The Australian coast is rich in history and is scattered with coastal settlements amongst a contrasting landscape with infinite visual and ecological diversity. These attributes provide the opportunity to create sustainable and resilient settlements, linking the wholeness of a place to the foundation of living in harmony with nature. On the contrary the coastal regions of Australia are facing dynamic changes of population growth including the looming impact of a changing climate. Acknowledging these challenges, the Australian Government highlighted that one of the key requirements for a sustainable future is to establish sustainable settlements that are resilient against the impacts of climate change. Recent government studies and reports highlighted various possible impacts to the Australian coast and regional settlements due to sea level rise with associated coastal recession, extreme weather events, flooding, and prolonged heat waves. Various adaptation frameworks are proposed to deal with this issue, but very few consider the relationship between ecological systems and human built environments. The resilience planning of settlements must consider the co-evolution of human and nature under future climate effects. This paper is thus seeking answers to the question: How can the theoretical principles of Design with Nature (McHarg, 1967) and The Nature of Order (Alexander, 1980) provide for input to a adaptation model for settlements along the coast? Reflecting on a literature review of these two well established theories, the author select key principles from both as input to a ecological design based adaptation model for coastal settlements, which establishes a system of unfolding steps to create sustainable communities that connect with the landscape, and are resilient against future impacts of change.