Worst erosion in memory leaves Stockton beach exposed to next storm | photos, video, poll

WITH more rain forecast this weekend, Stockton Surf Lifesaving Club doesn’t have much more ground to give.

“The erosion of the beach is the worst it’s ever been,” club president Trevor Upton said.

“Our biggest fear is that if there’s another big swell, now we’ve got virgin ground with nothing in front of it.”

The storm that hit the Hunter hit two weekends ago gnawed 10 metres of dune from the beach and sent waves drumming on the doors of the white brick surf club.

Fence palings littered the beach and copper pipes were left exposed and hissing. 

Concrete World War II tank traps emerged in front of Lexie’s on the Beach cafe – where a wave crashed across the wooden deck – for the first time in decades.

“I’ve never seen the water get past those trees,” Lexie’s sous chef Paula Rika-Anderson said, referring to uprooted banksia trunks on the sand below.

“Now the trees are gone.”

Sandbags that were laid 20 years ago help support the high ground slowly being conceded around the surf club and, for the first time in memory, Stockton’s surf lifesavers can’t get to their beach.

“The main concern is getting access to the beach, especially as September grows closer and we start the patrol season,” Mr Upton said.

“We can’t get a patrol boat down there. If something happens at the moment [off Stockton], Nobbys [surf club] has to respond. This is what we do, and we can’t do it.”

The structures under imminent threat are a shrinking beachside carpark and a sheltered barbecue that has already been moved twice.

For now, Mr Upton wants Newcastle City Council to “make things safe, clean up” the beach.

Workers had cordoned off sheer embankments newly eroded into the beach and were carrying out maintenance on Wednesday. 

A council spokesman said workers had begun clean-up and emergency repairs as soon as the storm cleared, and would attend to everything “from simple jobs to complicated remedial works” with an “aim to complete them by next summer”.

It is the seasons beyond that that worry Mr Upton, as scientists warn that the effects of climate change will lead to more coastal erosion.

“Erosion is a problem on the whole east coast. You can’t tame Mother Nature, but you’ve got to respond,” he said.

“Whether it’s climate change or whether it’s time, I don’t know. All we can try to do is look after our own patch.”

Rain is forecast for Newcastle on Saturday and Sunday, with up to 35mm expected to fall and the chance of a thunderstorm late on Sunday.


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