Residents' fury as lake 'swallows' playground in beachside suburb

The suburb's foreshore has slowly been eroding causing jetties, sand and the playground to vanish before locals' eyes.

Children's playground on Windang foreshore eroding away, collapsing into the lake.
Lake Illawarra is washing away the foreshore in Windang, a suburb of Wollongong, two hours from Sydney. Source: A Current Affair

Residents in a beachside suburb have hit out at council for neglecting the community's foreshore which has been slowly washing away and risking children's safety.

A playground was forced closed recently over concerns it wasn't safe for kids playing in the area along Windang's foreshore, a suburb near Wollongong, New South Wales, with jetties, sandbanks and the play area vanishing before locals' eyes.

Residents have watched for the past three years as the large Lake Illawarra "swallows" up the foreshore, but a recent storm event has caused more erosion, and residents have had enough.

One mother, who's lived in the area for two decades, said it was "very very lucky" that no kids were injured on the play equipment when it recently caved in, although she and her young daughter were close by.

"We were down here on Sunday, my daughter was standing on the edge just to have a look back and the ground did go out from underneath her," Jessica told A Current Affair on Friday.

"They've had warning, they've had plenty of time to build a replacement while stabilising the shoreline and we could have still had this but now it's gone," she said of the council.

Windang resident Jessica standing at collapsed playground on foreshore.
Mum Jessica fears for the safety of her children, and others, who were nearby when the playground collapsed into the water. Source: A Current Affair

Residents urge council to 'take action'

Jessica is among many frustrated residents who have urged Wollongong City Council to "take some action" to stop the foreshore from eroding further.

"We want it to be safe first and foremost and obviously second we just want to look as nice as Shellharbour does on the other side," another man Klayten said.

Klayten said the southern side of the lake, which belongs to Shellharbour City Council, appears to be far better kept than Windang's, which is wasting away.

Local mayor urges residents to stay away from eroding foreshore

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery agrees the area, specifically the playground, isn't safe and encouraged locals to avoid the area. He arranged for fences to close off the playground with equipment also removed.

"You don't go to a playground where you know that there are situations where there's likely to be a danger," Bradbery said.

But he said the lake is an asset of the state, not the council, suggesting it "isn't council that will be ultimately responsible for the work."

Coastal erosion growing problem across Australia

Coastal erosion has proven problematic across the country and is predicted to get worse as sea levels continue to rise. The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water's (DCCEEW's) National Coastal Risk Assessment states erosion due to higher sea levels is a "key risk" for coastal areas.

At the moment sea levels are rising at a rate of 3-4 millimetres per year, coastal engineering expert Dr Mitchell Harley from the UNSW previously explained to Yahoo News Australia.

"We haven't quite seen the effects of that in terms of coastal erosion," he said. "But, at a certain point, there will be all the signs pointing to acceleration in the latter half of this century."

Another local man who's lived in Windang for over 60 years noted the "disastrous consequences" of mother nature saying the tide in the lake is "very very strong". "The lake is gradually going to take away what it wants to," said the man named Peter.

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