FOR 30 years, authorities have been exploring their options to halt erosion at Jimmys beach near Hawks Nest.
The popular holiday strip has been stripped itself in major storms, earning it a spot among the state's 13 coastal erosion hot spots. None of the Hunter's beaches appear on that NSW Office of Environment and Heritage list, with four on the Central Coast the next closest to our region.
Yet Wednesday's unveiling of the $4.1 million sand transfer system at Midcoast Council will be welcome news for parts of the region, particularly Swansea, where similar issues with sand persist.
Midcoast Council bills its plan as a first for the NSW coast, an innovative plan that bears similarities to systems at Noosa and Lakes Entrance.
During two 10-day campaigns a year, the system will shift sands from stockpiles at Winda Woppa to replenish the shoreline through 10 discharge points. Much of the sand is expected to be drawn from dredging of the navigational channel, with 10,000 cubic metres to be used in each campaign.
Residents and authorities will be hopeful it is a system sophisticated enough to match the complex hydrology of Port Stephens.
The system follows sand buffer plans that had been running as recently as March, when 5000 cubic metres was added to the beach between Guya Street and Kururma Crescent. The same amount had been dumped there in June the year before.
Closing the loop at Jimmys beach, if it is achieved with the new sand transfer system as promised, will be met with cautious optimism along the Hunter's shores further south. The system is considered more suited to Swansea than Stockton, where sand depletion remains a major concern, but residents in that peninsula suburb will be hoping that lessons from a successful system can always be learned, considered and adapted.
There are high hopes that this project will solve a problem that has outlasted countless MPs, engineers, locals and less effective plans. While there are concerns over the sourcing of the sand, those can be addressed once the effectiveness of the sand transfer system is tested and established.
With winter conditions on the way, many eyes beyond the locals will be on how Jimmys beach withstands the sea's annual onslaught.