Wamberal Beach Coastal Erosion 2020 – Emergency response using innovative techniques that tested the NSW coastal management framework

Adrian Turnbull1, Greg Britton1

1Royal Haskoning DHV, Sydney, New South Wales


The year 2020 was interesting indeed, starting off with bushfires, followed by flooding, then COVID-19 throwing everything sideways, and just to keep everyone on their toes, successive storms in July caused significant erosion at a number of locations along the NSW coast.
The Central Coast Council local government area was particularly affected, with a number of properties at Wamberal Beach and The Entrance North Beach being impacted.
Royal HaskoningDHV were engaged by Council from the second day of the storm event to provide on-ground coastal engineering advice and support, working closely with Council staff and NSW government agencies to deliver emergency coastal protection works to prevent further erosion and property damage.
Many comparisons were made to the well-known storms of June 2016 that caused significant erosion of Collaroy Beach, and practical lessons from that event were utilised at Wamberal Beach.
The agility and adaptability of the NSW Coastal Management framework was tested by the response efforts, and legal application of innovative solutions required approval under a separate State Act.
A significant and coordinated effort by all involved saw the deployment of a 250 tonne crane to lift 2 and 4 tonne Kyowa Rock Bags onto Wamberal Beach, forming a protective toe (the first use of this technique on the open coast of NSW), as well as placement of rocks and backfilling with sand at locations where beach access by machinery was possible.
These emergency measures proved effective, mitigating further damage, and enabling evacuated residents to return to their properties.


Adrian is a Principal Coastal Engineer with Royal HaskoningDHV, bringing over 15 years’ experience leading coastal and catchment management for local government in both New South Wales and Queensland. Adrian’s strengths include development and delivery of coastal management strategies and on-ground works, as well as providing emergency response support to councils and residents during coastal storm events.