Could the worst of the erosion at Clarks Beach and Main Beach at Byron Bay be over?
“I hope so,” Byron Shire Mayor, Michael Lyon, said.
Council staff and consultants are monitoring the beach closely and indications are that the sand is starting to come back and the process of rebuilding the beach is beginning.
“For almost 12 months we have seen this iconic stretch of coastline absolutely stripped of sand and the dunes decimated so it would be terrific to know that we may have seen the worst of this erosion event,” Mayor Lyon said.
“Aside from the loss of sand, one of the most difficult things for our community to see was metres and metres of vegetation and large trees falling down the steep dune faces to the point where most of it has gone,” Mayor Lyon said.
“Monitoring shows that the sand is starting to push back onto the beach and while this is great news, people must be realistic and know that it may be some years before the damage is fully repaired,” he said.
Chloe Dowsett, Council’s Coast, Biodiversity and Sustainability Coordinator, said aerial images taken every month show the large amount of sand that has flowed around Cape Byron into the Bay, filling in the eastern area and the Pass is now moving onshore.
“It’s a slow and episodic process but it does look like we may have been through the worst of the erosion and the sand is slowly being pushed back onto the beaches,” Ms Dowsett said.
“However, this is just one sand slug, and we will need more to come around the Cape after this one moves through.
“It is going to take time and there may be some storm or swell events that again scour the beaches but, hopefully it will be unlike the conditions over the last several years and that these will be the exception rather than regular events,” she said.
Anticipating the return of the sand Council has applied for State funding that will target the rebuilding and revegetating of the dunes, and restoration of beach access.
“To see the large trees falling onto the beach and into the ocean last year was difficult.
“This vegetation was planted approximately 20 years ago when a significant amount of work by the local Dune Care group, staff and the community was undertaken to establish the coastal vegetation.” Ms Dowsett said.
As terrible as the erosion has been, Council staff and scientists have been collecting information that will be important for when the next erosion event happens.
“All our coastline is subject to the ebbs and flows of nature and we know there will be future erosion events and the data will be valuable for future councils and the community, showing them what to expect, how sand moves up the coast and how to incorporate this into planning for now and the future,” Ms Dowsett said.