February 16 - 22, 2020: Issue 438


February 2020 Storm Event: Rains & Waves Cause Floods

Once again our resident Warringah- Pittwater SES volunteers, supported by Warringah - Pittwater Rural Fire Brigades volunteers, Marine Rescue Broken Bay (at Bayview on Pittwater) volunteers along with Fire and Rescue NSW Brigades and NSW Police, have been out in force during the storm that drenched our area over last weekend, causing evacuations at Narrabeen and electricity outages that have only just ceased on Saturday February 15th in areas towards North Avalon, Careel Bay and Palm Beach. Once again they have worked tirelessly throughout the storms, in rolling shifts 24/7, and out in weather most of us sought shelter from.

The loss of trees, the mountains of debris on beaches, the reports of pollution and sharks being attracted by fish, cows or goats washed down the Hawkesbury river is similar to reports from the mid 1800's as well all times forward as recorded - a history page this week shares a few of those. What is obvious is that a huge volume of water moved through the catchment areas at Narrabeen and out from the Hawkesbury River very quickly, the change between images shared on Sunday and those on Tuesday shows this. The clean up is still going on.

What predominates, as ever, is a community that pulls together and looks after each other. When Narrabeen and Warriewood areas needed to be evacuated, the posts via social media offering a bed and comfort (and a strong drink) popped up everywhere from those a little north, in Pittwater. Humour has also been shared to keep us exhaling during a highly stressful event. 

At the beginning of this week Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade report that 368mm of rain in Ingleside NSWRFS area from midnight Thursday February 6th 2020 to 9am Monday, February 10th, 2020. They had 5 RFS volunteers in the field on Monday continuing to clear roads and assist with flood damage. All up  Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade had 32 individual shifts since Friday in the field across 6 crews. Their fellow NSW RFS Brigades were on duty too, from Duffys Forest to Scotland Island, once again all units worked in support of each other as one team. 

On Monday NSW SES indicated they don't require further RFS assistance in the Northern Beaches area after that days' crews.

Fire and Rescue NSW, shared a message from the Deputy Commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell, late on Monday February 10th, 2020:

A huge thank you to all our staff for a massive effort during this weekends wild weather. On Sunday we responded to more than 5000 incidents, making it our busiest day on record ever. To put this into perspective this is double some of our busiest bushfire days this season.

We took more than 16,000 triple zero calls over the weekend, attended more than 200 fires, more than 100 rescues, almost 400 storm related incidents and over 60 HAZMAT incidents.

This was an incredible effort by all our staff on the ground, in our communications centres and all other support staff.

This week people have sent in or posted on social media platforms photographs or sightings of sharks at Station Beach during last weekend and on the Pittwater estuary, at Paradise Beach on Saturday February 15th, as well as at Narrabeen Lagoon. Although some of us have jested that those reported at Narrabeen look a bit too much like tree debris or upturned washed away surfboards to be a shark, the huge outpouring of water during flood mitigation works at the lagoon, and from the Hawkesbury River, may account for the presence of some of these. The jury is still out on why a shark has turned up dead on the sandflats just off Station Beach, but as recorded in Narrabeen Prawning Times - the presence of fish rushing out with flood tides definitely attracts sharks - another account from 1919 flood tides:

Sea Tragedies.

THERE is something awe-inspiring us well as picturesque about the breaking out to sea of rain-swollen lake and the series of moving pictures obtainable at such a time. Narrabeen Lake, a fine sheet of coastal fish-nursery, presented a rare spectacle last week. Its water was nearly lapping the bridge near the tram terminus on Thursday, and it had broken over the road in two or three places and flooded the local boat-shed, when the Warringah Shire Council decided to give it a start seaward with shovels.

McLeans Boathsed, Narrabeen - circa 1900-1920, From Scenes of Narrabeen album- Broadhurst Postcards. Item a106065h, courtesy State Library of NSW

A GANG of men soon cut a channel through the sand-bar which southerly winds had pounded up at the entrance, and the pressure of the lake water did the rest soon after. In hall'-an-hour the cm had widened to twenty yards, and the water pressed forward from the lake and took command. It tore through the sand and excavated a channel nearly seventy-five yards wide. One could almost imagine that he was watching one of those cataclysms that have been recorded in America when dams have broken, and swept a resistless  flood down a peaceful valley, carrying away houses, farms, and stock; but the parade ceased at the sea. Into the ocean poured a sandy-coloured flood, uncovering some black rocks that the bar had buried, and bringing joy to the large voracious fish waiting outside for the finny food from the lake. The astonishing instinct of the fish of the lake and the adjacent ocean when a marine lake breaks out always excites wonder. For a few days before the lake was opened, sharks, porpoises, and other fish had assembled outside the lake entrance, waiting for the inevitable: and similarly, the fish of the lake had been waiting inside the bar for an opportunity to sprint to sea.

"My boat-shed was flooded,' said Alderman Heaton, ex-Mayor of Manly, 'and I saw large flathead up to 2ft 'long inside it on the sandy floor. They had buried themselves in the sand; but when the water began to move fast over the bar they travelled. If this flood had occurred a month earlier we would have seen a remarkable instance of the desire of many kind, of fish to enter a natural fish nursery with the first tide that could press back the outgoing flood. There were then plenty of 'travelling shoals of mullet, gar, whiting, and bream outside waiting to enter the quiet waters of the lake. We have missed most of the big shoals; but there will still be a good re-entry of delayed shoals."

THE predatory monsters waiting outside were mighty hungry, and close observers often saw them leaping and fighting before the lake water brought them their feast. Even large jewfish, Spanish mackerel, kingfish, and sharp-toothed tailer were there, keeping an eye on their big enemies, but exacting their fair share of the lake banquet . It is at these times that fishermen get busy on the beach at the entrance. Close in are whiting, flathead, and bream, swimming up and down restlessly in the wave break, in a foot of water, out of reach of the monsters whose bodies are too bulky to allow them to trust themselves in the 'dumpers,' or anywhere else where there is not four to six feet of water. So we see a finny tragedy in progress. When the whiting, mullet, and bream leave the shallows, they have to dodge the swift and merciless tailer,  and beyond them the sharks, kingfish and giant mackerel. Jewfish being slower in action skirt the scene, but have to be ready for the hurtling rush of a monster enemy. 

PROFITING by Nature's indications when the wind permits, but never during a southerly fishermen throw their lines in, with baits of worm, prawn, or mullet, and from between twenty and forty yards of the shore haul in fish whose ordinary carefulness about a piece of food with a curved steel centre and on a line is converted into recklessness by hunger. Nature observers spend many interesting hours watching the fall of the sides of  the channel through the sand. The swirl and whirlpools of the outflow, and the fish movements at such times. Fishermen, being practical folk, make profit out of the bewildered finny ones. 

THE lake was full of fry of many kinds of fish which had come from out of Deep, Middle, and South creeks and the upper parts of the fine lake, ahead of the muddy water, and they could be seen swimming in large shoals all over the lake. The curious thing is that these fry resist the attractions of the sea. They stand a considerable amount of fresh water added to their marine water home, and head against the seaward flow. Their parents want a sea bathe after the fresh -water invasion, and, although they gather restlessly near the bar channel, probably being well aware of  the fate that awaits them outside, they all ultimately take the risk of being swallowed by ravenous enemies outside, and swing into the current. 

COULD one see the details of the struggle for existence outside the bar, he would indeed declare that fish are merciless. One can only see what takes place at the surface — the frenzied leap of a glittering mullet or whiting, followed by that of a tailor, and the commotion when some of the outer guards of the gate fall foul of one another. The scene is one to long remember. BREAKING OF A LAKE. (1919, May 21). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), p. 14. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article159655511

The Water in Narrabeen Lake Rushing Out to the Ocean. BENEFICIAL RAINS. (1919, May 21). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), p. 14. Retrieved  from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article159655509

The shark on Station Beach and shark sighting reports at Narrabeen :Lagoon that have come through during this past week:

Shark On Station Beach: NSW DPI

Pittwater Online contacted the department of Primary Industries (DPI) this week in relation to the shark on Station Beach - found Saturday February 8th, 2020.

"NSWDPI fisheries officers were advised of one shark washed up on Palm Beach on Saturday." a NSWDPI Spokesperson said.

"The shark is a 2.9m female bull shark. The cause of death is unknown.  A necropsy will be done at a later date to try and determine the possible cause of death." the NSWDPI Spokesperson stated.

Pittwater Online has requested the results of that necropsy be forwarded when the report is available.

More Bull Sharks Seen In Pittwater This Morning: Saturday February 15th, 2020

Pittwater residents might like to think twice about taking a dip at Clareville or off boats at this time. Apparently a paddle boarder at Paradise Beach was harassed by 4 Bull Sharks this morning. This report comes from a source we trust.

A dead Goat on Long Reef Beach, two cows on Patonga Beach with bite marks and a dead Bull Shark on Station Beach suggests that everything up the river has flushed out to Pittwater and Broken Bay.

Shark Sightings In Narrabeen Lagoon Reported

Council advised that a shark was sighted in Narrabeen Lagoon near Pittwater Rd bridge early on the morning, of Wednesday, February 12th 2020. Warning signs were erected. 

"Our Beach Services Team is investigating and warning signs are being erected at key points around the lagoon as a precaution." council posted on their Facebook platform.

The sighting follows on from a similar social media report posted on the weekend. That original shark footage, which appeared to show a dorsal fin breaching the waters in the lagoon just metres from the shore, sparked debate online. 

Most viewers were convinced it was indeed a shark, but others were sceptical and claimed the fin was more likely a floating tree branch or surfboard. 

It’s not the first time a shark has been spotted in the area. There have been 12 sightings in the Narrabeen/North Narrabeen area in the last four years, according to the Dorsal Watch, a website dedicated to sharing information about shark sightings.

Among them was a one metre bull shark reportedly spotted at the entrance of Narrabeen Lagoon in April 2016.

‘I saw its dorsal fin chasing a school of what looked like poddy mullet from where I was fishing on the sandbank,’ people told the Dorsal Watch website at the time.

The DPI stated then that aerial contractors had spotted ‘a large figure’ in deep water near Narrabeen shark nets but were unable to identify it, the website stated. 

The DPI Shark Meshing 2018/19 Performance Report records 'Narrabeen 11/03/19 Squatina albipunctata Eastern Angel Shark Alive & Released ' and  'North Narrabeen 28/04/19 Sphyrna zygaena Smooth Hammerhead Dead Yes '.

The lagoon was opened up to the ocean prior to the weekend's heavy rainfall in a bid to reduce the impact of flash flooding on properties in the suburb. 

Photo by and courtesy Phillip O'Sullivan‎ posted on the 2101 Community Page - Narrabeen, North Narrabeen, Elanora, Ingleside

Meanwhile the DPI's SharkSmart program is asking ‏NSW & ACT residents, to share their thoughts on shark mitigation measures.: -  'Our survey takes around 20 minutes, and you have the opportunity to enter a chance draw at the end to win one of five BCF $100 gift cards.' 
Complete the survey here: https://fal.cn/36uQX
If you would like to learn more about the NSW Shark Management Strategy, please visit the SharkSmart website: NSW SharkSmart

Some of the captures shared this week by regular contributors - all great local photographers - credited as given. Thank you all for contributing to this permanent record of what our community has been through.

Ingleside Rural Fire Brigades Photos

Ingleside RFB - Sunday February 9th, 2020:

On Mona Vale Road - big trees down just past Kimbriki and up to the Terrey Hills-Belrose run to St. Ives. This was in the early am:

12 Ingleside NSWRFS volunteers have been out today in the Northern Beaches area, mostly Narrabeen, Belrose, TerreyHills and Ingleside with flooding, trees down & wires down assisting the local #SES crews. Ingleside alone has had 200mm of rain since midnight Saturday night, with 175mm of that falling since 7am this Sunday morning. 352mm since Thursday evening.

Mona Vale Rd, Terrey Hills Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade photo

Sydney Academy of Sport, Wakehurst Parkway, Narrabeen Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade photo

Sydney Academy of Sport, Narrabeen Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade photo

Deep Creek Reserve, North Narrabeen Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade photo

Garden St, North Narrabeen Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade photo

Garden St, North Narrabeen Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade photo

Garden St, North Narrabeen Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade photo

Garden St, North Narrabeen Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade photo

Garden St, North Narrabeen Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade photo

Garden St, North Narrabeen - Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade photo

Garden St, North Narrabeen Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade photo

Garden St, North Narrabeen Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade photo

Powder Works Rd and Garden St, Nth Narrabeen Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade photo

Surf Life Saving Sydney Northern Beaches Branch: Newport Surf Life Saving Club Members + Others To Evaucuate Narrabeen And Warriewood Areas

February 9, 2020 at 10:43 PM 

Tonight Surf Life Saving Sydney Northern Beaches was tasked with assisting Police and SES with a door knock and evacuation for rising flood water around Warriewood and Narrabeen. Newport was again representing the Branch and had 14 members come and assist with the evacuations.

Thanks to Kieran Menzies, Lauren Budd, Jess Menzies, Brendan Menzies, Liam Taurins, Adrian Hill, Matt Pacey, Mia Pacey, Matt Edwards, Chloe Van Dam, Olivia Gligorevic, Andrew Thomson-Ko, Brendan Capell and Pheobe Savage for all your help tonight. Readers will also spot The Hon Rob Stokes, MP for Pittwater here:

Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade photos - Monday February 10th, 2020:

Yep, we accept all types....

Warriewood Wetlands And Beach

Irrawong waterfall at Warriewood on Sunday Feb 9 2020 - photo by Kelvin Anton Carlsson 

Irrawong waterfall at Warriewood, Warriewood wetlands on Tuesday  February  11 2020 - photo by  Margaret G Woods 

 Warriewood wetlands on Tuesday  February 11 2020, Irrawong end - photo by  Margaret G Woods 

 Warriewood wetlands on Tuesday  February 11 2020 - photo by  Margaret G Woods 

Warriewood wetlands on Tuesday  February 11 2020 - photos by  Margaret G Woods 

Biggest weed monster I’ve ever seen. Length of Warriewood and approximately 150m solid out to sea. - caption and photo by Adriaan van der Wallen, February 12 , 2020

Mackerel Beach

All photos by previous Artist of the Month, Nat Bromhead of Pittwater Photography

Palm Beach, Whale Beach And North Avalon: February 9, 2020

Roads flooded, powerlines down across roads, 24 trees down from Whaley to Nth Av. My kids counted them. Long drive home. - caption and photos by Adriaan van der Wallen, February 9, 2020

Palm Beach February 9, 2020 - photo by Geraldene Dalby-Ball

A forest on the beach. Surf looks good: Palm Beach. - caption and photos by Adriaan van der Wallen, February 14, 2020

Pittwater Estuary

A big thanks to the crews of BB20 and BB30 of Marine Rescue Broken Bay, for all their help looking after our Pittwater and Broken Bay waterways across last weekend - February 9 -10. Marine Rescue Broken Bay vessels were kept busy with multiple assists, including helping retrieve lost dinghies.

Wild conditions at at Salt Pan creek has seen a vessel come to grief in today's treacherous weather. Marine Rescue Broken Bay reminds all boaters to take care and if you do need to move your vessel, log on with Marine Rescue Sydney, wear your life jacket and when your at your destination, remember to logoff. MRBB Photo February 9, 2020

February 9, 2020: MRNSW crews are reporting 4-5 metre breaking waves inside Broken Bay and 3-4 metre waves at Parsley Bay on the Hawkesbury River.

Crews from Marine Rescue Broken Bay, Marine Rescue Cottage Point and Marine Rescue Hawkesbury have responded to numerous house boats, large cruisers and yachts that broke their moorings and were adrift in the Pittwater, Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River area.

A luxury bed and breakfast houseboat came adrift from near Sand Point on the eastern side of Pittwater, drifting to the western side before taking its own anchor again. A tug followed rescue vessel Broken Bay 30 from its Rowland Reserve base and is assisting, after some difficult manoeuvring, getting the houseboat back on its mooring. A big thanks to the Tug boat Kiera for their support.

MR Hawkesbury took a yacht reported adrift on the Hawkesbury River between the rail and road bridges near Brooklyn under tow, placing it on a mooring, while Port Jackson investigated a barge with a crane that hit the shoreline near Hunters Hill.

Bilgola Beach - Sunday February 16th, 2020 - photo by Joanne Seve

Palm Beach - Sunday February 16th, 2020 - photo by Joanne Seve