Weeks of gnarly weather, heavy rain and good ol’ human intervention have caused one of Sydney’s most iconique beaches to practically disappear.
Per The Guardian, a lifeguard tower at North Cronulla beach was left hanging for dear life on a cliff edge after erosion claimed the sand beneath it.
Wow. This used to be Nth Cronulla beach, and Sth Cronulla is back to bare rock too. I’ve never seen them this bad. What a mess. pic.twitter.com/rYFUcaTMAz
— Dr Darren Saunders (@whereisdaz) July 11, 2022
Sutherland council deemed the tower unsafe and a crane lifted it from its precarious perch on Monday night.
A council spokesperson told News.com.au the shire was completing considerable works to assess the impact of the erosion.
“[The] council continues to assess the damage caused to the North Cronulla sea wall, and a plan of works is being developed to undertake urgent reinforcement of the sea wall, which is expected to commence within days,” they said.
Engineer Ian MacDonald told the ABC the coastal erosion on the Cronulla stretch was the worst he’d seen in 60 years.
“Rocks are exposed that have never been exposed before,” he said.
“The entire beach — Wanda, Elouera, North Cronulla, Cronulla — the sand has been removed by at least three or four metres.”
— Peter F Williams (@pfwaus) July 13, 2022
Large amounts of sand moved from North Cronulla Beach. The old sea wall is exposed, lifeguard tower and esplanade hanging in for now, mid-period SE swell will keep coming all day, with a large (1.8 m) tide tonight. pic.twitter.com/36nYvKFRpJ
— Lachie Perris (@lachlan_perris) July 10, 2022
Coastal geomorphologist and Professor at the University of Melbourne David Kennedy told The Guardian the erosion was probably so hectic because the beach’s natural style has, for lack of a better term, been severely cramped by the addition of big ol’ sea walls.
“Beaches are counterintuitive. They’re loose piles of sand. But because they are movable obstructions to the water they are great at sort of laying there and acting as a buffer. They are the shock absorbers of the coast,” he said.
“What we’ve done is we’ve removed some of the shocks on the coast, by putting in the seawall, and by doing this we have effectively reduced the beaches resilience to change.”
Obviously, the hectic weather that NSW has been copping hasn’t helped.
“We will most likely see more events such as these as climate change takes its toll, and we get more east coast lows. The problem, of course, is in the last 50 years we have done a massive amount of building on our shorelines, and we’ve actually reduced the natural capacity of the beaches,” Kennedy said.
Ah, that magic word: climate change. With more wild weather on the way and a solid chance that La Niña — the mistress of the wet who is both intensifying the effects of climate change and making the whole damn crisis worse — will rear her ugly head again towards the end of the year, the erosion is probably going to get worse at Cronulla beach or happen elsewhere.