New nomenclature for Myall Estuary system endorsed by locals

Fishermen have found they can even keep their feet dry on the new sand islands forming in the middle of the Myall Estuary.

SEVERAL groups of concerned citizens in Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest are attempting to correct the system of naming natural environmental features in and around the ‘Myall River’ system, with a hope of highlighting the need for urgent action.

The section of the Myall River System existing between Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens, currently choking with sand as it enters Port Stephens Bay, is an ‘estuary’, based upon the NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s definition.

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“Estuaries are coastal water bodies where freshwater runoff from the land meets the saltwater of the sea – these dynamic systems are places of transition from freshwater to saltwater environments,” reads the Department’s definition.

The Myall River Action Group (MRAG) also recognises the two existing channels by which the Myall meets the Bay as the ‘Natural Eastern Channel’, and the ‘Artificial Corrie Channel’.

“Corrie Channel was formerly an ankle-deep creek that was dredged out in the early 1900s to facilitate shorter passage for timber and alum ships,” according to the MRAG’s Gordon Grainger.

‘The Shortcut’, the name generally applied to the Natural Eastern Channel, is considered by MRAG to be a particularly dangerous misnomer, since Mr Grainger’s research indicates that the Corrie Channel itself was specifically and artificially dredged as a shortcut for the long-dead shipping industry.

“Previously, the powers that be accused us, saying ‘the only reason you want the (Natural) channel reopened is to get to the fishing grounds quicker’,” Mr Grainger recalled meetings with Council and State bureaucrats over the estuary’s need to regain the Natural Channel.

“Having the eastern entrance deepened and restored as the main river channel would allow the best possible seawater flow to enter the river on the run-in tide,” Chris Taylor, from MRAG, told NOTA.

“Increased salinity levels in this new seawater would reduce current levels of mangrove dieback and the incidence of weed growth in the estuary.

“Deepened water through the eastern channel would increase tidal flush and also provide safer water-levels for vessels entering and leaving the Myall River.

“It would give ferry traffic the quickest and most direct route to the southern ferry terminus at Nelson Bay and help improve the viability and regularity of ferry service operations between Tea Gardens and Nelson Bay.”

By Thomas O’KEEFE

Near Moira Parade, Hawks Nest, families explore the ever-growing sand islands.

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