Longtime Bribie Island resident, Diane Oxenford has joined the debate over a sand pump system, which has been installed on an otherwise pristine Bribie Island beach.
“I think one thing we have to realise is we need to restore the health of our dune systems and our beach at Bribie Island, way back when the Woorim Master Plan was put in place, the community stipulated that they wanted to maintain a natural beach, natural bush setting for Bribie, and part of that was a dune system,” Ms Oxenford said in the podcast above.
“And now the council, we have a whole new management team.
“It’s just fantastic.
“And they’ve continued to consult with the community.
“We have a Woorim Erosion Reference Group that’s been meeting since 2008 or 2007, and we share information with the council, what we think because we live in the community, and council comes back with their plans to address things.
“And we are finally getting something that will actually restore our beach, we hope.”
In response to comments made about the unacceptable noise and visual impact on the beach and surrounding area where the pumping station has been installed, Ms Oxenford rejected those concerns aired by a group called Woorim Alliance for the Sand Pump relocation (WASP).
“All these things are important and if people are just upset over a piece of equipment that’s down there that is going to actually restore our beach, then I have a problem with that,” Ms Oxenford explained.
“And since it’s been operational, it hasn’t made that much noise that’s a nuisance to the community from my understanding.”
Moreton Bay Region Councillor for Division 1, Brooke Savige has failed to respond to requests for comment on this issue.
Read the Diane Oxenford Responds to Sand Pumping on Bribie Island has Pumped up Angry Residents Article TRANSCRIPT
Andrew MW: Thank you very much for you company. You are listening to TrueAU.news radio. Look, we introduced or we published a publication a while ago. It was titled Sand Pumping on Bribie Island, and it’s pumped up angry residents. It’s all about a sand-pumping station that has been placed on a beach at Bribie Island, and it’s there to move sand backwards called a sand back-passing system. It’s a trial. It could go for a number of years.
In that article, quite a few residents had voiced their concerns through a petition, and then Brad Kennedy who had gone on a record and said what he high had to say in relation to not being happy about the look of the system and also the noise that it’s likely to generate. He hadn’t heard it himself, but had said to other people had heard it. But to add to this, we have Diane Oxenford on the line. Diane Oxenford, how are you?
Diane Oxenford: Well, thank you, Andrew. How are you?
Andrew MW: Yeah, good. Look, you’ve looked at that article and you’ve got more to add to it. What would you like to say?
Diane Oxenford: Well, I think one thing we have to realise is we need to restore the health of our dune systems and our beach at Bribie Island, way back when the Woorim Master Plan was put in place, the community stipulated that they wanted to maintain a natural beach, natural bush setting for Bribie, and part of that was a dune system. It used to be a lot of bush. We’ve lost 80 metres of land south of the main beach because the groin was put in way back when and, and we need to restore all this and get a healthy beach back. What we don’t want to protect infrastructure and the built environment is a rock wall or a concrete wall because that totally ruins the whole natural process of beaches. And what was the data back in 2007 when BMTWBM, the coastal engineers who put together the Woorim Beach Shoreline Erosion Management Plan, identified was a 10% deficit between the erosion and accretion seasons, which erosion is summer and accretion is winter.
So that 10% deficit with the North-South current was actually eating away. And then when a cyclone comes, that eats away even more. What BMTWBM recommended was beach nourishment. And at that point a sand back-passing system was considered too expensive. So the council went with the other option to use the dredge material coming from the port of Brisbane to pump on to the beach. And that’s what was done. But it wasn’t done according to the recommendations in the WBSEM. And this has sort of caused a few problems and then nothing happened. So we have an accumulation of this deficit, which is not good.
And now the council, we have a whole new management team. It’s just fantastic. And they’ve continued to consult with the community. We have a Woorim Erosion Reference Group that’s been meeting since 2008 or 2007, and we share information with the council, what we think because we live in the community, and council comes back with their plans to address things. And we are finally getting something that will actually restore our beach, we hope.
And sand back-passing systems have been used for years, for decades. I mean they used it with Gold Coast, Noosa and all those places. But ours is a little different. Because we have nesting turtles, the council consulted with us. And we’re putting new pipes at the back of the dune so we can continue to have this lovely natural dune process without pipes and rocks and all that sort of thing underneath the sand.
So we are actually going to get a good natural system going here and council and and the community vegetating the dunes and all that sort of thing to capture the sand, to grow the dunes towards the the sea rather than having the dunes grow inland. All these things are important and if people are just upset over a piece of equipment that’s down there that is going to actually restore our beach, then I have a problem with that. And since it’s been operational, it hasn’t made that much noise that’s a nuisance to the community from my understanding. I’ve spoken with a few community members and they’ve said, “No, it’s not as bad as it was made out it was going to be.” So all these, it’s just a small inconvenience for a huge gain.
Andrew MW: Yeah. Diane Oxenford, it sounds lucky if paid a lot of attention to these over quite some period of time with the information that you’re sharing now. Can you explain to us how we have found ourselves with this issue? Because you’re talking about the sand back passing system or restoring it, but if it’s going to restore it permanently, is there something that’s going to be done to actually fix the issue in the first place that’s causing the deficit?
Diane Oxenford: Well, I think one of the big things is vegetation, vegetation, vegetation. And the dune is made up of different zones. You have this strand line and then another zone, another [line 00:05:47]. So the one closest to the actual water’s edge is where you plant the ground covering salt-tolerant vegetation like spinifex and goat’s foot and all those sorts of plants. Then you put in salt-tolerant shrubbery and then you go back and you put in salt-tolerant trees such as casuarinas that actually fix nitrogen to the soil because the sand isn’t all that nutrient-rich. So that provides the nutrients, so all the other smaller plants can grow. And then after that you get another zone where you can have salt-intolerant plants but you must have the ones ahead of those to protect them. And this is what we lost in couple of storm events and removal of trees and things.
We lost the salt-tolerant vegetation, so the salt-intolerant vegetation died as a result because it was exposed to all the salt and everything in the wind. But you need all this vegetation to make sure the sand is captured, and it grows the dune out. So once we restore the dunes and we have good vegetation, there is much better likelihood that we will be able to have a natural beach process, and the ecology and ecosystems will all come back to become a natural way of regenerating the beach and let the beach work itself. If we let nature work itself, it’ll solve all these things.
But with climate change and sea level rise and the temperatures rising and all those things, we have to put in place something that will protect the built environment. Otherwise, we’re going to have to retreat and take out that built environment.
And I remember when I first came here, there was talk that, I think it was the state government, and I can’t prove all this because I don’t have the documents or the the source at my fingertips. But Rickman Parade, which is the most vulnerable of all our built environment, the real estate there is at total risk because there is what is called a declared erosion control zone. And that’s the minimum of 150 metres between the highest astronomical tidemark and the built environment. Well, Rickman Parade has probably 35 to 40 metres between here. And in the last huge cyclone when we had Oswald, 20 metres of land was taken out, three metres deep.
So this is urgent to get the health of this beach back, this protective dune system. We must get it back because we do not want rock walls. They’re hideous. They’re dangerous, and they’re a liability. They need constant maintenance. Whereas, if you let a beach work its magic, it will protect us. But with the climate change and all that sort of thing, back when I first came here, the thought was because Rickman Parade is so vulnerable, and also as vulnerable then as it is now, they were looking at buying up all that real estate for about $40 million was the price they put on it.
Andrew MW: Yeah, right.
Diane Oxenford: And then returning it to a declared erosion control zone. But of course now we’ve got some high rise there, and these are all at risk, and these people don’t understand that they are at risk. They want their seed use, and they knocked down the trees and vegetation.
Andrew MW: Diane, you mentioned turtles.
Diane Oxenford: Pretty soon they’re going to have to tie all their boats at their front door.
Andrew MW: Yeah. You mentioned turtles. What are some of the other wildlife that are affected by what’s going on around you?
Diane Oxenford: With the loss of a lot of this shrubbery and smaller vegetation, we’ve lost little tiny birds that are protected in the undergrowth from predators. I used to hear whipbirds around the beach. We’d lost the white-faced herons. They used to be on the beach. Little possums had been in the bush. We still have lovely brahminy kites living there, so that’s nice. We had a couple of pairs of those. But it’s just the general population of little birds and animals that used to live in the dunes, and they’re part of that ecosystem. But the big thing is turtles are on the endangered species list, and we are obliged to protect them by international agreements and not just protecting the animal. We have to protect their habitat and their habitat to nest is part of the coastal coastline there.
And the science isn’t definitive yet, but with sea temperature rise and all that sort of thing, they could be moving South to find cooler areas to nest, because the nest is very temperature-sensitive and so are the turtles. So we don’t know, but they’re coming in earlier to nest, which is a sign. All those things and we are obliged to protect them.
Andrew MW: Yeah. Diane, you’ve mentioned that you’ve been dealing with council. How have you found them to deal with?
Diane Oxenford: Fantastic these days. They’re absolutely fantastic. I can’t give them any more accolades. They’re just wonderful to deal with.
Andrew MW: We’ve reached out to Councillor Brooke Savage on a number of occasions, and we’ve found it fairly hard to get a response from and to get comment from. That might be just that it’s a contentious issue, and she wants to stay away from it. But how have you found her to deal with?
Diane Oxenford: Wonderful. Brooke is a very diplomatic young woman. She works very hard not to take sides and tries to be part of this decision making that takes in all the information. And of course there are people who have concerns. That’s normal. But once you understand the full implication of not having a healthy dune system along our Eastern foreshore, well even on our Western foreshore. We’ve got sea walls there, which is the constant maintenance problem. Yeah. We have to work with nature, not against nature. Otherwise, nature will just come in and wreck it all anyway.
Andrew MW: You have an organisation now. You’re calling it Woorim Beach Shoreline Erosion Management. Now that’s a plan. So that’s not the organisation. What’s the group of people that you’ve got?
Diane Oxenford: Well actually I’m president of the Bribie Island Environmental Protection Association, which is a 40 years old, 41 years old. But there are a number of community groups here who are invited to the Woorim Erosion Reference Group meetings where we interact with the council and share knowledge and information and what’s going on and all that sort of thing. And a lot of these groups don’t bother coming to these meetings. So if they’re not going to come to the meetings, then they can’t complain about not being consulted on things. Because there are four who go consistently to the meetings, but there are others who, who never show up. And if they don’t show up, they never find out, and they can’t take the information back to their members or-
Andrew MW: Diane, this is your opportunity. For those that are listening to this and maybe want to know a little bit more about the group that you’re talking about, how would they find that out?
Diane Oxenford: Well, it’s one of those things that was actually established as part of the Woorim Beach Shoreline Erosion Management Plan. So these groups were nominated as those that would represent the community for this sort of consultative consultation and or consultation process. It’s not exclusive. It’s just that it had to be set almost in stone who would be coming and it’s a wide group. It’s not just for who actually go. It’s a wide group of community people, including the chamber of commerce. So it’s up to council to designate who comes. So you feel a huge responsibility to attend it, so you can get back to your community and then share the information, and then your community comes to you and asks you if you are a representative on the group.
Andrew MW: Yeah. Look, Diane-
Diane Oxenford: Do you know what I’m saying?
Andrew MW: Yeah. Absolutely. Diane, I want to take you completely sideways with a question without notice, but we’ve been talking about sand and the movement of sand. In the media recently there was the reports that it’s looking like that at the top end of Bribie, it could break. Do you just want to take straight out and your views on it?
Diane Oxenford: Well, I think there are a lot of factors that I can’t answer. I’m not a foreshore scientist, coastal scientist or coastal engineer or anything. But from what I’ve read and heard and all those sorts of things, there’s probably not much you can do to prevent it unless the different councils or the state government or even the federal government moves in. But while the councils are responsible financially for taking care of all these things, that’s a huge impost on the rate payer. But then you have all that high rise at Caloundra that’s at risk and those coastlines along Caloundra. But that’s all under the Sunshine Coast Council, not the Morton Bay Regional Council. So that jurisdiction is out of my purview and our MBRC. It’s all to do with the Sunshine Coast. But once again, nature will do her thing if you let it.
Andrew MW: Yeah, that’s it.
Diane Oxenford: And human interference has caused a lot of problems with coastal communities. If we work with nature, I keep saying this, if we work with nature, we would have a better outcome.
Andrew MW: Look, you’ve touched on that. If we work with nature, that’s what you just said. How do you reconcile? You live on Bribie Island. You’re a local through and through by the sounds of it. People need places to live and they want to live in places like Bribie Island. How do you have people live in harmony with nature particularly when more people want to move to Bribie Island?
Diane Oxenford: Yes, you have to have a population cap I think. If we keep draining our wetlands and building canal developments and if we keep erasing all the vegetation, we’re going to upset a whole ecosystem here. It’s going to dry up our aquifers. It’ll change the vegetation. We won’t have wallabies in our backyards. If we don’t take care of it, and this is it. It seems to me that a lot of people do want to come to Bribie because it’s such a lovely natural environment. But the first thing they do is chop down every tree in sight to build a house instead of designing their houses around trees. And it can be done. You just have to look at a tree. You can’t have just a singular tree anywhere poking up at. You need companion trees during storms and things so they don’t just fall over and fall down.
Andrew MW: Yeah.
Diane Oxenford: And so I have to say, we designed our house around a huge bloodwood, and it hardly moves in cyclonic weather because our house behaves like a bush of companion trees around it. You see?
Andrew MW: Yeah.
Diane Oxenford: So you do these things with prevailing winds in mind and the natural process.
Andrew MW: Diane, thank you very much for taking the time.
Diane Oxenford: That’s all right.
Andrew MW: To spend some time with our listeners. Look, you might have a view on it. You might want to get involved in this conversation. You can give us a call on 1-800-878-328, or do what Diane did. Head to the website, Trueau.news. There’s a contact form there. You can get involved.