East Lismore resident Michael Bird with what remains of his beloved 100-year-old poinciana tree, brought down by gale-force win
East Lismore resident Michael Bird with what remains of his beloved 100-year-old poinciana tree, brought down by gale-force win

Gone with the wind

By NERIDA BLOK and RENEE REDMOND

WILD winds that whipped the Northern Rivers over the past two days have blown away $50,000 of Christmas bush flowers from Bronwyn and Bill Weinert's Knockrow farm.

The Weinerts said the drying effect of the wind destroyed flowers on 2000 of their bushes, costing them this year's harvest, which was to be exported to Japan.

"The wind just dried it out," Ms Weinert said.

She also was concerned for the long-term effect the winds would have on their 15,000 coffee trees.

"If it has blown the blossoms away they won't have set fruit," she said.

SES crews from Tweed Heads to Woodburn were called out to 11 jobs on Wednesday night, mostly for trees blown over, Richmond Tweed SES divisional controller Scott Hanckel said.

He said large seas had eroded south-facing North Coast beaches, including New Brighton and South Golden Beach. "However, there was no threat to property or residents," he said.

Chris Webb, from the Bureau of Meteorology, said the strong winds were the result of a low pressure system over the Tasman Sea, near Lord Howe Island.

He said that low was moving slowly away to the north-east and a high pressure ridge was developing along the NSW North Coast.

"We can expect moderate south-easterly winds on Friday," he said.

Mr Webb said wave heights reached an average of 5.7 metres and a maximum of 10 metres.

Meanwhile, an East Lismore resident was dealing with the loss of his 100-yearold poinciana tree, which crushed his next door neighbour's carport when it fell on Wednesday night.

"It was a lovely architectural tree. It will be missed. It just had a wonderful presence," Mr Michael Bird said. "We can replace a fence and a barbecue and bits of rockery, and if it went through our roof, we can replace that, but that tree was irreplaceable."

The falling tree also crushed Mr Bird's fence and damaged part of the garden at his heritage-listed home, 'Clovelly', in Wyrallah Road.

Mr Bird said SES crews worked for seven hours to remove the tree.

"It was quite an event. At the peak we had 12 people here," he said. "The SES guys were brilliant. They didn't rush in, they just assesed things.

"The job was too big so they brought in an outside specialist tree lopper and a cherry picker."

Byron Bay Tree Services' Alex Nowell said the conditions had doubled his workload. He had 10 jobs in the Byron Shire yesterday after the gale force winds.

"A lot of people try and cut the trees themselves, but they should call a professional. It's a science and should be done properly by people who have been trained and are wearing the right gear," he said.



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