While grey nomads often worry that their favourite beachfront caravan park or camping area might get sold off to developers, it seems there is an even more ominous threat lurking on the horizon.
Recent digital modelling by CoreLogic has painted an alarming picture of the potential impacts of climate change and rising sea levels over the next 80 years.
The Coast Risk Australia modelling predicted sea level scenarios ranging from a high of 0.84m by 2100, and an even more alarming – but less likely – rise of two metres by 2100, and five metres by 2150.
Even the 0.84m scenario would see popular camping spots such as Queensland’s Inskip Point lose a significant chunk of land.
And the modelling shows that that scale of sea level rise would inundate half of heritage-listed Fraser Island.
The experts say the damage would be much more dramatic under a two-metre rise scenario, which is said to be unlikely to happen but ‘cannot be ruled out due to deep uncertainty in ice sheet processes’.
With such large rises a possibility, even communities not on the beach itself are starting to make plans.
Gympie Regional Council sustainability director Adrian Burns said its Hazard Adaptation Strategy takes into consideration the possibility of a 0.8m sea level rise by 2100.
It’s a similarly worrying story over in the west.
The modelling identified Dunsborough and Busselton – both much loved by grey nomads – as being set to suffer heavily. The data shows that the coastline in the Busselton suburb of Broadwater is currently retreating at an average rate of five metres per year.
UWA coastal oceanography professor Charitha Pattiaratchi said he considered Busselton to be one of the most vulnerable coastlines in the longer term in Western Australia.
“We have to learn as a community globally, that we have to change our ways,” he said. “We cannot live next to the ocean.”
While the CoreLogic study looks ahead several decades, many van parks and camping areas are already feeling the effects of fairly dramatic coastal erosion.
Back in 2015, a massive sinkhole ‘swallowed’ a car, a caravan and camper trailer at MV Beagle Campground, north of Queensland’s Rainbow Beach at Inskip Point forcing hundreds of campers to be evacuated.
And major work has been done to protect some beachside caravan parks from the ever-advancing ocean, most famously at Kingscliff in northern New South Wales.
And last year, the council at Lancelin in WA said it hoped its $500,000 redevelopment of the erosion-plagued foreshore park in front of the Lancelin Caravan Park would help protect it … despite concerns it will be ‘overtopped’ by storm surges within 10 years.