Consistent storms have destroyed popular tourist beaches and infrastructure in the South West of Western Australia — the worst some locals say they have ever seen.
- Yallingup residents say they have never seen storm damage this bad
- Consistent storm events have caused severe erosion and damage to beach infrastructure
- Locals fear it will not be repaired in time for the busy tourist months
Several cold fronts have lashed Western Australia this winter, with wind gusts reaching more than 100 kilometres an hour and damaging surf conditions eroding much of the coastline between Shark Bay and Esperance.
Sand at Yallingup Beach, 260 kilometres south of Perth, has completely washed away.
Two staircases to access the beach have also been destroyed and will need to be rebuilt.
Canal Rocks pedestrian bridge is closed after high tides destroyed the structure, which was only just repaired following last year’s storm events.
‘Never seen erosion on this scale’
Yallingup resident Lawrie Schlueter said “front after front” had whipped up abnormally high tides, which left a “path of destruction” along the foreshore at the popular tourist beach.
“I’ve never seen erosion on this scale before,” Mr Schlueter said.
“Apart from the sand dunes, we’ve lost staircases, there’s damage to the retaining walls and it has exposed sections along the beachfront that I have never seen before.
Mr Schlueter said the spectacle of the damage wrought by the ocean’s fury came with mixed emotions.
“On one hand, you’re sitting there watching this incredibly powerful ocean doing what it does and it’s awe-inspiring to see,” Mr Schlueter said.
“But on the other, our local Landcare group has spent hours and hours and hours caring for these dunes and to see all that work get washed away makes you realise where you fit in the world.”
Rethink the rebuild
Mr Schlueter also said thought had to go into how best to rebuild the beachfront infrastructure to prevent similar incidences ahead of future weather patterns.
“We probably need to sit down and say, ‘We do have popular surf breaks and people need to access them, but we can’t keep putting infrastructure in that keeps getting washed away’,” he said.
Some locals fear the damage will not be rebuilt in time for the summer months when the beach is flooded with tourists from across the state.
Parks and Wildlife Blackwood District services coordinator Ben Tannock said there had not been damage this significant since storm events in 2014.
“People just need to be aware that it has been a wet winter and a winter of a number of low-pressure systems coming through here and that has changed the dynamic of the coast in the interim.”
He said much of the beach infrastructure would need to be rebuilt and a structural engineering report would be prepared.