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Winter to test if Port beach restoration a success

Port Beach Polar Bears president Suzette Felton and Fremantle Mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge.

Posted on April 24, 2023

Winter will prove whether a project to restore Port beach to its past glory has been successful.

About 150,000 cubic metres of sand from the bottom of Fremantle Port’s deep water channel has been used to extend the Bicton beach in the past two months.

This was on top of about 92,400 cubic metres of sand being placed between July and October 2022.

The sand was placed in a technique known as rainbowing, which involves pumping a mixture of dredged sand and water into a high arc through the air and on to the shore.

It was the first time it had been used in WA.

A coastal hazard assessment in 2016 and 2017 found the Port beach area, including Sandtrax beach, was highly vulnerable to immediate and future coastal erosion.

Port beach has been hit hard by erosion over the past two decades, including in 2018 when the receding shoreline compromised its carpark.

The City of Fremantle, Fremantle Ports and the Department of Transport collaborated on the $3.25 million project, which will be put to the test when winter rolls in with its accompanying storms.

Fremantle Mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge said the works were planned to protect against erosion for about 10 years, but this would depend on the weather.

Rainbowing was used to add sand to Port beach.

“The real test comes when we head into the winter months and brace for those strong storm fronts,” she said.

“We’ll be watching closely to monitor the effects of these works.

“We’ve still got work to do as we move towards the next step of this project, to undertake dune re-establishment and revegetation along Sandtrax, which we anticipate will be completed this autumn and winter.”

The City will also continue working on a managed retreat strategy that includes creating a bigger foreshore reserve to retain a beach and amenities for the community.

Ms Fitzhardinge said this stage of the project, which was the equivalent of filling a hole 150m long, 100m wide and 10m deep — or about 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools — had made a visible difference to the beach.

Ocean swimming group Port Beach Polar Bears president Suzette Felton said she was delighted with the new beach.

“Some of our members have been coming here for over 60 years when there was only a track to the beach,” she said.

“We have over 200 members, ranging from 24-96 years old, and Port beach is our home.

“We pride ourselves on what we have achieved and what our club means to so many people in our community. Without our beach, this would indeed be difficult to maintain.”

Fremantle Ports manager of government and public relations Neil Stanbury said the project helped the port by maintaining the shipping channel’s depth and ensuring a buffer for Port Beach Road access to Rous Head.

The project also gives more time for long-term planning, including the future of Fremantle Port.

Bicton MLA Lisa O’Malley said she couldn’t wait to take the plunge again at the beloved beach.



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