Topics > Coasts > Explore and learn

Beaches aren’t just for sunbathing!

Did you know?

  • Adelaide’s beaches aren’t naturally all sandy. It takes work to keep our beaches looking great. Watch our video on how we replenish sand manually to prevent our favourite beaches eroding to rock and clay.
  • South Australia’s dunes, clifftops, mangroves and saltmarshes are home to a diverse variety of plant species that have adapted to the hot, dry and saline coastal environment in which they survive. These communities form important habitats for a variety of native fauna, including birds and reptiles. They also play a very important role in stabilising and trapping marine sediments and forming protective buffers.
  • Introduced weed species are considered to be a significant threat to coastal vegetation in South Australia. Weeds readily invade and cause a local loss of native plants in an area, reducing the amount of habitat, food and shelter available for native animals and insects.


Discover an ancient dune system along the Tennyson Dunes Discovery Trail.

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Beaches and dunes form a flexible, natural system that absorbs and responds to the forces of the sea. About one half of the South Australian coastline is made up of sandy beach backed by dune.

Coastal dunes are formed when there is a supply of sand delivered to the beach by waves and blown landward by onshore winds. Dunes are stabilised and built up when coastal dune vegetation traps and binds the sand with its leaves and extensive root systems. This reservoir of trapped sand is considered to be integral in maintaining a natural beach system and the associated sand cycle of erosion (loss of sand) and accretion (build-up of sand).

The beach/dune system also offers another very important ecosystem function by providing a buffer between the land and the sea, protecting landward vegetation from high energy storms and wave action. In more recent times, natural and built sand dunes have played a vital role in protecting coastal development from ongoing coastal hazards such as inundation and erosion.

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