Christmas tourists descend on embattled Byron Bay
Desperate Christmas holiday-makers banned from the golden sands of Queensland are piling onto the beaches of Byron Bay, which have been shrunk by coastal erosion and cyclonic storms.
As workmen toil to repair the shoreline, at a cost of millions of dollars, and with state borders shut to Greater Sydney and the Central Coast, Sydneysiders have converged on the coastal town, where the seashore has been reduced to a debris-strewn slither.
Trucks ferrying 700 cubic metres of sand from Pottsville, 35km north of Byron, are arriving to shore up Clarke's Beach, which was battered again by last week's rains and high tides, in an operation costing $1.5 million.
Specialist NSW Government soil conservation services officers were yesterday laying down jute matting on the dunes below the popular Beach Byron Bay cafe.
The town's beach-loving celebrity residents, including Chris Hemsworth and wife Elsa Pataky, Carrie Bickmore and Matt Damon, are nowhere to be seen on the receding sands.
The Thor star spent yesterday working out in the airconditioned basement gym of his home a stone's throw from the beach, while wife Elsa decorated the family Christmas tree.
Fixing extensive damage to the far north coast's beaches stretching into Queensland will cost millions.
Sydney residents Jen Williams, Suz Nevin and Becca Murphy turned a blind eye to the debris as they frolicked on Clarke's Beach.
"I'm shocked at how much beach is left but what choice did we have but to come here,'' Ms Murphy said.
Originally published as Christmas tourists descend on embattled Byron Bay