14.9 C
Byron Shire
June 26, 2024

What’s happening with Lake Ainsworth?

Latest News

Cinema: Despicable Me 4

With the school holidays fast approaching it’s time to rev up the kids to see the ever-lovable Minions in the first Despicable Me movie in seven years.

Other News

Big round of local rugby this weekend as top teams get to flex their muscle

There was another round of big wins for the top teams in the Far North Coast Rugby Union first grade last Saturday, but this weekend’s clash between the Byron Shire Rebels (BSR) and Wollongbar Alstonville Rugby (WAR) could see either team suffer their first loss of the season.

Koalas? Act now

The Forestry Corporation’s Planning Portal shows that forest compartments are on the chopping block before the Great Koala National...

New restaurant opening

Commune Canteen (previously Barrio), is bringing the vibrant spirit of Mediterranean daytime eateries to Byron Bay. A visionary project...

Dirty Three with Eleanor Jawurlngali

New expanses to create. New music to share. The legendary trio Dirty Three are coming to The Green Room, Byron.

Byron business perspectives in a tough winter 

Having traded in Byron Bay for 47 years, Skallyrags owner, Rob Bass, said he’s never seen a winter like this one.

Wallum developer welcomes arrests

The developer behind the beleaguered Wallum urban subdivision on rare and sensitive land in Brunswick Heads welcomed the recent arrests of protectors who have blockaded the site over the last four months.

Lake Ainsworth flooding road below caravan park, 5 May 2022. Photo David Lowe.

Residents of Lennox Head and visitors have been commenting on social media and in person about the ongoing flooding of Lake Ainsworth since torrential rain hit the Northern Rivers in March.

The road below the caravan park (heading to Camp Drewe) has been closed and underwater for weeks, which has impeded access for 4WDs and horses to Seven Mile Beach. The footpath between the lake and the beach has also been submerged.

BBQ underwater at Lake Ainsworth. Photo David Lowe.

While council facilities including BBQs and benches have been impacted, the local wildlife seems to have been enjoying the extra water.

People have been advised not to swim in the flood-affected water.

Some people have been calling for the lake to be pumped out, while others have said that this would be a waste of time, as the lake level reflects the surrounding water table.

Those with long memories say the lake was once able to drain naturally to the sea when it flooded, but human intervention and dune movements have now made this impossible.

Lake Ainsworth flooding across path between lake and beach. Photo David Lowe.

The only thing everyone seems to agree on is no one can remember the lake being this high in the past. It’s going down now, but how long will it take to return to normal?


The Echo sought comment from Ballina Council staff about the situation.

A spokesperson confirmed the height this time (4.14 metres) is a metre higher than the previous high mark (at least since records have been kept).

Are there any health issues with the water in the lake at the moment? ‘Some water monitoring results within the lake are showing elevated bacterial levels associated with the heavy rainfall experienced and limited flushing at the lake,’ said the council spokesperson.

No swimming warning and flooded seats at Lake Ainsworth, 5 May 2022. Photo David Lowe.

‘We are also concerned about submerged structures within the lake (BBQs, tables chairs, tree roots) that may present trip and fall hazards.’

Is it true that the lake was once connected to the sea and was able to drain naturally? ‘Early plans, maps and aerial photography seem to show that the lake was open to the ocean and this seems to be supported by some previous studies looking at what organisms lived in the lake over time,’ said the spokesperson.

Flooded Lake Ainsworth and Lennox Head. Photo David Lowe.

‘It appears that over time the lake closed to the ocean due to the development of the sand dunes in this locality.’

Is it true that the lake height is the same as the water table? ‘Yes, the level of the lake represents the level of the groundwater in the locality. Therefore the level of the lake rises and falls with the groundwater level.’

If the process is left to sort itself out naturally, when do you anticipate the lake might return to its usual level? ‘The lake level has already fallen about 35 cm since its peak and it is expected to continue to fall by approximately 1 cm a day,’ said the council spokesperson.

Lake Ainsworth flooding. Photo Jeff Johnson.

‘This means it could take several months to fall to a more normal level. This process will be slowed by further rainfall.’

With more rain on the way, the lake may not have finished flooding yet. Until then, locals and visitors might have to adjust to nature’s schedule, and enjoy Lake Ainsworth as it is now.

Jeff Johnson’s view

Ballina Shire Councillor Jeff Johnson told The Echo that his conversations with senior staff at Ballina Council have led him to believe that unless the excess water is pumped out of the lake then it’s likely to be flooded for the next six months or more.

Lake Ainsworth flooding across path between lake and beach. Photo David Lowe.

‘The water doesn’t drain through the sand dune like it once did,’ said Cr Johnson. ‘I’d like to see the excess water pumped out and released into the ocean.

‘Council’s environmental officer confirmed that the prolonged flooding has the potential to kill off the surrounding vegetation, including some old culturally significant “singing trees” in the area.

‘At the moment, we have electric BBQ’s under water and access to the Sport and Rec is blocked off. This centre could play a role in providing temporary housing for some of the many displaced people.

Lake Ainsworth flooding across access road below caravan park. 5 May 2022. Photo David Lowe.

‘Getting the water level of the lake down should be considered a priority for a number of reasons and council needs to do more to address this issue,’ said Cr Johnson.

‘Simply waiting for the water to go down will have serious impacts on the surrounding area.’

Cr Johnson said Lennox Residents Association representative Malcolm Milner was also at the meeting and agreed something needed to be done as a matter of urgency.

Mr Milner is in favour of investigating the installation of a an overflow pipe that prevents future flooding. This option, along with pumping out the water will be considered as part of the new Coastal Zone Management Plan that is currently under review.

More stories about Ballina Shire Council:

Campers question Ballina Council management of Flat Rock Tent Park

Visitors to the Ballina Shire and the Northern Rivers have contacted The Echo questioning the reason they have been excluded from the Flat Rock Tent Park between Lennox Head and Ballina. 


MP and Cr call for inclusion of social housing in Ballina

Ballina Shire Council will receive $210,000 through the NSW government’s $100 million Resilient Lands Program to help support the delivery of a range of housing options across the Ballina Shire.


No ‘key worker’ or ‘affordable housing’ for Ballina Council’s Wollongbar development

On the second last piece of Ballina Shire Council-owned residential land they have decided to develop the land with no affordable or public housing components. 


Mullet fishers destroy dunes and native plants at Gawandii Beach, Shaws...

Locals and Tuckombil Landcare have expressed concerns over damage to the dunes at Gawandii Beach at Shaws Bay by fisher people who are accessing the beach for the mullet harvesting season. 


Ballina Council blacklists wrong tree

The Macaranga tanarius is a tree that is commonly seen as a pioneer species in disturbed rainforest areas. In Australia it naturally occurs from the Richmond River, New South Wales to Cooktown in tropical Queensland. So it is with serious...


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. The water from all the housing development and subdivisions are funneling storm water into catchments where it would not normally have gone
    Byron bay was storm water flood rain water from your new housing developments directed into the wrong catchments
    Maybe a little food for thought

  2. When I was a child (in the 60s & 70s)I remember the lake often spilling across the road after we’d had a lot of rain and yes it did drain out toward the northern end of the lake.

  3. This trapped Lake needs a proper clean-out of all the ti-tree sludge and faecal-loads.
    Why would anyone actually risk it and dare to swim in it at any time ?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Do gin and art mix?

  If you’re an artist, and want to win $5,000 for having your art and your name featured on a limited-edition bottle of gin, plus...

The masters of ‘zero to hero’

The masters of ‘zero to hero’ pub rock, The Tenants, are bringing their live show and Aussie humour to Mullum’s Courthouse Hotel for one night only on Thursday, July 4.

Gin with a slice of rainforest

Cape Byron Distillery, the B-Corp certified distillery from Byron Bay has released a gin flavoured with rainforest botanicals carefully selected by the five winning...

Dirty Three with Eleanor Jawurlngali

New expanses to create. New music to share. The legendary trio Dirty Three are coming to The Green Room, Byron.