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Palm Beach Shoreline Project

A sustainable solution for the ongoing protection of the Palm Beach foreshore. Phase 1 is beach nourishment. Phase 2 envisions an artificial reef in 2019.

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Palm Beach Shoreline Project

Click to enlargePalm Beach Shoreline

Looking south towards Palm Beach
during June 2016 swell event.

History has shown that Palm Beach is highly susceptible to serious beach erosion compared to other Gold Coast beaches.

As part of the Ocean Beaches Strategy 2013–2023, the City of Gold Coast is undertaking the Palm Beach Shoreline Project to provide a sustainable solution for the ongoing protection of the beach and beachfront infrastructure.

The project is being rolled out in two phases. Phase 1: beach nourishment 2017 (completed) and Phase 2: artificial reef 2019.

Project update - May 2018

Phase 2: Artificial reef

The City has commenced the process of identifying a shortlist of suitable marine contractors to build the artificial reef before a formal construction tender process mid-2018.

Following Council endorsement of the construction contract in late 2018, the City will commence construction of the artificial reef at Palm Beach in 2019.

Developing the project solution

The City monitors Gold Coast beaches through surveys and analysis of coastal imagery. The data shows that Palm Beach is the most vulnerable section of our coastline to erosion during large swell events.

The work completed on the project to date shows that beach nourishment (phase 1) secured by an artificial reef (phase 2) is the best long-term solution for Palm Beach. The development of this coastal protection solution was endorsed by Council of the City of Gold Coast in March 2014 (refer ex Minute G14.0325.004).

Coastal engineering projects of this nature are complex and challenging. The City is using a variety of data sources such as wave buoys deployed offshore at Palm Beach, beach surveys, physical modelling, and numerical modelling to develop the final solution. By utilising all these data sources, the City is following a design with nature approach based on real world conditions.

The City has engaged Royal Haskoning DHV as the principal design consultant for both the beach nourishment and artificial reef phases of the project. Royal Haskoning DHV are local and internationally based consultants specialising in the planning and design of coastal structures, beach nourishment and the development of coastal management schemes.

To develop the design solution for Palm Beach, Royal Haskoning DHV are working with a number of professional teams, including: Danish Hydraulic Institute DHI (numerical modelling) , the Water Research Laboratory (physical modelling) Sydney, the Queensland Government Hydraulics Laboratory QGHL (physical modelling), as well as other industry experts

Phase 1: beach nourishment (completed 2017)

The beach nourishment works for Palm Beach (Phase 1) were completed on 19 September, 2017 as part of the Gold Coast Beach Nourishment Project. Palm Beach received approximately 470,000 cubic metres of sand between First and Nineteenth Avenues as part of this major project.

The project was undertaken to increase the volume of sand in vulnerable sections of the coast to buffer against future storms and coastal erosion. The project involved dredging clean sand from deep water offshore sand reserves and depositing this sand around the wave breaking zone by bottom dumping and rainbowing. The sand was strategically placed in a way that would replicate natural sand bar formations at Palm Beach. While the sand was not placed directly on the upper beach, over time the sand will move onshore with the help of waves and currents, which will help protect Palm Beach during future erosion events.

The nourishment phase (Phase 1) of the Palm Beach Shoreline Project has also been effective in enhancing sand banks to produce temporarily improved surfing outcomes. Initial feedback from stakeholders has been positive with favourable surfing conditions during recent swell events, especially around Nineteenth Avenue.

Nourishment works were undertaken in accordance with the City’s existing development approvals, which were previously used between 2004 and 2006 to deliver beach nourishment at south Palm Beach.

Check the beach nourishment page for further details.

Red colour indicates significant increase to sand levels at Palm Beach as at 16 September, 2017. Source: Royal Haskoning, 2017.

Phase 2: artificial reef 2019

The artificial reef will be constructed offshore, from Nineteenth Avenue, Palm Beach.

The design of the artificial reef will harness wave energy before it reaches the shoreline, resulting in a build-up of sand. This sand will act as a buffer to protect the beach during storms. The location of the reef will benefit vulnerable sections of Palm Beach which experience erosion.

The shape and orientation of the artificial reef considers different types of waves breaking on the reef and the surrounding shoreline. This is important for the consideration of surf and beach amenity, in line with the City’s Surf Management Plan.

With the improvements in technology over recent years, we have been able to capture extensive real world data to develop a comprehensive understanding of natural processes at Palm Beach. This data helped to ensure that real life conditions were considered during design and that the final solution works with nature.

Stakeholder engagement

A comprehensive stakeholder engagement plan continues to be delivered as part of this project.

A number of stakeholder meetings have taken place with key stakeholders including a selection of community group leaders who have represented their members. The meetings have provided an opportunity for stakeholders to ask questions and for the project team to respond to, and address any issues while informing stakeholders about the need for the project and method of delivery.

Kevin Schofield
President Pacific Surf Life Saving Club, Palm Beach

"I believe that the entire project will be good for Palm Beach including the reef. Having lived here for 35 years it will be reassuring that the beach will finally hold up in most conditions.

I think the stakeholder meeting was very beneficial - good to know what's going on in detail - and then convey to our clubs membership."

Dan Stewart
Hon. Sec Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club, Qld

"As long as your modelling reflects the reality of Nature's forces, the plan to produce surfable banks along the threatened foreshore for sand replenishment is great. I do believe also that foreshore residents who have a rock barrier which does not extend to the depth and other specifications now required be put on notice that they will need to upgrade their barriers and conform to accessibility requirements in extreme weather events, weaknesses in the structures create problems for all.

The night was informative and casual. I intend to write a small article in our next newsletter so members are aware of the project; its purpose and the extent of proposed at sea operations."

Project videos

See our frequently asked questions and fact sheet to find out more about the Palm Beach Shoreline Project.

If you can't find an answer to your question or have any feedback, please email

Computer modelling of the Palm Beach shoreline Click to enlarge

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