There is worldwide concern that tourism can erode the special qualities that attract tourists to particular destinations. At the same time, the resource value of place distinctiveness is receiving the attention of urban authorities and the tourism industry. The issue of tourism "spoiling" coastal places is well documented in a wide range of literature. Tourism transformation of small coastal settlements has become a major issue in Australia in the past decade. This thesis investigates the potential for tourism in small coastal settlements to be accommodated in a way which reinforces the distinctive cultural landscapes which attract tourism in the first place. The cultural landscape is initially defined as the constantly evolving, humanised environment, and refined to emphasise the iterative relationship between narrative and physical landscape patterns. A cultural landscape approach is useful to urban design, which mediates between these two types of landscape pattems. A multi-method research strategy is devised, interactively combining narrative landscape data (from formal literature review, content analysis of informal literature, focused conversational interviews) and physical landscape data (archival morphology study and field study of the physical landscape). The well known resort area of Noosa is examined in detail, because it has been the focus of very public debate for three decades regarding tourism issues common to many other coastal resorts. Morphological resort life cycle models are found to oversimplify the process of evolution in a resort area that is spatially diverse, experientially rich, well regulated, and constantly monitored by an empowered community. The research finds that comparative consumption and production of tourism landscapes occurs, and that this process is a means of articulating, conserving and creating the valued characteristics of the cultural landscape. Myths relating to nature, and more recently to style, have been used in the landscape narrative to shape the physical landscape. Urban design is found to be part of the landscape narrative process, and a means of articulating between the landscape narrative and the physical landscape. Recurring themes in the local dialogue of place have flowed between urban design documents, ephemeral tourism literature, publications, and the perceptions of residents, tourists and key informants as reported in focused conversational interviews. The thesis identifies such data, and the means of obtaining and interpreting them, as important new resources for urban design decision making.