Clarkes Beach stripped by erosion

Bruce Mackenzie
Swellnet Dispatch

Clarkes Beach at Byron Bay has been washed away by what locals are describing as the worst erosion in thirty years.

No longer a pristine stretch of sand, there has been severe erosion at Byron Bay's Clarkes Beach.

Tonnes of sand has been stripped from Clarkes Beach, with the remaining dunes teetering on the brink of collapse.

Byron Mayor Simon Richardson said the sand, which is usually swept around Cape Byron to replenish beaches in the bay, was not getting into the sheltered corner.

"We've had king tides and various things that are all exacerbating [it]," he said.

"It seems that we've got three or four relatively unusual environmental effects all happening on top of each other.

"It does certainly seem to be the worst for many decades.

"There's serious damage along the dunal system getting up towards the holiday park there, and it's really difficult when nature has decided to play a little differently.

Calm before the storms: Byron Bay's Clarkes Beach is usually an idyllic stretch of sand.

"So council with [Cape Byron] Marine Park and [Reflections] Holiday Parks are really scampering to shore up infrastructure there."

The erosion has come in the middle of a school holiday period in NSW.

Jack Plimmer, the executive manager of capital works at Reflections Holiday Parks, said it had forced the closure of some prime camping facilities.

"We had to cancel a few guest bookings in some cabins until we can make them safe," he said.

"We also had to demolish a guest lounge that was on a viewing platform there.

"We're looking at doing some sandbagging at the toe of the dune for a 90-day placement which will help with safety while we do some of those medium-term works, including moving some of those cabins back into the middle of the park.

A viewing platform about to topple into the sea after severe erosion of sand dunes at Clarkes Beach.

"Once you lose the dune, that's really hard to get back."

Mr Plimmer described the situation as a 'whole of beach' problem.

"We are really concerned about what this means for the future of the park, certainly short term," he said.

"I don't think the future of the park is in jeopardy at the moment, but some of our prime waterfront sites certainly are.

"If our park is at risk it's not only our park. It's the National Parks cabins on the corner and the beach restaurant right next door to us, as well as the council facilities."

Cr Richardson said the council was consulting with other authorities, but would not be making any knee-jerk reactions.

Severe erosion of sand dunes in front of Byron Bay's Reflections Holiday Park.

//BRUCE MACKENZIE
© Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

Comments

surfstarved's picture
surfstarved's picture
surfstarved commented Monday, 15 Jul 2019 at 4:33pm

Meanwhile, what are the banks like between The Pass and The Wreck? Just curious...

Don't let the bastards grind you down

dimdim's picture
dimdim's picture
dimdim commented Monday, 15 Jul 2019 at 4:52pm

Any Belongil photos possible please.?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Monday, 15 Jul 2019 at 4:54pm

banks ordinary.

belongil not eroded.

Surfalot67's picture
Surfalot67's picture
Surfalot67 commented Monday, 15 Jul 2019 at 5:15pm

Not quiet true sorry FR. Belongil lost 1.5m of sand during Oma that hasn't returned. I have photos but can't seem to upload them. The rock wall at the end of Manfred Street got hit hard. But I agree re the banks - surfed The Pass on the recent east swell, okay size but really fat and not linking up at all.

mowgli's picture
mowgli's picture
mowgli commented Monday, 22 Jul 2019 at 2:51pm

Would like to see those pics. Erosion at Belongil comes up a lot where I am.

“Life is a long lesson in humility.”

dimdim's picture
dimdim's picture
dimdim commented Monday, 15 Jul 2019 at 6:26pm

thankyou

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 5:18am

Yeah, I surfed The Wreck last week. Nothing life changing there.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Monday, 15 Jul 2019 at 5:42pm

So how does it work here? Does the sand flow down from the cape past Wategos?
If so, has anyone buit a marina or anything to the south of the cape in the last 15 years? Is there erosion in the Broken Head area?

If that's the area where you walk from the caravan park up to the Pass, it's quite pretty. Is there any historical precedent of it going to bare rock?

Edit: is this the big blue hole off the Pass that FR mentioned within the last year, coming ashore?

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Monday, 15 Jul 2019 at 6:14pm

VJ - Its not a localised Byron thing . It’s happening where I am too.

Just different currents this year. All the sand is scoured out of southern corners and deposited at Northern ends. It’s made for some radically different sandbanks and gutters.

It’s not all bad news.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 7:45pm

Indeed, I know and like those northern corners, just a bit further south.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Wednesday, 17 Jul 2019 at 6:54am

Do you know where I’m currently at , VJ ?

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Wednesday, 17 Jul 2019 at 9:33am

Do tell.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Wednesday, 17 Jul 2019 at 3:58pm

My guess is somewhere south of Ballina and north of Coffs? I've surfed the mid on trips for over 20 years now, from SW rocks to Nambucca, that's the bit I know.

JackStance's picture
JackStance's picture
JackStance commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 9:32am

Plenty of sand at Broken- at the moment you can walk around - just.

am in my early 40's and grew up here - my experience is that the pass has always been subject to a lot of sand movement. I remember bare rock, perhaps not quiet to the extent it is now - but only just. -plenty of times from the boat ramp to the captain cooks track outlet, and then a fair way up the beach towards the cafe.

As far as marina - shirley maclaine wanted to build one off one of the back beaches at broken, but, to my understanding, it only got as far as bulldozing a track through the bush - a little before my time, and I remember when nick greiner came to broken with big plans that went nowhere.

Plenty of the older crew know way more about this.

There's some great historical photos of the bay worth checking out.

Breath. Murdoch's empire will one day fail to control our minds.

mowgli's picture
mowgli's picture
mowgli commented Monday, 22 Jul 2019 at 3:38pm

Yes. Sand flows around from the south of Cape Byron. It can do this gradually once there has been the formation of a sufficiently sized 'sand slug' (yes, that's what they're called). Or during a large storm it will be ripped off Suffolk Beach and taken around the headland. All of this depends on swell and wind direction. The sand will move through each of those embayments (Wategoes, Pass/Clarkes) before moving on up towards Belongil.

I grew up going to Byron for family camping trips. I've seen Clarkes eroded a few times. Similar to that pic but maybe not as bad if the locals are saying it's the worst ever.

The thing about Byron Bay, like a few other places on the east coast, is its orientation. It's got a more Northerly orientation compared to most headland setups. Which means when the swell comes from a NE direction that energy can be magnified in the corner - in this instances, Clarkes. Same goes for Collaroy, Noosa, Hervey Bay...

“Life is a long lesson in humility.”

Flogonalog's picture
Flogonalog's picture
Flogonalog commented Monday, 15 Jul 2019 at 7:27pm

Just surfed the pass, it’s starting to link up again from the point to Tommy’s rock, not quite making it into captain kooks. The pass had an abundance of sand around the point until that east swell. Now it’s gone. It hasn’t pushed up towards Clarke’s or Belongil. It’s just flattened out or been sucked right out. Eerie seeing Clarke’s as just steep cliffs and a gutter

Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfc... commented Monday, 15 Jul 2019 at 7:38pm

So basically all the sand points from Ballina to coolly are knackered? Surely all this southerly swell along the east coast is slowly fixing some.. Seems like a pretty typical mid winter pattern at the moment.

saltman's picture
saltman's picture
saltman commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 11:59am

Yes
The absence of quality sand on the FNC points this winter is way beyond the seasonal fluctuations

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Monday, 15 Jul 2019 at 7:48pm

Almost a perfect metaphor for Byron in general.
Gouged out...and not replenished.

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

seen's picture
seen's picture
seen commented Monday, 15 Jul 2019 at 8:52pm

Amen

Flogonalog's picture
Flogonalog's picture
Flogonalog commented Monday, 15 Jul 2019 at 10:46pm

Amen

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 7:39pm

Wow, powerful comment crg, great stuff.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 1:11am

Cape needs sand & Point breaks need rocks (Hardly surf science is it?)
Cape Byron crew are always welcome to fill their pockets with Gold Coast Point sand.
Greenmount, Kirra exoskeletons would love a day out by the seaside.
tbb will bend your spoon & kick the bucket all in one go,..Win! Win!

Hot Tip! ....Burleigh Beach starts sand pumping next week...
Smuggle it over the border in shoes or ice cream cones even up bum cracks if you like.

mowgli's picture
mowgli's picture
mowgli commented Monday, 22 Jul 2019 at 3:39pm

I wish there was a 'like' button on here.

“Life is a long lesson in humility.”

Thegrowingtrend.com's picture
Thegrowingtrend.com's picture
Thegrowingtrend.com commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 2:31am

Nothing like a good reefy

Nicko

hillsintas's picture
hillsintas's picture
hillsintas commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 7:03am

Can GW save the day?

mowgli's picture
mowgli's picture
mowgli commented Monday, 22 Jul 2019 at 3:40pm

No. Projections show an easterly shift in tradewind patterns. Meaning less sand moving northward to replenish beaches on the inside of points.

“Life is a long lesson in humility.”

Yendor's picture
Yendor's picture
Yendor commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 8:41am

Pretty much where there's sand dunes once there wasn't. Over the long term if you're building on them you're running the risk that they're gonna be chewed out with a shift in weather patterns. Some areas are generally accreating and some are generally eroding but all it takes is a shift, weather or man-made and things can change.
On the plus side you got an unseasonal epic east swell.
In the short term maybe they should ship in a heap of sand and hope the weather changes. Surely you've got deserts of the stuff over there.
Like Blowin says, it's not all bad, go exploring find a new spot that's loving the current sand movements. I've had friends over in the region getting good waves all over the shop.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 9:19am

hillsintas is no doubt referring to 'Great White'...that'll scatter sand ashore in a hurry.

Decaying Driftwood once knitted all the world's shorelines together.
Fair to assume iconic easterly cape needs to be fed a small forest's worth of logs.
Bridges,dams,weirs & breakwalls robbed our beaches of life preserving habitat.

(Driftwood branch spotted bobbing offshore) [BEACH CLOSED]

Quick fix is to reopen Skinner's Shoot & holler for a Hipster'z Log Jam.

Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 11:30am

Yeah mannn... legalize logs!

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 7:50pm

Is that true tbb? I've actually seen stuff like that after floods on the west coast of Tassie - huge logs at the rivermouth and all over the beach. (The huon pines don't last long....)

Pops's picture
Pops's picture
Pops commented Wednesday, 17 Jul 2019 at 10:31am

The beaches around ucluelet/tofino area in Canada were like that when I was there a while back. Massive logs everywhere... almost seemed like a logging ship had sunk offshore and its cargo washed in, but locals told me that was normal.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 2:14pm

So where is all the sand? Can't just disappear has it all been sent to the other end?

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 3:28pm

Ran into an old friend in Byron , ten years ago now. He mention he was working doing dune stabilization at the time to the north of clarkes.
I had some fun waves there over the years fickle and sharky though......
Seem like there is erosion happening all over the place.
How have the winds been , usually they be sw se this time of year?
Has there been A lot of north winds.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 6:27pm

It was the spring/summer/autumn that did the damage.

A Fraser Island ECL in October started the process then the endless small E'ly swell and onshore winds nibbled away and eroded the sand bar, which left the corner at Clarkes open to the erosive potential of that combination.

Oma smashed it because there was no protective sandbar and it was already eroded.

The last E swell has only exacerbated it.

Belongil did lose sand in Oma but beach widths from the Wreck down to Belongil creek are basically still fine.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Wednesday, 17 Jul 2019 at 9:26am

Slow and steady, you ever seen it like this ?
The photo seems to be taken from a angle to make it over dramatic .

I'm wondering what is planned for the "Rectification"?

dandob's picture
dandob's picture
dandob commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 7:50pm

Just letting everyone from up North know that iluka is fucked too, east swell has gouged all the sand out from next to the wall. Legitimately.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Wednesday, 17 Jul 2019 at 7:40am

*nose tap*

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 7:52pm

And down here it's way too cold...

Timmy49's picture
Timmy49's picture
Timmy49 commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 9:19pm

Global warming. We have to get used to change or we change. What do you think? Change or be the same.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Wednesday, 17 Jul 2019 at 11:27am

The term new normal seems to be said and heard now days.
What is normal though?
No disagreeing with you either.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 at 9:47pm

tbb's log Jam...

As logs leave the river mouth they can either block then snake a new opening.
It seems main reason for rivers to snake...They can also form spits, points or islands.

The logs go on to shelter,house & feed 1000's of sea critters ocean wide.
This explains how birds can fly into Cyclones and return ashore afterwards.
Also why birds have no bother camping on Ships, just another large raft as always.
One could even argue why dolphins are comfortable beneath vessels as timber rafts.
Gyres form the Timber Rafts into nurseries providing bounties of sea harvest.

Hawaiian Red Cedar surfboards (Surfing) grew from N/W timber 4,000 kms away.
(Full Story is included)

In Timber's hey day there was too much timber even more than today's marine debris
As said once bridges,dams,weirs came along there are now no Timber life rafts left.
The first of these articles follows the last of Timber Salvors (retrievers)

Driftwood,Mangroves,Oysters are basic tools to repair damaged coastline ecology.
Every Oz waterway is less healthy each year after year...we must restore estuaries.

A timber raft is all you can eat family buffet & a plastic raft a wasteland of cannibals!
Plastic Rafts resemble pirate ships with 1,200 invasive species raiding our waters.
Metal/fibreglass/plastic bilge ...Only the toughest bully species survive then take over!
tbb won't spell it out but yes an old surfboard was yummy a new one makes you sick!
Last of these articles shows what sort of life could live on a flotsam of foam!

Treated Timber (Coppers logs & Ply is Debris) Tree logs are gifts to ocean! (Got it!)

tbb urges crew to suss out recent fields of research...These 4 articles are fantastic.
It's only recent news to tbb as well so we're all on the same page ...Happy to share!

How driftwood reshapes ecosystems
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/driftwood-reshapes-ecosyst...

Driftcretions: The legacy impacts of driftwood on shoreline morphology
https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/2015GL064441

Marine Litter as habitat & dispersal vector
https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-16510-3_6

Barnacles plus plastic trash make rafts for ocean animals
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/inkfish/2016/02/22/barnacles-plus-plas...

Pops's picture
Pops's picture
Pops commented Wednesday, 17 Jul 2019 at 10:35am

Fascinating stuff TBB, and thanks for the links.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Wednesday, 17 Jul 2019 at 4:07pm

Great post, never considered that. Fully puts into perspective what a true natural ecosystem looks like (dead trees everywhere lol). Here's to the edge of the world...

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Wednesday, 17 Jul 2019 at 10:01am

[ATTENTION] Photo #4 by Bruce Mackenzie (Note: The Stormwater Pipe)

tbb did some backtracking on Clarkes' Beach Erosion.
It's common enough to blame higher May Tides into June ECL's for said erosion.
In fact Clarkes Beach suffers most damage around June, more than any near coastline.

Oddly the biggest erosion occurred from 1/4/1991 -17/5/1991 ( 12.3 m in 7 weeks)
One factor at the epicentre of erosion was all too often ignored...(For obvious reason!)
That evil storm water pipe just keeps staring back at you! (You! It's you isn't it!)
Drain pipe has WH listing...Council/State/Fed Govts are banned from touching it!
(Classic bureaucratic buck passing) It wasn't me it was him!

2007 Fetid Clarkes' Lagoon
https://www.northernstar.com.au/news/apn-fears-fetid-lagoon-ruining-byro...

2007 (Reply) Council orders cleanup of beach lagoon.
https://www.northernstar.com.au/news/apn-council-orders-clean-up-of-beac...

2010 "Help me drain Clarkes' Lagoon"
https://www.byronnews.com.au/news/help-me-drain-lagoon-urges-jim/558396/

2017 "Erosion exposes drain pipe"
https://www.echo.net.au/2017/01/erosion-exposes-drain-front-byron-bay-ho...

2018 BSC Byron Bay Coastal management plan
Reduce Clarkes Beach Storm water Pollution
[ Medium Priority & Medium Time frame]...(Unfunded)

2019 Severe erosion at Byron Bay holiday park (re: swellnet -Above Photo #4)

[BREAKING NEWS] Byron A Lister's pool party flushes out Hipster's Clambake.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Wednesday, 17 Jul 2019 at 1:54pm

This reminds me of Portsea front beach when the Vic government blew up the heads. Was a nice beach and pier to hang out in summer but no longer. All the sand has gone around the corner (SE) and where there were bathing boxes and jetties sitting amongst reef, where they now sit on sand particularly at Point King. Worth checking on the Google to see the pier sitting on the sand. Portsea itself has no beach and they are sandbagging and if you walk to the break that everybody knows but no one will name, there is massive erosion so much so that a lookout has been taken out and the old concrete sea walls are crumbling. And the experts said there would be nil effect widening the heads for ships that never came. Hmmmm.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Wednesday, 17 Jul 2019 at 3:14pm

Really memlasurf,
I have not been back to VIC for years. I always wondered what might have happened with the port widening. In 09 victoria planned to alter five or six classic waves or completely destroy them .( i saw that as a sign)
Interesting to note that this wave i didn't consider. ahhhh "victoria the place to be" well used to be...

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Wednesday, 17 Jul 2019 at 3:19pm

Yeah jump on google satellite and work your way up the coast from Point King and see the sand plume from Portsea to Point King. Then go further towards the heads and check the ex lookout sitting on the beach now. It used to be on a cliff which disappeared leaving the timber structure to rot on the beach. The only positive is a very rare small left hand point wave on a huge swell and high tide on the Portsea. point.

dmb's picture
dmb's picture
dmb commented Thursday, 18 Jul 2019 at 10:30am

Guys, very interesting discussion - check out the Byron Shire Community-Based Heritage Study, Vol 2. On p 5 there is a reproduction of William John's plan of Cape Byron Bay, from the voyage of HMS Rainbow, 1828. The outline there of a large sand deposit from Wategos down to Clarkes is pretty extraordinary, with a 'best landing place' indicated at where Clarkes is now. I also recall reading somewhere that there was a plan to extend what was a significant deposit of sand from the Cape out in the direction of the Julian Rocks to create a 'safe harbour'. Seems like long range change happening, with less and less sand transport up the coast.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Thursday, 18 Jul 2019 at 2:25pm

dmb's Byron Map (1828) (thanx)
http://byronbayhistoricalsociety.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Willi...

Many "Engineering options" below...

1978 Summary of Byron Bay-Hastings Point Erosion Study
'Management Options' Page 25-29 Sketches of Groynes + Breakwater Surf Reef
http://nsw-coastal-explorer.domorewithmaps.com/documents/SUMMARY%20OF%20...

2016 "Most effective Solutions to Bay ignored". (References all Byron study/s)
(Review) *Background *Retreat *Short term *Medium Term *Engineered Solutions
http://voiceofbyron.com.au/most-effective-solutions-to-bay-erosion-ignored/

Clarkes' Lagoon is the best landing place.."Women & Children first!"
https://www.imagesofbyronbay.com.au/uploads/1/2/4/4/12447192/old-byron-b...

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Thursday, 18 Jul 2019 at 3:06pm

1978 article, excellent. Page 20, direct correlation of increased erosion to the north of a disruptive feature on the coastline, natural or man made

Offshore current map fascinating too

dmb's picture
dmb's picture
dmb commented Thursday, 18 Jul 2019 at 4:57pm

tbb - re your "Women & Children first" photo - truly scary! Puts 'the good old days' into some perspective...and along with vj, many thanks for the 1978 article.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 18 Jul 2019 at 5:06pm

Looks like a grey nurse.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Thursday, 18 Jul 2019 at 5:40pm

Looks like mum was right (again) with her stories of Tiger sharks coming well up the Maroochy to Bli Bli, grey nurses everywhere and nearly losing a hand in an open boat going for a trip out of Mooloolaba in the 1940s...

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Friday, 19 Jul 2019 at 8:41am

G Uni Study Paper reviews late 1800's Byron Bay sea levels + shifting beach dynamics.
https://www.coastalconference.com/2015/papers2015/Peter%20Helman%20Full%...

Tony Jack Clancy's picture
Tony Jack Clancy's picture
Tony Jack Clancy commented Saturday, 20 Jul 2019 at 6:42pm

Fascinating and intelligent comments and downloads...here's another two which might interest some...The permalink wouldn't work but this long URL does:
1) http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/p247961/pdf/Management-of-...

2) https://www.coastalconference.com/2018/papers2018/Andrew%20Short.pdf

benjis babe's picture
benjis babe's picture
benjis babe commented Sunday, 21 Jul 2019 at 8:28am

the world is changing. and governments / councils aren't changing fast enough.

mowgli's picture
mowgli's picture
mowgli commented Monday, 22 Jul 2019 at 3:57pm

Great resources you've linked there TBB.

Very poignant remark in Rodger Tomlinson's concluding statement. Be prepared to be hearing a lot more about this over the next few years...

"Legislative and common law has maintained an organised system for a long period but is presently not in a position to provide a coherent framework for long term policy
implementation on sea level rise (Corkill (2012, 2013, 2013a)."

And this one...

"Areas of policy detail that are less clear include how implementation will
occur and how disagreements over conflicting values of shoreline landholders and
beach users will be resolved. "

“Life is a long lesson in humility.”

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Monday, 22 Jul 2019 at 6:42pm