New push to tackle major beach problem that's left multi-million dollar Aussie homes on the edge

There's been little action to save homes from an ever-present threat along Australia's eastern coastline.

Homes in Wamberal (left) and Collaroy (right) have been under threat for years now. Source: Yahoo/ ABC
Homes in Wamberal (left) and Collaroy (right) have been under threat for years now. Source: Yahoo/ ABC

Owners of multi-million dollar homes hugging NSW's coastline are desperately looking for a solution to fix a major problem before it's too late.

Coastal erosion has been badly impacting dozens of beaches along the coast, with homes in Sydney's Collaroy and the Central Coast's Wamberal among those teetering on the edge of ruin.

And while it has been four years since Wamberal beach suffered extensive erosion following a huge storm in 2020, little has been done in terms of a long-term solution to save the at-risk homes. Even in 2020 the issue had long been ongoing, with resident Warren Hughes telling Yahoo News Australia he was "extremely upset" with the lack of action.

"All we ever wanted to do... was have the right as a basic Australian to protect our property,” he said.

Nine coastal Wamberal properties pictured in 2020 amid a damaging storm.
Wamberal properties pictured in 2020 amid a damaging storm. Source: Getty

Proposals of a seawall, like one built on one section of Collaroy beach, have been met with resistance, one some beachgoers do not favour, the ABC reported.

One solution gaining momentum is sand nourishment, where sand is dredged from the seabed and dumped onto the beach. Coastal engineer Angus Gordon told the ABC councils along the coast should band together and form a shared sand nourishment program and called on the state government to take the lead and to contribute to the costs.

"The secret is to carry it out on a large scale. The only sensible way to work it is for the state government to take leadership," he said.

Stockton beach in Newcastle has been able to undergo some dredging but has been unable to get anywhere near the sheer amount of sand needed to successfully complete the process due to funds.

And of course, there's no guarantee it will work. Just look at the US beach in Massachusetts where residents spent $565,000 (A$855,000) in a similar project building a sand dune to protect their homes. Just days later, a storm washed it away.

UNSW's coastal engineering expert Dr Mitchell Harley told Yahoo earlier this year that coastal erosion is only likely going to increase and we need to make sure the same planning mistakes are not made for our future generations.

"Unfortunately, we still see examples of inappropriate planning. Coastal populations are getting bigger and everybody wants to live near the coast," he said.

"We need to ensure that we're not creating these [same] legacy issues for future generations to deal with like we have been."

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