'Breakwall' Under Threat

Dan Dobbin picture
Dan Dobbin (dandob)
Swellnet Dispatch

It's a situation that has faint echoes of Sebastian Inlet, Florida. Decades ago a breakwall was built to stabilise a rivermouth with the unintended side effect of creating a good wave, which in turn spawned a vibrant and competitive surf culture. Now the breakwall needs to be maintained, Port Macquarie surfers are hoping their story doesn't end like Sebastian's did - with a ruined wave and a culture in tatters.

The southern training wall of the Hastings river in Port Macquarie is simply known to the local surfing community as 'Breakwall'.

The iconic break, which all but raised three-times bodyboard champ Damian King and nourished the careers of countless other Breakwall groms who graduated to the professional boogin’ ranks over the decades may be under threat from a proposed new upgrade.

As per the New South Wales government Roads and Maritime services website:

“The Port Macquarie breakwall was built over a period of 40 years with completion in 1939. The last major maintenance was carried out on the head of the breakwall to repair damage caused by the 2015 major weather event. 

"As part of the project early investigations, including underwater assessments and scans shows the southern breakwall is in need of major repairs. The rock has settled and shifted over time, creating voids which compromise the effectiveness and stability of the structure.

"A $205 million stimulus funding program was announced in November 2020 to invest in maritime infrastructure and safety upgrade projects across the state.

"The southern breakwall at Port Macquarie needs maintenance to extend this critical maritime infrastructure’s life.”

While officially there are no plans to tinker with the end of the wall where the world’s best onshore wave breaks, there's an increasing concern among the local surfing community that once work begins, extra ”alterations” will be deemed necessary and undertaken without community consent.

The Port Macquarie Bodyboard Association recently posted the following message on the socials, seemingly also very nervous that the proposed works could have a negative affect on the wave quality at Breakwall:

"The NSW government and Maritime has put foward plans to upgrade the breakwall. Although some parts of the breakwall do need maintenance, and widening of the path would benefit the foot traffic, the proposed changes could change the wave dramatically. At the end of the day, yes, it is just a wave, but this “wave” has given our town two world champion bodyboarders (@damianking2444 & @eppo1993 ), it’s given the “at risk youth” something to do and allowed so many more of us an opportunity to travel the world for the sport we love.

"We just recently ran our annual teams challenge at Breakwall and it was one of the better competitions we’ve run in years! Changing this wall and losing this wave will be a massive loss to our community so we ask you to follow the link and have your say to stop this from going forward. Share this around tell your friends, the more people that sign, the better our chances.

"Thank you everyone that gets involved."

Brody Brockman, a member of Port Macquarie Bodyboard Association, layed out the concerns about how the wave could be changed:

“They’ve been trying to change it for a few years now and back in 2016 we got enough people behind it to at least slow down planning. What they're proposing isn’t the worst thing, it’s where they want to do it. The wall walk is one of the key things to do in the town but with the amount of foot traffic it turns into Sydney at 4:30pm on a Thursday."

"The expansion of the footpath would be amazing but they want to put larger boulders on a less steep angle which will push the tides and the sand more out the middle rather than dumping it along the wall and infront of it. They also want to scatter larger rocks around the front of the wall to hold the weight of the new path to create a viewing platform, but if the waves are gone there’ll be nothing to view.”

The man who’s spent more time in the water at Breakwall than anyone, world champ Damian King had this to say about the situation and how local surfers can have there say:

“They are looking at redoing the breakwall which includes dropping a bunch of rocks around the breakwall head that could effect how the wave breaks for sure. Focus on the Orange Dots at the front of the Breakwall, they are dropping multiple boulders at the tip, which wasn’t discussed on the original paperwork.

"We need to get everyone to start filling in the 'Have Your Say' section on the website, as they are saying they only have feedback from fifty fisherman.

"We are meeting down at Breakwall 12pm Tuesday. It would be great to get as many people down there as possible.”

Concerned surfers can send their thoughts and opinions here:

[email protected]v.au

Comments

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Friday, 17 Jun 2022 at 2:58pm

King's groyne is worse since they straightened it a few years ago. Subtle changes can have a big impact on wave quality. Be a shame to see bwall affected. Best of luck.

Robwilliams's picture
Robwilliams's picture
Robwilliams Friday, 17 Jun 2022 at 3:59pm





greg-n.williams's picture
greg-n.williams's picture
greg-n.williams Saturday, 18 Jun 2022 at 4:55pm

They did this @ Forster b/wall several years ago & dumped concrete blocks off the front & beach side on the southern wall. What occasionally used to all come together as a surfable wave never has again since this restoration! Good luck Port Mac boadyboarders.

eel's picture
eel's picture
eel Saturday, 18 Jun 2022 at 5:55pm

John 'Eppo" Eppulstun? I always thought it was Michael?

Dan K's picture
Dan K's picture
Dan K Saturday, 18 Jun 2022 at 9:15pm

John was Eppo's old man

kbomb's picture
kbomb's picture
kbomb Sunday, 19 Jun 2022 at 5:44pm

Just wait until they build the proposed tidal pool at the next beach South. That could also have big implications for the sand at breakwall.

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg Tuesday, 21 Jun 2022 at 7:47am

What do you think the implications will be kbomb?

kbomb's picture
kbomb's picture
kbomb Tuesday, 21 Jun 2022 at 8:29am

I'm worried that a tidal pool at Oxley beach could have an effect on sand flow resulting in less sand flowing around to towns. Or that sand flow may be disrupted, displacing sand differently to what it is now. Are my worries justified or am I being paranoid?

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg Tuesday, 21 Jun 2022 at 9:07am

I don’t know mate...it’s a unique set up where sand accretion is influenced by both the natural northward movement of sand and also the effects of the outflow of the Hastings river going against this natural flow (particularly during these high volume rain events).
Either way Mother Nature will do as she pleases.

gavin007's picture
gavin007's picture
gavin007 Monday, 20 Jun 2022 at 12:03pm

Hmmmm, in other articles we complain when a new breakwall is proposed as it may interfere with the surf. Then we complain about altering/removing a breakwall because it may interfere with the surf. Glad I'm not a council engineer !
Good luck, Port Macquarie BB's !

YoungOne's picture
YoungOne's picture
YoungOne Tuesday, 21 Jun 2022 at 4:06pm

Spot on, 007. It'll be a fine day in human history when we realise and accept that interfering with natural coastal dynamics is futile. Whatever we try to do, will be detrimental in many ways. More often than not, the problems introduced (by building a breakwall, for example) far outweigh the problem we're attempting to solve. Waves are supposed to move around over time, in step with the ebb and flow of nature. Keeps it interesting. Humans, however, have the irrational expectation that things should stay put... even things we've gone and put there that should never have been there in the first place.

Tane_Kakariki's picture
Tane_Kakariki's picture
Tane_Kakariki Tuesday, 21 Jun 2022 at 4:27am

Definitely far from the world's best onshore wave!

stinky_wes's picture
stinky_wes's picture
stinky_wes Tuesday, 21 Jun 2022 at 12:13pm

More the fact that it could be howling onshore and yet the waves themselves are perfectly clean and barrelling thanks to the Hastings "run out".

yvdreh's picture
yvdreh's picture
yvdreh Tuesday, 21 Jun 2022 at 9:04am

Bwall is a gem on the east coast of Aus. Be a real shame to see it get fucked up.

Distracted's picture
Distracted's picture
Distracted Tuesday, 21 Jun 2022 at 8:10pm

Breakwalls are pretty dynamic structures, the sand below the rocks is constantly being eroded, causing the rocks to slump. Then in big storms the rocks are moved around by the waves. Floods, tides and different swell directions will also move the sand around the river outlet. So the current wave may not stay the way it is even if the works don’t proceed.

Could have been even a better wave if there was no break wall.

kbomb's picture
kbomb's picture
kbomb Tuesday, 21 Jun 2022 at 10:03pm

I've seen some old photos of towns before the wall. Looks like it would have been very good.