Narrabeen-Collaroy Beach Survey Program

Background Information

Long-term datasets that record and quantify the variability, changes and trends in morphology observed at sandy beaches are rare. A monthly beach profile survey program that commenced in April 1976 at Narrabeen located on Sydney's Northern Beaches is one of a limited number of sites globally where on-going and uninterrupted beach monitoring now spans multiple decades.
The beach monitoring program at Narrabeen can be divided into two distinct periods: the first three decades when a simple and traditional survey technique was employed; and from 2004 onwards when the monitoring program was significantly expanded, and the use of new and emerging survey technologies have been progressively implemented. A time-line and summary of the various survey methods employed is described below.
The coastline of southeastern Australia includes over 700 embayed sandy beaches averaging 1.3 km in length separated by rocky headlands. The 3.6 km-long Narrabeen-Collaroy embayment (hereafter simply referred to as ‘Narrabeen’) is situated within the Northern Beaches region of metropolitan Sydney. Locally, the sandy beach that spans the entire embayment is referred to as Narrabeen beach towards the north and Collaroy beach in the south, with the small section of beach adjacent to the prominent headland at the extreme southern end called Fishermans beach (see right).

Data Descriptor

In addition to the growing dataset of monthly beach profiles available at this web site, an archived dataset for the fixed period 1976 – 2014 is described and detailed in the accompanying peer-reviewed Data Descriptor paper, published in the journal 'Scientific Data' (Nature Publishing Group). This comprehensive dataset includes monthly subaerial profiles, bathymetries, and time-series of astronomical tide and offshore wave forcing transformed to the inshore location corresponding to each of the individual survey transects.


Since 2004 the continuing beach monitoring program has been funded by the Australian Research Council (Discovery and Linkage), Warringah Council, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), SIMS Foundation, the UNSW School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the UNSW Faculty of Engineering. OEH provided the bathymetry data included here. The Sydney waverider buoy data used for offshore to inshore wave transformation is funded by OEH and managed by Manly Hydraulics Laboratory. The SWAN lookup table to complete this transformation was initially created by Mr Ed Kearney. CSIRO (especially Dr Mark Hemer) is acknowledged for undertaking and providing the CAWCR wave hindcast dataset. Brad Morris of OEH provided the Sydney tide measurements for T_Tide analysis. Brett Miller at UNSW provided guidance on the creation of this website. And finally, we would like to thank all those individuals who have joined us on the beach to assist with the monthly surveys during the past 4 decades.