Vandalism by beach parties leaves local dunes damaged

Rubbish left at Hearnes Lake Beach, including alcohol related wrapping and empty bottles and cans.

DISREGARDING the damage they caused to the natural environment, party goers on the dunes at Hearnes Lake Beach on Saturday, 29 October left dozens of empty booze bottles and associated rubbish – destroying carefully restored vegetation.

The recent damage to the dunes of both Woolgoolga Back Beach and Hearnes Lake Beach in Coffs Coast Regional Park has outraged local authorities.

Cameron Media SalesAdvertise with News of The Area today.
It’s worth it for your business.
Message us.
Phone us – (02) 4981 8882.
Email us –

Coffs Coast Regional Park Trust Board Chair, Rod McKelvey said, “National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers and the NSW Police will increase patrols of the Coffs Coast Regional Park following two local beaches being trashed last weekend after parties were held in the dunes and left with litter strewn into the ocean, a volunteer Landcare site smashed, and threatened animal breeding sites trampled.

“It is very disheartening to see these beautiful areas damaged in this way.”

Dozens of cans, bottles, plastic bags, clothing, phones and condoms were left on the beach to enter the ocean at high tide.

“You’d think by now people would know better than to leave their rubbish lying around,” Rod said.

Woolgoolga Back Beach Landcare, who have looked after one of the damaged sites for the past 35 years, are devastated at the impact to dunes protecting the littoral rainforest that they’ve rebuilt from prior tree clearing.

“To see years, and thousands of hours of weeding, planting and nurturing of these sites, including the carting of water to keep young plants alive, destroyed overnight is really quite depressing for the volunteers,” Rod said.

“That said, their resilience and dedication has come to the fore once again, and replanting is already underway to regenerate ground cover as quickly as possible.

“These dunes are a critical buffer to limiting coastal erosion impacts on the towns of Sandy Beach and Woolgoolga, so damage to the vegetation holding them together risks the dunes failing in those locations.

“This damage couldn’t have happened at a worse time as we head into the season for king tides and significant surf events which can create havoc in those unprotected places,” he said.

“Dune parties cause significant damage to remnant bushland.

“This site is special and a rare example of a dune system that wasn’t previously sand mined, so it still has the unique hind dune structure that protects littoral rainforest behind it.

“The ongoing vandalism to these sites, including the cutting down and burning of mature trees, has caused serious damage to this sensitive dune system protecting littoral rainforest, which is listed as an Endangered Ecological Community (EEC) under the Threatened Species Conservation Act.”

Not only was dune vegetation damaged, but the location of the party is also where Green Turtle and Little Tern breeding is known to occur, both being at-risk species.

“Just last year, we had a successful Green Turtle nest hatching in this section of beach,” said Rod.

Witnesses described the beach as looking like a herd of cattle had stampeded along it as party goers transited to another site after being told to move on.

Local volunteers and NPWS staff are cleaning up and repairing the damage.

Rod McKelvey called on the young adults of the area to think twice before attending a party in local bushland due to the damage this causes to their local environments.

“The Coffs Coast Regional Park Board, along with our partner agencies, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the City of Coffs Harbour, are working with NSW Police to control these unauthorised parties and the damage of native dunes and forest.

“Significant penalties apply for damaging protected and threatened vegetation,” he added.

Please report beach parties to Coffs Harbour Police on 6691 0799.

Anyone who has information about these parties and other damage to the dunes should contact Coffs Harbour Police or the NPWS, Coffs Coast Area Office on 6652 0900 or

To help fix the dunes, please contact Landcare via

Leave a Reply