  4. Must be no true locals left if no one knows heavy rain and high tides can make Byron town center flood badly. It’s not a new problem and it’s not going to be fixed . Oh and it’s not the bypass , that comment made me laugh. Just be happy it doesn’t happen often. Sadly it is a product of location and height. if you landfill the town another 10 feet higher it might help. That will require bulldozing the shops and starting again. LOL. Actually expect it to slowly get worse as sea level rises back up the drainage more. For once, it’s not the councils, fault That’s new.

  5. This flooding is a timely reminder why it’s not good practice to place lots of fill in wetland areas as proposed by the West Byron development which I believe is still on the cards. Wetlands are a relief valve for large rain events and provide vital storage space for rainfall. Allowing water to be slowly released to downstream and the ocean. When filled in to raise new developments above a certain flood level, then the water must have to go somewhere else which can make flooding worse in other parts of the catchment.
    Two other things which will exacerbate the issue will be; increased hard surfaces of the new development causing water to travel faster to other areas, maybe Sunshine Estate causing increased flood risk. Secondly, Councils limited budgets mean cleaning drains of built up sediment and long grass just does not happen, as there are many other competing priorities like fixing roads which are more visible and appealing to residents when done. When drains are not cleaned regularly in this area of very high rainfalls, means floodwaters are stalled and delayed in moving to the ocean and flooding unfortunately is inevitable.
    For Council to say the flooding was inevitable blaming tides is a cop out. With well maintained, cleaned out open drains to Belongil Creek and beyond, these incidents would be reduced.
    Flood design is a black art. It’s all good in theory and on the computer screen but it’s only as good as the maintenance programme which is put in place to clean drains of built up sediment and debris mostly from ongoing development and poorly protected exposed ground earthworks during construction.
    Unfortunately the cleaning of open drains need plant and machinery like excavators and trucks which is expensive and needs to be done on a regular basis in our shire as the grass just grows and grows so fast. It’s a difficult ask for council and impacted residents are the meat in the sand wich in many locations in the shire where flooding events happen on a regular basis like in Byron Bay this week.
    Let’s make sure WEST BYRON never goes ahead as this flooding issue and filling of a critical wetland is one of many issues where it will make a situation even worse.


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