Huge swells on NSW Central Coast leave Wamberal homes at risk of collapse due to beach erosion

By Matilda Boseley

Beachfront homes along the New South Wales Central Coast have been left dangling over the ocean and in danger of collapse after powerful surf caused massive erosion.

A powerful low across Australia’s east coast earlier in the week created large swells and high waves battering some coastal areas.

Houses on Ocean Drive in Wamberal
Houses on Ocean View Drive in Wamberal at significant risk of structural collapse due to beach erosion. Photograph: Anthony Parry/Terrigal Fire Station / facebook

The worst-hit suburb was Wamberal, where large beachfront homes have been significantly damaged as the sandy soil they were built on was stripped away.

On Friday morning the foundations of some homes were visible, hanging above the ocean metres below, while others had damage to their backyards and decks.

David Thomas Moore (@PopcornDave89)

More vision of the erosion happening now at Wamberal Beach @nbnnews

July 16, 2020

State Emergency Service controller Rolf Garda told the ABC it was the most significant erosion damage he had seen in 30 years.

Matilda Boseley (@MatildaBoseley)

From the Wamberal Community Group website. Erosion in 1978, not wholly dissimilar from what is happening in the same area today

July 17, 2020

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

Residents of some houses were ordered to evacuate by the SES and warned the structures could collapse.

“NSW SES volunteers have been on the ground doorknocking, advising residents to evacuate,” a spokeswoman said.

“Our volunteers have been and will continue to support Central Coast council where it can.”

The council said there had been significant erosion and sand loss, and urged people to avoid the beaches.

“Council teams have been on the ground checking in on residents in impacted areas, and continuing to monitor coastal infrastructure and coastal lagoon levels,” a spokeswoman said in a statement on Friday.

It’s understood that any physical work to protect houses or mitigate the effect of the rough surf on the coast falls outside SES jurisdiction and must be contracted by the local council.

Sarah Iuliano (@sarah_iuliano)

Massive swells have knocked over a large part of the dune at Wamberal Beach, leaving homes on a knife edge. Residents say urgent protection is needed against mother nature’s wrath.
📹 @PopcornDave89 @nbnnews

July 16, 2020

It appears some have attempted to mitigate the impact on the shoreline by placing large concrete blocks along the stretch of coast.

The erosion on the cost had been getting progressively worse over the last several days.

“A guy came in yesterday and he told us that his home was a metre away from going in. He was heartbroken … It’s so scary for some of the customers who live here,” said Amanda Keanelly, a worker at a local cafe.

She told Guardian Australia Ocean View Drive had been filled with curious people hoping to get a look.

Local resident Margaret Brice told the ABC many were angry a protective wall had not been constructed along the foreshore.

“We’re frightened, vulnerable and angry we’ve come to this situation, which we knew was going to happen because the wall wasn’t built.”

Further north at Newcastle’s Stockton Beach, where coastal erosion has been a problem for decades, the latest weather event has local Simon Jones fearing the worst.

“It has basically been destroyed,” the Northside Boardriders’ Club president said of the beach.

“There’s metres of erosion pretty much from one end of Stockton to another.”

Jones said erosion on parts of the beach was the worst he had seen it.

He estimated up to 30m of beach had been lost in the past three years, with residents worried the erosion has been accelerating during a five-year period.

Huge swells wreaked havoc in September last year, with the erosion so severe it forced the permanent closure of the suburb’s only childcare centre.