North Fremantle: Coast restaurant owner nervous about erosion at Port Beach

The FPA says natural processes erode and create Port Beach. This picture shows the most recent erosion.
The FPA says natural processes erode and create Port Beach. This picture shows the most recent erosion.

COAST restaurant owner Ian Hutchinson is nervous after erosion left waves lapping just 12m from his tables at Port Beach, North Fremantle last month.

“My reply is the Fremantle Port Authority (FPA) has to fix it because, while correlation is not causation, ever since they extended Rous Head the beach has slowly disappeared,” Mr Hutchinson said.

Coast restaurant owner Ian Hutchinson

He spent about $3.5 million renovating the combined restaurant, cafe, bar and beach kiosk several years ago.

“We’ve been here nine years, and I’ve been gradually watching the beach disappear,” he said.

In 2004, a Department of Planning and Infrastructure report said about 10 million cubic metres of dredged sand dumped offshore created the beach, but that sand was now gone and the risk of damage would increase.

Four years later, the FPA extended adjacent Rous Head by 10ha, creating a bay, and those lobbying for Port Beach claim the extension increased erosion and more restricted offshore sand from replenishing the shore.

The heaviest erosion, now being repaired by Fremantle council, is at Sandtracks and southern Port beaches after a May storm ate at dunes already eroded in summer, undermined the car park, destroyed beach paths, put rubble in the surf zone and created sand cliffs.

Damage to the area from a storm in 2003.

Mr Hutchison said he closed his beach kiosk after beachgoers’ spending fell when asbestos from Sandtracks washed up, prompting council warning signs telling swimmers to go elsewhere, but restaurant business remained.

He wants the FPA to repair the beach, have a long-term plan and show Rous Head’s role in the erosion.

Asked if the FPA would fix the beaches, a spokeswoman said a two-decade study showed seasonal weather was significant in how sand collected and washed from the shore, including a May 2003 storm that caused more (pictured above) damage at Port Beach car park than the events last month.

“Studies have shown that while causing erosion in some years, severe winter storm events also play a part in the transport of sediment back to the beach at the end of winter,” the spokeswoman said.

She said the FPA in a City of Fremantle working group to manage future Port Beach erosion and it had given $28,000 to the council to further study the risk and protection.

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