Changing Farquhar is a natural process

Published on 23 October 2017

farquhar 2008 photo.jpg

It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last, as the team at MidCoast Council confirm Mother Nature is behind the changing coastline at Farquhar Inlet.

You could be forgiven for thinking the vast expanse of sand, now the dominant feature of the local landscape is an issue for environmental concern. But according to MidCoast Councils’ Project Manager, Planning and Natural Systems Andrew Staniland, “it’s a natural phenomenon, caused by a combination of coastal processes including tidal inflows and wave action moving the sand along the shore and depositing it at the Old Bar entrance”.

It comes as no surprise, with records dating back as far as 1818 showing constant and recurring changes to entrance conditions in this dynamic and complex coastal inlet. According to records, Farquhar Inlet was closed for almost a decade, between 1920 and 1929. The most recent closure occurred between 1992 and 2009, during which time there were brief openings in 2004 and again in April 2008.

“The opening in 2008 was made possible by the combination of a flood coming down the Manning River and a low ocean tide, assisted by a land-based excavator”, Andrew added. “But dry conditions following this opening, similar to what we’ve been experiencing in recent months, meant the mouth closed again just 7 months later”.

Being a natural process, the current closure of Farquhar has provided an environmental bonanza. “Migratory birds are making their way to Farquhar with several species of shore and wading birds enjoying the current conditions. We’ve also seen dolphins feeding close to the Farquhar campground, and a number of different birds of prey enjoying the rich choice of food in the area”, Andrew said.

Is rain the answer? Flooding of the Manning River would assist in reopening the entrance, however a series of small rain events could pose to be a challenge. “A change in water quality is possible if the amount of rainfall received doesn’t allow the river to rise high enough to activate the flood notch”, Andrew explained. “This could result in excess nutrients and pollutants flowing from higher in the catchment down to the Farquhar area, impacting on water quality”.

Water quality continues to be monitored in the catchment, and MidCoast Council will enact the adopted Entrance Opening Strategy when triggers are met. At present, the Harrington entrance remains open, and its tidal influence on the river allows for an exchange of water keeping the waterway healthy.

MidCoast Council’s focus on coastal management extends from Crowdy Head in the north, through to Jimmys Beach in the south.

Image: Farquhar 2008