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Environment and History

Reconciling Foreshore Development and Dune Erosion on Three Queensland Beaches: An Historical Perspective

Mike Danaher

Environment and History 11(2005): 447-474

Yeppoon Main beach, Kinka beach and Keppel Sands beach are nestled around Keppel Bay in Queensland, Australia. Before white settlements were developed adjacent to these beaches, they were comprised of extensive sand dune systems operating in dynamic equilibrium. Over the past century, there has been a popular misunderstanding about the way beach systems work, evident in all kinds of foreshore development along these beaches. This has led to a delayed but cascading effect of worsening dune and beach erosion. Once sea walls and other kinds of foreshore construction begin, historically it becomes unlikely that the authorities will stop and reverse such development. Rather, more expensive construction becomes the remedy for the earlier mistakes as the local government attempts to reconcile coastal development and dune erosion. There is also the issue of how sand was regarded and whether that was a motivating factor for its removal. Was sand perceived as a 'nuisance' and 'readily renewable', and therefore dispensable? Of this trio of beaches, Kinka beach is fortunate to have experienced the earliest implementation of so called soft protection that initiated a natural renourishment resulting in the sea wall mostly disappearing under a build up of sand. This paper examines the historical development, as well as the motivation behind this development, of these three beaches and the subsequent implications for the beaches during the inevitable big seas and cyclones. This coastal environmental history informs local coastal communities about the importance of foresight in protecting dune systems in their natural state.

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