Posted on August 24, 2022
A radical idea that “saved” Woonona Beach from major erosion events could be adopted at Cronulla beaches.
Sutherland Shire Council decided at its last meeting to consider a trial of removing unsuitable vegetation from sand dunes in an area of Bate Bay after consulting other coastal councils, who have previously undertaken such work.
Mayor Carmelo Pesce, who initiated the investigation, said surfers had explained that, rather than preventing erosion, vegetation could actually worsen the problem by holding sand in place, created steep cliffs, and stopping the natural self-repair process.
Cr Pesce urged councillors to look at a video showing how Woonona Beach was “saved” after Illawarra Beach Care persuaded Wollongong City Council to test its theory that by removing vegetation the beach would self repair.
The video, prepared by Simon Avery and Beach Care Illawarra, says, “Contrary to popular belief, if you free the sand you’ll actually guard against erosion and help it recover faster”.
Woonona beach is shown over the years, from the 1970s when there was a wide stretch of sand up till the beach disappearing after big seas in 2014 and the results of the removal of vegetation.
The video explains how vegetation planted to combat erosion grew unchecked onto beach berms and into storm swash zones.
“As vegetation encroached Woonona’s ability to handle even the mildest event began to diminish
“Its seaward advance began to cause erosion / scarping.
“It steepened the beach slope, turning it from dissipative to reflective.
“It crippled the beach.
The video said after the vegetation was removed from the berm from a small section of the beach, “the results were immediate”.
“The beach grew in width all by itself. Rare sea birds returned, small crabs have re-inhabited.”
Meanwhile, North Cronulla beach is back in use after being washed away in a succession of big seas.
More than two metres of sand has returned naturally to the beach through wave movement over the last month and a new path has been built from Peryman Square.
The path consists of a thick layer of sand over boulders trucked in from the Sandy Point Quarry.
About 7000 tonne of boulders have been used on the project.
Cronulla beaches will be renourished with dredged sand from Port Hacking in early 2023.