Port Beach closed due to erosion in North Fremantle

The sea is washing into dunes already heavily eroded last year.
The sea is washing into dunes already heavily eroded last year.

OLD sea defences at Port Beach in North Fremantle are collapsing from erosion caused by overnight storms

Bad weather led to the beach’s closure last Friday, the second successive winter it has been closed.

“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,” Bicton’s Ray Petersen, a morning swimmer of 35 years, said.

This morning, an old concrete wall in front of the beach public toilets was leaning seawards as waves washed under its foundations, but there appeared to be several metres of dunes left protecting the nearby Coast Restaurant.

Last winter, storms ate into the beach’s car park, cut five metres into dunes and exposed underlying industrial waste, causing the council to build temporary rockwalls and seek long-term solutions.

Swimmers blame the 2009 construction of nearby Rous Head for stopping sand replenishing the beach and funnelling waves that accelerated erosion.

However, subsequent reports for Fremantle Council indicate Port Beach is artificial after being created by washed in rocks and sand dredged from Fremantle Port from the 1890s to 1970s.

The reports said the current shoreline may be up to 180m west of any pre-settlement coast.

Port Beach a week ago. Photo: Andrew Ritchie

Council chief executive Glen Dougall said there was a serious risk some footpaths and car parks could collapse, so the beach had been closed again, but repairs were not possible until good weather.

“Advice received from coastal engineering experts suggests the Coast restaurant is not under any imminent threat,” Mr Dougall said.

During 2016 and 2017, the council’s Coastal Hazard Risk Management and Adaptation Planning investigated the erosion from Rous Head to Mosman Beach 4km north.

Mr Dougall said the council and FPA continued to investigate greater erosion protection using State Government funding, and a report was expected at the council next month.