Monday 31 August 2020

Berejiklian Government bows to National Party slash & burn mentality in its media release but the Final Report of the NSW Bushfire Inquiry tells another story

In which the NSW Nationals through Deputy-Premier & MLA for Monaro John Barilaro insert into a government media release their dislike of national parks and unexploited Crown land. 

NSW GOVERNMENT, media release, 25 August 2020:

The NSW Government has released the independent NSW Bushfire Inquiry, which examined the causes, preparation and response to the devastating 2019-20 bushfires.

All 76 recommendations will be accepted in principle, with further work to be done on specific timelines to give communities assurance that changes will be made to keep them safe.

Any issues not covered in the report that are still relevant to the protection of property and life will also be further examined.

Resilience NSW, led by Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, has been tasked with coordinating and overseeing the implementation of the Inquiry’s recommendations as the government finalises its approach.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian thanked former NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Dave Owens and Professor Mary O’Kane AC for their hard work on this report.

The NSW Government has worked in lock-step with the RFS and Resilience NSW to ensure the state is as prepared as it can be to face the next fire season, but the learnings from this Inquiry will help us further improve our preparedness and response,” said Ms Berejiklian.

The NSW Government has already delivered more than $45 million in additional funding, announced in May 2020, to fast-track hazard reduction and deliver upgrades to our firefighting capability.

This was a terrible bushfire season and we will look at all the steps we can take, especially in relation to helping people protect their property.”

The findings of the report show that there is an opportunity to strengthen governance and responsibility, which we are in the process of addressing.

The report also acknowledges the significant contribution of both climate change and the vast expanse of the state’s bushland towards these devastating fires.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said all 76 recommendations in the Inquiry are based on the harsh lessons learnt from the catastrophic bushfires of last summer.

Last bushfire season was unlike anything we have ever dealt with before and we need a government response to match,” Mr Barilaro said.

Things like strategic hazard reduction and better land management no matter the tenure are essential when it comes to keeping our communities safe.”

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said NSW is more prepared than ever before for the 2020-21 fire season.

We have already begun implementing the Inquiry’s recommendation to replace and retrofit the fleet, with 120 new trucks and 70 refurbished trucks to be rolled out before the end of the financial year,” Mr Elliott said.

I would like to thank all our emergency personnel and volunteers who made us all proud over this relentless bushfire season.”

[my yellow highlighting]


In which the conclusion was reached that when it came to bushfires, precautionary hazard reduction had limited value and, assumed land management practices in national parks and state forests or on private land did not significantly influence whether a fire started or a fire's outcome.

FinalReport of the NSW Bushfire Inquiry, 31 July 2020, excerpts, pp. 49, 52-53, 56: Fuels on different types of land

Another common theme in the feedback to the Inquiry has been that fuel is managed better (or worse) on different types of land, with national parks in particular being criticised for ‘locking up’ land and allowing fuel to accumulate putting other landowners at risk, and that activity such as grazing should have been allowed in the parks to manage fuel loads.

The Research Hub examined this question using the Bees Nest fire in northern NSW as a case study to see whether aspects of fuel structure in forests – in terms of its cover and vertical connectivity – differed between different tenures: conservation estate (national park and State conservation area), State forest and privately owned land. These aspects of fuel cover and vertical connectivity are the factors considered likely to influence the likelihood of high intensity crown fires occurring.

The analysis used airborne LiDAR imagery to look at vegetation cover of the understorey (0.5-5 m height), lower canopy (5-15 m height) and upper canopy (greater than 15 m height).

In summary, this analysis showed that fuel cover and vertical connectivity between fuel levels were similar across different land tenures, and that there was no clear influence from inferred different management practices (for example, logging in State forests or grazing on private land) on the fuel properties of the forests on different land tenures. Therefore, in this case study area in northern NSW, the resultant bush fire hazard may have been similar across land tenure and the forest flammability (represented by measures of fuel structure) did not appear to have been a significantly influenced by different land management regimes.

The Inquiry notes that this work is only one case study and, as noted in the Research Hub’s report, relies on certain assumptions about management practices on the different tenures, and does not exclude the possibility that variations in logging and livestock grazing practices (e.g. different harvesting treatments, stocking rates etc.) could result in different results, or that different forest types might respond differently. However, as an initial case study, this points to some important issues that should be examined further in a more detailed investigation of the information generated from the 2019-20 fires across NSW. Would more hazard reduction have helped?

..In general, recent bush fires (unplanned fires) appeared to have a greater influence on preventing fire spread than recent prescribed burns, and while some recent prescribed fires had an influence on reducing fire severity, many had no obvious influence on fire severity. These effects are shown for the three case study areas in Figures 2-11, 2-12 and 2-13.

Overall, this work concluded that prescribed burns can reduce the severity of subsequent bush fires. However, “this effect is less than that of wildfires, it is short lived, and it is less effective under severe fire weather conditions”, findings that are consistent with much of the available literature…..

Another important question is whether fuel load or age had an impact on the number of successful ignitions. Certainly, dryness had an impact on the efficiency of ignitions by lightning (i.e. many lightning strikes resulted in ignitions because the fuel was so dry).

While this question cannot be answered with certainty for the 2019-20 season, research by Penman, Bradstock and Price (2013)123 on the Sydney basin found that, on days of Severe or Extreme fire risk, with a Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI)124 value greater than 50, the likelihood of ignition in younger fuels (recently burnt areas) is still high. This work found that fuel reduction is likely to influence lightning ignitions on days with low values of the FFDI – however, it notes that days with low FFDI values are not the conditions when large, serious bush fires tend to occur.
[my yellow highlighting]

Sunday 30 August 2020

Court of Appeal rejects Adani's application to search an activist's home & Supreme Court orders Adani to pay $106.8 million to four companies - in part due to its own "serious dishonesty"

ABC News, 27 August 2020:

Mining company Adani secretly sought to raid the Brisbane home of an activist to seize evidence but failed twice, court documents have revealed.

Adani and its Carmichael Rail Network applied for a search order, known as an Anton Piller order, against Benjamin Pennings in June this year.

It claimed Mr Pennings had possession of "confidential information on a computer at his home" which was being used in a concerted campaign of "intimidation and conspiracy" against the Galilee Basin coal project.

As part of the application, Adani claimed Mr Pennings had information to which only company executives and other select staff and contractors had access.

Anton Piller orders are searches carried out without notice to the defendant to ensure that evidence cannot be destroyed and is preserved to be used in judicial proceedings.

Adani's court application and subsequent appeal in July were also heard ex parte, meaning they were both heard without notice.

Adani has described Mr Pennings as the "principal" of a group of political activists called the "Galilee Blockade", whose objective is to prevent the development of the mine and railway.

In rejecting Adani and Carmichael Rail Network's appeal last week, the Court of Appeal ruled the evidence was "wholly inadequate to justify the order sought".

"The appellants have failed to establish the likelihood that Mr Pennings has any confidential information or that he has any confidential information stored at his home," the Court of Appeal judges said.

"They have failed to establish the likelihood that the use of any confidential information has resulted in any loss."

The Court of Appeal also raised concerns about the impact of a search order could have had on Mr Pennings' partner and children.

"Surely, to permit a search of a defendant's house, with the humiliation and family distress which that might involve, lies at the outer boundary of the discretion," the Court of Appeal judges said.

"This is because, for reasons that anyone can understand, the 'shock, anger, confusion' and the 'sense of violation and powerlessness' will be much greater in such a case and may be suffered not only by someone who is proved in due course to be a wrongdoer, but by entirely innocent parties as well."……

Read the full article here.


Mining Pty Ltd & Anor v Pennings [2020] QCA 169 (17 August 2020)

The Adani Group appears to have been the applicant or been named as a respondent in around seven court cases between 2013 and 2020.

This is the latest:

Excerpts from the judgment:

[197] The applicant’s conduct was deliberate, not just heedless or indifferent 81 to the position of the remaining users. The applicant was fully cognisant as to the effect its behaviour would have in increasing the fixed costs to the remaining users. It desired that effect in order to advantage itself financially. That is, to achieve a gain for itself, the applicant engaged in calculated behaviour to the disadvantage of the respondents.82 This is evident in the timing and structure of the QCPL transactions.”

[203] The applicant’s behaviour in attempting to disguise or camouflage the true basis of its dealings with QCPL involved dishonesty – [117] ff and [122], and so far as this proceeding is concerned, involved serious dishonesty – [98] and [121].”

PACIFIC HIGHWAY UPGRADE: flooding fears surface in the Clarence Valley in 2020

ClarenceValley Independent, 26 August 2020:

As the new highway nears completion across the Lower Clarence, fears have been raised about what happens during a flood, due to the highway apparently acting as a dam at various locations.

The areas around Ferry Park to Shark Creek (where rising floodwater first breaks the river’s banks) and Chatsworth Island (where long sections of the highway “act like a dam wall”) are locations where floodwater behaviour will be affected.

And, with the Bureau of Meteorology announcing that there is a 70 per cent chance of La Nina developing (“roughly three times the average likelihood”), which “typically increases the chance of above average rainfall across much of Australia during spring”, the flood modelling in Pacific Complete’s Hydrological Mitigation Report,Glenugie to Devils Pulpit could be put to the test sooner, rather than later.

In general terms, according to a letter from Transport NSW, in answer to an enquiry by Chatsworth Island resident Shane Williams, changes to flood behaviour across the Clarence River regional catchment are as follows:
  • A minor increase in flood level to the west of the highway;
  • A minor decrease in flood level to the east;
  • A minor increase in flood duration to the west and also to the east in some areas; and,
  • No perceptible change in flood velocity or direction.
The mitigation report states in the overall flood impact assessment that resultant increases in flood levels across the floodplain are“considered minor and generally meet the limits set by the flood management objectives”.

On flood duration, the report states that, overall, any changes in duration “meet the limits set by the flood management objectives (less than five percent increase)”, however, at “some small localised areas … between Maclean and Iluka Road … the flood duration is predicted to be affected by more than five percent”.

Under existing conditions, most of the land within the Clarence River regional floodplain is flooded for more than 72 hours for the 20, 50 and 100-year ARI (average recurrence interval) events,” the report states.

For the 5-year ARI event, areas around the fringe of the floodplain are flooded for a range of durations from less than six hours up to 72 hours.”

The report states that “there are small increases in flood level between five millimetres to 15 millimetres in the Clarence River main channel” and that “there are no impacts to the township of Maclean in the 5 and 20-year ARI flood events, as the Maclean levee is not overtopped”.

While the levee “is overtopped under both existing and future conditions for the 50-year ARI event … and a large part of Maclean is flooded”, the report notes that “further analysis” of the 50-year ARI event is incomplete and that “mitigation measures are under investigation”.

At Harwood “a minor increase in flood levels upstream due to the bridge piers” is an expectation……

Read the full article here.


Friday 28 August 2020

As if the NSW Northern Rivers doesn't have enough on its plate, here's Pete!

TV chef and wannabe social media 'influencer' Pete Evans has his two-level Malabar home (left) on the market again.

Word is that he is making his ten hectare Round Mountain Farm, near Pottsville, home base as he prepares to open a healing clinic in Byron Bay now that Channel 7 has apparently tired of his antics.

That's right readers, your eyes didn't deceive you, the man who peddled glorified light shows as preventatives against COVID-19 and was fined more than $25,000 by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) over false claims he made about the "BioCharger", wants to run an alternative healing business in The Habitat, Byron’s new commercial precinct which has reportedly attracted health and beauty outlets.

The same man who without any scientific or medical training gave alarmingly bad advice to osteoporosis sufferers and was publicly slammed by the Australian Medical Association.

Who promotes 'anti-vaxxer' sites as well as the debunked "Plandemic: Indoctrination" conspiracy film on social media and, suggests putting doTERRA essential oils in your chicken broth - regardless of the fact that these oils are rarely advised to be taken internally.

Finally, this is the man who thinks 'fat shaming' a woman is a fun thing to do on Facebook.

It seems that Evans may have sensed a vacancy, since former tennis coach and "esoteric healer" Serge Benhayon removed himself from the local spotlight after he spectacularly lost a defamation case in 2018 to the tune of an estimated $1.2 million payout to the respondent and then Universal Medicine was stripped of its Lismore Business Awards after a review by the Lismore Chamber of Commerce.

Grafton still chasing after its lost Regional City classification

Grafton, NSW

The 2016 national census recorded the population of Grafton in the Clarence Valley as 10,385 people living in 4,696 dwellings, with an average household size of 2.27

Last year it was optimistically estimated that the population had grown to 10,629 people - an increase of 224 people in the last 3 years - though how many of these are Pacific Highway road workers who will soon move on to other areas is not known.

The fact of the matter is that Grafton's population in the 28 years between the 1991 and 2016 census only grew by est. 125 people. 

Grafton, which was made a city over 135 years ago, has been in decline now for at least the last 20 years. Its regional city status was removed by the Baird Coalition Government in 2016 when it was reclassified as a strategic centre.

It is unlikely to have city status reinstated while the local population continues to age and, in some years more people are leaving or dying than are coming into Grafton as permanent residents.

Clarence Valley Council continues to hope and throw money at an intractable problem........

The Daily Examiner, 21 August 2020:

Clarence Valley Council’s local strategic planning statement will form the basis of council’s direction with regard to their plans over the coming years.

It is a large document that has received submissions over the past months from community groups, government organisations and ratepayers having their say about how it should be approached.

As the draft of the plan came before this week’s Environment, Planning and Community committee, Mayor Jim Simmons took the opportunity to question the balance of where the priorities lie.

Mr Simmons said he supported the focus on returning Grafton to regional city status, and the emphasis on the strategic importance of Grafton, the surrounding infrastructure and industry.

However, he was concerned the draft was too Grafton-centric. “When I read this document, the first thing that hit my head … is the emphasis placed on expenditure in Grafton and the surrounding areas,” Cr Simmons said.

I would like the rest of the information in the report to also hit me in the face, and get a little bit excited over what it means for areas outside Grafton.

I’d like to see the same thing hitting me in the face for the Lower Clarence — in fact the whole Clarence Valley.” It is a sentiment reflected in comments made on the draft planning statement. The report to council notes there were a number of well-articulated concerns raised about the focus placed on Grafton and the apparent emphasis, and therefore council spending, in and around Grafton.

This included requests for no more spending on a number of areas, including the airport, a possible freight hub, efforts to grow the population and promoting Grafton as a Regional City,” it states.

Some submissions stated that Grafton is not an attractor for residents of the Lower Clarence, who are more likely to use Ballina and Lismore for shopping, medical, air travel and other needs.” The report states despite these submissions, it was recommended council continue to support the promotion of Grafton as a Regional City, to provide for the community and grow the economy and provide job prospects and social opportunities.....

Thursday 27 August 2020

When someone on Clarence Valley Council staff can't add the dollars up

If local government administration in the Clarence Valley thought it could quietly adjust a $9,576 maths error it found it was mistaken...... 

The Daily Telegraph, 20 August 2020:

An accounting error has led to council staff underestimating the cost of a councillor pay rise.

The controversial decision to raise the rate of remuneration for councillors and the mayor was passed at the Clarence Valley Council’s July meeting and was expected to cost $88,012.

However, in the monthly financial report tabled at the Corporate Governance and Works committee meeting yesterday, the figure had grown to $97,588 – with no explanation.

While acknowledging staff had already provided an answer as to why there was a difference, Councillor Greg Clancy asked that it be explained again for the public record.

Director of corporate and governance Laura Black said the reason for the discrepancy was because the original calculation for the adopted budget was not correct.

We didn’t pick that up until such time as we did the re-calculation when council last month adopted the option for the increase,” she said.

The report itself should detail that and doesn’t do that.” Mr Clancy then wanted clarification on whether the mistake would have some bearing on the motion carried at the previous meeting, which specified the $88,012 to be reflected in the monthly financial report.

I can’t understand how we can have two separate figures. When we have a motion that says $88,012 and the table here is $97,588,” he said.

Council general manager Ashley Lindsay said council was in fact correcting the record with the monthly report, but agreed with Ms Black in that it should have contained an explanation. 

Ms Black added that councillors had not yet adopted the change to the budget, something which would occur at the quarterly budget review…..

Wednesday 26 August 2020

I am one Yamba resident who is really incensed that these wealthy, self-entitled #COVIDIOTS placed my community at risk

I suspect that I am not the only Clarence Valley resident disturbed by this breach of COVID-19 public health orders.

Like others I am wondering why the Port Of Yamba, a first point of entry for vessels and certain goods, as determined under subsection 229(1) of the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth), a) did not restrict the "Lady Pamela" to an overnight only mooring within the formal limits of the port and prohibit crew or passengers from leaving the confines of the yacht or b) if mooring was for longer than overnight did not require passengers & crew to be tested for the virus.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 August 2020:

Melbourne millionaire Mark Simonds and his family face a two-week stay in hotel lockdown after the Queensland government revoked a quarantine exemption for their super-yacht Lady Pamela. 

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, in a joint investigation with A Current Affair, revealed the 30-metre vessel docked on the Gold Coast on Monday morning after slipping out of Melbourne on August 9 and stopping on at least five occasions as it sailed up the east coast. 

Mr Simonds, executive director of the ASX-listed Simonds Group, was joined on his 15-day jaunt by his wife, Cheryl, his youngest son Vallence and Hannah Fox, daughter of Linfox executive chairman Peter Fox. 

The Queensland government granted an exemption to the Lady Pamela on Sunday night to enter the state but on Tuesday afternoon that exemption was revoked after Queensland Health said it had received new information. 

"All seven people are now required to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 14 days at their own expense," a Queensland Health spokesperson said. 

"Attempting to bypass or manipulate Queensland's border direction is unacceptable." Queensland Police had been provided with video evidence by A Current Affair, which revealed passengers and crew disembarking from the Lady Pamela in Yamba on August 21, which is understood to have breached the conditions of their exemption. 

The group, which also includes several crew members, were removed from the Lady Pamela by members of Queensland Police just before 7pm on Tuesday evening, before they boarded a mini-van.....

Since last Wednesday, the boat had been moored in an inlet in Yamba, on the NSW north coast, where the Simonds family were seen swimming in the Clarence River and drinking on deck, while a crew member was dispatched to bring supplies.

Marine Traffic, 26 August 2020:

Where is the ship?
Pleasure Craft LADY PAMELA is currently located at EAUS - East Australia at position 27° 51' 48.564" S, 153° 20' 20.76" E as reported by MarineTraffic Terrestrial Automatic Identification System on 2020-08-25 21:25 UTC (58 minutes ago)
The wind in this area at that time blows from North direction at force 0 Beaufort.

Where is this vessel going to?
The vessel is currently at port HOPE ISLAND, AU after a voyage of 2 days, 22 hours originating from port YAMBA, AU.

What kind of ship is this?
LADY PAMELA (MMSI: 503009200) is a Pleasure Craft and is sailing under the flag of Australia.
Her length overall (LOA) is 29 meters and her width is 7 meters.

Purpose-built artificial reef in Tweed Heads coastal waters likely to be complete this summer

Approx. 7.5km south of the Tweed Heads river entrance, situated between Cook Island Nature reserve and Wommin Bay, this purpose-built artificial reef is being installed at a depth of 25 metres.

It is hoped that installation will be complete in time for summer fishing this year. 

Species anticipated to frequent the reef are expected to include Kingfish, Cobia, Trevally, Snapper, Mulloway & Mackerel.

According to NSW Dept. of Primary Industries, the Tweed offshore reef will be the State’s most northern reef complex and is likely to be influenced by subtropical species endemic to Queensland waters.

The artificial reef itself is a 10 metre high conical steel construction surrounded by 32 concrete modules.

Tuesday 25 August 2020

A reminder that past mistakes make the Far North Coast even more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change

It is easy to forget that long before modern urban population pressure and seachange retirees, the coastal fringe of the Northern Rivers region was being shaped by mining which irreversibly weakened shorelines now experiencing increasingly erosive wave patterns due to climate change.

This past degradation of coastal sand dunes and barrier beaches leaves many communities vulnerable.

Echo NetDaily, 12 December 2013:

Mining, not waves, destroyed Belongil

Oh, spare me. The Belongil? Again? Could The Echo run that article from a few years back that detailed (with photos) the deep sandmining that destroyed the ancient solid dune base right across Byron Bay and Tallows and more?

Is there anyone left alive who knows there’s a place called The Sand Hills Estate in Byron Bay, and why? As a reminder, it’s where the YAC is, and there were huge sand hills there, which were mined out. Does anyone recall there was a freshwater lake there, just like the ones on Fraser Island that had to be protected from sandmining in the 70s? Byron’s lake was not protected, and it was destroyed by sandmining.

Are there still residents who recall the mining industry and politicians saying the mining was ever so important, for the space program no less, and that the beaches would be fine? Because a magic plant named bitou bush would hold the soft sand together after the ancient black sand was removed?

But it turned out the black sand was used for cheap insulation on power lines, the bitou bush became an ecological nightmare, and the soft sand washed away in the first big storm. Does anyone remember any of this? Or that we even used to have black sand? And that was when the mining industry/political fixers came up with: it’s a natural process and we need a planned retreat? Any of this sound familiar? Does anyone know what the black sand was, how it got there, and how long it takes to accumulate?

And the current cliff edge at Belongil? Anyone actually bother to look at a survey map? Because that edge just happens to be where the mining stopped, at boundaries of private land. Notice that otherwise the whole thing would have been mined, washed away, and the sea would likely be across Ewingsdale Road?

For goodness sake, anyone remember the radioactive tailings dumped as landfill around town, that was all supposed to be fine? Until some smart bloke wandered about with a Geiger counter and a few people woke up. Is that sand-processing plant still rusting on the beach at Kingscliff? You know, the one with the big signs that say ‘WARNING: RADIOACTIVE’?

For pity’s sake, what on Earth lets people make statements without any reference to the geological, industrial, or political history of the landscape, and line up as the poster boys for mining industry arse-covering, and yet claim to give a damn about the world?

Listen, John Vaughan may annoy people, he may be obstreperous and confrontational in manner, but he’s actually, in this case, right. Do. Your. Homework. Or. Don’t. Put. Your. Hand. Up.

Matt Hartley, Byron Bay


The birth of sand mining in Australia took place in Ballina, NSW, in 1870, when John Sinclair discovered gold in the black sand on Shaw’s beach. That discovery sparked a gold rush that lasted for nearly 30 years. At its peak there were about 300 people digging for gold on the beaches around Ballina (Morley, 1981).

It is, however, unlikely that the beaches were in pristine shape before the gold rush started. Cement production didn’t begin in Australia until about the same time as the beginning of gold mining on the beaches (NSW Heritage Office, 2003), so beach sand wouldn’t have been mined for construction work prior to that time. But cedar getters began working in the forests in the 1840s and they hauled logs to the beaches and out to schooners moored offshore (NPWS, 2007). This undoubtedly caused some significant damage to parts of the dune systems.

The beach gold miners depended on south-easterly gales to expose the black sand and bring the heavier, gold-containing particles to the beach surface (Morley, 1981) and mining was done entirely by hand (Nott, 1957 cited in Borland, 1999).

Within twenty years, most of the beach gold deposits were exhausted and the attention of the miners turned inland. By the end of the century, gold had been discovered on beaches from Bermagui, NSW to Fraser Island, Qld, but its peak had passed (Morley, 1981).

For the next couple of decades, mining for gold, platinum, and tin continued on the beaches around Byron Bay. But around 1920 there began to be an interest in other minerals that were found in the beach sands – rutile, zircon, and ilmenite, the “heavy minerals”.

The first large scale mining of heavy mineral sands was carried out in 1935 when Zircon-Rutile Ltd began production of zircon and rutile at Byron Bay. They only processed the ore, and engaged contractors to do the mining – which was done on the beach by hand, using shovels (Morley, 1981).

When mineral sand deposits were discovered in the back dunes and heathland country behind the beaches, mining techniques changed. Ponds were dug and small floating dredges were used to extract the minerals (Nott, 1957 cited in Borland, 1999).

In the 1950s, as a result of criticism of the environmental damage being done by sand mining, the NSW Mines department began to work towards improving the rehabilitation of mine sites. But it wasn’t until the late 1960s that any serious effort was put into this process (Unwin & Cook, 1986 cited in Burdett, 1994).

Around that time, reprofiling of sand dunes was improved by the introduction of a stacker boom to rebuild the dunes with the tailings sand returned from the separation plant (Burdett, 1994).

In the 1960s mining began in the aeolian high dunes of southern Queensland (Morley, 1981).

In the late 1960s, mining companies began to employ qualified rehabilitation workers for the first time. (Unwin & Cook, 1986 cited in Burdett, 1994)….. 

Aunty Linda Vidler (2004), an Arakwal elder from the Byron Bay area, recalled 30 foot high sand dunes at Tallow Beach before sand mining took place. There were also dune swales and permanent lakes (Vidler 2003, cited in NPWS, 2007). Today the dune system there is more uniform, flat and simplified (NPWS, 2007). 

It is likely that while sand mining continued, it caused increased erosion of the shoreline of Australian beaches, as seems to have been the case with sand mining in California (Thornton et. al., 2006). Landward displacement of frontal dunes has occurred (Dallas & Tuck, 2008). Lack of vegetation and dune instability in old, unrehabilitated mine sites continues to contribute to erosion of the dune systems. 

Sand mining has destroyed archeological and heritage sites, such as Aboriginal camp sites, middens and possibly burial sites (Dallas & Tuck, 2008). Many sites of European and Aboriginal value were lost to sand mining around the Ballina area (Dept. of Land and Water Conservation, 2003)..... 

Port Of Yamba Historical Society Museum, 30 July 2018: 

Yamba’s Pippi Beach is a big open beach ideal for long walks, surfing and fishing. At low tide the odd Pippi shellfish can be seen, but not as many as there were before sand mining and overharvesting in the mid 1900s. 

In almost every decade of the twentieth century sand mining has occurred along the north coast of NSW. The sand, rich in zircon, rutile, ilmenite and monazite was considered valuable for steel alloys, enamels, glazes and glass. 

The Depression delayed early attempts but in 1934/5 leases at Iluka, Yamba and Back Beach, Angourie were exploited. The Yamba lease consisted of a 40 metre wide strip of beach above low water mark and from a point on Pippi Beach opposite the present Ngaru Village and including most of Barri Beach (locally known as Mines or Dump Beach). The sand was loaded by hand into a horse-drawn dray, which took the mineral to the treatment plant, about 1.2 km south of Barri Point (Flat Rock). Later a tramline was erected on the beach, and hopper trucks, still loaded by hand, took the sand to the treatment plant pulled by a small diesel locomotive. 

The Yamba lease was worked out by 1937 and production shifted to Angourie. Another tramway was built from the treatment plant to Back Beach, Angourie but little evidence remains of this tramway today. 

In 1942/3 four new leases covered Turners, Yamba and Convent Beaches in Yamba and Green Point, Spookies and Back Beaches at Angourie. A small amount of mineral sand was taken from Main Beach, Yamba in 1943 before an appeal by a delegation from the surf club to the Minister for Mines had the mining stopped. A further lease was obtained in 1943 covering Barri Beach and Pippi Beach up to Lovers Point. On seeing the notices of the proposed mining activity, William Ager appealed for Council to resist the lease applications, feeling that the mining would undermine his conservation work. Despite the lease being granted, however, no mining took place in favour of richer mineral deposits further north in the Cudgen area. 

 Another period of mining occurred from 1968-1970, when sand dunes behind the beaches from Brooms Head to Yamba and Iluka were mined then rebuilt using front-end loaders. 

The Bitou bush planted by the mining company to rehabilitate the dunes has since become a noxious weed. They did however discover the Yamba Cemetery, located towards the south end of Pippi Beach, covered in 20 feet of sand. 

The declaration of Yuraygir National Park in 1980 and the importance of our beaches for tourism have largely ended any prospect of further mining. The North Coast Environmental Council and Maclean Shire Council blocked an attempt in 1995, especially after exploratory work caused severe dune damage. 

Clarence Valley Council, Coastal Hazard Study for Pippi Beach, Yamba, 23 March 2016: 

Pippi Beach and its adjoining headland to the north at Yamba Point are of high aesthetic and environmental value. 

The beach is generally backed by dunes located within Crown Reserve. These dunes were mined for heavy minerals in the 1970s and later revegetated. Poorly managed stormwater discharges into the dunes at the northern end of the beach led to erosion of the dune face and formation of localised blow outs. 

Coastal hazard investigations by Manly Hydraulics Laboratory in 2002 found that Pippi Beach was only mildly affected by coastal hazard. However, storms in recent years have lowered the beach profile and impacted on beach amenity. 

Also a public footpath has been proposed joining Yamba Point with beaches to the south and a concern has been expressed for the stability of elevated bluff areas to be traversed by this path..... 

The Daily Examiner, 2 March 2018: 

Wooli Beach, Brooms Head, Woody Head and Yamba beaches are all being impacted by coastal erosion. The Daily Examiner has been following the erosion since the high tides and big swells were forced upon the Clarence in late December 2017, January and February this year.

Map of historical coastal mineral sand mining
from Yamba in the north to Wooli in the southern section of the Clarence Coast
IMAGE: "There were always people here: a history of Yuraygir National Park", p.55


While minerals sands mining results in short-term alteration of ecosystems, there is a particular concern that thorium, the principal radioactive component of monazite, may over time leach from tailings dumps into local water supply systems. Also, as elevated radiation levels are likely to occur at areas of spillage adjacent to monazite loading and storage facilities on former mining sites, it may be necessary to have a system of controls to restrict the public and nearby landowners from having contact with some parts of former mine sites [Greg Swensen, Mineral sands mining in Western Australia, p.2]. 

Some samples in an old ilmenite stockpile (since removed) at Jerusalem Creek in Bundjalung National Park held thorium and uranium that exceed public health exemption criteria. [NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Bundjalung National Park Review of Environmental Factors: Proposed ilmenite stockpile removal and site rehabilitation, 2016]