Share the Shore

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The beaches at Manning Point and Old Bar / Farquhar Inlet are stunning natural areas which we all enjoy for fishing, swimming, surf sports and four wheel driving. These beaches are also dynamic and environmentally sensitive, supporting a range of threatened species, ecosystems and culturally significant sites.

Finding a balance between continuing to enjoy these places and protecting the unique natural and cultural values of this coastline is a challenge for us all - Council, NSW Local Land Services, MidCoast residents and visitors to our beautiful and unique region. 

We all share a responsibility to Share the Shore and ensure our activities are balanced with maintaining the unique conservation values of the Manning Point and Old Bar / Farquhar Inlet. 

Endangered littoral rainforests and coastal saltmarshes ecological communities fringe the landward side of dunes, which provide habitats for a range of fauna and flora species, including a high number of native orchids.  The mudflats, mangrove and estuary mouth provide rich and important fish, crab and prawn nursery areas.

Coastal processes such as wind and wave action make our shorelines and landforms dynamic and ever-changing. Dune areas in particular are fragile due to these dynamic coastal processes and easily destroyed by heavy vehicles such as 4WDs.

Our region's coast and shoreline are home to a diverse range of sea and shorebirds, several of which migrate from national or international locations. Some of these species are listed as 'threatened' under national or NSW legislation.

The coastal mudflats of Farquhar Inlet provide rich feeding grounds for the critically endangered Majestic Eastern Curlew, which makes the long journey each year from the Northern Hemisphere. In late 2017, for the first time in Australia, Aleutian terns, a migratory species from Alaska were observed at Farquhar Inlet near Old Bar, attracting bird watchers from across New South Wales and Australia.

The estuaries and inlets in our region provide important breeding areas for the three threatened beach-nesting birds, the Beach Stone-curlew – Esacus neglectus, Pied Oystercatcher Haematoptus longirostris and Australia's smallest tern, the Little Tern – Sterna albifrons.

Until very recently, the beaches and inlets of Manning River provided the largest breeding population of Little Terns in NSW, a species now undergoing state-wide decline. These birds only visit Manning Point, Harrington and Old Bar, as well as areas further south near Yaccaba in the summer months, breeding and rearing their young, before migrating north for the winter.

What are the dangers facing these species?

These birds have a tough time surviving on our beaches particularly as summer is also the peak time for human activity. Nesting birds, their eggs and chicks have to contend with predation from feral foxes, as well as roaming, off-leash domestic dogs which may disturb, damage or predate birds and their young. If they survive these threats, then humans may inadvertently trample camouflaged eggs and chicks, either underfoot or when 4WDs illegally drive across the dunes and along the inlets.

The last two years have been major failures for breeding of these species, but in particular little terns.  This is significant as the Manning Entrance has been the most important breeding site for little tern nationally and has until recently, defied the declining trend at other NSW sites.

Some of the results provided by NPWS highlight the main threats and losses in the last two seasons in the Manning beaches.

A pair of Beach Stone-curlews, a critically endangered species, failed to raise its single young which was lost to fox predation and the parents have not been seen since.

For Little Terns, the season was devastating.  No chicks survived from 112 eggs on 48 nests. These nest numbers are normally higher, however, were reduced by increasingly high levels of disturbance. Foxes, 4WDs and dogs were devastating - foxes took 66 eggs in 2 nights, 4WDs ran over 37 eggs, dogs took 8 eggs and 1 chick . Uncontrolled domestic dogs not only predated eggs and a chick but also disrupted and interfered with the fox control program, exacerbating fox impacts.

Almost 20 years ago, work began as part of a multi-agency response to protect the threatened species and the values of this special area. In 2000 frequent, broad-scale fox control was established at Farquhar and Manning Point and little tern monitoring was also established at this time.

Areas within the State Parks and shoals of Farquhar and Old Bar and north of the Manning Point 4WD entry were established as dog-exclusion zones in 2009 to help protect the significant environmental values, shorebird conservation and implementation of effective fox control.

Permanent and temporary fencing has been installed to protect nesting birds, eggs and chicks from trampling and being crushed by 4WDs away from high tide areas. Temporary fencing is realigned each season according to nest locations that may vary with geomorphology or dune changes. Council is continuing to enforce the 4WD exclusion zones and other aspects of the Vehicles on Beaches Policy.

Clearly, we need to do more.

The 2018-2019 Site Plan

Along with our project partners, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Crown Lands and the NSW Local Land Services, a detailed Site Plan was developed for the 2018-2019, to attempt to protect breeding shorebirds and prevent damage to the sensitive environment while balancing opportunities for recreation.  

Some of the initiatives from the Site Plan include:

  • a fox control program in Farquhar, Harrington Beach and Manning Entrance State Parks. The 9 week program, between June and September 2018, involves baiting and trapping, as per best practice guidelines and State statutory requirements. The site is monitored throughout the summer nesting season for evidence of continued fox activity.

  • Installation of fencing and signage for the dunes and nesting areas, to prevent 4WD, domestic dog and human access. Council rangers will regularly monitor and issue fines for non-compliance in these areas.

  • Together with National Parks and Wildlife Service, we're undertaking a community program to enlist community support and action to help us protect these areas.  The flyer (top right hand of this page) helps provide information to visitors and those driving on our beaches.
    Our NPWS partners have also just completed a school education program - read more about it here.

We need community cooperation to ensure these beautiful and significant conservation areas remain viable nesting and feeding sites for endangered species.

You can help by:

  • only driving your 4WD vehicle once you have obtained a permit from MidCoast Council and within the permitted zone of below the high tide mark on the beach
  • observing signs and stick to the beach below the high tide zone - do not walk inside a fenced-off dune area
  • only exercising your dog in non-exclusion zones and do not allow dogs inside fenced off areas (see the downloadable maps at the top of this page for reference)
  • report any incidents you observe where people break these rules (new online form coming to this page soon!)