Debris at Fremantle’s Sandtracks and Leighton beaches must be cleaned up before someone gets hurt

The debris is spreading north from Sandtracks (bottom) to Port (middle) and Leighton (top) beaches, and old sea defence boulders are uncovered in the shallows  Picture: Andrew Ritchie
The debris is spreading north from Sandtracks (bottom) to Port (middle) and Leighton (top) beaches, and old sea defence boulders are uncovered in the shallows Picture: Andrew Ritchie

FREMANTLE’S Port Authority and council both need to dig in and clean up Sandtracks and Port beaches of rubble, contamination and old sea defence boulders.

It will not be long before someone dives in and hits their head on one of the large underwater rocks from the defences.

Unconsciousness and seawater do not mix.

The two beaches are no longer stinking orphans near a rough port, and are increasingly popular for families, swimmers and diners – while surf skiers and paddle boarders have made Sandtracks their own spot recently because of its sheltered waters where winter surf will draw a good line-up of long and shortboard hopefuls.

As Perth’s population has grown, they have become regional beaches for southern and some western suburbs, whose powerful residents could be equally unhappy if the contamination continues its current northerly progress and gets washed to their shores.

Whether the erosion that has exposed the rubble is natural or amplified by the 2009 expansion of Rous Head has to be determined so the FPA and council can repair the coast and make it safe for all.

Anyone who watched construction of the extension had to ask how it would affect the adjacent coastline over time, and this has to be reconsidered given the recent uncovering of the debris and narrowing of Port Beach.

This is important because in the decade since the extension, global warming, resulting sea rises and storms have all been recognised, including in the council’s own reporting, as real and occurring events that will affect the beaches and adjacent infrastructure.

The land behind Port Beach could become apartments, but no one is going to pay a million dollars for a beachside pad from which asbestos shards, broken rocks and glass bottles can be seen strewn across what was once almost pristine sand.

It’s time to clean the debris up, dig it out of the sand dunes, restore their protective capabilities and aesthetics, and start thinking if coastal infrastructure should be pulled back to ensure the commons of wide open beaches are kept for future generations.