Stab Magazine | The Downside Of Big, Consistent Swells
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The Downside Of Big, Consistent Swells

Parts of NSW Central Coast are seeing their worst erosion in years, and there’s another swell coming. 

news // Jul 26, 2020
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

We’ve rightly been raving on about the stellar year the East Coast of Australia has been having; swell after swell accompanied with offshore winds and plentiful options to break upon. While we haven’t crunched any numbers – we’ll leave that up to Swellnet – it’s the best run of Autumn –> Winter swell we’ve witnessed in years.

There is however a downside to swells of this size with an incessant nature. Firstly, it leaves surfers like me, who are scared of big waves, little options to surf, but perhaps more importantly, it does serious damage to the coastlines and the houses built upon them.

Wamberal, on the New South Wales Central Coast has recently seen several homes damaged and fears some homes will be lost entirely. The State Emergency Service reported that it’s the worst erosion seen in the area for 30 years, with foundations to houses exposed and verandas lost entirely. 

“There’s always been impact on that area, but for some reason, this event has taken away far more land than we expected,” Rolf Garda told the ABC.

Even a few hundred boulders won’t stop swells of this magnitude. Photo: Anthony Parry/Facebook

Some locals are angry precautionary strategies haven’t been used to protect their houses. Some have taken it upon themselves to dump large rocks between their properties and the surf, but this has little influence against five-metre plus swells for days on end. 

To make things worse, asbestos has also been found along Wamberal and other beaches according to The Sydney Morning Herald. Years ago, the asbestos was found buried under a house, but as it was not properly removed, it has now been exposed along the beach by these swells.

Locals have alleged that the council buried the asbestos under the sand after promising and failing to properly remove it. 

Stockton beach an hour north in Newcastle has also seen better days. 

“It has basically been destroyed,” the Northside Boardriders’ Club president told The Guardian“There’s metres of erosion pretty much from one end of Stockton to another.” Adding that this is the worst and fastest erosion he thinks he has seen, estimating that up to 30 metres of the beach has been lost in the past three years.

This all comes less than a year after the suburb’s only childcare centre closed permanently due to coastal erosion.

To make things worse, another large swell is due to hit NSW this week. A 12-foot swell is forecast to hit Sydney on Tuesday which will peter out throughout the week. For us surfers, it will be accompanied by some strong south-westerlies (I imagine Deadmans will be packed with masochistic maniacs again), but this will do little to help the damage dealt to coastal houses these past few weeks. 

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