Endangered Waves

Many of Australia’s best waves are endangered. Yet unlike endangered wildlife there are no surfbreak protection laws in Australia. Nor are the impacts on surfbreaks considered in planning and infrastructure developments. 

Surfrider Foundation Australia has identified a total of nine waves that are threatened by a variety of impacts ranging from coastal infrastructure development to water pollution, access problems and mismanagement (see www.surfrider.org.au for further information on the criteria for nominating a wave as endangered). 

LATEST NEWS: Surfrider has reinstated TOS at South Stradbroke Island on the Gold Coast to its Endangered Wave list, in combination with another nearby break - the Spit. 

In November 2015 Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate announced a new proposal for a cruise ship terminal near the Spit - this time offshore. Although details are limited at this stage, the proposed project design is based on a long pier jetty jutting out from the beach at the Spit for around 800 metres joined to some sort of north-south running breakwater structure.  

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It's likely this view would feature a big pier running across it if the Offshore CST is built. Photo: Luke Sorensen/LiQUiFY

A large breakwater running north-south would inevitably affect the swell getting into the Spit area, and possibly TOS at South Straddie. While not as famous as the world-renowned TOS just over the Seaway, the Spit is one of the few breaks on the Gold Coast that can handle northerly winds.  

Potential impacts to north-south sand movement from the terminal structure may also have negative effects on the surf quality at TOS and the Spit, and Surfrider has other concerns about pollution, impacts to the surrounding marine ecology (eg. whales on migration), and possible land use/access issues from the terminal’s onshore component at the Spit.  

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Triple barrel at The Spit. Photo: Luke Sorensen/LiQUiFY

We await more information from Mayor Tom Tate, who introduced the proposal, and the City of Gold Coast Council to address these concerns. 

The Other Side (TOS), at South Stradbroke Island on the Gold Coast, was added to Surfrider Foundation’s list of Australia’s (most) Endangered Waves in July 2013. It was then downgraded to “Saved for Now” following the demise of the previous cruise ship terminal/casino development proposal after the Queensland state elections in January 2015. 

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Some classic views of TOS. Photos: Luke Sorensen/LiQUiFY

For surfers living in or visiting the City of Gold Coast, TOS represents a unique surfing experience. It is consistently voted as one of the best beach breaks in Australia and the world by the surf media. 

Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast Tweed is actively involved in lobbying the state and local government to support the protection and maintenance of the Spit and Wavebreak Island as one of the last areas of coastal public land on the Gold Coast. Surfrider is committed to protecting the surfing experience at TOS and its surrounding environment.

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