Ambulatory boundaries in New South Wales: real lines in the sand

Document Type


Publication details

Corkill, JR 2013, 'Ambulatory boundaries in New South Wales: real lines in the sand', Property Law Review, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 67-84.

Peer Reviewed



Uncertainties as to how ambulatory boundaries formed by tidal waters move and how these movements affect land title and property rights have concerned private and public coastal landowners for many years. Recent amendments to the Coastal Protection Act 1979 (NSW) have added to this uncertainty, producing more confusion. The central ‘uncertainty’ is the effect of property law on NSW land titles when the ambulatory boundary formed by the receding shoreline crosses a ‘right-line’ private property boundary originally defined by survey. Since it is likely such scenarios will occur increasingly frequently as sea levels continue to rise the legal implications of this are examined closely. This paper resolves this uncertainty, discusses the effect of a moving shoreline on coastal land titles in New South Wales under climate change conditions, briefly canvasses options for the future and concludes that planned relocation is preferable rather than attempting to defend against rising seas and receding shorelines for centuries.

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