Our Coastal Future - Port Beach

We're investigating options to manage coastal erosion at Port Beach. We're seeking your input on how you use Port Beach and the values you place on its facilities and amenity.

We're working with Fremantle Ports on this project, supported by the Department of Transport’s Coastal Adaptation and Protection (CAP) grant program.

A project reference group has been established with representatives from local and state government agencies and community groups.

We're seeking your input to help shape the assessment of coastal management options and inform a concept plan to address costal erosion in the Port Beach locality for the long term. Please tell us more in the survey at the bottom of this page.


An evolving coastline...

This area has undergone substantial changes since the late 1800s with significant impacts from urban development altering the coastline. Port Beach is essentially an artificial beach that was shaped by the early construction work associated with the Fremantle Harbour and Fremantle Port.

The area has continued evolving over the decades, including the more recent Rous Head extension and realignment of Port Beach Road. Various historical uses and developments have resulted in hard infrastructure surrounding Port Beach.

Port Beach is one of Fremantle’s popular beaches, accessed by locals and visitors year round. To browse the history of Port Beach and how it has changed over time, browse the slideshow below.

Historical data confirms that coastal processes such as wind, currents and waves, as well as sea level rise, have contributed to erosion at Port Beach over the last 23 years. The most recent event in 2018 caused significant damage with the receding shoreline compromising the Port Beach car park.

All coastal local governments are required by state planning policy to identify potential coastal hazards and plan for risk management and adaptation. The City of Fremantle coastal hazard assessment carried out in 2016 and 2017 identified the Port Beach area, including Sandtrax Beach, is highly vulnerable to immediate and future coastal erosion. You can find out more in the Port, Leighton and Mosman Beaches Coastal Hazard Risk Management and Adaptation Plan (CHRMAP).


Tell us how you currently use Port Beach and the values you place on the surrounding facilities and amenity.

Your feedback will help shape the assessment of coastal management options and inform a concept plan to address coastal erosion in the Port Beach locality for the long term.

For further information on the project please check our frequently asked questions. If you can't find what you're looking for, feel free to drop us a line using the Q&A tool below.

Please share your thoughts with us in the survey below by Sunday 24 March 2019.



We're investigating options to manage coastal erosion at Port Beach. We're seeking your input on how you use Port Beach and the values you place on its facilities and amenity.

We're working with Fremantle Ports on this project, supported by the Department of Transport’s Coastal Adaptation and Protection (CAP) grant program.

A project reference group has been established with representatives from local and state government agencies and community groups.

We're seeking your input to help shape the assessment of coastal management options and inform a concept plan to address costal erosion in the Port Beach locality for the long term. Please tell us more in the survey at the bottom of this page.


An evolving coastline...

This area has undergone substantial changes since the late 1800s with significant impacts from urban development altering the coastline. Port Beach is essentially an artificial beach that was shaped by the early construction work associated with the Fremantle Harbour and Fremantle Port.

The area has continued evolving over the decades, including the more recent Rous Head extension and realignment of Port Beach Road. Various historical uses and developments have resulted in hard infrastructure surrounding Port Beach.

Port Beach is one of Fremantle’s popular beaches, accessed by locals and visitors year round. To browse the history of Port Beach and how it has changed over time, browse the slideshow below.

Historical data confirms that coastal processes such as wind, currents and waves, as well as sea level rise, have contributed to erosion at Port Beach over the last 23 years. The most recent event in 2018 caused significant damage with the receding shoreline compromising the Port Beach car park.

All coastal local governments are required by state planning policy to identify potential coastal hazards and plan for risk management and adaptation. The City of Fremantle coastal hazard assessment carried out in 2016 and 2017 identified the Port Beach area, including Sandtrax Beach, is highly vulnerable to immediate and future coastal erosion. You can find out more in the Port, Leighton and Mosman Beaches Coastal Hazard Risk Management and Adaptation Plan (CHRMAP).


Tell us how you currently use Port Beach and the values you place on the surrounding facilities and amenity.

Your feedback will help shape the assessment of coastal management options and inform a concept plan to address coastal erosion in the Port Beach locality for the long term.

For further information on the project please check our frequently asked questions. If you can't find what you're looking for, feel free to drop us a line using the Q&A tool below.

Please share your thoughts with us in the survey below by Sunday 24 March 2019.



CLOSED: This discussion is currently closed. Please check back for updates.

  • I would like to know what has caused the deposit of rocks and rubble at Sandtrax and port beaches. There has been a major and noticeable increase in rubble deposit over the last five years. This has radically compromised the beaches in terms of usages for water-based leisure activities (especially swimming and surfing) and as a tourist location. To the best of my knowledge, there has yet to be a comprehensive report into the causes of rubble deposit on Sandtrax and Port beaches and disagreement remains as to whether this is due to coastal erosion caused by longterm and global factors, or some other causes, including port constructions over recent years and decades, poor beach management, and other local factors.

    Gerry Strange asked 3 months ago

    Hi Gerry thank you for your comment. Please see some information below on the beach profile at Port Beach and some of the work that has been carried out to date.  

    Port Beach is essentially an artificial beach built on a foundation of dredge material including sand, limestone rock and coral fragments that has historically been dumped there through the creation of the Port in the late 1800s. Dredged material was placed directly along the shoreline or immediately adjacent Port Beach up until the 1960’s and limestone rock and coral fragments can be seen throughout the beach profile. Small rock fragments have been documented along Port Beach since the early 1990’s, however photographs from the 1960’s, when Port Beach was beginning to be used for recreation, also show small rock fragments and foreign material between beach users. You can see these photos in the gallery on the main project page - mysay.fremantle.wa.gov.au/port-beach   

    From time to time conditions will be such that the lighter sand grains interspersed with the material will wash away and the limestone rock and coral fragments will be exposed. At other times the sand will come back and cover it up again. There are signs in place warning beach users about the possibility of exposed rocks and rubble on the beach during these erosion periods.

    Fremantle Ports have commissioned studies and investigations into coastal processes impacting on Port Beach which have included data analysis, site and diver inspections, modelling of historical data and geological and geotechnical studies.

    In recent decades a number of attempts have been made to address the rocks on Port Beach, including using excavators and bobcats to remove them, but all of these attempts have only been successful in removing the rocks from the surface level. As the beach has been largely formed by dredged sand and rocks, it is expected rock fragments will continue to be present on Port Beach from time to time.

  • I missed the cut off for your survey but as an ocean swimmer who organised swimming events at Port beach itisVERY disappointing to have to negotiate rubble and attempt to avoid cuts and bruises just entering/exiting the water. Someone’s modeling has failed big time. Now, what can be done to rectify this situation?

    Ric Ainley asked 3 months ago

    Thanks for your comment Ric, I hope some of the information on this page about both storm erosion and long shore sediment transport is helpful. There was a good response to the community survey, this is currently being compiled and further updates will be provided.

  • I am in agreement with Paul below about let things occur naturally as it is the human who has created the erosion by groynes and sea walls When the North Quay was built did anyone think about how it changes the natural course of sand the an example Any change to coast line has a consequence

    Jane G asked 3 months ago

    Thank you for your comment Jane. Prior to the construction of the Rous Head Ultimate Extension (2009 to 2010) Fremantle Ports engaged specialist consultants to perform detailed shoreline and wave modelling of Port Beach.

    The results of this modelling showed minimal impact to Port Beach due to the construction of the Rous Head Ultimate Extension. Instead, modelling indicated that the new structure would partially shelter Port Beach from south westerly conditions that typically move sediment north (details of longshore sediment transport at Port Beach can be found in the other answers on this page). Therefore, it was estimated that all other things remaining the same, the Rous Head Ultimate Extension (2009 to 2010) may actually cause some accretion (gradual increase of sand) at Port Beach near Rous Head.

  • The major problem with the beach has been caused by the continual scraping sand off the beach to create the dunes. Years ago the sand level was almost at the height of the car park and there was a wall along the whole length of the car park. Unfortunately, the footings of that wall weren't deep enough and it was damaged by several storms. The artificial creation of the dunes, together with continual lowering of the beach level, has caused major erosion. The addition of the large rocks along the old wall line has only destroyed further space of the beach. I suggest that a decent sea wall, with deep footings, be reinstalled, together with possible addition of further sand. This would allow the beach to rebuild itself. Also, obviously the rocks along the waters' edge should be removed. These have obviously been caused by poorly managed human activity.

    Geoff Brown asked 3 months ago

    Thank you for your comment Geoff.

    The design of the current sea wall is not sufficient to overcome the risk to Port Beach from immediate and future coastal erosion, more information on the risk is available in the Port, Leighton and Mosman Beaches Coastal Hazard Risk Management and Adaptation Plan (CHRMAP).

    Unfortunately, the loss of sand and reduction in beach elevation is not simply due to the scraping of sand off the beach. Port Beach generally loses sand every year due to longshore transport of sediment to the north, this is explained in more detail in some other answers on this page. This loss of sand leads to the erosion of the shoreline and has been occurring rapidly over the last two decades, as can be seen from review of historical aerial photography. 

    For this reasons, sand that is placed on Port Beach will disappear over time, so any placement of sand on the beach would need to be ongoing. However, both bringing in sand and construction of a seawall are two of several possible options that will be explored based on feedback from the community and key stakeholders. The feedback from phase one is currently being compiled.

  • Hi I’m working on a proposal for port beach/south sandtrax what’s the best way to submit it?

    Robert Peters asked 3 months ago

    Hi Robert

    Can you email communityengagement@fremantle.wa.gov.au and I will send it to the relevant area. Please make sure you include contact details so they can get in touch with you. 

    Thanks.

  • The area has been stuffed up by human intervention: - groynes and seawalls - dune vegetation Let the build up and erosion of sand occur naturally. The dune vegetation program has stuffed the beach. Once upon a time you could sit in your car and watch the surf from the car park. Now the sand gets trapped in the dunes and does not move back into the ocean and form sand banks during winter. This means the waves continue to break closer to the shore in winter causing the erosion. Do the following: - replenish the beach with sand - stop further dune programs - Move the infrastructure back from the beach We have got it wrong by building to close to close to the water and the greenies saving the vegetation. Cheers

    Paul asked 3 months ago

    Thank you for your query Paul. 

    Both placement of sand on Port Beach and moving infrastructure are options that will be considered based on feedback from community members and stakeholders.

    Understanding the shoreline dynamics is key when developing options for the future adaptation of Port Beach. For example, sand placed on Port Beach will disappear over time, full details are below under ‘longshore sediment transport’.

    Some of the key dynamics are explained in more detail below to help you make informed choices regarding potential future options:

    • Severe storm erosion process
    • Dune formation, and
    • Longshore sediment transport.

    Severe Storm Erosion Process - During significant storm events, the strong winds generate high, steep waves and an increase in water level, known as storm surge.  This process allows the waves to attack higher on the beach profile, an area that is not normally vulnerable. 

    For sandy beaches, the initial beach elevation and width is generally insufficient to absorb the wave energy of the storm waves. These waves therefore result in erosion of the beach face, beach berm and sometimes the dunes. 

    The eroded sand is carried offshore where it is deposited and forms an offshore bar.  These bars can eventually grow large enough to break the incoming waves further offshore, reducing erosion of the beach.  This is shown in the diagram below. 

    If no dune is present, or where the volume of sand within the dune is too small, there is not enough sediment available to form an offshore bar. When this occurs the waves do not break offshore and instead continue to erode the beach. 


    Dune Formation - Dunes are formed by the natural process of winds blowing sand across the beach (if you’re on the beach on a windy day you've experienced this when winds blow the sand against your legs or into your eyes).  This windblown sand becomes trapped by vegetation or the dune itself, which acts to naturally build the dune up over time. 

    This dune formation helps provide an increased buffer against storm erosion as shown in the image above.  This will assist with maintaining the stability of the coastline provided this is a natural process and not the result of excavating sand from the beach and placing it in the dunes. Artificially placing sand in the dunes from a source that is not the beach can also be beneficial. 

    If vegetation was removed from the dunes, less windblown sand would be trapped.  Instead this sand would be blown onto the adjacent carparks, roads, etc.  Once this occurs the sediment would be lost from the beach system and would not be available to help protect against storm erosion. 

    Longshore Sediment Transport - Wave action causes sediment to be transported along the shoreline and the direction of this transport varies seasonally, with sand transported to the north in summer (due to the south-westerly sea breezes) and south in winter (due to storm fronts from the north west). 

    Observations at Port Beach over twenty years have shown that more sediment is transported to the north (away from Port Beach) in the summer than what returns in winter.  This is a key reason for the erosion that has been experienced at Port Beach. 

    As a result, sand that is placed on Port Beach will disappear over time, so any placement of sand on the beach would need to be ongoing.  Nevertheless, this is an option that will be considered based on feedback from the community and key stakeholders, as will your other suggestion of moving infrastructure back from the beach.   


  • Hi, Your question structure is very strange, and doesn't really allow for people to say what they want, the type of question and response options make it skewed for some reason? Money better spent preserving the beach, we lost a considerable amount, it is the beach, not the dunes that saves us!

    ianH asked 3 months ago

    Thank you for your query Ian.

    Firstly to further explain the questions - The survey is designed to determine the key community values around both different facilities at the beach and different locations of the beach. It also allows for direct input into the next stage of the technical analysis, hence the set aspects of social and environmental rankings, which can feed in to this.

    With respect to your comment regarding the beach - There are a couple of key processes that mean the dune and the beach are both critically important for reducing shoreline erosion and we've provided some more information on this below. 

    There are two aspects:

    • Severe storm erosion process
    • Longshore sediment transport

    Severe Storm Erosion Process - During significant storm events, the strong winds generate high, steep waves and an increase in water level, known as storm surge.  This process allows the waves to attack higher on the beach profile, an area that is not normally vulnerable. 

    For sandy beaches, the initial beach elevation and width is generally insufficient to absorb the wave energy of the storm waves. These waves therefore result in erosion of the beach face, beach berm and sometimes the dunes. 

    The eroded sand is carried offshore where it is deposited and forms an offshore bar.  These bars can eventually grow large enough to break the incoming waves further offshore, reducing erosion of the beach.  This is shown in the diagram below. 

    If no dune is present, or where the volume of sand within the dune is too small, there is not enough sediment available to form an offshore bar. When this occurs the waves do not break offshore and instead continue to erode the beach. 

    As a result, dunes are critically important in providing a source of sediment to reduce the extent of beach erosion during severe storm events. 


    Longshore Sediment Transport - Wave action causes sediment to be transported along the shoreline.  The direction of this transport varies seasonally, with sand transported to the north in summer (due to the south-westerly sea breezes) and south in winter (due to storm fronts from the north west). 

    As a result, sand that is placed on an artificially altered shoreline such as Port Beach cannot always be relied upon to be where it needs to be to provide the required buffer against storm erosion.  However, sand in the dunes is not subject to such movement and therefore (where present) can be relied upon to provide a less varying buffer against the storm erosion process described above. 

    We hope this information helps to explain why the dune and the beach are both critically important for reducing shoreline erosion.