Our beaches are completely unnatural

Letters forum

I spat the dummy after reading the last Peninsula News (Edition 436, January 15).
It seems there are people who would like to see our rates used to clean the sand from the Esplanade.
Perhaps they are newcomers and haven’t seen the innumerable letters published in this paper, about this very matter.
The truth is that this sand is largely there due to the ignorance and greed of some locals.
I have worked on the dunes as a volunteer since the group first started in 2000.
When an old house went on the market we knew that the next time we arrived, we would find poisoned or cut down banksias and leptospermums.
We have given talks. We have done letter box drops and we have beseeched Council to put up hoardings, to deprive the culprits of their required view, as is done in other jurisdictions, such as Woollahra in the Eastern Suburbs, but to no avail.
Our dunes were never a high dune system, such as you will find at Budgewoi, but were small, rolling ridges of sand which went back to the unique Umina Sandplain.
Due I suppose to ignorance, these dunes were built on and so little room was left for the sand on the beach to move around, to build and re-build, which is the normal work of beaches.
Our Peninsula beaches have been confined. Many mistakes have been made, like the placing of rocks near the boat ramp, the building of groynes at Lance Web Reserve and the straight walkways which were just wind tunnels of sand.
Our Peninsula Beaches are completely unnatural.
They are raked at the Umina end, in order that visitors may have a clean beach, but which deprives visitors, especially children, of learning about the wonders of a natural beach.
I have often wondered why we don’t just build an artificial beach right in town, at Woy Woy, near the station.
If you look carefully you will notice that little hills of sand build up, even around the smallest of dune plants.
This happens even more so with the taller shrubs, which spread their branches and protect the smaller plants from the abrasive actions of this sand.
Carpobrotus glaucescens or pig face, growing valiantly on the large sand bags, may look beautiful especially when in flower but it, together with scaevola calendulacea usually grow in the swales, or dips between the ridges.
There are only a few different species of plants on dunes, due to the harsh conditions at a beach with sun, salt and sand: such severe conditions as experienced the weekend before last, when the only visitors to Ocean Beach were kite surfers.
So, the present dune system on the Peninsula is manmade and therefore any problems are due to human intervention.
We are not allowed to plant any replacement banksias or leptospermums, because we fear for their lives and we must not impact on people’s views.
Many people, just like the residents at Collaroy, believe that a sea wall is the answer to the erosion problems at the end of Barrenjoey Rd.
They seem unaware that a wall just makes for other problems as seen in examples around the world or in Australia, at the Bowling Club at Kingscliff, NSW.
You might notice the erosion at either end of the sand bags.
If left, the sand bags would become an island.
There are no taller shrubs here, in the extreme wind tunnel created by Barrenjoey Rd.
Australia Day has just passed, so perhaps we could think and learn now about the real Australia, which is disappearing from beneath our feet or before our eyes.

Email, 24 Jan 2018
Margaret Lund, Umina

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