Sawtell Beach and Bonville Creek Erosion

Earlier this year, big storms lashed the mid-north coast of NSW. Over several weeks I saw king tides remove several metres of sandhill on the beachfront at Sawtell beach, including many quite old banksia trees. South of Sawtell at the northern end of Bongil Bongil National Park, the Bonville Creek estuary was dramatically re-shaped, wiping out the breeding ground for the endangered Little Tern, re-orienting the main channel of the creek, and removing a 100m long sand spit and its coastal heath. Image: Remnant sand spit after storm damage – the section to the right is still in original form Image: View from Bonville Headland – the large stretch of open sand in the middle of the image used to be a sandhill up to 2m high with vegetationnAs this is literally my backyard, I went for a walk with my youngest son and his friend along the creek today, in the section opposite the estuary entrance. Image: Bonville Creek Estuary at Sawtell, NSWnI was shocked at the degree of erosion and the number of banksias and other natives had been undermined, and collapsed into the creek. Some sections of the formed walking track had totally been washed out, with deep gullies cutting through where there once was track. The following photo shows the results. Image: Bonville Creek bank showing fallen trees caused by direct strike of ocean waves undermining the bank. Image: Bank erosion showing sand strata and undermining of trees.nThe damage has occurred in places where the creekside trees and sand dunes had taken many years to develop. It will take many years to recover.nAs to whether the results of these forces of nature are due to climate change or not is open to question. More beach protection measures and re-planting is needed; and we can of course reduce carbon in the atmosphere – and maybe this will prevent more damage in the future.nBut the thing that really shocks me is the amount of rubbish dumped in this Council-reserved remnant littoral forest, and the general lack of care by the users of the reserve: local fisherman, walkers, boaties, unauthorised campers, tradies dumping builder’s rubbish and local beer drinkers! This place is beautiful, but so many don’t value it.

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