The beach north of Lennox Head was unusually quiet on the weekend, with 4WD traffic blocked from entering due to the dangerous conditions in the previous week.
Instead of being the usual rutted sandy highway, the beach was allowed to revert to its natural state, with terns, oystercatchers, gulls and the occasional person walking a dog. There were also families flying kites, enjoying the serenity.
High seas from recent cyclonic conditions have hammered the dunes, with the problem exacerbated by 4WD tracks running through fragile natural ecosystems parallel to the sea, whether from people escaping high tides or improvising a 4WD rollercoaster through the dunes.
This is obliterating the karkalla and other stabilising species.
There were also signs of improvised tracks and camping areas in the nature reserve behind the beach, which contains banksias, wattles and casuarinas, providing habitat for a wide variety of animals.
Turtles are increasingly visiting the beach, with pippies and crabs also able to avoid being crushed by heavy 4WDs, at least temporarily.
The gate to the beach remains locked for the moment, but the long term future of 4WDs on the beach is yet to be determined by Ballina Shire Council and other stakeholders.
This will be an issue to watch in the forthcoming term of council.