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Sand expanse on show: Caloundra Bar provides a spectacle but blocks waterway

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Stark photos show how clogged the Caloundra Bar has become in recent weeks, following powerful swells and big tides.

CADE Media captured stunning images of the area at low tide on February 18, when water barely trickled over the sand bar.

Scroll down for more photos

“The latest from the transformation of the Caloundra Bar in the Pumicestone Passage … it’s even more closed and it’s created a lovely swimming spot,” the photography team said via social media.

It’s a picturesque place for people to walk their dogs, pitch their cabanas and swim in the calm waters on the western side of the bar.

Beachgoers relax on the Happy Valley spit. Picture: CADE Media

When the tide is right, the expanse of sand looks similar to the 1960s and 1970s.

Since then, the bar evolved to become the main northern entrance to the Pumicestone Passage.

But a tidal breakthrough at Bribie Island early last year changed the flow in the passage and shifted sand, essentially sealing the bar once more.

It’s particularly evident in recent weeks.

The Caloundra Bar, with Caloundra in the background. CADE Media

“It (the bar) has filled up quite dramatically,” Caloundra Coast Guard commander Roger Pearce said.

It’s further restricted Coast Guard’s access to the sea.

“The bar is effectively completely closed off now …. unless there is a super-high tide we couldn’t use it,” Mr Pearce said.

“I think it could stay closed forever.

“It’s like the ’60s and ’70s when they used to have a circus on there and it was a complete sandbar.”

Ashton’s Circus regularly set up the circus on the sand flats at Happy Valley. Picture: Picture Sunshine Coast

Related story: IN PHOTOS: See how passage has changed in a year. 

Caloundra Coast Guard has also been hemmed in by a huge sand spit in the passage.

Water ran through a small split that occurred in that spit recently, but it has since closed.

Another one has opened during the past week.

Mr Pearce hoped it would remain open, to allow more water movement through the passage and to provide boaties with more freedom.

“We’re using that one (split) now, but we don’t know if it will stay open,” he said.

“We don’t have a crystal ball. But if that opens up, it solves all our problems and all the problems of the community (boaties) who are trying to get north-south access in the passage.”

Sand stretches between Happy Valley and the northern island of Bribie Island. Sand can also be seen stretching across Pumicestone Passage, near the tidal breakthrough, in the background. Picture: CADE Media

If the split doesn’t stay open, Coast Guard may base their primary vessel at the new Pelican Waters Marina down the coastline.

“We’re just waiting to see what happens from the high tide (2.1m) for the rest of this week. It will be interesting to see if it (the split) opens even more,” he said.

“It’s about 0.4m at low tide now, which is almost accessible for us.”

Coast Guard’s main vessel has been based at a member’s house in Lamerough Canal for almost two months, for easier access to the passage and open ocean.

No way through: the clogged Caloundra Bar. Picture: CADE Media
The sand at Happy Valley meets the sand of Bribie Island. Picture: CADE Media
What it looked like for much of the past couple of decades, with water rushing through the Caloundra Bar and barely a spit a Happy Valley. Picture: Shutterstock.
A photo of a small split in the sand spit in the Pumicestone Passage a couple of weeks ago. It has since closed but another one has opened. Picture: Bluey’s Photography
The immense spit at Happy Valley in the 1960s. Picture: Les Clarke

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