When drawing a line in the sand isn’t enough to stop coastal erosion

Grey nomads who regularly travel in coastal areas will have almost certainly seen the dramatic effects that erosion is having on many beaches … and seaside communities.

In spots such as Kingscliff in northern New South Wales, the caravan park has long been on the frontline of the battle to stop the inexorable march of the sea.

A multi-million-dollar sea wall some 300 metres long and six metres deep was commissioned to protect the park and the main street.

But it’s a problem that is far more widespread than just one small coastal town. In beaches around the country, Mother Nature is nibbling away … and with increasingly startling consequences.

From the Gold Coast to Adelaide, beaches are under threat and, in some cases, remedial action just isn’t going to be enough.

The Shire of Gingin in WA recently published a report which effectively called for the popular holiday town of Lancelin to be completely relocated.

Mapping in the coastal risk management draft document shows most of the current town being at high or very high vulnerability to flooding within 50 years.

The report said that measures such as building seawalls, groynes, and offshore reefs had all been looked at over the years, but had been discounted.

It said ‘Lancelin will be difficult to protect in the long term’, and made a strong recommendation for the town to be moved.

“Once all assets are removed, it simply makes more sense to find a less vulnerable location,” it said.

The shire says it will now investigate the town’s ‘retreat’ in partnership with the state government and community, hoping to find locations that still ‘enjoy the Lancelin environment’.

“By 2050 the Shire will be prepared with appropriately zoned land available for relocation of properties,” it promised. In the short term though, the council has proposed banning vehicle access to the beach … but the idea has already met with a backlash from locals who fear it will deter tourists from coming.

Erosion then looks set to pose an ongoing threat, with many of Australia’s most iconic caravan parks directly in Mother Nature’s firing line.

Oceanographers like Flinders University’s Graziela Miot da Silva has previously warned that a warming climate and rising sea levels means perpetual intervention will be needed to save beaches around Australia.

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