Planning for coastal settlements in WA


To wind surf….or to kite surf? That is the question!

The Western Australian Government has announced that it will examine Western Australian coastal settlements with the purpose of revitalising existing coastal towns, developing access to new areas and enhancing tourism along our coastline.

A new Coastal Towns and Settlements Cabinet Subcommittee will be established to undertake this task and is expected to focus on Coral Bay, the Abrolhos Islands, and potential sites along the south coast of the state. The committee will be looking into access, services, infrastructure, land tenure and any other issues that may require management as part of development of targeted coastal locations.  However, this government initiative is proving to be somewhat controversial as not all members of the commercial rock lobster fishing industry are too happy about opening up the Abrolhos Islands to tourists due to potential conflict.  Currently only suitably licensed fishermen, their families and tradespersons are allowed to stay on the islands, but the government seems to think the time has come to open them up to visitors and tourist accommodation – watch this space!

Essential Environmental is getting in on the coastal planning action by working with the Shire of Northampton on two new projects: Coastal Management Strategies for Kalbarri and Horrocks Beach.

A map of Horrocks Beach and Kalbarri in relation to Perth

A map of Horrocks Beach and Kalbarri in relation to Perth

Kalbarri is a unique and beautiful town which sits at the mouth of the Murchison River and has long been a holiday destination for both Perthites and nearby farming locals.  It is treasured for its numerous aquatic and beach-y delights including fishing, boating, swimming, camping, canoeing, quad-biking, horse riding as well as just general relaxation if there’s time. Kalbarri is the location at which Australia’s first European settlers landed – two Dutch mutineers unhappily landing there in 1629.  It is also home to one of only three national surfing reserves in WA, in addition to the more illustrious Margaret River and Yallingup surf sites.

Horrocks Beach is a little less well known (and perhaps those who go there like to keep it that way!). It is a sheltered sandy beach with some rocky pools and reefs thrown in the mix creating decent swell for all manner of surfing, as well as great fishing, swimming and other beach-side activities. It is located near the mouth of the Bowes River and is known for its rich indigenous heritage and rock art of the Nanda people, located in nearby the Willigully Caves.


The purpose of these strategies is to detail updated recommendations to provide appropriate guidance for future coastal development and management consistent with current development, local planning strategies and the recently revised and gazetted State Planning Policy 2.6.  Essential Environmental have already worked with the Shire of Northampton to host two sets of community workshops at Kalbarri and Horrocks Beach in May and June of this year.

The first workshops provided the community with an opportunity to express how they value their coastal towns, as well as describe any issues, hazards and conflicts of use they have experienced.  After spending some time absorbing the outcomes of these forums and assessing existing information and historical planning reports for the region, a second set of workshops was held to present coastal management options to the community for their comment and input.  It also gave Shelley and Adam the time to do some ground-truthing of these coastal areas and explore locations less accessible than for most visitors (on quad bikes no less those lucky devils!).

A third and final set of workshops will be held on the 2nd July (Horrocks Beach) and 3rd July (Kalbarri) to present the final coastal management plan concepts to the community.  If you’re interested please look out for formal advertising on the Shire of Northampton website.

This project adds to Essential Environmental‘s coastal repertoire, having previously undertaken projects in the Pilbara and at Lancelin which have been written about in previous blog articles.

So please watch our blog to get more information on this project as it comes to fruition!

In a final aside, if you do ever get the opportunity to travel to and between Kalbarri and Horrocks, don’t forgot to stop and visit another “country” within a country and get yourself one more passport stamp – from the Principality of Hutt River and the oldest micronation in Australia (although it’s sovereignty hasn’t been recognised by Australia or anyone else for that matter).  Prince Leonard I has been apparent head of his 75 km2 wheat farm since 1972 and even declared war on Australia for a few days, however, he still remains loyal to Queen Elizabeth II.