Redcliffe resident calls for quick action on Swan River sandbank

Bella Scharfenstein at the sand bank close to the Redcliffe Bridge near Ayres Bushland.
Bella Scharfenstein at the sand bank close to the Redcliffe Bridge near Ayres Bushland.

AN avid surf skier had a “frightening” experience when she sank into “quicksand” as she investigated the depth and safety of a “massive sandbank” in Ascot.

Bella Scharfenstein was paddling earlier this month in the Swan River near Redcliffe Bridge by Ayres Bushland with her partner when she noticed the sandbank had extended dramatically.

The Redcliffe resident of eight years paddles about once a week and said the sandbank had expanded much farther into the river in the last year due to silt deposits from the southern main drain of the airport estate.

“I am very familiar with the area and the sandbank, which has grown two-thirds larger than its original size,” she said.

“If the sandbank continues to grow, it will become a boating hazard.”

Ms Scharfenstein said she walked on the sandbank a few weeks ago to check if it was extending farther under the water and couldn’t be seen from the river’s surface.

“I discovered the bank ends abruptly so one goes from about 12cm depth to about 1.5m depth,” she said.

“Where the sandbank ends the silt is like quicksand; I started to sink into it and was able to push myself out with the aid of my paddle.

“It was quite frightening.”

Having seen children and dogs play on the sandbank, Ms Scharfenstein said she wanted to raise awareness about the potential danger at the site.

“Luckily the weather has been quite cold and the chilly water is a deterrent, but with warmer weather approaching, the sandbank is a potential hazard,” she said.

“A sign warning that the bank ends abruptly, in sucking silt and into deep water, should be erected on the sandbank as soon as possible.”

Ms Scharfenstein said the rapid growth in the sandbank had made her more concerned about the amount of silt coming from developments such as the DFO and the future Costco store where the opening of the drain starts and runs to the river.