Military technology to combat coastal erosion at Kingston’s boat ramps

Military devices usually deployed for beach landings will be rolled out to combat coastal erosion at Kington in south east South Australia.

The Kingston District Council has purchased a moveable aluminium panel, known as a FAUN Trackway, that is traditionally used by armed forces coming ashore.

After initial delays due to supply chain issues with the United Kingdom-made system, the council has confirmed it will arrive in the town before Christmas.

Chief executive Nat Traeger said the system will be used to provide a stable access-way for vehicles to the town’s boat ramp.

The council won’t receive the loader attachment that’s included here.(Supplied: FAUN Trackway)

“Just picture a boat ramp on a roll,” Ms Traeger said.

“This is the first time it will be used in Australia for boat ramping and a non-military deployment but the concept is pretty straightforward.

The council originally ordered 50 metres of the track and a loader attachment to help with instalment, at a cost of $215,000.

Low availability of the product meant the council instead spent $70,000 to receive just 30 metres of track.

A mat is laid out on a sandy beach, the ocean in the background, and a tank is driving over the mat
The technology stabilises the ground, creating an access-way for vehicles.(Supplied: FAUN Trackway)

Ms Traeger said it would connect the Maria Creek ramp to the car park to allow locals and tourists to launch their boats.

“So quite often, the difficulty is not actually launching your boat from the concrete boat ramp, it’s actually getting to it,” she said.

“So we’re hoping to mitigate that through having a stable track that takes you from the carpark and down onto the concrete ramp.

Council staff will manually deploy the system, as council was not able to purchase the loader attachment.

But Ms Traeger said the structure was strong enough to be left out for long periods of time.

“It’s not the sort of thing that needs to come in and out, we’re hoping that once we’ve got it established, we can roll it out, say October long weekend, and notwithstanding severe weather conditions, leave it out until Easter,” she said.

Added benefit of tourism

Ms Traeger said she was hoping to see an increase in visitors with the boat ramp being more easily-accessible.

“Once you’re on our beaches, normally in summer, they’re very firm, and you can drive along them,” she said.

“So we’ve got locals here who are quite excited about the thought whilst they may not have a boat, they can use this trackway to get on and off the beach and then drive along it on those beautiful summer weather conditions that we have here in Kingston.”

All the way from the UK

FAUN Trackway head of marketing Rachel Roberts said the system was first built in the 1960’s, in partnership with the UK Ministry of Defence to improve the mobility of vehicles and aircraft in the armed forces.

A head shot of a woman with blue eyes and long auburn hair
Rachel Roberts says positive to see the technology is now being used for non-military purposes.(Supplied: FAUN Trackway)

She said the technology also had a history with the Australian military.

“We actually sold to the Australian Army about six or seven years ago, and the requirement was for a UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] drone runway,” she said.

“[The technology] is used predominantly within the military for use of bridging ingress and egress and over the shore operations.”

Ms Roberts said she was pleased that the system was being used by groups other than the military.

“A few years ago, we diversified into the commercial sector because that was exactly what the intended use was … we wanted to reach out to businesses, governments, councils, wherever there’s a ground stabilisation requirement,” she said.

“We’ve sold boat-ramp kits around the world and for exact scenarios like this, so it’s a fantastic order and we’re really happy to be able to provide the council with such a solution.”

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