When it first became a hazard is unclear, but Redhead beachgoers all agree, the sand erosion at First Creek now requires an urgent response,
Dislodged metal signposts, partially submerged wire fencing, treated pine slats suspended above sand level and cracked cement piping are some of the perils facing visitors to the idyllic location every day.
The path leading from the carpark to First Creek at the popular Lake Macquarie beach is accessed by thousands of visitors each day.
It is also one of the only access points for dogs, who are permitted on leash or under control between First and Second creeks.
At little more than 15 metres in length, the path has become what many locals say is “dangerous”.
For 21-year-old retail employee Dakota Radcliffe, the track is becoming increasingly perilous.
Living in Redhead for more than 11 years, she regularly walks her Australian Bulldog Allan to the beach, entering along the path she says is now unsafe.
“I think it’s been at least three months it’s been this bad,” she said.
“Allan’s such a big dog, he can’t really get down easy and it’s the only entrance to the dog beach as well, which makes it really hard.
“Even with the number of kids coming down to play in the creek, this is dangerous, and it could end really badly.”
Adamstown mother Caroline Morrissey agrees, saying she now worries about her family every time she visits Redhead Beach.
“My son has got his ankle stuck in it before, between the slats,” she said.
“Before we could stop him, he was racing down the path, which thankfully only tripped him up.
“I’m surprised it wasn’t much worse.
“We don’t come down too much in winter, but for the past two months we’ve been coming quite often.
“It’s a massive drop off down the side, so I’m assuming the creek’s just washing the dunes away.
“You’d think they’d just rip it up or put down sandbags or something to make it easier for beachgoers.
“It’s a lovely beach but as much as I absolutely love it, I am a bit worried for the dog or the kids.
“That element of safety is just not there anymore.”
Redhead resident Grant Atherton knows firsthand the dangers of the eroded path.
In October 2020 the regular beachgoer punctured his foot on some partially submerged wires at the base of the path.
“I was ending my walk with my dog, planning to head up the ramp to the carpark to walk home,” he said.
“I didn’t see the wire sticking out.
“I stepped on one, then jumped off and stepped on the other, cutting the bottom of my foot and the toe of the other.
“It was a deep cut.”
Weather conditions, he says, can play a part but are not completely to blame.
“It was a clear day, no rain but it had been raining hence why the sand had been washed away,” he said.
“I put a post on the local Redhead Community Facebook page to warn people.”
Grant also advised Lake Macquarie City Council about the incident after he’d had a tetanus needle on his doctor’s advice.
With thousands visiting the idyllic beach every week, beachgoers admit the dunes have eroded over the years because of ‘mother nature’ but suggest the council actfast to avoid any further injuries.
“This only became a problem when all these rocks and pipes were put in to somehow stabilise and redirect the flow of the creek,” Troy Reeves said.
“The edge of the sand dune had a fence post made of wire and treated pine posts put in as well.
“One large rain event or one of those cracking southerly swell events hits and it all comes down making for some serious hazards for the kids playing in the creek.
A Redhead resident for 18 years, Troy suggests removing the hazardous materials might be the solution.
“My thoughts, remove it all and let nature be,” he said.
“The creek is always going to find its own path.”
Fellow local Adam Davidson agrees.
“Sand dunes have and will continue to change continually through weather,” he said.
“[I] would hate to see any type of retaining walls.”