The ferocity of the storms that hit NSW’s coast recently is cruelly evident in these pictures of coastal erosion from, Wamberal (see above), Collaroy and Byron Bay. Based on our own experiences of similar storms, the Wooli community’s heart goes out to all those impacted by these events.
This time Wooli was better prepared thanks to the project completed in 2019 to reinforce the dunes using beach scraping and revegetation. It wasn’t enough to completely protect us as the latest storm demanded substantial sand from the new fore dune, but (as you saw at the end of the video), the main dune protecting the village came through unscathed.
Does this mean that the Protect Wooli campaign, launched in 2011 by the Wooli community has finished its task? The answer is clearly “no” because even Wooli’s partial protection by the Solitary Islands reefs plus the success of the 2019 project, are unlikely to withstand the increasing threats from climate change including more severe storms, rising sea levels and tropical cyclones coming closer.
To address this threat and protect Wooli from a 1-in-50-years storm, the community, council, and state government have prepared a two-step strategy:
- Repeat the 2019 project in 2021 with another round of beach scraping and revegetation to repair and strengthen the dune. Preparations for this are well advanced, always subject to funding, licences, and mother nature’s cooperation.
- Execute Wooli’s Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) which calls for (a) regular repeats of dune reinforcement by scraping sand in front of the village as it naturally accumulates with normal wave action and (b) having a backup plan to bring sand quickly from the northern end of Wooli beach when needed.
This strategy works with the beach’s natural ebb and flow, doesn’t harm flora or fauna and is highly effective from a cost/benefit viewpoint.
Thanks to all those who have and will contribute to Wooli’s protection. Particular thanks to Clarence Valley Council, to our local State member MP Chris Gulaptis, to Dr. Marc Daley and Ben Fitzgibbon from the Dept. of Planning, Industry and Environment, and to our coastal consultant Angus Gordon. We look forward to continuing liaison with NSW Grants Commission for ongoing funding, and with Marine Parks, Crown Lands and Native Title and Heritage for the appropriate licenses. Finally, a belated welcome to our newish NSW Minister for the coastal environment, the Hon. Shelley Hancock whose experience representing the south coast makes her well placed to support our coastal communities in keeping ahead of storms and coastal erosion.
Best wishes to you all for a safe, happy, and successful 2021 from Bruce Bird (president) and Pete Dunn (vice president) for the Coastal Communities Protection Alliance – Wooli.