Damned Marram: Not all grass is good for your surfing

Craig Brokensha
Swellnet Analysis

dsc04559.jpgSpend long enough on any urban beach and you'll eventually see them. They'll materialise on the fourth Sunday of every month, or some such pre-determined time, and toil away removing the Bitou Bush and Privet while restoring the sand dunes to their original state.

Whether it be Bushcare or Landcare, or even Dunecare, community-based groups do a wonderful job of rehabilitating the coastal interface, however the notion that the beaches are reverting 'back to their original state' is a fallacy, and one proven by the plant that is always allowed to stay.

If you're a surfer in Australia then chances are you've walked through this plant. It's part of the journey from the car park to the beach and yet most of it is introduced from overseas.

That's right. Marram grass, that dry, spindly grass scattered across most Australian coastal sand dunes, isn't native to Australia. It was introduced to Australia from Europe in the late 1800's with a very specific purpose: to help stabilise coastal dunes.

The reason Marram is used is because it's very good at what it does. In fact it's better at stabilising dunes than the native Spinifex grass. Marram spreads rapidly, it overtakes native sand dune species, and it mitigates the natural changes to coastal dunes caused by large swell.

The problem, at least from a surfer's point of view, is that Marram grass is too effective.

                                                                                                        *****

The purpose of sand dunes is to provide a natural defence mechanism against high wave energy. When a large swell hits the coast, waves 'grab' sand from the dunes, transport it offshore thereby causing the swell to break further out to sea. The resultant shift in sand buffers the dunes from the full impact of the storm.

Once conditions settle down, the sand is slowly deposited back towards shore and onto the foredune.

Native sand dune species have been part of this feedback system for many thousands of years, helping to trap and create dunes that are naturally lower and less hummocky in shape. In contrast, when Marram grass is introduced to a beach the dunes take a higher, steeper-faced and asymmetric profile.

w1200_h678_fmax.jpgMarram roots extend further into dunes than those of native grasses. The result of this is that when Marram-infested dunes are eroded by storm waves, large steep gouges are taken from the dune leaving it even more susceptible to further erosion.

If you live near a beachbreak think about the last time a large storm swell hit and how it cut into the dunes. Did you have to clamber down vertical metres of dune to get to sea level? If so, there's a very good chance it was caused by Marram grass or its close cousin Sea Wheatgrass.

While Marram grass is very effective in protecting coastal property, its use has a negative effect on the surf. Steeper dunes and beach profiles cause backwash and wobble as energy from receding waves pushes back out to sea. The most obvious example of this is Curl Curl on Sydney's Northern Beaches, though all beaches with Marram are affected to some degree.

Studies along Manawatu Beach in New Zealand found that foredunes formed with Marram grass have heights over 6 metres and slopes up to 28 degrees, while dunes formed with native grass were only 0.5m in height and had slopes of just 14 degrees.

Aside from backwash energy, there are other side-effects from Marram grass.

The establishment of taller dunes also locks in sand and vegetation creating permanence in a zone that has for millenia been in flux. Recently there has been consternation from surfers at North Narrabeen where Birdwood Dune has built up to an unprecedented height. Similar worries have been expressed at Woonona near Wollongong, where the local dune is now heavily vegetated. The sand contained in both those dunes, and many others around the coast, should be moving between the beach and the surf zone.

The result is an abundance of sand above the high tide mark and less sand below it.

Of course, the reason councils and community groups persist with Marram grass is because it is excellent at stabilising dunes and protecting expensive properties behind it. And although it's an introduced species it manages to balance the ever-changing coastal interface to a degree that most people – save the odd grumble from surfers like us – are happy with.

Just don't ever say that the coast is in its original condition. //CRAIG BROKENSHA & STU NETTLE

(Photo of erosion at Wanda by The Leader/John Veage)

Comments

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Wednesday, 7 Oct 2015 at 8:22pm

Can you send this to Parks Vic?
Marram is all through the peninsula back beaches and is constantly mentioned by the "older" surfers around here as to why the banks aren't as consistently good as they were in years gone by. Get rid of it!

plops's picture
plops's picture
plops commented Wednesday, 7 Oct 2015 at 9:57pm

And while they are at it perhaps they could remove the tonnes of Ti tree branches they buried the dunes at Gunnmatta with nearly a decade ago?

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 11:52am

And still do

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 2:44pm

From my memory it came to fame in the early 70's as a stabilser against the erosion caused by dune buggies before they were banned. Only thing they could establish after the trashing the dunes got. All Craig said is right on the money the stuff is a weed but tell that to Parks Vic or the SS as I like to refer to them. At present because of this weed you need a monster swell and high tide to rip the crapper out of the dunes and deposit sand off shore, then the banks come back. I remember the opposition to its planting back in the day and it was all about the change in the shape of the dunes (steep and high). I always thought it was Seth African.

plops's picture
plops's picture
plops commented Friday, 9 Oct 2015 at 10:47am

The St Andrews stretch through to Alison Ave would have to be one of the most dramatically altered stretch on dunes in Australia. The older generation surfers from the Peninsula all agree this stretch once held the best banks and now really hold nothing over 3 foot.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Friday, 9 Oct 2015 at 12:14pm

For sure I remember when you could drive your car all the way down to Moana from Ocean Drive. Easy to get bogged though had to get the big run up. Could park right on the beach in the late 70's early 80's. The area was very denuded and most of the growth since seems to be native veg rather the Marram which is a good thing although there is a stack of Coast Wattle which is a bit of a weed here. However at the water line the dunes are super steep and high with Marram everywhere and no Spinifex sericeus to be seen. This is a contrast with Westernport where there is still plenty of Spinifex and the dunes are flatter. I think it all goes back to the dune buggy days when they planted a shit load of it on the ocean beaches.

wellymon's picture
wellymon's picture
wellymon commented Wednesday, 7 Oct 2015 at 9:08pm

x2 GF

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Wednesday, 7 Oct 2015 at 9:12pm

Thanks for that Craig. This year's storms have added significant height to the dunes at North Curl Curl. I hadn't known about the relationship with Marram. Having surfed there for over fifty years the changes have been pretty obvious. The banks used to extend much further out and be much shallower. Often now the banks are little more than shore breaks.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno commented Wednesday, 7 Oct 2015 at 9:50pm

Great article, this one is obvious in so many of the beachies we surf. Thank you, just shared with grom as part of ongoing natural environments of Australia topic.

Anyone for a list of areas, or pics of beachies that remain in their non-Marram 'natural' state?

alakaboo's picture
alakaboo's picture
alakaboo commented Wednesday, 7 Oct 2015 at 10:09pm

Good article and important point, but the second photo is of coastal spinifex on the Gold Coast. The reason it is so steep is because it is still wet after a storm erosion event and hasn't slumped yet.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 9:09am

Cheers 'Boo. Good info RE wet sand, might leave the photo there as an illustration of that.

garnget's picture
garnget's picture
garnget commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 12:00am

It would be interesting to know when they started to plant marran grass in the coastal dunes . And then when coastal dunes where fenced off and let marran grass to overtake the native vegetation .

Average's picture
Average's picture
Average commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 7:06am

Concrete retaining walls and other man-made structures (groynes) do their bit to disrupt the natural flow of sand too. I'm sure there are far more cases of poorer wave quality than improved wave quality from human influence.

emrico1's picture
emrico1's picture
emrico1 commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 8:11am

I'm so pleased to see this story. Thanks!

Not only are the banks often effected negatively but the fine white sand that is carried by the wind from exposed dunes is locked away so we end up with much smaller browner grittier and less appealing beaches... People move to be close to these beautiful sandy beaches then destroy them in the name of conservation.

I have seen Parks and Wildlife actively planting in National Parks, in places where there are no houses for miles and absolutely no need for invasive planting. Then watch the quality of the surf slowly fade and the beach turn to a rocky mess. It's an environmental tragedy perpetuated by the people tasked with protecting it.

Please. Stop the dune planting.

calmbutnot's picture
calmbutnot's picture
calmbutnot commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 9:42am

the banks on the Goldy have never been worse.
now I know why !
i'll be pulling some weeds each and every time i goto the beach from now on.

Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 11:00am

Maybe we should call it "developer's weed"??

wally's picture
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wally commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 12:51pm

Most of the dune grass on the Gold Coast is spinifex, I think. You see those spikey little spinifex tumbleweeds (seed balls) in and near the grass.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 3:04pm

You're right Wal. We've had a slight revision on the spread of Marram; seems it isn't found as much in QLD as the rest of Oz.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 10:30am

A great diagram here this journal paper The Impact of Exotic Dune Grass Species on Foredune Development in Australia and New Zealand: a case study of Ammophila arenaria and Thinopyrum junceiforme.

"Comparison of the foredune morphology before and after Ammophila invasion, for the central dune system of Mason Bay"

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 11:32am

I'm not sure this is scientific enough Craig.

As Boo noted, spinifex dominated dunes also get the steep storm scarp after erosion events.

You'd have to look at when Marram was introduced to see whether it could be a causative factor in beachbreak quality decline.
IE if it was introduced 50 years ago or more then that is within the lifetime of most of the surfers complaining about deteriorating banks.

h_b_bear's picture
h_b_bear's picture
h_b_bear commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 12:36pm

Good luck with your message that we should allow more dune erosion.

Thanks to the global warming and rising sea level crowd every foot of beach is sacred. Any loss is regarded as another sign of the impending apocalypse.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 1:41pm

Steve, here is a great graph showing the proliferation of Marram across Southern Australia since the late 1800's.

1980's through to now tells the story. The slump into the current decade is beacuse of the running record.

 

 

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 1:41pm

To be honest I also think the effect of sand being tied up in bigger dune systems would be far more pronounced south of Sydney than north where the majority of inshore sand is being carried north as part of the total sand transport budget.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 1:45pm

Maybe. But that north flowing sand only begins at the Clarence. South of there the sand stays local.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 1:47pm

Yes the spread shows it a biggest issue from the Mid North Coast, South.

geoffrey's picture
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geoffrey commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 1:56pm

i completely agree with this article, and would like to share some of my observations of a couple of beaches in the illawarra which have had dune restoration undertaken over the last 6 or so months. please keep in mind that im not an expert and also not completely sure on the exact details of all im about to write (which plant species have been re planted etc), but it would be easy to find out if you are interested.

wollongong beaches have been in terrible shape for as long as i can remember (10-15 years of usable/trustworthy memory) with the scarping, shitty plants all over the dunes etc, all the stuff explained in this article. some of the beaches are/were in worse shape than others. they got so bad that in some places the dunes and their vegetation had blocked the view from the lifeguard towers. so the council agreed to try dune restoration at a few places.

first to my knowledge was woonona, and very quickly the beach was in great shape again and the banks improved greatly. woonona as i remember it from when i lived up that way a couple of years before the restoration was so bad that on high tide there was literally no beach and the place was just a big hole, constantly plagued by backwash. the second one that i know of they have done it on was towradgi, and within a week a great bank or 2 has formed in front of the dune restoration area. i believe they have done it at port kembla beach, but it wasnt in such as bad shape as the others and did regularly form okay banks nevertheless it had good banks. (sorry for spilling the beans, its for science i promise) i believe they have done it at a few other beaches and through the grape vine i heard that my observations were pretty similar to the other improved areas. its a shame they will only be undertaking this work in and around lifeguard towers but i believe once they see the success, it could possibly become more widespread.

couple more disclaimers: we havent had a monstrous beach stealing southerly swell in a while so i cant really comment on how they held up under these conditions, and i dont always frequent the 3 beaches ive mentioned in this article this is just from a few observations at each over about 6 months and from a bit of talk around the lunch table at work.

all in all, agree with this article and hopefully councils can find a workable solution.

first time ill give wollongong council a thumbs up in a long time.

sorry about all punctuation, spelling and sentences that done make sense, i wrote this in 1 sitting in my lunch break.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 2:04pm

What do you mean by dune restoration Geoff?
\
I thought the marram grass planting was part of dune restoration?

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 2:11pm
Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 2:13pm

Also thanks for the comments Geoffrey, glad to see the banks come good after the dunes were removed of invasive vegetation and reshaped.

geoffrey's picture
geoffrey's picture
geoffrey commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 3:52pm

freeride76 wrote: What do you mean by dune restoration Geoff?
\
I thought the marram grass planting was part of dune restoration?

hey mate, the dune resoration from my observation has been get the diggers in and scalp back the vegetation to a larger dune type setup and i heard they planted something back in them. i assumed marram grass or bitou bush was the problem earlier due to the fact that when i saw a scarped beach it would always look like the second picture in the article. disgusting roots and clumps of grass and half small trees and bushes hanging down the sandcliff face. also the article said that marram (and i assume bitou) was introduced a century ago for dune stablisation. hopefully the council didnt rip it all out just to replant it. though stranger things have happened.

im not one of those guys that can walk around and recognise a tree or plant by species so unfortunately im not too sure what was there before and what is there now. one fear i hold is that whilst it all looks great at the moment with the beach massive again and nice dunes at the back, the plants they replanted are obviously only new and hopefully they dont overtake the beach again. again im nervous because i know this resoration took place to improve the view from the lifeguard tower, not improve the surfable banks at the beaches.

so far so good, time will tell, fingers crossed.

calmbutnot's picture
calmbutnot's picture
calmbutnot commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 3:02pm

those do-gooder planty people have been up at the spit on the gold coast for the past few years, "restoring" the dunes, but if they really wanted to restore it to its natural environment it'd look like this

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 3:18pm

Valid article.

Another point to note, may be the overall volume of sand on certain beaches. I remember seeing a file photo from 1920 of a beach i used to visit . There was significantly far less sand, almost to the point of no sand at all(in photo).

I think the biggest problem with overall surf and beach quality is coastal development (which is rife).

Another thing to note is the overall redirection of water from storms.
In short
The way water naturally flows towards the ocean, has been totally redirected (even from inland areas). Every road , storm water pipe, roof drain, lawn, football field.......has created a maze.That in turn redirected the rain water. Dissipation also occurs to the overall force of water. Slowing down the arrival of water to streams and rivers, which in turn distribute the sand to ocean/or remove it to create those great river mouth banks.

southey's picture
southey's picture
southey commented Saturday, 10 Oct 2015 at 1:10am

Lanky Dean wrote: Valid article.

Another point to note, may be the overall volume of sand on certain beaches. I remember seeing a file photo from 1920 of a beach i used to visit . There was significantly far less sand, almost to the point of no sand at all(in photo).

I think the biggest problem with overall surf and beach quality is coastal development (which is rife).

Another thing to note is the overall redirection of water from storms.
In short
The way water naturally flows towards the ocean, has been totally redirected (even from inland areas). Every road , storm water pipe, roof drain, lawn, football field.......has created a maze.That in turn redirected the rain water. Dissipation also occurs to the overall force of water. Slowing down the arrival of water to streams and rivers, which in turn distribute the sand to ocean/or remove it to create those great river mouth banks.

I'm with you LD on this . And have said as much in a local Vic thread about beach bank quality a while back . Don't forget in an old natural dune setup that often the natural undulation would have rain full in the coastal fringe run and pool,in low points that would In turn seep into the freshwater table that I turn flows back out to sea above the salt water table at the waters edge . This I believe helps the gutters that forms the rips that massage the banks especially the long Rip banks that Vic is famous for . Open fine sand from unvegetated or native sparse veg helps the sand get blown back out into the lineup /water edge , the extra freshwater runoff seeds the gutter/rip to sculp this additional sand to perfection . So I personally see it as a two edge sword . Development , be it seaside car parks , road ways or even housing developments will alter this natural ground water flow . St Andrews anyone .

" SA's Reserve Capacity "

Wharfjunkie's picture
Wharfjunkie's picture
Wharfjunkie commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 7:30pm

There is no point in lobbying to bureaucrats or talking the only option is direct action.

Surfers need to either implement strategic planned burn offs on offshore days, go for a walk along the dunes with diluted glycophosphate or just do what we have been doing for years shit in the dunes and allow to decompose over time.

hammo's picture
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hammo commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 7:50pm

Well written guys. Clearly highlights another of the coastal issues brought about by our love of the coast. But what baseline condition that we try and aspire to achieve? the photo shows 1986 but clearly the coast was well developed then…. what were these beaches like 100 years ago? It is not an isolated issue - surfers are among the people who have moved to the coast and affected the natural systems.

redsands's picture
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redsands commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 9:18pm

Totally agree with you guys.Start at Bombo and go north and play spot the beach that looks the same or breaks the same from 20 year ago.You won't even get into double digits.

bonza's picture
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bonza commented Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 9:24pm

nice article SN. Bitou was introduced largely in part post Rutile mining along the NSW coast for dune restoration. I'm not familiar with Marram but perhaps introduced in part at the same period for the same purpose due in response to the Rutile mining? someone here will know. Marram appears listed as of signficance the further south you go. surely their part in restoration planting is dated, not a current practice??? next time you see one of those land/dune/bush care lurkers give 'em a nod of appreciation. they give a fuck. get out there and help them.. constantly surprised at the minority no hope, no idea, abusing whingers out there.. anyway nice article and mostly great feedback. thanks for the teachin

JohnnoPI's picture
JohnnoPI's picture
JohnnoPI commented Friday, 9 Oct 2015 at 8:53am

Marrum grass has destroyed the banks at woolamai on Phillip Island As a surfer who started there in the early 70s I remember driving in to the beach and having A frame banks from one end to the other
No more can you go there and know there will be great waves Areas right on the beach have steep dunes with some spots now under 10mtres of sand where cars were parked
Yes they have stabilised the dunes but they get higher and sand no longer returns to the ocean Typical government departments They same one that just burnt half of Victoria in a controlled burn

Woof woof 41's picture
Woof woof 41's picture
Woof woof 41 commented Thursday, 4 Jan 2018 at 1:02am

Yep was scrolling down to see if someone had written about wollamai!
I remember before the new road and I think the new weed! Correct me if I'm wrong..
You could even go sandboarding down quite large dunes at the main car park and go flying out onto the beach.
Now not a chance they are so low compared to then its not funny.
Sandbanks absolutely changed at low tide they used to go out about 100meters which you could walk on.
Then surf where you walked at high.

JohnnoPI's picture
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JohnnoPI commented Thursday, 4 Jan 2018 at 10:11am

If you remember all these things and surfed down the island all those years ago we probably know each other There were always A frame banks from ocean reach to majics and big barren sand dunes all the way down Now they just get bigger and steeper covered with grass and less sand in the ocean Yes you could walk out on the banks and yes you surfed those spots at high This stabilisation ( as they call it) was more a money saving venture to stop the sand being blown across the road many a time I am tempted to take weed killer with me every time I go down and clean a little patch every time What we need is a silent revolution to get rid of the grass

jt24's picture
jt24's picture
jt24 commented Friday, 9 Oct 2015 at 9:32am

Great article fellas. Up here on the north coast Marrams not a problem, it was planted here and there but didn't persist and died off after a few years. Most of the beach dunes I see come and go with weather impacts but it seems to me that more sand is being lost than replaced, with many dunes now having the banksias falling into the ocean and only a few building up. All this sand going back into the water hasn't improved the surf in most places I know, some places always have crappy surf. It doesn't seem to matter what
kind of veg is there, the power of the ocean is king. Dunes are always changing, they've been burnt, grazed, sandmined, concreted, planted, reshaped, hard to know exactly what original would look like in most cases.

kslice's picture
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kslice commented Friday, 9 Oct 2015 at 12:32pm

The final paragraph is brilliant!

"to protect expensive properties behind it."

and

"Just don't ever say that the coast is in its original condition. "

If there were no 'expensive properties' and humans colonising the beach fronts, ploughing the land, running sewerage pipes and destroying the native flora & fauna, then there would be no need to try and 'regenerate' it and any form. Nature would just do it's thing, by itself.

alakaboo's picture
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alakaboo commented Friday, 9 Oct 2015 at 9:19pm

I'd hazard a guess that for Curl Curl and many other east coast beaches the management of the lagoon entrance for flooding and water quality purposes would be more important than the type of grass. Not to mention the seawalls and breakwalls.

jackshepherd's picture
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jackshepherd commented Sunday, 11 Oct 2015 at 8:05am

On the Mornington Peninsula, Parks Vic have huge emphasis on protecting the Hooded Plovers which are on their way to extinction. The marram grass has got to be having an effect on their numbers. Here's an extract from an article on Parks website.

"Displacement of native grass communities by marram grass could be contributing
to the loss of beach nesting sites of shoreline birds. Hooded Plovers use sand dune blow out areas for nesting sites. These blow out sites are being stabilised and overgrown by marram grass and it is likely that this is contributing to the decline in hooded plover numbers around the State."

Its a shame that peoples properties are more important than wildlife and good waves.
Cant they just let nature take it course?

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Tuesday, 13 Oct 2015 at 4:31pm

Hey table

I am the bone

andrew-pitt's picture
andrew-pitt's picture
andrew-pitt commented Tuesday, 13 Oct 2015 at 12:38pm

yet again, another great article Craig.
I suspect the key issue here for surfer is, not so much that Marram Grass is superior at trapping sand, but that the front of the foredune is defined by a uniformly straight fence, which, in a mirror image, encourages the formation of a uniformly straight shoreline and straight outside bar, which results in close out banks.
The compromise would be - to encourage your mates in DuneCare to put in a meandering fence line, complete with dune blow outs (google it), and large gaps in the fencing, to encourage a shoreline with cusps, to result in banks with more variation and less closeouts.
Ban the straight fence!

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 13 Oct 2015 at 1:02pm

Thanks Andy, yeah those beaches with the dune blow outs seem to be the best bank producers, and are needed to keep the dune system in a constant flux. If closed up, everything them starts to become more stabilised.

blindboy's picture
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blindboy commented Tuesday, 13 Oct 2015 at 9:02pm

I'll back that theory. There is something to be said for fencing off the back of the dunes but fencing the front is crazy. One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the incredible impact of single wind storms in transporting sand into the dunes. If you want a measure of this have a shower at the northern end of the car park behind Curl Curl. The sand has reduced its height by a metre and that is behind the dunes. The peaks of some dunes I would estimate are nearly two metres higher than. a year ago.

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming commented Tuesday, 13 Oct 2015 at 7:12pm

I actually heard today from a fairly reliable source that down here at Phillip Island the department that manage most of our beaches/coastline (Phillip Island Nature parks) are actually looking into treating marram grass as a weed with removal and a poisoning program.

This would be an amazing step forward if this happened.

For further reference and common sense.

General Social issues: Rita Panahi & Lauren Southern
Indigenous issues: Jacinta Price and Anthony Dillion
Gender: Debra Soh.
Islam: Armin Navabi & Brigitte Gabriel
Population: Dick Smith

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 13 Oct 2015 at 9:18pm

This is happening in Tasmania, and also in other parts of the country as it is being as you said, treated as a pest/weed. Lets hope they continue to try and deal with this species across the board. The only problem is how rapid it spreads, it's an uphill battle.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 15 Oct 2015 at 2:13pm

An amazing and astounding photo of Curly in the 1950's!

This would have to be one of the most altered Sydney beaches around. These days that whole dune system is nowhere to be seen, wow!

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Thursday, 15 Oct 2015 at 4:58pm

My understanding of the local history is that Curl Curl actually had the largest dunes on the NB but they were sand mined from the 1920s and later bulldozed during WW2 so that they would not provide cover for a Japanese landing. I have seen photos of the dunes before the sand mining and they were very tall with a thick vegetation cover. The photograph then shows an already seriously degraded system with no vegetation and I suspect very little height. In the late 50s the area was used as a tip so that when I first began surfing there in the early 60s we used to walk across a totally flat compressed surface with bed springs, bits of car bodies and assorted rubbish sticking up through it.
In the early 70s the council got funding under a local employment scheme and created the lay out that now exists. The dunes are now taller than I have ever seen them but the banks were much better in the 60s and 70s, at least until Cyclone Colin smashed them. Now the lagoon......but that's another issue.

Craig's picture
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Craig commented Thursday, 15 Oct 2015 at 5:05pm

Thanks for the history lesson Blindboy!

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Thursday, 15 Oct 2015 at 2:38pm

I'd say Cronulla would take that prize Craig

Craig's picture
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Craig commented Thursday, 15 Oct 2015 at 2:42pm

Ah yes, the mining of the dunes there is horrific.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 20 Oct 2015 at 2:00pm

A great example of a dune blowout mentioned by Andrew Pitt from the Filipe/France video on the front page.

This is what you want your beach/dune system to look like.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Wednesday, 21 Oct 2015 at 7:27am

You know when i was younger i did a thing that was like work for the dole but you volunteered for it(my Auntie made me do it when i was living with her) and we did all kinds of land care stuff and also worked with council etc doing coastal stuff and they made us plant out big dune blow outs with marram grass and told us how bad the dune blows were …..Bastards they made me fuck up my own beachies :C

For further reference and common sense.

General Social issues: Rita Panahi & Lauren Southern
Indigenous issues: Jacinta Price and Anthony Dillion
Gender: Debra Soh.
Islam: Armin Navabi & Brigitte Gabriel
Population: Dick Smith

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Wednesday, 21 Oct 2015 at 10:23am

Incredible, I think the management plan these days would be vastly different.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Wednesday, 21 Oct 2015 at 2:24pm

Yep that's the Peninsula

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Wednesday, 21 Oct 2015 at 6:46pm

Good point Craig, some people see a sand blow and they freak out, thinking that it's erosion and therefore undesirable but as you've pointed out, it's a natural and essential part of dune building.

Jonathan Halloran's picture
Jonathan Halloran's picture
Jonathan Halloran commented Wednesday, 21 Oct 2015 at 3:50pm

Wow. I'd like to help somehow. I have HEAPS of time these days :(

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Wednesday, 21 Oct 2015 at 5:41pm

...but we should give credit where it is due to the single greatest factor in destroying natural dune structure and the banks that it supported ......yep good old Rio Tinto....sand miners of enormous lengths of the East Coast and whose rehabilitation consisted of bull dozing the area flat and planting bitou bush. It all happened a long time ago but some things are worth remembering!

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 9 Jun 2016 at 6:57am

A cool little vid posted on Facebook following the recent storm swell showing how Woonona handled it much better than previous events now the Marram Grass has been removed from the foredune.

https://www.facebook.com/simon.avery.79/videos/985974811518548/?pnref=story

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Friday, 26 Oct 2018 at 4:56pm

https://www.parks.tas.gov.au/file.aspx?id=6737

Here's the Tassie Parks & Wildlife calling a spade a spade:
Marram Grass - A hazard to our beaches

How would we begin to remove it all on a nationwide scale?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 26 Oct 2018 at 5:12pm

I recently revisited this VJ. Did a bit of reading around on the topic. From what I can gather it was expected that much of the marram planted along the NSW east coast would die off shortly after it was originally planted, but by then the dune ecosystem would be thriving and native plants would take over.

It didn't work out that way of course. The marram didn't propogate, which was expected, however the original plants lasted far longer than expected.

The exception is in Tasmania where the climate is most similar to its native Europe and so it is seeding and spreading. Hence it's facing a more serious problem than up north, and it's about time it was seen as that.

I'm thinking of a follow up to the above article soon. Gotta get those facts in order first.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Friday, 26 Oct 2018 at 5:54pm

Look forward to it. Here is one environmental cause we can all agree that action will improve something we all desire - good beachbreak banks. And help native species, natural environment.

This link is quite good - more detailed map of spread of marram in Tas and Bass Strait islands on page 3.

https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/Documents/Beach-Weed-Strategy.pdf?details=true

Did you still have the pic, about 10 years old now, of that magic place I sent you? Recently reviewed it on google earth for comparison, as a natural dunal system with native veg, it sure is dynamic. But ingredients for good waves remain.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 26 Oct 2018 at 6:53pm

I sure do. I keep reflecting upon it too. It wasn't until you showed me that pic and told me about the place that I realised the problem was more widespread than I thought.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Friday, 26 Oct 2018 at 5:36pm

This isn’t about marram, but.....

Anyone noticed the new National Parks predilection for condoning off the dunes several metres away from their base and on the beach. I’ve been seeing this in several places at widespread locations around the country.

Terrible seeing a coppers log and plastic coated wire fences sticking out of the sand , whilst not in the middle of the beach , it’s still a fence sticking out of a pristine beach and a couple of metres from the edge.

Particularly galling when it’s built under the guise of protecting the dunes , then when a recent storm has washed away most of the dune as they are designed to do , leaving the beach scattered with uprooted coppers logs and twisted tangles of wire.

dimdim's picture
dimdim's picture
dimdim commented Friday, 26 Oct 2018 at 5:57pm

Informative article.

Ray Shirlaw's picture
Ray Shirlaw's picture
Ray Shirlaw commented Friday, 26 Oct 2018 at 7:51pm

Too right Blowin,hard to tell who's worse sometimes,nat parks or local councils wasting thousands of dollars "improving" (usually destroying)what was beautiful and replacing it with a hideously dysfunctional coastal eyesore. I'm sure this is not news to anyone.

scottindo's picture
scottindo's picture
scottindo commented Friday, 26 Oct 2018 at 10:33pm

Thanks to Gold coast city council for totally fucking up Kirra point and little groin with sand dunes.