The managers of a South Australian caravan park say urgent work is needed to stop their Southend business being swept away by coastal erosion.

Key points:

  • Beaches along the Limestone Coast are losing sand to erosion 
  • The operators of Southend’s caravan park say they’ve lost metres of beach this year alone
  • The local council says it will seek more support to tackle coastal erosion

In South Australia’s south-east, Southend is a small town about an hour from Mount Gambier. 

Like nearby towns Robe, Kingston and Beachport, Southend is facing coastal erosion due to strong winds and waves from the Southern Ocean. 

Southend Tourist Park managers Claire and Jack Hubbard say they have seen the erosion happen in real time this year, with about three metres of sand lost from the front of the park, which now sits close to a steep drop-off. 

Caravan park managers Jack and Claire Hubbard at Southend’s beach, where erosion has caused a steep sand bank. (ABC South East SA – Sam Bradbrook )

“We need sand, if nothing else,” Ms Hubbard said. 

“If we don’t at least get sand, we’re in big strife.”

Southend’s main beach has been closed since autumn due to concerns that people walking along it could accelerate erosion. 

“We know Southend has the potential to do great things and hold lots of tourists for a long time to come,” Ms Hubbard said. 

The border fence of the Southend Tourist Park, metres from the eroding beach. (ABC South East SA – Sam Bradbrook )

“But if we don’t have the land there we can’t do anything about it.

“It’s really scary for us to try and keep contributing towards making the park better and putting things in when the chances of it being taken away are real.”

Erosion costly for councils

Local councils are responsible for erosion mitigation along beaches in South Australia.

At its most recent meeting, the Wattle Range Council (WRC), which includes Southend, voted to ask the South Australian government for increased funding to mitigate erosion. 

Jack and Claire Hubbard worry continued erosion could put the tourist park’s future at risk. (ABC South East SA – Sam Bradbrook )

Mayor Des Noll said the council is working with businesses such as the Southend Tourist Park to protect them for the future. 

“As you can appreciate, we’re fighting the environment,” he said. 

“We’ve done a lot of work there previously, but we get storm surges and then all that work washes away. 

“It’s going to be an ongoing exercise, but it’s a matter of looking at every option.”

As part of the WRC’s funding bid, it wants to investigate building a stone barrier across the back of the beach, and carting in sand from Adelaide’s West Beach. 

Southend is a small town that relies on summer tourism. (ABC South East SA – Sam Bradbrook )

Cr Noll said battling erosion is costly for councils. 

“When you start moving sand along beachfronts, and the involvement of heavy machinery, the cost is substantial. 

“This is why we’re looking at modelling and the coastal protection grants that are available to ensure we can come up with a positive solution.” 

Posted , updated