Compiled and edited by Ron Bygness
Australian residents near the New South Wales mid-north coast area of Taree have very personal and vested interests in the Old Bar erosion issue. Many say they intend to retire there on the beachfront location midway between Sydney and Brisbane. That is, if the resort area can withstand the relentless encroaching coastline.
The Old Bar Beach Sand Replenishment Group (OBBSRG) was formed more than a year ago to air residents’ concerns about the erosion, which has already claimed two beachfront dwellings. The organization has staged a letter-writing campaign to local council members, mainly based on its belief that protective, geotextile-tube groins, used successfully around Australia and the world, could be the answer to Old Bar’s erosion problems.
Group members have researched the use of geotextile bags in groins at places such as Russell Heads, Elliott Heads, and Agnes Waters in Queensland, also at Cottlesloe in Western Australia.
The group cites the success of an earlier local effort—a gabion wall built at Badgers Creek in 1992 as a precedent. Despite being uncovered at times of heavy rain when the creek scours, the wall of rock-filled wire cages soon traps sand again and replenishes the scoured sections.
The OBBSRG has worked with scientific groups and engineers on research into suitable groins. It believes a series of six groins—sand-filled geotextile bags—is the practical and economical way to protect Old Bar beachfront properties.
The group’s estimate of the cost for the groins to save Old Bar’s most-sensitive stretch of coast is $200,000. To protect the toe of the dune is another $200,000.
OBBSRG members maintain that the $400,000 would be an excellent investment, considering the groins will protect an estimated $300 million worth of property and Old Bar infrastructure.