The very thing that makes the iconic and isolated South Australian town of Fowlers Bay so unique to visitors is threatening to ultimately bury it … literally!
Located at the eastern extremity of the Great Australian Bight between Ceduna and Nullarbor, the community is famed for its great fishing … and its ever-advancing sand dunes.
Original parts of the town, known as Kent Town, have already disappeared beneath the sand, and the re-routed road that replaced High Street now faces a similar fate.
Locals say that the dunes have marched about 75 metres towards the road in the past decade and the sand is also creeping closer to private dwellings.
The ABC reports that more than 8,000 visitors normally stay at the town’s caravan park each year, but owner, Robyn Tyson, says the local landscape is changing … and quickly.
“Visitors are always fascinated by the fact Kent Town is completely buried under the sandhills,” she told the ABC. “And it could happen to us if things don’t change significantly.”
She bought the park and kiosk with her husband almost five years ago.
“Clearly when we bought the park [the dunes] were something that we investigated, they’re very close to the town,” she said. “We don’t want to, in 10 years’ time, be unable to sell the business because the sand dunes have moved even closer.”
But Flinders University professor Patrick Hesp, who studies coastal geomorphology around the world, told the ABC that all is not lost.
“It’s quite possible to stabilise the large slip face, what we call the precipitation ridge that’s around the edge of the dunefield, if it’s done well with native species,” he said.
To that end, some local residents are busily re-planting native coastal plants on the dunes in an effort to stop the sand … and save the town.