Residents' plea as Queensland beach 'disappears' before their eyes

A Queensland council has stepped in to help save a "disappearing" beach following ongoing complaints from concerned residents about rapidly eroding sand dunes.

Sunrise Beach, just south of Noosa Heads, is popular among surfers and dog walkers, but in recent months, the coastline has shifted alarmingly closer to homes and roads.

The issue, locals say, is Burgess Creek which runs directly through the sand from a nearby sewage treatment plant, and it's filled with harmful contaminants.

The mouth of the creek once flowed directly out to sea, but a decision to redirect the creek to run along the dunes has wreaked havoc on the area.

Arial image of Sunrise beach and entrance point 38 in Noosa heads
The mouth of Burgess Creek used to flow directly out to sea (pictured) before it was changed to run across the beach towards the main entrance point. Source: Google Earth
The stairs at entrance point 38 at Sunrise Beach in Noosa Heads
The stairs at entrance point 38 will soon be wiped out if the dunes continue to disappear, locals say. Source: Supplied

Concerned residents speak out: 'The stairs are next'

Pictures shared on Facebook show the coastline moving closer to David Low Way, the 36-kilometre road connecting the coastal townships of the Sunshine Coast, and it's worrying locals.

"Anyone else concerned about the erosion from Burgess Creek at Sunrise Beach?" resident of 21 years, Heather DeLabertauche wrote on Facebook last month.

"David Low Way is only [just] above there. Once it gets too far in it might be too late and 2 sand dunes have already gone."

Access from David Low Way to Sunrise Beach at this point is via a staircase, called Entrance 38.

Sunrise Beach sand dune erosion with sign
One resident shared photos of the same beach entrance taken weeks apart which show the extent of the erosion. Source: Supplied

Another photo shared in a community group on Facebook by local Graham Freeman shows the extent of the ongoing issue affecting Entrance 38, a popular access point from David Low Way to Sunrise beach.

"The stairs are next," he wrote alongside an alarming photo of the sand dune, which in as many weeks, has moved some 70 metres from the shoreline right up to the stairs, furious locals claim.

"Beach erosion is ongoing but the current problem is the direction of Burgess Creek which is causing the erosion of a large section of dune," Mr Freeman told Yahoo News Australia.

"In the past council dug out the beach to keep the creek flowing straight out to sea" he said, but explained, "the council has not been maintaining it as it did in the past".

Other photos show one section of the beach taken just days apart, but as each day passes, "another couple metres of dune disappears overnight"

Fears council has 'neglected' the beach

Another resident agreed Noosa Council "dropped the ball big time," and over the past two years said they have "neglected" the dunes.

"Whenever the outflow pushed too far north they would correct it with an excavator," she said on Facebook. "This last two years it has been neglected and now we’ve lost dunes, and they will probably have to redo the stairs."

Sunrise Beach sand dune and Burgess Creek
Concerned locals have shared pictures of the beach which show how the creek is impacting the sand dunes. Source: Supplied

Sunrise Beach resident Bruce Stitz told Noosa Today "beachgoers using Entrance 38 have no choice but to cross the waters of this creek," regardless of which direction they head, posing a risk to their health as well.

"Council signs warn that this creek is not for swimming and its waters are not for human consumption," he told the publication.

"Surely this has the real possibility of having a detrimental outcome for the people who have no choice but to wade through this creek."

Graham Freeman in green shirt (left) and Heather DeLabertauche (right)
Local residents Graham Freeman (left) and Heather DeLabertauche (right) are growing increasingly worried about Sunrise Beach. Source: Supplied

Council 'prioritised flood-damage emergent work,' spokesperson says

On Friday, a spokesperson from Noosa Council confirmed the Infrastructure and Environment teams recently completed remediation work at the mouth of Burgess Creek, following concerns among the community.

Resident Mr Freeman told Yahoo News Australia the council had been using poor weather as a reason not to get the work done, but is glad it's finally happened.

CEO Scott Waters confirmed to Yahoo ongoing wet weather caused delays as staff had "prioritised flood-damage emergent work."

"The weather events over the last three months have been quite unprecedented creating several issues across the shire," he said in a statement.

 Surf tower on Sunrise beach in Noosa Heads
A surf tower on Sunrise Beach is edging closer to demolition as the sand dune creeps closer to it. Source: Facebook

"With the weather starting to settle and westerly winds providing natural sand replenishment, our staff secured the necessary equipment to undertake the standard redirection of the creek and build up the batters at the mouth as best as possible."

The work involved realigning the creek's mouth and shifting sand up to Beach access 38, where erosion had occurred.

They did this using a bulldozer and an excavator to help reshape, "batter up" the dunes and re-cut the creek to help drain water back into the sea.

Residents say the beach needs to be maintained going forward to stop it from disappearing entirely.

The direction of Burgess Creek on Sunrise Beach is eroding the sand dunes and making the beach disappear. Source: Supplied
The direction of Burgess Creek on Sunrise Beach is eroding the sand dunes and making the beach disappear. Source: Supplied

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