Camping ground, battle ground or just losing ground for coastal adaptation to climate change

Ms Anne Leitch1

1Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia


Caravan parks and camping grounds on coastal Crown land are well known for the important role they play in terms of social and economic benefits in terms of tourism, lifestyle, affordable housing options and community building.  What is often overlooked is the future of caravan parks in a changing climate.  Coastal caravan parks can be located in low lying areas that are already vulnerable to flooding, however they also play a role as areas of low intensity development that can provide a buffer zone for coastal adaptation to sea level rise. Recently, caravan parks are undergoing changes which result in their conversion to more permanent structures, either through gentrification of the park itself or a change in land use to apartment development. This paper reports on a case study of a caravan park in Brunswick Heads in northern New South Wales, Australia.  Analysis of discourse in the local news media over an eight year period describes key themes such as the changing tenure of the park from local to state government management and the park’s evolving infrastructure to include cabins and an altered foreshore. Also discussed are the themes around community engagement—and community conflict– accompanying these changes. This study is significant as it provides an example of coastal change that, if not managed effectively, will reduce potential options to respond to future climate change impacts.


Anne has a Bachelor of Science (USyd), (Hons GU) with a major in marine and coastal science, a Masters of Communication (QUT) and am about to complete a PhD (JCU) in social science looking at local government, social resilience and planning for sea level rise. I have worked in multidisciplinary research teams in Australian as well as international research projects in South Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam. My contribution to these projects has been developing or evaluating tools, strategies and material to support communication, and engagement for managing natural resources or adapting to climate change.