Council digs in to save Port Beach

Fremantle Council excavator starts piling sand to protect heavily eroded Port Beach.  Pictures: Jon Bassett.
Fremantle Council excavator starts piling sand to protect heavily eroded Port Beach. Pictures: Jon Bassett.

BEACHGOERS will wait until next month to find out how Fremantle Council proposes to protect Port Beach.

The popular spot is still closed despite temporary repairs after a second successive winter of heavy erosion.

“The bituminised area in front of the change rooms and parts of the car park have also been undermined and are unsafe, so again I urge people to stay out of the areas that have been fenced off,” Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said.

On Thursday, an excavator started taking sand from about 300m north of the beach’s public toilets and surf club annex to backfill the undermined sections of an old seawall and adjacent dunes.

The old seawall had been undermined.

Adjacent Coast Restaurant still had about 4m of dunes infront, and advice to the council suggests the building is not in immediate threat.

Dr Pettitt said the sea may now hide poles, posts and other debris that is a threat to swimmers, and people should also stay away from the steeply-eroded dunes that could collapse as they dried.

The recent loss of about 3m of coast during four days of heavy weather followed up to 5m of the coast going in 2018 that exposed rubble and other debris from former Fremantle Port industry buried under some of the man-made dunes.

Some swimmers blame the 2009 construction of nearby Rous Head for stopping sand replenishing the beach and funnelling waves that accelerate erosion.

There is more damage to the car park section already heavily eroded in 2018.

“I think the Fremantle Port Authority and the Fremantle Council have got a lot to answer for because they haven’t done much to protect the beach or the dunes, other than put a few rocks out the front, since last year,” morning swimmer of 35 years Ray Petersen said.

After last winter, the council did build a new seawall for a damaged part of the car park, and continued researching long-term solutions using its 2016-17 Coastal Hazard Risk Management and Adaptation Plan.

It will now investigate temporary rock walls further north, and a draft report about long-term is expected for public comment late next month.