Landslips put Thirroul, Austi residents on the edge: photos

The past month's soaking rains have taken their toll on a cliffside in Wollongong's northern suburbs, where a landslip has brought the edge almost too close for comfort.

The landslip, at Slade Park on the southern edge of the southern headland at Austinmer, has brought the cliff edge just a step or two from the fence of the nearest home.

A walking path has been reduced to squeezing room only and the wooden fence at its edge has fallen away, to be replaced by plastic safety fencing.

And residents of a southern Thirroul headland are facing similar problems with erosion.

Wollongong City Council is now building a seawall to protect part of the cliff between Thirroul and McCauleys beaches, and will investigate what can be done at Slade Park in Austinmer.

The owners of the house nearest the slip, Quentin Digby and his wife, bought the property late last year and had not finished renovating when the landslip occurred.

Last weekend Mr Digby, a lawyer, was on the beach below, examining the damage, when a local walked up and, not knowing who he was speaking to, remarked: "They won't need a pool up there soon."

Mr Digby said the slip had him concerned.

"It can't be much closer because there's probably only one metre between our fence and where that slip has come to," he said.

"At the moment I've got my faith in the council that they'll stop it getting worse ... ."

He and another resident spoken to by the Mercury thought the erosion was caused by stormwater run-off rather than erosion from the sea below.

Wollongong City Council confirmed this as the cause, but saw no immediate threat.

"Sea cliffs can be naturally prone to instability, particularly during storms such as those recently seen in the Illawarra," it said in a statement.

"[The] council is in the process of investigating and developing options to both manage access and address drainage issues at this site.

"There is no immediate threat of slumping or collapse at this location. The site has been fenced and the public are requested to take care when using the pathway in this area."

Slips and erosion surrounding the headland between Thirroul and McCauleys were so bad Wollongong City Council is spending about $170,000 to build a seawall at the south end of Thirroul Beach. This aims to reduce the impact of erosion on the park at the beach's south end and the bank beneath the cliff.

But the damage appears to be worse on the southern side of this headland area, where the cliff edge has slipped so much that one householder has had to erect a makeshift fence to keep people away from the edge.

Another house's boundary fence sits directly on the last part of rock that remains. The report on which council based its decision to build the seawall noted the targeted erosion was caused by both the ocean and stormwater from a culvert at the south end of Thirroul Beach.

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