Coast and Waterways

2022 Floods - Riverbank Erosion Support

Riverbank Erosion.JPG

Local Land Services is working with rural landholders to understand riverbank erosion issues resulting from the recent flooding events.

Click HERE(PDF, 666KB) for more information. 


Coast and Rivers

Council has a strong commitment to the protection and enhancement of our precious coast and river systems.

The Bellingen Local Government Area (LGA) coastline extends approximately 10kms from Oyster Creek in the south to Tuckers Rocks in the north, including the northern end of North Valla Beach, Hungry Head Beach, North Hungry Head Beach and North Beach.

It is one of the least developed coastal areas on the NSW north coast. Much of the foreshore is retained in public ownership, protecting an area of unique natural values that may also provide greater resilience to existing coastal processes and the impacts of future sea level rise.

The Bellingen Shire foreshores are much loved by people both across the region and further afield, who are drawn by it’s beauty and tranquillity.  Commonly known as where the ‘rivers meet the sea’, it is the place where coastal, valley and mountain communities come together.

Two major river systems, the Kalang and the Bellinger, jointly enter the Pacific Ocean at the township of Urunga between North Hungary Head Beach and North Beach. The plateau contains the headwaters of the Nymboydia and Clarence rivers.

Coastal Zone Management Plan

This plan was adopted in 2014 and will be superseded by the Coastal Management Program at the end of 2022 (see below). Council is still working towards completing actions in this plan.

Dalhousie Creek

Dalhousie Creek is located immediately south of Hungry Head. The creek, sometimes referred to as Hungry Head Lagoon, is classified as an Intermittently Closed and Open Lake or Lagoon (ICOLL) and has its entrance to the ocean at Hungry Head Beach.

The area is a highly dynamic coastal environment, which is subject to a large range of influences including the effects of climate change and sea level rise. The position of the Dalhousie Creek entrance as well as water levels within the creek are critical in determining the accessibility, amenity and public safety of this section of beach. Until 1997, artificial entrance opening was undertaken annually for the purpose of controlling the entrance location. Since 1997, the creek usually remains closed, but still opens naturally once or twice a year in response to rainfall, beach state and ocean conditions.

Several projects have been funded from the NSW Government to implement the actions identified in the Coastal Zone Management Plan.

- Dalhousie Creek Entrance Management Strategy

- Vegetation Management Plan

- Signage about ICOLS

- Coast Snap

- Beach berm realignment works

Council has installed a Coast Snap point on the headland at Hungry Head to monitor the entrance of Dalhousie Creek. Next time you visit, use your smartphone to measure beach change and help us understand and manage our dynamic coast.

Check out the images from Hungry Head in Urunga below and get more information about how you can get involved HERE.


Dalhousie Creek Entrance Management Strategy Part 1(PDF, 13MB)

Dalhousie Creek Entrance Management Strategy Part 2(PDF, 6MB)

Dalhousie Creek Vegetation management plan(PDF, 4MB)

Coastal Management Program

Council is preparing the Bellingen Coastal Management Program (CMP), a long term plan to manage our coastal catchments.

Development of the CMP presents an opportunity to address key issues and prioritise management actions over the next 10 years.

There are five stages in the CMP process and Stage 1 was completed in 2020. It included preparing a Scoping Study in consultation with the community and other stakeholders that identified seven main issues or topics of concern.

Stage 2

Stage 2 began in November 2021 and finished in May 2022. In consultation with the community and other stakeholders, we identified risks, vulnerabilities and opportunities within the estuaries and catchment of the Bellinger and Kalang Rivers and the open coastline.

Key issues that came out of this consultation were riverbank erosion, on-water speed limits not being enforced, the impact of visitors, campers and off-leash dogs, litter, vegetation loss and management, noise and amenity of powered boats and jet skis and dune destabilisation.

There were also many ideas for how some of these issues could be addressed. These included improved control of noxious weeds, engaging with traditional owners, more active regulation and monitoring, eco-friendly linked pathways and bike trails, permits for 4WD beach access and replacing and maintaining signs.

You can view the interactive map here.

The issues raised were then workshopped with key stakeholders to determine their level of risk, the consequences of doing nothing and possible mitigations. This allowed the project team to highlight key risks to be addressed via management actions. The stage 2 summary report is available in the link below.

The Water Quality Management Plan was recommended to be completed as part of stage 2 to address gaps in the knowledge and management of water quality within the Bellinger and Kalang river catchments. The plan is now in the final stages of drafting and will be released to the public once completed.  

Stage 3

Stage 3 will commence in July 2022 and will involve workshopping the draft management actions with impacted stakeholders and the broader community. While the focus of this stage will be on refining management actions for extreme and high-risk hazards and issues, all the draft management actions will be subject to review ahead of the draft CMP going on public exhibition in Stage 4.


Stage 3 workshops will be held in Bellingen and Urunga. Each workshop will last for about two hours. Impacted landowners should receive an invitation to attend the workshops by mail, however, everyone is welcome to attend.

To register to participate in one of the workshops, head to or call us on 0428 063 449  by 3 July.

Contact details

Ben Price, Environmental Assessment and Biodiversity Officer

0428 063 449

Download the Scoping Report(PDF, 20MB)

Download the Stage 2 Consultation Summary(PDF, 2MB)

Download the Stage 2 Summary Report(PDF, 13MB)


Water Quality

Council is a program partner to Bellingen River Watch, a citizen science program managed by Oz Green. Bellingen Riverwatch was created to provide consistent water quality data in the Bellinger and Kalang catchments following a disease outbreak that caused a mass death event of the Critically Endangered Bellinger River Snapping Turtle (BRST) in early 2015. A lack of water quality data was identified by scientists and community alike as a priority focus area. We assist the 40 volunteers and 5 schools to test water quality at 30 sites by funding testing equipment and providing ongoing professional guidance to the team

Bellingen Riverwatch Water Quailty Results


River Rehabilitation Projects

By addressing problems such as weed invasion, lack of native tree cover, erosion and sedimentation, these projects enable Council to work with the community to ensure healthy rivers are maintained and improved now and for our future. Council’s river rehabilitation projects are funded through external grants, often with matching contributions from Council’s Environment Levy and/or private landholders.  Selection of project sites and activities depends on a range of factors including:

  • grant priorities and eligible activities
  • landholder interest, capacity to provide matching contributions (cash and/or in-kind) and commitment to follow-up maintenance
  • strategic priorities (often guided by management plans, studies and/or condition assessments).


Restoring Reserves of the Never Never

This project is a NSW Environmental Trust funded project partnership with the Never Never Catchment Group and is due for completion in December 2021. Bellingen Shire Council and Never Never Catchment Group are working in partnership to protect and enhance the riparian zone within Earl Preston Reserve adjacent to the Never Never River and Timboon Road, Gleniffer.  The vegetation includes an Endangered Ecological Community, which is threatened by invasive plants and compaction from stock and vehicle access. Rock Groynes were placed in the river to manage erosion and mature weed trees were removed and mulched, juvenile weeds are being managed and the width of the riparian zone will be increased by revegetation and fencing. This will improve the stability of the eroding river bank and complement rehabilitation on the opposite river bank. Stock and vehicle access will be controlled by fencing plantings.  Community working bees have provided enrichment planting  and interpretive signs provide an opportunity to involve the local community and to raise awareness of local environmental assets, riparian rehabilitation techniques and priorities in Council's Gleniffer Reserves Master Plan.










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Snapping Turtle

Oxleyean Pygmey Pearch

Landowner guide to planning in-stream works