About the NSW Beach Profile Database

The NSW Beach Profile Database collates and presents aerial survey data of NSW dating back to the 1930's. The aim of the database is to make long-term beach data easily accessible to support coastal management and promote better public understanding of coastal processes and change.The NSW Beach Profile Database is available for everyone to use, and is designed to promote use for all knowledge levels. It is likely that the users of this site will come from local and state government and consultant, as well as coastal community members and educators.

Use and presentation of the data obtained from this site on all occasions must include an acknowledgement to DPIE as the owner of the Data and must explicitly identify the following webpage as its source: wwww.nswbpd.wrl.unsw.edu.au. Read the data disclaimer for more information on the conditions of use.


In the 1970s, several large storms impacted the NSW Coast, causing significant coastal erosion. The erosion damaged and threatened infrastructure at many beaches across the state, particularly in the Sydney region. The effect of the storms highlighted the vulnerability of coastal communities in NSW to coastal erosion and long term coastal change. In response, the Public Works Department (PWD) began to fund periodic, large scale aerial photography of the NSW coast for photogrammetric analysis.

In addition to the photography commissioned in the 1970s, historical aerial images were also analysed, often dating back to during the Second World War and at some locations a decade earlier. While it is well understood that all beaches are dynamic environments that are constantly varying, the intention of this program was to provide long term, good quality and frequently sampled survey data to assess how variable each beach is. As technology has developed, particularly during the last decade, the photogrammetry has been supplemented and replaced by modern aerial survey techniques, including LiDAR and drone surveying.

To date, data has been processed at over 10,000 profiles along the NSW's 990 km sandy beach coastline. Typical survey frequency varies between 3 - 10 years, however this varies substantially between beaches.

The NSW Beach Profile Database was developed by the Water Research Laboratory, School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, UNSW Sydney with funding from the New South Wales government through the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Funded by:

Funding recieved through the Coastal Adaptation Node led by the Sydney Institute of Marine Science

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