Collaroy sea wall: Five years after the storm that stole the beach

ALMOST THERE: Jo Hoatson and Bob Orth watching the seawall's construction on their Collaroy properties. Picture: Geoff Jones
ALMOST THERE: Jo Hoatson and Bob Orth watching the seawall's construction on their Collaroy properties. Picture: Geoff Jones

FOR almost five years 23 Collaroy families haven't been able to use their own backyard, but the end is almost here and there's no hiding the smiles on their faces.

In June 2016 a massive storm swallowed up large parts of Collaroy and Narrabeen beaches. It left homes damaged, a pool toppled into the ocean and up to 50 metres of land, much of it privately owned, lost or unusable.

After the initial turmoil and rush to save their homes the families, who live in the 10 properties between Stuart and Wetherill streets, banded together and submitted a development application (DA) to build a sea wall on their land to better protect them and the community.

Right now, the eastern part of their land is noisy, filled with construction equipment and massive excavators, but residents Bob Orth and Jo Hoatson said it's bringing a smile to their faces.

By the end of April the six-metre high wall, that also stretches seven metres below the sand, will be completed and will help to prevent further erosion, protect Pittwater Road and utilities including sewerage, stormwater and communications.

The 10 Collaroy properties that are having the sea wall built. Picture: Northern Beaches council

The 10 Collaroy properties that are having the sea wall built. Picture: Northern Beaches council

Since the storm Mr Orth and Ms Hoatson have acted as spokespeople for the 10 properties, they've led weekly residents' meetings, consulted with coastal engineers, submitted the DA and liaised with those building the $3.2 million sea wall.

While council and the NSW Government have each offered 10 per cent in subsidies of the build cost, residents say this will equate to 15 per cent of the total cost of the project, with residents paying the remaining $2.7m between them.

"I've never not wanted to live here, I had faith we'd get through it," Ms Hoatson said. "The best thing that's come out of this is us getting to know our neighbours."

With erosion from the storm along other parts of this beach, Mr Orth is hopeful this sea wall inspire others to do the same to help protect public and private land.

"Once this is up it'll be a momentum for others to do it too," he said.

While the wall is being built on private land Ms Hoatson is looking forward to the entire beach being useable once again. "We still want this to be a beach that's enjoyed by the public," she said.

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