Port Geographe reconfiguration

The original coastal rock structures at Port Geographe were reconfigured in 2015 at a cost of $28.15 million to improve environmental and amenity outcomes for the coast and community.

  Project status completed - ongoing monitoring

In early 2020, DoT established A Technical Working Group, which included an independent consultant and 4 technical experts with knowledge and experience at Port Geographe. The TWG have finalised their review, consultation and recommendation process, which has all been incorporated into a Technical Working Group Report.

The Report details the technical review of the performance of the reconfigured coastline at Port Geographe and includes a variety of recommendations to assist wrack dispersion and sand bypassing, addressing the issues of wrack accumulation on the Western Beach and sand erosion at Wonnerup.

Consultation with the community played a significant role in the development of the recommended actions.

The recommendations presented in the final Report will be incorporated into the management plan for the next 5 years.

  Draft Technical Working Group Report Port Geographe: have your say

On 5 December 2019, DoT and City of Busselton representatives met with Port Geographe residents to discuss concerns about the performance of the coastal reconfiguration at Port Geographe. During this meeting, DoT and the City agreed that a technical working group should be established. 

The Technical Working Group (TWG), appointed by DoT included several technical experts with knowledge and experience at Port Geographe, plus one independent consultant expert. 

A technical review of the performance of the reconfigured coastline at Port Geographe has recommended changes to current wrack dispersion and sand bypassing programs plus further investigation of options to address ongoing sea wrack accumulation and erosion issues.

Draft recommendations

Following careful assessment, the TWG recommends a combination of actions to improve the performance of the reconfigured structures at Port Geographe. 

The recommendations are preliminary and will be subject to revision pending feedback from project stakeholders including community representatives.

Port Geographe survey: have your say

  Current and future management

Following completion of the construction works in 2015 the project has moved into the maintenance and operation phase. The Department of Transport has ongoing responsibility for the performance of the reconfigured coastal structures, and provides coastal monitoring, management and maintenance of the project area known as the Port Geographe Coastal Management Area (PGCMA). The PGCMA incorporates the beach area west of Port Geographe ('Western Beach'), the entrance channel and Wonnerup Beach.

PGCMA sketch - Port Geographe
PGCMA sketch - Port Geographe

Image: The Department of Transport PGCMA as indicated by the red boundary.

Management plans guide responses to sand and seagrass wrack movement along the Port Geographe foreshore.

The Department of Transport implements supporting contracts for ongoing engineering advice, inspections and management of the project area. Monitoring techniques include regular:

  • Hydrographic and land surveys.
  • Site inspections.
  • Water quality monitoring.
  • Photographic monitoring.

Management responses to disadvantageous sand and wrack movement or accumulation may include:

  • Dredging underwater accumulations of material;
  • Bypassing accumulated material;
  • Wrack pushing; and
  • Sand importation (for example from local sand pits/quarries).

Water quality monitoring

At Port Geographe the Department of Transport, through contracted specialists, has been coordinating water monitoring and sampling in various locations within the artificial waterways and adjacent Geographe Bay waters. The monitoring and performance section of this website contains the results from this ongoing water quality testing.

The artificial waterways in Port Geographe are primarily for the movement of recreational vessels. For this reason in general the Department of Transport does not recommend recreational swimming in the artificial waterways. The exception to this is the four beach areas within the artificial waterways where recreational swimming is expected. There is no recreational swimming in the village centre pond, the lower canal east area and the upper canal area south of the pedestrian bridge. The areas where recreational swimming is permitted, not permitted and not recommended by the Department of Transport are shown diagrammatically below. The consumption of seafood caught in the artificial waterways is not recommended by the Department of Transport.

Areas in the artificial waterways where primary contact is permitted, not permitted and not recommended.
Areas in the artificial waterways where primary contact is permitted, not permitted and not recommended.

Image: Areas in the artificial waterways where primary contact (recreational swimming) is permitted (green), not permitted (red) and not recommended by the Department of Transport (all unmarked areas).

In addition, as part of a wider program of bacterial monitoring, the City of Busselton conducts sampling at various locations along Geographe Bay which it reports to the Department of Health. The program currently includes the lagoon area at Port Geographe. Further information about the wider program of bacterial monitoring undertaken by the City of Busselton can be found at the following website.

Environmental management and compliance reporting

In November 2014 the Office of the Environmental Protection Authority issued Ministerial Statement 990 to identify and guide the Department of Transport's coastal management obligations in the management of the reconfigured coastal structures, entrance channel and adjacent beaches at Port Geographe. In response a Port Geographe Coastal Structures Environmental Monitoring and Management Plan (EMMP) was developed to align with the environmental requirements in Statement 990.

The Department of Transport is required to provide an annual report (Statement of Compliance) on the extent of compliance with the conditions in Ministerial Statement 990. Requirements guiding each year's Statement of Compliance reporting are provided in the approved Compliance Assessment Plan.

  Working with coastal processes

The coastal processes at Port Geographe are common to the whole coast of south west Australia, from Cape Naturaliste all the way round Geographe Bay north to beyond Perth. The prevailing conditions transport sediment, including sand and seagrass wrack, alongshore causing material to drift around the coast, at Port Geographe this is in a predominantly easterly direction.

At all of the man-made inlets along this section of coastline material tends to accumulate on the up-drift (southern or western) side of the inlet. The prevailing conditions continue to transport sediment from the down-drift side (north or east) which can cause beach erosion as sand is transported away. To balance the sand loss (erosion) intervention may be required. To return the natural balance of sediment transport the supply of material to the down-drift side is required. At numerous locations within the state, including Mandurah and Dawesville, bypassing is undertaken to balance the sediment transport. At Port Geographe intervention may also be required from time to time to supplement the natural bypassing achieved by the reconfigured structures to ensure the balance of material at the down-drift side is maintained.

The beaches in Geographe Bay are exposed to a large volume of seagrass wrack each year due to the proximity of some of the largest seagrass meadows in WA. The location of this wrack can, depending on weather conditions, be both: static, accumulating on the beach; or, dynamic with material arriving and passing in just a short time.

Prior to the Port Geographe Reconfiguration Project the entrance breakwaters square to the shore collected large volumes of both sand and seagrass wrack. This resulted in the trapping of huge volumes of seagrass wrack and sand on the Western Beach each year, as well as significant erosion on the down-drift side at Wonnerup. The original developer at the time undertook some coastal management and bypassing activities. Following the departure of the original developer the Department of Transport considered the bypassing such large volumes of sand and wrack unsustainable.

The reconfiguration works have allowed natural bypassing of both sand and wrack during seasonal weather conditions. The natural bypassing has reduced the volumes of material collected on the western side of the marina entrance channel each year and the corresponding maintenance activity requirements. With differing prevailing conditions from year to year the quantity of sand and seagrass bypassed by these conditions will also vary each year.

The Department of Transport is currently undertaking a review of the three years since the reconfiguration works to assess the performance of the new entrance arrangement. This will provide a clearer understanding of the changes to the Western Beach, Wonnerup Beach and entrance channel over this period.

  Monitoring and performance in 2017

The 2017 winter marked the third winter since completion of the reconfigured coastal structures and Western Beach works in December 2014. The overall performance of the reconfigured structures in 2017 showed contrast to previous years' good performance, however, these areas remained within the limits of the management plan for the area. The performance resulted in the necessitated coastal maintenance works being maintenance dredging of the marina entrance channel area and the placement of additional sand on Wonnerup beach.

Western Beach

The establishment of a wide Western Beach, closely aligned to the final reconfiguration design requirements, was completed in time for the 2014-2015 summer. Since this time DoT has not undertaken further works on the Western Beach. The subsequent storm systems have naturally altered the beach profile.

Compared to 2015 and 2016 there was a larger quantity of accumulated seagrass wrack on the Western Beach in 2017. Despite this, the ability of the reconfigured breakwater to shed seagrass wrack from the beach, when prevailing conditions were suitable, was again demonstrated. (View gallery in separate section below). The natural bypassing demonstrated is in line with the original design intent. Storm events that resulted in significant reductions in the volume of wrack on the Western Beach, continued to occur into mid-December. In early December the City of Busselton elected to undertake works to move some of the seagrass wrack at the western end of the Western Beach. These works involved moving the seagrass wrack from the front of the beach to the back of the beach above the waterline.

At the end of the year the volume of undisturbed seagrass wrack remaining on the beach was ~12,000m3. Although this year saw an increase in seagrass wrack volume at the end of the year compared to the performance at the same time in both 2015 and 2016, it is a substantial improvement over seagrass accumulations prior to reconfiguration. Previous seagrass wrack accumulations were estimated to be ~125,000m3, ~115,000m3 and ~150,000m3 in 2013, 2012 and 2011 respectively. At no point during 2017 were the EMMP odour or seagrass wrack volume threshold levels exceeded at the Western Beach, for this reason the DoT did not intervene with any wrack works.

The Department of Transport (DoT) and City of Busselton are working together to further improve the management of seagrass wrack at Port Geographe.

A key part of the work will be a DoT review of the performance of the reconfigured coastal structures over the three years since its construction. This will provide a clearer understanding of the beach shape and the conditions necessary for wrack accumulation and removal by wind and wave events. This information will better inform future wrack and beach management options.

Marina Entrance Channel Area

Spring hydrographic surveys undertaken by the Department of Transport identified that the entrance area had infilled and shallowed to the extent that navigation was affected. This was significant enough that maintenance dredging was required.

For this reason the maintenance dredging works in the marina entrance channel area commenced in early October and completed in mid-December 2017 prior to the school summer holidays.


Within the PGCMA, Wonnerup Beach extends for approximately one kilometre east of the eastern seawall (revetment). Survey results on Wonnerup Beach showed a decrease in sand (erosion) over the year, nevertheless, it was encouraging that at the end of the stormier winter months the beach was still providing an amenity. (View gallery in separate section below.)

To supplement beach condition prior to the 2018 winter, a sand nourishment campaign will be undertaken in autumn 2018. The Wonnerup Beach sand nourishment works are scheduled for completion prior to the 2018 winter.

Artificial Waterways - Water Quality Monitoring

The water quality monitoring in 2017 identified that the water quality is safe for primary contact (e.g. swimming) in the lagoon and the three other beach areas within the waterways. The monitoring of the waterways as a whole identified all areas were safe for secondary contact (e.g. fishing and boating).


The Department of Transport's (DoT) monitoring observed sediment movement across the PGCMA; consisting of the Western Beach, Marina Entrance Channel Area and Wonnerup. In particular, over 2017 there was a net increase (accretion) of sand on the Western Beach and net reduction (erosion) of sand from Wonnerup. DoT's coastal works, based on these observations, are focusing on balancing the sand eroded from Wonnerup by importing additional sand. This is to make up for the shortfall of sand that has not reached Wonnerup. Whilst any natural bypassing (littoral drift) and the artificial bypassing (dredging the Marina Entrance Channel Area) that occurred in 2017 improved the balance, there was still a shortfall of sand at Wonnerup in 2017. Sand nourishment will take place at Wonnerup in autumn 2018 to balance this shortfall. Future maintenance works will continue to respond to seasonal variations and the results of ongoing monitoring undertaken by the DoT (hydrographic surveys, land surveys, site inspections and photography).

  Image gallery: Western Beach (monitoring and performance in 2017)

  Image gallery: Wonnerup Beach (monitoring and performance in 2017)

  Previous image galleries in PDF format

Older image galleries for the Port Geographe reconfiguration project have been collected together into a single document.

The document contains images taken between 2014 and 2016.

  Project overview

Port Geographe is a privately developed and partially completed marina and canal development near Busselton. The original coastal structures, built as part of the initial marina and canal development in the 1990s, caused serious seagrass wrack accumulation on the western side of the development and amplified coastal erosion on the adjacent eastern coast.

Years of community consultation and scientific research into seagrass and sediment movement in Geographe Bay confirmed a complete reconfiguration of the coastal structures was required to improve environmental outcomes for the Port Geographe foreshore.

On November 2012 the Minister for Transport announced $28.15 million in funding to undertake the Port Geographe Reconfiguration Project to remove the existing coastal structures and replace them with an improved, streamlined coastal alignment.

The reconfiguration of the coastal structures included the following:

  • Removal and recovery of the former rock breakwaters and groynes.
  • Construction of a new breakwater and seawall, realigning the foreshore and entrance channel.
  • Dredging of the new entrance channel.
  • Construction of a coastal lagoon.
  • Importing additional sand to establish new beach profiles.
  • Installation of a below ground bypassing pipeline to facilitate future maintenance operations with minimal disruption.
  • Extensive landscaping to transform the foreshore into an inviting recreational space for the community to enjoy.

Construction works commenced in July 2013 with the removal of the existing rock groynes. The significant breakwater works were completed in June 2014, followed by dredging and beach works completed by December 2014.

Landscaping to develop new community recreational spaces at Port Geographe was the final component of works for the Port Geographe Reconfiguration Project and this was completed in May 2015.

The primary objectives of this project were to bring about major benefits for the environment, local residents and the wider community. This was achieved by addressing environmental and health issues, and reducing ongoing annual coastal maintenance costs.

By allowing sand and seagrass to bypass the new coastal structures naturally, it is expected the reconfigured structures will reduce seagrass accumulation and beach erosion at Port Geographe to levels consistent with other coastal areas along Geographe Bay.

This will also provide the benefits of improved amenity and access to beaches.

External Link 16/11/2012: State Government funds Port Geographe solution

  Construction works

The major capital works associated with the Port Geographe Reconfiguration Project took place from July 2013 to May 2015.

In July 2013 WA Limestone and Italia Stone Group Joint Venture worked to reconfigure the rock structures, initially removing the old breakwater and groynes and constructing the new breakwaters, revetment and lagoon beach. The new entrance channel opened in March 2014 and the new rock structures were completed in June 2014.

Dredging was required to realign the entrance channel into the Port Geographe marina and canals, and to establish appropriate depths for navigation. CGC Dredging undertook these works and also undertook dredging for the foundations of the new breakwaters in coordination with the coastal structures work.

Coastal bypassing took place during the Port Geographe Reconfiguration Project. Busselton based contractor, VMS Contractors, removed and bypassed stranded seagrass wrack from the western beach. In addition, the western beach was widened and realigned to meet the design shoreline position for the new structural layout. Operations to renourish Wonnerup beach was completed in December 2014.

Capel based contractor South West Industrial Plastics (SWIP) installed a 650 metre buried pipeline to allow dredged material (including wrack) to be pumped from one side of the Port Geographe development to the other. Valves were also installed to permit flexibility in terms of both connection points in and discharge points out.

The realignment of the Port Geographe entrance channel required navigation aids to guide vessels through this new channel alignment. Transfield Services removed the previous navigation aids and installed a combination of both land based navigation aids and floating navigation aids to mark the new entrance channel.

Landscaping was the final major construction contract. These works were undertaken by Bunbury based landscaping contractor, LD Total. The landscaping works transformed the foreshore at Port Geographe into an attractive and inviting recreation space featuring sheltered picnic areas, a naturescape play area, a universal access boardwalk, exercise areas, meeting places and a network of multi-purpose pathways. The landscaping works, completed in May 2015, followed a careful assessment of the landscape, community consultation and endorsement by the City of Busselton.

External Link 29/05/2015: Busselton welcomes new coastal venue
External Link 08/04/2015: Western foreshore opens at Port Geographe
External Link 09/10/2014: More beach sand for Port Geographe and Wonnerup
External Link 08/08/2014: Major boost to public space at Port Geographe
Opens in a new window 28/06/2013: Work set to start on Port Geographe

  Investigations and design

The University of Western Australia (UWA), Edith Cowan University and modelling company DHI commenced investigating solutions to the coastal problems at Port Geographe in 2007 and UWA continued to fine tune the initial outcomes with its hydrodynamic, seagrass wrack and sediment modelling to verify the final engineering design as the best outcome for Port Geographe.

A Sediment and Seagrass Reference Group, representing coastal interests at Port Geographe, was set up to review design options and recommend the preferred concept.

The engineering plans for the redevelopment of the Port Geographe structures were developed by Worley Parsons coastal engineers. Additionally, physical modelling (tank testing) of the new coastal structures at Manly Hydraulics Laboratory in Sydney was utilised to optimise the design.

  Earlier seagrass and sediment studies

Initial research by UWA, Edith Cowan University and modelling company DHI researched and developed coupled hydrodynamic and seagrass modelling to develop and understanding of the dynamic coastal processes affecting the Port Geographe foreshore.

UWA expanded the first study to include sediment (sand) movement at Port Geographe. The 'Port Geographe Sand and Seagrass Wrack Modelling Study', confirmed the earlier recommendation that a reconfiguration of the coastal structures at Port Geographe was needed to alleviate problems of seagrass wrack accumulation, siltation and erosion.

Through the initial and subsequent studies a refined conceptual design was developed and community consultation review consolidated the recommendation. Studies providing the foundation of support for the reconfiguration are available at the links below.

Page last updated: Mon Feb 21 2022 10:55:33 AM