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Our western boundary is made up of nine kilometres of coastline. It is an attraction for thousands of tourists who visit our clean, sandy beaches all year round.

Due to the natural processes of wind and waves, our coastal environment is highly dynamic and ever changing. Our coastline, like all of Adelaide's metropolitan beaches, is managed to counter the impacts that threaten to damage it.

Seagrass

Seagrass beds are found just out from our beaches’ low water mark and provide an important habitat and food source for marine organisms such as fish. Their root systems also play an important part in anchoring the sand and preventing erosion.

The seagrass beds along our coastline are under threat from pollution and physical disturbance, including wastewater, stormwater, shipping and boating.

Beach Management

The responsibility for the management of our beaches is shared between Council and the State Government, as part of the Adelaide Living Beaches strategy, implemented by the Coast Protection Board, which is part of the Department of Environment and Water. You can find out more here.

Sand naturally moves northwards by longshore drift and, prior to European settlement, the beaches were naturally replenished from the dunes, and therefore sand movement could continue almost indefinitely. However, development along our coast has resulted in large quantities of the sand supply either being 'locked up' or removed from the beach system, preventing natural replenishment.

As a result, natural processes and coastal storms have eroded beach width, and without artificial replenishment, sand will continue to erode away, exposing the underlying hard rocks and clays.

To counteract this, sand is pumped from areas where it naturally builds up (Glenelg) and is deposited at 16 key locations between Kingston Park and Glenelg. In order to maintain sandy beaches, sand replenishment activities will need to continue. It is an expensive exercise, especially due to dwindling local sand sources, loss of seagrass, rising sea level, and the need to bypass sand around the harbours at Glenelg and West Beach.

Sand drift -fencing

A healthy dune system has many benefits, from protecting against storm erosion to providing habitats for indigenous plants and animals, and as a source of sand for the beaches.

We are using sand-drift fencing to help restore and protect dune systems from erosion, by trapping wind-blown sand in the vicinity of the fence where natural vegetation is not sufficient to do so effectively. However, such fencing does not completely prevent natural erosion – it merely slows down the movement of our fine dune sand.

Sand Dunes

We have two significant dune areas beside our beaches: the Brighton to Seacliff dunes, and the Minda dunes at Somerton Park.

These dune systems are an important asset to the area providing protection from tide effects, and a habitat for birds, reptiles and insects. Before extensive coastal development in the 19th and 20th centuries, the dunes were an important source of food and shelter for the traditional owners, the Kaurna people.

Since the late 1990s, Council has conducted revegetation and restoration projects with the help of local residents, primary schools, and volunteer conservation groups.

During 2018-19 Council, in partnership with the State Government and Minda Inc., was able to undertake a significant amount of biodiversity works to improve the Minda dunes. In particular removing a large number of woody weeds such as boxthorn, athel pine and olives, followed by planting 10,000 native dune plants will transform the dunes into high quality dune habitat.

Vegetation

Much of our coastline has been developed and therefore altered since European settlement. However, areas of significant remnant vegetation still exist in pockets along the coast.

The plant communities feature a diverse variety of plant species – most of which are highly adapted to survive in the soil and climatic conditions characteristic of our seaside environment. They are particularly tolerant to salt, wind, infertile soils and the hot, dry conditions.

Both on land and in the water, these areas of native vegetation form important habitats for wildlife. They play an important role in stabilising marine sediments and dunes, and forming a protective buffer between the land and the sea.

We strongly encourage the use of local indigenous plants in creating water-wise gardens, as they are perfectly suited to our soil and climate; thrive without additional water; don't require fertilizers or pesticides; and provide a natural habitat for indigenous birds, fauna, insects and reptiles.

Coastal weeds

A weed is any plant that grows where it is not wanted. Unfortunately, introduced species form a significant proportion of our coastal vegetation, and not only include plants that have been introduced from overseas, but also native species from other regions of Australia.

Weeds affect native plants by successfully overpowering and replacing them and, in some cases, by forming conditions that prevent indigenous species establishing around them.

Reducing the damage caused by weeds, and protecting our coastal environment and its biodiversity is a key priority for us, and our specialist teams actively control unwanted plants throughout our reserves and foreshore regions.