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THE SOUTHERN BREAK WALL - Only half the answer

The entrance to Lake Illawarra has always blocked over many years as do all the lakes that have sand entrances. Unfortunately the intervention of man in the environment of the lake and its surroundings has led to siltation, water pollution and habitat destruction. These disasters became so bad, that local councils established the "Lake Management Committee", later replaced by the "Lake Illawarra Authority".

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Sign put up to announce the "completion" of the Entrance Works

Sign on Windang Island

Both of these groups had studies done for a permanent opening to the lake, to find solutions to these problems. The biggest hurdle was the funding for such a project which had to be done on a fifty fifty basis.

Wollongong and Shellharbour Council twentyfive percent each and the NSW State Government of the day fifty percent.

There was no driving force within any of these groups to have the money granted. The Windang Neighbourhood Community Group became so disturbed by the lack of commitment to the funding, they organised six thousand separate partitions to be sent to the government Minister of Land and Water. He then agreed to fund the design of a permanent opening to  Lake Illawarra, at a cost of four hundred thousand dollars.

The project again stalled due to the lack of further funding .

Funding became an election issue at the 1999 council election of Shellharbour. Prior to the election the chairman of the Lake Illawarra Authority announced that the NSW Labor Government had granted a further four million dollars needed to complete the project.

Lake Illawarra Entrance, closed

Lake Illawarra Entrance, South Wall


It must be said that the construction company did a great job with this project.

Only months after  it was completed the training wall channel started to sand up, the tides started rushing through the new swimming lagoon, washing away the new sand beaches and making it unsafe to swim there.

The reason this occurred was that the Lake Illawarra Authority had not constructed the training wall as per the design.

Why? They took the cheaper option, leaving the spur walls out. These walls stop the run-out tide from running through the swimming lagoon. These walls are clearly shown on the plan ….

South Wall spurs not constructed to end of break wall

Lake Illawarra Entrance, holes in South Wall

Their answer to this problem was to fill the channel with a rock wall which decreased the tidal flow through the swimming lagoon. This created two new problems.

No 1: Storm water pollutant would not flush out.
No 2: This wall on high tide caused the road to flood.

To fix this problem they removed the top part of the wall. The problems had only just started the entrance now blocked every summer, causing the lake to be come polluted and smell, the tourist industry loosing thousands of dollars.

Lake Illawarra Entrance, Causeway cutting off the swimming lagoon

Lake Illawarra Entrance, dredging of swimming lagoon

The Lake Illawarra Authority had said these were 'minor' adjustments and it would take ten years to see if it would work.

Ten years could not be tolerated the cost to the community was too much to bear. The Save Lake Illawarra Action Group was formed.

The Big Dig happened, the Save Our Lake Rally and the Lake Debate.
The result is the Northern Break Wall. All of these subjects are under these headings