Ridges, spits, crocs, floods and communities – coastal adaptation in tropical north Queensland

Dr Elisa Zavadil1, Mr Daniel Rodger2, Ms Nicola Learmond3

1Alluvium, Townsville, Australia, 2Jeremy Benn Pacific, Spring Hill , 4004, 3Douglas Shire Council, Mossman, Australia


The Douglas Shire coastal zone encompasses a range of world class landscape features. These include extensive ranges and rocky headlands, multiple pocket beaches and embayments, dynamic coastal rivers and estuaries, and sandy beach ridge and barrier spit systems. The Shire covers an area of 2,445 km from north of Ellis Beach to the Bloomfield River.

Douglas Shire is one of the first Councils in Queensland to complete stage 1 and 2, and commence stages 3 – 5 of the coastal hazard adaptation program under the State Government QCoast 2100 program. Stages 3 – 5 of the process has included detailed assessment of erosion prone areas, enhancing the Shire’s asset register, and implementing a considered stakeholder engagement and communications plan.

Key elements of engagement have included working with stakeholders to explore appetite for risk, and to gather information on less tangible values that will be at risk from future erosion and flooding impacts.

The coastal hazard adaptation strategy will help Douglas Shire identify and implement cost-effective mitigation measures and plan for appropriate development and growth in region.


Elisa is a Principal coastal geomorphologist at Alluvium. Elisa specalises in providing landscape context to coastal hazard assessments, and providing narratives on coastal processes and management options to help stakeholders make informed decisions and be meaningfully engaged.

About the Association

The Australian Coastal Society (ACS) was initiated at the Coast to Coast Conference in Tasmania in 2004. The idea was floated as a means for those interested in coastal matters to communicate between conferences and where possible take resolutions of the conference to appropriate levels of government.

The idea was discussed further at the Coast to Coast Conference in Melbourne in 2006 and it was agreed that Bruce Thom develop a constitution of a company limited by guarantee that would operate on a national basis.

This plan was accomplished and in 2008 at the Coast to Coast Conference in Darwin the constitution was ratified and an Executive appointed. The company received charitable status in 2011.

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