We can cite any number of city coastal beaches where sand retention is much more than an environmental matter, rather it directly relates to the security of homes and their foundations, such as many of the Gold Coast beaches.
Over forty years I can recount innumerable news items and current affairs programs that have featured this very thing. Moreover in my mind's eye as I am sure the reader can likewise, seen houses topple over as heavy waves have tumbled in against a house's foundations and then alas, down it goes.
The question is, what does any community do in the face of these occasional tidal excesses where a cyclone comes through and combined with a high tide or a super high tide, and what is left is an environmental beach and sand disaster.
No Government of whatever shade of blue or red or green or yellow has the financial where-with-all to engage in some kind of semi-permanent solution as there is simply so vast an amount of coastline.
Some solutions in built-up areas include rock walls or artificial hardy walls that looks something like besser bricks and various forms of hardi canvas type material filled with sand and sewn in joints along the length of the beach.
These semi-solutions have done a good job over many years and ultimately they will need to be done again at some point down the track, but that is all OK where an inevitable outcome is certain in relation to the strength and unrelenting aspect of nature.
Midge Point Trees roots exposed after the cyclone
Midge Point Beach
In January the worst of all worlds occurred – there was an almighty high tide at the very same moment in time that a cyclone struck – the sea came over the sand embankments right the way along Midge Point Beach on the Whitsundays mainland (near the famous Laguna Quays Resort).
The huge palm trees that withstood this onslaught were left its their roots dangerously exposed, the sand that had previously covered the entire embankment had disappeared and moreover home owners were confronted with a massive flow of water between their houses and the open sea with only the Council man-made water way between the sea and their houses.
The Midge Point community was up in arms and through the local Midge Point Progress Association worked through State and Local Government agency arms to find a solution. In the end they kicked up such a fuss that the State Government issues them Progress Association a Permit to do something for sand retention on the beach. This took six months of unremitting determination and putting a few bureaucratic noses out of joint.
Midge Point Beach
Such immoveable objects found their match in this Progress Association led by it's hard working President Navio Zeglio who told me he was Public Enemy No 1 but they got this initial Permit from the Queensland Government. The Midge Point community as one, went ahead as they had done 30 years ago when the beach was last done, and laid down the 800 metres of "geo-fab" (22 rolls) and the ladies of the community stitched 5,000 metres – all done by volunteers and paid for by donations.
Moreover, it looks fabulous – the geo-fab contains sand (various grades of sand required) and is laid from the base of the beach area all the way up the sand bank to the sand bank ridge including and around the palm trees whose base areas are covered for further protection. Over a four week period volunteers started work at 8.30am, 20 minute morning tea, one hour for lunch, 20 minute afternoon tea, working til 5.30pm. A huge community effort.
Geo-Fab sand retention along Midge Point Beach
Nehemiah comes to mind
This entire story is not unlike Nehemiah's wall around the city of Jerusalem. In this epic biblical story the people had returned from exile in Babylon and the first thing attended to was a restoration of the city of Jerusalem and it's protective walls.
Nehemiah had an authorisation letter for reconstruction and how he went about it was his concern. It was so fraught with danger that the men working on the wall carried their swords and other weapons, like many an Israeli Kibbutz today. So too in Midge Point with sand retention it seemed - such was the animosity of some in bureaucratic authority.
Many an evangelist has had to ignore the bureaucratic nightmare of intransigence so as to proclaim the Saving message of Jesus Christ. History attests to this in the Reformation in both Europe and England and in having the bible translated into the lingua franca (common languages).
In many parts of the world today whole societies are under the thumb of "religious police", and only recently in this column I wrote that it was 1 in 10 countries. (christiantoday.com.au)
Roe Jackson approves the sand retention at Midge Point Beach, he led the community 30 years ago when last done
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html