Project background

Safe passage into the Tweed River has long been hindered by the periodic formation of sand shoals at the river entrance. River training works and dredging have been undertaken since the late 1800s in an attempt to improve navigability. These works culminated in the extension of the training walls at the river entrance during 1962-65. Although extension of the training walls improved navigation for a period,  the entrance bar reformed and again created navigation difficulties. As a result of the construction of entrance training walls, patterns of erosion and accretion have been altered in the region. Accretion has occurred to the south of the southern training wall, resulting in a build up of sand along Letitia Spit and subsequent significant erosion has resulted along the southern Gold Coast beaches. Eventually, the sand moved past the end of the breakwater and created a large, shallow bar at the Tweed River entrance that was hazardous to navigation.

Aerial view

The Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypassing Project (TRESBP) was formulated following extensive negotiations between the New South Wales and Queensland State Governments to overcome these problems. Agreements between the two states were reached by signing of a Heads of Agreement in 1994, to carry out a joint project in order to achieve the project objectives which are to maintain a safe navigable entrance to the Tweed River and to restore and maintain the amenity of the beaches on the southern Gold Coast of Queensland.

Aerial vew

The joint project is being conducted in two stages. The first stage, which is now complete, involved dredging more than three million cubic metres of sand from the Tweed Bar and entrance to create a navigable channel, and to nourish the southern Gold Coast beaches. Initial dredging and nourishment works were undertaken in 1995-96 (Stage 1A) and in 1998 (Stage 1B). The placed sand has been beneficial to beach amenity and beach protection from Rainbow Bay to Kirra. This sand continues to be of benefit as it moves naturally northwards.

To address the channel infilling that has naturally occurred since June 1998, the contract with McConnell Dowell allowed the Governments to specifically order dredging and nourishment during the construction period of the permanent system. Such an order was placed in early 2000 and a dredge, the Port Frederick, operated by McQuade Marine, commenced work in April 2000. By the end of July 2000, a total of approximately 250,000 m3 was removed and as a result a clear navigation channel was obtained.

Most of the sand was placed in an area to the east of Snapper Rocks. Sand placed in this area is moved around Snapper Rocks by the high-energy waves generally arriving at that area from the SouthEast and naturally feeds the sandbanks and beaches of the southern Gold Coast.

Page last updated/reviewed: 08 May 2019