Funding plans to start for vital Cairns rockwall
THE huge task of replacing Machans Beach's crumbling rockwall has passed a critical milestone but residents will have to weather at least another few storm seasons before it's brought up to scratch.
January's heavy rain was the latest weather event to significantly damage the 50-year-old structure, which has eroded catastrophically over time, and now barely does the job it was built for.
Residents on O'Shea Esplanade and further inland are worried the dilapidated old wall would do nothing to protect their community if put to the test by a severe storm.
"There isn't a resident of Machans that isn't anxious about the wall," president of the local community association Gabrielle Gelly said.
"With cyclone Oswald, which was downgraded to a depression, the rockwall and the land beneath it washed away in three places and that was just heavy rain.
"We only need one cyclone with the strength of Larry or Yasi to come along and it would destroy this whole beachfront. It's putting lives and property at risk."
Plans to build a structurally sound replacement along the entire 1.3km length of the wall were endorsed by Cairns Regional Council at a recent meeting.
The new wall would have a flatter face and be built about 20m further out to sea to better protect the road and waterfront properties from erosion.
But construction of the $12-$15 million wall can't start without funding from the other levels of government.
"Now that all approvals are in place, we can actively seek out relevant funding opportunities," the council's Infrastructure Services general manger Bruce Gardiner said.
"The seawall can be constructed in sections but will depend on budget and external funding."
An inspection by GHD Coastal Engineers has confirmed the wall is in poor condition and bears no resemblance to a stable, well-built seawall.
The report found the majority of rocks are loose and unstable and the wall appeared to be built by tipping rocks off the edge of the road, rather than interlocking them into place.
The engineers also found that recent attempts to patch the rockwall with concrete have started to crack, proving the wall's instability.
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Brighter future: Machans Beach Community Association's president Gabrielle Gelly on the rockwall. Picture: BRENDAN FRANCIS