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April 23, 2021

Byron’s Clarkes Beach dunes going going…

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The current high tides are once again causing significant erosion of the dunes at Clarkes Beach in Byron Bay. Photo Rick Duggan.

Aslan Shand

The current high tides are once again causing significant erosion of the dunes at Clarkes Beach in Byron Bay. This has seen mature trees fall onto the beach as the dunes are eaten away.

‘The high tides are presently coming to the bottom of the dunes and they are still very vulnerable to erosion,’ said the Byron Shire Council in a press release.

In response the BSC and Reflections Holiday Parks have closed a number of beach access paths and they are asking people to stay away from the dunes in that area.

‘There is a very steep drop from the top of the dunes to the beach and we have repaired or closed some access paths to make sure that no one gets hurt,’ Chloe Dowsett, Coastal and Biodiversity Coordinator, said.

‘We have also lost more of our concrete access path that was installed for people with mobility devices like wheelchairs.

‘Mature trees and other coastal vegetation have fallen into the ocean and stormwater pipes are exposed,’ Ms Dowsett said.

‘Reflections is also working on the area of Clarkes Beach near the holiday park, to ensure access paths that are not safe are closed, as well as removing rubbish and debris.’

Retreat policy

‘Reflections is doing a number of things to address erosion issues in front of the park and we are a stakeholder in the Coastal Management Plan that Byron Shire Council is developing,’ said a spokesperson for Reflections Holiday Park.

The current policy is one of retreat and leaving the beach to move in its natural cycles. However, Reflections told Echonetdaily that they are ‘working on a long term engineering solution that will be best for the beach, environment, and holiday park’.

‘The current advice is to retreat, which Reflections did last year when it repositioned cabins at its Clarkes Beach Holiday Park further into the park away from the erosion.  Reflections also stabilised camp sites that have slabs by placing them on screw piles which go down into the ground underneath the slab.

‘These erosion events and challenges are similar to those happening up and down the east coast. Erosion at Stockton and Wamberal are examples.’

Sand will return

Ms Dowsett has said that they expect the sand to return in time.

‘The sand will come back with aerial shots showing a slug of sand coming around Wategos and the Pass and this will eventually replenish Clarkes Beach.

‘The southerly swell transport system has finally fired up after a few years of negligible south swell and hopefully if this continues sand will continue to build up.

‘However, it will not rebuild the steep dune escarpment and this will need to be addressed by other coastal management strategies in consultation with NSW Government agencies and other stakeholders,’ she said.

Beach users are reminded that in the meantime there is a lot of exposed rock and pebbles on Clarkes Beach which is difficult for people to negotiate on the high tide.

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  1. Going, going, gone …. the hammer will not fall here on Clarke’s Beach in a real estate auction for the shoreline falls in Climate Change action.
    The tide moves in with such heavy volumes of water and undermines the block of sand of Clarkes Beach and a slice of life falls like the slicing of pieces of cake. Those blocks of sand that have become land are slowly eroded and are washed back to where the sand originally came from, out to sea. The trees fall and whole trees, roots, barks, trunks and leaves float with the current and they die and are living no more
    The beaches of Australia are made like the people of Australia in Byron Bay. They have a grit that holds them together with boulders and rocks in their life that irritates and causes eddies and pools of water and those rocks ever so solid also pushes the tide aside and away when it comes in and ebbs and flows around and across the sand, and then flows out again. It takes some sand away with it, and then a lot of sand away with it, out to sea it also takes a bit of character, but also adds a bit of character that was not there before as the beach with the ocean water a-surging and the wind is always changing and will change the Bay a little faster in the future with increasing Climate Change.
    Such a-changing beach is Clarkes Beach. That great beach was marked on the map of Byron Bay a long, long time ago. Whales have been swimming by for the famous Byron Bay Lighthouse is also nearby lighting the way in the night for passing ships that pass by, and also that lighthouse is for city tourists to visit and to view the vast ocean view, little knowing that Clarke’s Beach is right there at the start of the Bay protected by the rocky shore of Cape Byron just in from a placid place you would not pass up, The Pass. Around the point of Cape Byron the northerly current flows with its whirling waters coming on up around the point it pushes and pressures the sands of the beach, chipping away the grains in the day and the night and in the sun and in the stormy rains.

  2. I would appreciate Rick Duggan identifying the building behind the Clarke’s Beach erosion July 2019. I would like to visit the erosion site this Spring.

    Does The Echo have any records of information about the Mr Clark after whom the beach is named.

    I have an interest in Mineral Sands, and am surprised the erosion has not uncovered the grey/black of mineral sands, in that area. Mr Clark set up originally to mine for gold.

  3. Emily, that was very poetic piece you presented. I appreciate your analigy. However, whilst waxing lyrical, pause to remember the sand dunes remived between 1950 to 1970, fronting Clark’es beach, doubling at least the sand , the tides and cyclonic weather now work their way with the beach.
    The supposed rehabilitation was primarily bitou bush, a weed, from africa, unsuited for purpose. There are dune care volunteers in Lennox – a beach in times past a pebbly-rocky beach, perhap also for Belongil Beach. But the finacial drive behind Reflections aka Clark’s Beach Caravan Park, in all probability does not allow the expertise, , economic flexibility, or interest in vegetation issues, space use, required to protect this rxtremely sensitive sand denuded stretch of Byron coastline, enquiring, studying, pursuing best practice options.


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