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Our Coast

Our Coast

Our western boundary is almost nine kilometres of beaches. 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, naturally erosive, and ever-changing. Our coastline is actively managed to counter the impacts that threaten to damage it.

Beach Management

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 Department of Environment and Water.

Sand naturally moves northwards along Adelaide's coastline. 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 sand either being 'locked up' or removed from the beach system, preventing natural replenishment. As a result, natural processes have eroded the beaches, and without artificial replenishment, sand will continue to erode away.

To counteract this, every winter sand is pumped from Glenelg, where it naturally builds up, and is deposited at 11 key locations between Kingston Park and Glenelg. In order to maintain our sandy beaches, this activity will need to continue every year.

Coastal Adaptation Planning

Coasts are dynamic, constantly changing environments impacted by both development and storms that are increasing in severity and frequency due to climate change and sea level rise.

In some locations, these impacts are occurring at a fast rate and are damaging important community assets or infrastructure. To understand and plan for the risks and impacts associated with sea level rise, the City of Holdfast Bay is working through a complex multi-year coastal adaptation planning process, with a range of stakeholders, to develop a Coastal Adaptation Plan for the future of our coast.

Sand Dunes

A healthy dune system has many important benefits, from protecting against storm erosion to providing habitats for birds, reptiles, and insects, and as a source of sand for the beaches.

Before extensive coastal development in the 19th and 20th centuries, the original dunes were up to 20 m high and went inland 200 - 300 metres. They were an important source of food and shelter for the traditional owners, the Kaurna people.

We use sand-drift fencing to help recreate 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. However, such fencing does not completely prevent natural erosion.

We have three main dune areas behind our beaches: the Brighton to Seacliff dunes, the Glenelg dunes, and the rare remnant Minda Dunes at Somerton Park.

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

The Minda dunes are important remnant dunes, one of only two original dune systems along the entire Adelaide coastline. During 2018-19, council, in partnership with the State Government and Minda Inc., was able to undertake significant biodiversity works to improve the Minda dunes.

We have developed a Holdfast Bay Dune Biodiversity Action Plan, which captures important information about the current state of our dunes, as well as making prioritised recommendations to improve the biodiversity.

Coastal Vegetation

Our coastal plant communities feature a diverse array of plant species and life forms, such as ground covers, grasses, small to large shrubs, wildflowers and climbers. Most of these are highly adapted to survive in the harsh coastal environment, being particularly tolerant to salt, wind and hot, dry conditions.

These areas of native coastal vegetation form important habitats for wildlife. They play an important role in stabilising the dunes and forming a protective buffer between land and sea.

We strongly encourage the use of local native plants in creating coastal water-wise gardens because they:

  • are perfectly suited to our soil and climate
  • thrive without additional water
  • don't require fertilizers or pesticides
  • provide a natural habitat for indigenous birds, insects, and reptiles.

Our Green Living program includes a subsidy for residents to purchase local native plants. For information about our subsidy and environmentally-friendly gardening, see our Green Living Gardens section.

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, such as Gazania but also native species from other regions of Australia, such as the coastal tea tree, which comes from NSW.

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