Erosion is impacting on beaches everywhere, but the loss of South Beach would be especially devastating for the Fremantle community.CREDIT:MARK NAGLAZAS

AUS - The way of water: Can anything be done to save our disappearing beaches?

Fremantle’s popular and cherished South Beach is being impacted by erosion, like many around the country. What are we prepared to pay to save this important part of the Australian way of life?

When I moved into the Fremantle area – it was around the time COVID began its deadly march across the globe – I thought I’d washed up in paradise.

While the rest of the world bolted itself up behind closed doors, Freo folk wandered through its historic precincts, lingered in coffee shops to chat about how fortunate we were the virus was barely touching our lives, and made a bee-line to South Beach – in particular the gorgeous white arc in front of the vibrant multicultural mecca that is Wilson Park.

We couldn’t travel during COVID, but what did it matter? Every day on South Beach it was an open-air meeting of the United Nations, with travellers from Paris to Paraguay making the most of being locked out of their plague-ridden homelands and relishing in a unique locale that brings together places to eat and drink, a broad-minded community and a beach as alluring as any in the world.

South Beach is a far cry from those wide-open ultra-Aussie surf destinations such as Scarborough and Trigg (the bit in front of Wilson Park is barely a kilometre long). But of all the beaches I’ve spent time on it’s the one most deeply embedded into its community, the one that most vividly embodies the spirit of the place.

So you can imagine my shock when I recently popped down for a jog and a swim to discover that a good chunk of the white stuff that was so fundamental to my experience of Fremantle had disappeared.

The sand around the northern and southern groynes was OK. But the middle portion was so eroded you had to wade through the water or scale a sandy cliff face to get from one end to the other. The stretches of the beach we were able to walk on in previous years had been overrun by the surging water.

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