Palm Beach shoreline management: an artificial reef to protect from erosion

Building climate resilience along Australia’s Gold Coast
Shoreline Gold Coast Australia

Project facts

  • Client
    City of Gold Coast
  • Location
    Queensland, Australia
  • Date
    2013-2019
  • Challenge
    Implementing a new coastal management plan to protect the beach from erosion
  • Solution
    Beach nourishment and a new artificial reef has restored sand along the coastline and improved climate resilience against weather and tidal events

The challenge: protecting the shoreline from the weather and the tides 

Palm Beach is a four-kilometre stretch of beach on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. Since the 1960s, several significant weather and tidal events have harmed the coastline, damaging properties, threatening infrastructure and putting the beach’s recreation opportunities at risk – especially the local surf. 

In January 2013, the City of Gold Coast government ordered a feasibility study to review research data and coastal management reports about Palm Beach to assess new options. 

The report identified 18 potential paths, concluding that the beach nourishment and stabilisation via an artificial reef would provide the best value and most sustainable improvement. The city endorsed this solution in March 2014, but needed consultation on the design for the Palm Beach shoreline protection plan.

The solution: building an artificial reef and restoring sand along the coast

The city engaged Royal HaskoningDHV as its design consultants. We first created a design reference report, involving additional data capture and analysis, sophisticated numerical modelling of coastal processes, and physical modelling. This allowed us to find the best design by mapping out likely outcomes from different approaches.

The AU$18 million construction project began in May 2019. Teams replaced sand along the coastline to restore the beach, as well as constructing an artificial reef which will absorb the impact of tidal events alongside existing training walls and mini groynes.

Throughout construction, we surveyed the project’s progress to ensure everything was within specifications, and to provide the final engineering certification. This involved regular hydrographic survey data analysis, armour rock inspection and testing, and site visits to monitor the reef as it was built.

The result: long-term climate resilience along Palm Beach’s shoreline

Regular stakeholder engagement and communication with the wider community was instrumental in maximising support for this project and securing its success. The six-month project was finalised and certified in September 2019.

The restored beach and new reef have improved Palm Beach’s resilience to coastal hazards, providing an innovative solution that both protects the shoreline’s infrastructure while allowing locals and visitors to take advantage of the beach’s amenities.
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