Topics > Coasts > Managing Adelaide's Beaches

Adelaide beach works

The Adelaide coastline is a highly modified environment as a result of urban development covering much of the original coastal dune system, impacting the natural coastal ecosystem. The state government has been actively managing Adelaide’s coastline for the last 50 years to protect property, the foreshore and infrastructure from storms while also providing sandy beaches for community enjoyment. Active management results in a beach system that is more resilient to storm damage.

The sand on Adelaide’s beaches naturally moves from south to north, driven by wind and waves. This causes erosion at the southern and central sections of the coastline, such as at Seacliff, West Beach and Henley Beach South, and a build-up of sand on other parts of the coastline, such as Glenelg, Semaphore and Largs Bay.

For half a century sand along the coastline has been moved from where it builds up to where it is needed. As necessary additional sand has also been brought into the system from external sources such as quarries and off-shore deposits.

In the southern section of the coastline sand is moved using an underground sand recycling pipeline from Glenelg to southern beaches to maintain dunes and keep those beaches sandy. Trucks are used elsewhere to replenish beaches.

Strong winds, large waves and storm surges, especially in the winter months, causes erosion of Adelaide’s beaches. The Department for Environment and Water monitors closely the entire coastline to determine where sand is needed. Sand movement works are generally undertaken during cooler months when there are fewer people on the beaches.

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Glenelg to Kingston Park

Works: Annual sand recycling to replenish beaches from Glenelg to Kingston Park.

Duration: May to October

Contact: or phone 8124 4928

Sand recycling to replenish beaches from Glenelg to Kingston Park through the underground pipeline system is undertaken annually. Works commence in May and can run through to the end of October. Works can take place between 7.00am and 7.00pm Monday to Friday.

During this time, residents and beachgoers are requested to take care during works and adhere to safety signage and flagging in place during operations. Works can be subject to change depending upon weather conditions, storms and operational requirements.

A temporary fenced work area is assembled and operated on the northern side of the Glenelg jetty and relocated to the southern side of the jetty to complete the operations. Access to some areas of the foreshore will be restricted during the operations.

The sand at Glenelg is collected by a land plane, which travels the beach scraping layers of sand. There may be times when an excavator and trucks are required to access the sand at the northern end of Glenelg beach, adjacent to the rock breakwater. Sand mixed with seawater is discharged at different locations along the coast throughout the operation.

The removal of accumulated beach wrack (seaweed) is often required at Glenelg beach prior to sand collection. All beach wrack is relocated to other beaches so it remains within the broader coastal system.

These operations are undertaken by McConnell Dowell on behalf of the Department for Environment and Water.

More information on the Glenelg to Kingston Park annual replenishment can be found here.

View the Glenelg to Kingston Park information brochure here.


Due to necessary maintenance on Glenelg Jetty, the start of the 2024 sand pumping operations will be delayed. We are working closely with the City of Holdfast Bay and our contractors to resolve this as swiftly as possible. The operations originally planned for late April / early May have been postponed, but we do not anticipate a change in the overall duration of the sand pumping operations. Further updates will be provided as they become available.

West Beach

Works: Delivery of sand from land-based quarries to West Beach.

Duration: March to June 2024

Contact: or phone 8124 4928

The South Australian Government committed to maintaining sand supply along the coast by continuing to replenish West Beach with quarry sand while the independent review of Adelaide’s beach management was undertaken. The review was completed in December 2023, and the Independent Advisory Panel has completed its assessment of sand management options and provided a summary of recommendations to the Attorney-General. The state government will carefully consider the recommendations before making any further decisions.

Commencing March 18 2024, up to 50,000 cubic metres of sand will be delivered to West Beach via the Adelaide Sailing Club. This is in addition to the 100,000 cubic metres of sand delivered to West Beach in 2023, meeting the Government’s commitment to maintain West Beach.

Sand may also be moved to replenish dunes near Rockingham Street (to the north of the West Beach Surf Club).

Works will not occur over the Easter public holidays, April school holidays, or on weekends.

During this time, residents and beachgoers are requested to take care during works and adhere to safety signage and flagging in place during operations. Works can be subject to change depending upon weather conditions, storms and operational requirements.

Environment SA news

Henley Beach South / Henley Beach

Works: Delivery of sand from land-based quarries to Henley Beach South and Henley Beach

Duration: To be confirmed

Contact: or phone 8124 4928

DEW continues to monitor metropolitan beaches to assess pre-winter beach replenishment requirements. It has been determined that quarry sand will be required to assist with replenishing the stretch of beach from Lexington Street, Henley Beach South, northwards to Joe’s Kiosk at Henley Beach. Adding quarry sand in autumn, at key locations, will assist with foreshore protection over winter and help to raise beach levels for beach users. In addition, it supports council efforts to maintain beach access along this stretch of the coastline.

Up to 15,000 cubic metres of quarry sand was scheduled to be delivered to Henley Beach South and Henley Beach via the Henley Sailing Club in April 2024. These operations have been postponed allowing for the continued warm weather and to minimise disruption to beach users and nearby businesses.

Once started, sand will be trucked along the beach from south of the Torrens outlet to areas in need. Works are expected to take approximately 5 to 6 weeks. Works will not occur on weekends.

During this time, residents and beachgoers are requested to take care during works and adhere to safety signage and flagging in place during operations. Works can be subject to change depending upon weather conditions, storms and operational requirements.

Accumulation of sand at the Torrens outlet has been steadily growing after the addition of large volumes of sand into West Beach since 2018. Further flow-on improvements in beach height and width are expected for Henley Beach south and Henley Beach as natural coastal processes slowly moves the accumulated sand northwards.

Environment SA news

Semaphore Park dune replenishment

Works: Delivery of sand from Semaphore breakwater to Semaphore Park.
Duration: Commencing 29 April 2024
Contact: or phone 8124 4928

Commencing 29 April 2024, sand will be collected from the Semaphore Breakwater and trucked along the beach to replenish eroded dunes at Semaphore Park. Seagrass that has accumulated on the beach at the Semaphore breakwater may also be moved to Semaphore Park at the same time to further bolster the dunes.

It is anticipated that works will be completed before the end of May 2024.

Other works

Beach and dune replenishment at the following locations is undertaken periodically

  • Glenelg North beach (with accumulated sand in and adjacent to West Beach harbour)
  • Semaphore Park dunes (between Third Ave and Mirani Court)
  • Semaphore South dunes (between Noonies Cafe and Hart Street)

West Beach dune restoration and stabilisation

Works: Dune restoration and stabilisation works at West Beach
Timeframe: Commenced February 2022

  • Stabilisation and restoration works commenced at West Beach in early 2022.
  • Works are being undertaken on the dunes at Seaview Road north of the West Beach Surf Life Saving and at the West Beach Parks dunes situated adjacent to the BIG4 holiday park, West Beach.

Find out more

Community safety

Community safety is a priority. Safety signage is in place on the beaches during works.

The community are asked to please take extra care on the beaches while the works are underway and adhere to all safety signage and flagging in place during operations.

  • Qualified contractors are employed for the works. The successful contractor is required to develop a job safety plan and a thorough risk management plan. This includes safe management between the work and members of the public.
  • Traffic control complies with relevant Australian Standards and Code of Practice. Traffic controllers and/or signage is provided where necessary.
  • We liaise with local surf lifesaving and sailing clubs regarding beach safety.
  • Residents are notified by mail prior to beach works occurring.
  • Temporary foreshore signage is installed prior to works and removed once works are completed.

Truck speed limits on beaches

Sand movement works on Adelaide’s beaches are undertaken by a contractor on behalf of the department.

Safety is of paramount importance when undertaking works along our beaches. As such, the contract includes stringent conditions regarding the speeds that the equipment (trucks and other machinery) can operate at when moving along the beach.

Speed of vehicles on the beach shall not be greater than:

  • 40 km/h unless within 50 metres of any person or animals
  • 25 km/h between 10 metres and 50 metres of any person or animals
  • Must stop within 10 metres of any person or animal.

In addition, all vehicles must give way to all other traffic on the beach including pedestrians and animals. They must stop when pedestrians or animals wish to cross the line of movement of the trucks along the beach.

DEW contractor truck speed limits are compliant with the recent changes to the Road Traffic Act 1961.

GPS monitoring is used to make sure the contractor’s trucks are not speeding. The department also has a supervisor monitoring compliance with these conditions.

Like cars and other vehicles trucks may also be equipped with Dash Cam’s.


DEW works closely with Birdlife Australia prior to and during beach replenishment operations to minimise any potential impacts on Red-capped and Hooded plovers during breeding season. DEW is updated regularly by Birdlife Australia with regards to shorebird activity along the metropolitan coastline.

If required DEW contracts the services of a trained Birdlife spotter who remains present on the beach during operations.

DEW coast’s team, supervisors and contractors are committed to on-going training with Birdlife Australia staff.

Doesn’t sand just wash away when beaches are replenished?

When beaches are replenished with sand it is normal for some of it to be washed away during the next storm. If the replenishment sand wasn’t there, then the beach would be even more eroded and exposed.

Much of the sand that is washed offshore during storms is moved back onshore during calmer periods, so it is not wasted. This sand will also help maintain beaches as it drifts naturally to the north.

Why is sand under the surface of the beach grey or black in colour?

The sand collected from Adelaide’s beaches is sometimes coloured grey to black because of the naturally decomposing seagrass content. This is particularly noticeable if you dig below the surface of the beach in areas where seagrass wrack accumulates. This quickly turns white/yellow after being exposed to the sun, wind and rain.

Adelaide beach works
Seagrass wrack on Glenelg beach

Is seagrass wrack sometimes moved on beaches?

It is preferable to leave beach-cast wrack on the beach unless it becomes a problem from an amenity or management perspective, as seagrass wrack plays an important role in sustaining the beach and marine environment. This includes nutrient recycling, providing food and habitat for marine life and protecting the coast from storms.

Where wrack is impeding sand collection, it can be moved within the beach system, or it may be incorporated into the replenishment of nearby eroded dunes (such as near harbours where wrack regularly accumulates and is required to be moved or dredged).

If wrack is intended to be moved for amenity or other purposes, then responsibility is with the local council as part of its care and control of the foreshore.

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