Located by the beachside in southern Sydney, Cronulla is a hotbed of tourist activity. Cronulla’s largest and most prolific attraction is the ‘Cronulla Beach.’ This beach consist of yellow-whitish sand that is unique to Australia. Stretching from Boat Harbour to North Cronulla are massive swells and waves that bring body-boarders and surfers flocking in the thousands during the peak-season. The influx of tourism led to hotels, restaurants and souvenir stores to cater to the tourists, further increasing the areas wealth and popularity.
However, the area does have its fair share of geographical issues. Human interference, particularly pollution has greatly reduced the biodiversity in the area. The introduction of housing development has interrupted the ongoing process of beach erosion/deposition. This leads to the beach slowly disappearing into the ocean. The creation of ports and marinas destroys bottom-dwelling organisms through the process of dredging to widen natural channels. The large human population of Cronulla leads to a huge amount of polluted storm water run-off. Marine vessels also contribute with petroleum related pollutants which account for ‘20-30% of all marine pollution.’1 With the increase in tourism, the development of high-rise resorts has led to a greater use of the nearby coastal area, e.g. 4-wheel driving on beaches, severely disturbs sand dune formation, slowly killing the beach and its ecosystem.
Sand mining in Cronulla:
In the 1930s, Cronulla was marked available for sand mining as the Sutherland Council’s president decided that the land “was nothing but sand, it was completely useless,”2 and thus, decided not to buy the area. Sydney’s building industry however was booming and over 170 million tonnes of sand was extracted from the Kurnell Peninsula by Holt, Breen and Hookers’ Groups. The public were kept unaware of the true extent of the destruction. In 1999 Councilors made moves to investigate the effects on the coastal ecosystem due to community concerns. In May 2001 Sutherland Shire took direct action by issuing an order to Holt group to stop mining as they had been mining in areas they didn’t have consent for. The removed sand however vastly reduced the area’s ability to withstand storms. The body of sand separating the bay from the ocean had become weakened and without it, the ecosystem wouldn’t survive the ocean swells that would come.
Now how do we fix this?
What were once towering sand dunes are now deep lakes which the Sutherland Shire intends to fill with demolition waste to even out the land. The council is also trying to fix the issue by replanting and introducing vegetation to hold the dunes together. Beach spinifex and ‘goat’s foot convolvulus’ are the most common. This massive task of repairing the beach has been divided among groups and the Southerland Council. In Cronulla specifically, the newly planted areas are being fenced off to stop tourists from destroying the already fragile area. The dunes are being rebuilt by a process called saltation where wind picks up the sand and moves it to the foredune where they accumulate and regenerate the dunes. New walkways are being introduced in the area that allow the user to pass over fragile foredunes and vegetation. Certain plants are being protected with chicken wire to stop native wildlife from harming it. The final and most critical improvement is the introduction of education boards across the beaches which inform and teach tourists about the importance of coastal sustainability, especially sand dunes.3
How does global warming affect Cronulla?
Global warming is the process of greenhouse gases becoming trapped in our atmosphere, essentially heating our planet up like a greenhouse. This melts polar icecaps, causing the sealevel to rise.
This affects Cronulla in many ways. Millions of dollars of infrastructure and property will be submerged in the coming decades. As the sea level rises, the residents of Cronulla