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Call to move Alexandra Headland rockwall to beat erosion

SHIFTING SHORES: Erosion between Maroochydore and Alexandra Headland caused by recent severe weather events.
SHIFTING SHORES: Erosion between Maroochydore and Alexandra Headland caused by recent severe weather events. Warren Lynam

MOTHER Nature won't be able to replenish the Coast's badly-eroded beaches, because man-made alterations to our coastline have disrupted natural sand movements forever.

That's the grim picture painted by former Maroochy shire councillor Jim Cash, an expert in coastal erosion and marine biology.

As the Coast's beaches lie battered after weeks of wild weather, Mr Cash said a possible solution for one of the worst hit areas between Maroochydore and Alexandra Headland would be to move the rock wall near the Alex surf club inland about 10m.

He admitted the "political will" for that drastic measure was "non-existent", but maintained the idea needed to be investigated if council was serious about reducing frequent erosion.

A Maroochy councillor in the 1980s, Mr Cash said he had studied records of sand movement along the coastline since 1841 and believed the cycle was disrupted by the construction of the rock walls at the mouth of the Mooloolah River, around 1960, and the Alexandra Headland rock wall.

"We used to get the coffee rock exposed and it was a natural occurrence but the sand used to come back on," he said. "Since the 1970s, it hasn't happened to the same extent."

He said the Alexandra Headland rock wall had created a problem by reflecting the energy in the waves, instead of allowing it to dissipate naturally.

That has prevented sand build-up at the beach, which had an effect further north at Maroochydore.

He said there was no basis to claims the sluggish recovery of the eroded beaches was caused by the Maroochy River mouth moving south of Pincushion Island.

"This keeps getting peddled and I just shake my head that people believe this is fact," he said.

"There's absolutely zero correlation and there's all these historic photos to prove it."

Mr Cash's fears for the long-term improvement of Coast beaches came as council revealed sand was beginning to return naturally to Mooloolaba Beach.

Denis Shaw, manager of Coastal and Canals, said the damage to the sand and vegetation on Sunshine Coast beaches was the worst seen in a number of decades.

"Some of the beaches are nearly back to the 1974 scarp, which was caused by Cyclone Wanda.

"The beach profile has been lowered by a metre to a metre and a half in some beaches across the region, including Mooloolaba Beach, with a lot of sand lost off-shore.

"Since Australia Day we've had nothing but large swells of over a metre on top of king tides and cyclonic weather events. The beaches haven't been given a chance to recover."

Brad Leslie, club captain at Alexandra Headland Surf Lifesaving Club, said the erosion was some of the worst he had seen, but was confident the sand would return.

"We can't land the IRB on the rocks."

Topics:  beaches, environment, erosion


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