Endangered Waves List

Endangered Waves

North Narrabeen, NSW

THREATS: COASTAL DEVELOPMENTS, POLLUTED WATER, VISUAL AMENITY

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North Narrabeen is a famous break threatened by an oversized man-made sand dune that is locking up the sand and disrupting the banks that make for North Narrabeen's famous barrelling left and the Alley channel rights. The dune also restricts the lagoon from flushing during dry periods, closing the estuary entrance for extended periods and reducing lagoon and surf water quality.

Surfrider Foundation Northern Beaches Branch and the local community are working hard to engage with local Government to ensure the surf and beach amenity, water quality and coastal ecosystems are returned to their former condition and protected for future generations. Surfrider has been calling for a management regime for the dune by relocating sand to South Narrabeen where it is needed. A nearby sewage outfall adds to the problems associated with lagoon outflow into the surf zone.


Bells Beach, Surf Coast, VIC

THREATS: COASTAL DEVELOPMENTS, ACCESSIBILITY, OVERCROWDING

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Photo courtesy of Darren Noyes-Brown Photography

Bells Beach is the world's first "Surfing Recreation Reserve" and enjoys global iconic status due to the majestic coastal beauty, ancient indigenous resonance and world class waves that feather on the horizon in corduroy lines and pump through the famous Bells Bowl.

On 3 November 1971 Bells was officially named "Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve" to clearly define "recreational surfing" as the priority activity in the Reserve. Recreational surfing continues to be the primary activity at Bells and recreational surfers are far and away the most frequent users of the Reserve. The environmental values and indigenous heritage also continue to illuminate the heart and soul of Bells Beach and surrounds.

Unfortunately Bells Beach is on the endangered waves list due to serious threat from:

  • Inappropriate forms of commercial tourism that is costly and fails to capture trade for local business
  • Further development of infrastructure to accommodate commercial tourism and unsustainable levels of visitation within Bells Reserve
  • Growing pressure for larger and more frequent events, along with permanent event infrastructure and clearing of natural vegetation to accommodate events within Bells Reserve
  • Clearing of natural vegetation and installation of permanent infrastructure for irregular user groups
  • “Rural Conservation Zone” amendments that now allow significant commercial development throughout the hinterland immediately surrounding Bells Reserve
  • Massive local population growth without clear vision or management strategies in place

In addition, natural environmental processes exacerbated by climate change are already having a graphic impact on Bells Beach, as shown in the short video produced by the local Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast Branch which can be viewed here.

Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast Branch, Surfers Appreciating Natural Environment (SANE – the core environmental stewards of Bells Reserve since the 1980s – www.sanesurfers.org), Bells Beach Preservation Society (BBPS – www.savebellsbeach.com), and a number of concerned locals have been collaborating on a vision to create the Bells Beach Surf Sanctuary. The vision is being formed in consultation with the recognised Traditional Owners of Bells and in essence aims to:

Respect, protect and cultivate the environmental values, indigenous heritage and recreational surfing experience of Bells Beach now and for all future generations

Achieving our vision will also serve to optimise the environmental, cultural, social, recreational and economic values of Bells and surrounds.


The Other Side (TOS) / The Spit, QLD

THREATS: COASTAL DEVELOPMENTS, ACCESSIBILITY & ECOSYSTEM INTEGRITY

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Since 2005 a number of proposals for the development of a cruise ship terminal have threatened the iconic beach break, The Other Side (TOS), and surrounding coastal environment at South Stradbroke Island on Queensland's Gold Coast. This unique wave is what it is thanks to an offshore canyon, channeling in swells across the delta of the Nerang River mouth where they peak up, before exploding onto an inner bar that is kept topped up by the seaway sand bypass. It it the combination of all of these factors that turn on the show that is TOS and make it a wave that has to be surfed.

In 2013-15 the Queensland’s State Government considered a proposal for the development of an Integrated Resort including a Casino and Cruise Ship Terminal on Wave break island directly adjacent to TOS. The proposal would involve significant dredging through the Nerang River Delta to allow access to mega cruise ships. In addition to the dredging the project involves a massive land reclamation project, the intensification of development on coastal public land and restrictions on access to TOS from the Spit during cruise ship operations.

For TOS surfers the development of an integrated resort development will restrict access across the seaway and risks negative impacts on the wave as a result of changes to coastal processes from dredging. In 2005 the value of surfing at TOS was estimated at $20 million per year to the local economy.

In 2005 and again in 2015 a massive community protest led by the Save Our Spit Alliance forced the state government to put off their plans.

Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast Tweed Branch along with a number of local community groups played a supporting role in this campaign, and will continue to work with the Save Our Spit Alliance to ensure any future proposals are met with opposition.


Endangered Waves (Saved for Now)

Capricorn Coast, QLD

THREATS: COASTAL DEVELOPMENTS, POLLUTED WATER, ECOSYSTEM INTEGRITY

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In 2010 Surfrider Foundation Capricorn Coast Branch representatives joined The Keppel and Fitzroy Delta Alliance (KAFDA) to lend their local resources and knowledge to assist in the prevention of 3 industrial developments, including 2 coal export terminals in the Fitzroy River Delta, Keppel Bay and North Curtis Island within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The proposed developments included extensive dredging and construction with the potential for signficant negative impacts on the social, environmental and economic fabric of the local area including potential impacts to much loved local surf break ‘The Big Dune’.

Surfrider Foundation representative’s sat on the board of KAFDA and played a supporting role in recruiting local, national and international support to oppose the development. Since the campaign's inception local Surfrider Foundation representatives have been involved in preparing submissions, speaking at community forums, lobbying local, state and federal politicians, attending rallies and concerts and mobilising the local community to take action as apart of the KAFDA.

After a number of years of pressure from KAFDA and other significant community groups and not-for profits, the proponents withdrew their development proposals. KAFDA and local Surfrider representatives are now looking at campaigning for specific legislative protection for the area to ensure any future proposals are unable to be made.


Ball Bay, Norfolk Island

THREATS: COASTAL DEVELOPMENT, VISUAL AMENITY, ECOSYSTEM INTEGRITY

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This magnificent bay is host to some of the best waves on Norfolk Island by way of it’s grinding right hand point break. A proposal to construct a jetty and break wall will forever destroy this wave. Home to an especially rare land crab and feeding ground for turtles, this high energy East Southeast facing bay is not the desirable site for most islanders as other less sensitive and more accessible sites have been identified.

The proposed jetty construction is now being considered at other sites on the Island as a result of surfers taking action and backing the local community to demand this jewel be left to turtles, surfers and land crabs while the much needed upgrade of port facilities are developed elsewhere.


Kirra, Gold Coast, QLD

THREATS: COASTAL DEVELOPMENTS, ACCESSIBILITY OR OVERCROWDING

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In 2013 Gold Coast City Council (GCCC) announced plans to extend Kirra groyne by 30 metres to its former length in an attempt to improve surf amenity at the world famous Kirra Point surf break. After more than 15 years of campaigning by the Gold Coast surfing community (Bring Back Kirra campaign led by Kirra Point Inc.) for the restoration of the buried Kirra Reef, GCCC have now formally recognised the importance of surfing to the local community and economy, and have committed to support surfing in this area.

In the 1960’s the Tweed River Entrance Training Walls were extended to improve the navigability of the Tweed River entrance for local commercial and recreational boating. As a result the northward sand flow was interrupted and built up on the southern side of the training wall ultimately starving the southern Gold Coast beaches of sand. Progressive beach erosion occurred at Collangatta and Kirra beaches and in response the Queensland Government constructed the Kirra Point Groyne in 1972 to trap sand at Coolangatta Beach. Notwithstanding the government’s efforts to improve the navigability of the Tweed River entrance, the sand bar at the mouth of the river re-established once again creating a navigational hazard.

The Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypassing Project (TRESBP) was established in 1994 by the Queensland and New South Wales Government with the aim of maintaining a navigable entrance to the Tweed River, and to maintain sand supply to the southern gold coast beaches. Upon commencement in 2001 large amounts of sand were pumped onto the southern Gold Coast beaches in an attempt to nourish the severely eroded beaches. The current sand supply has been adjusted to more closely reflect natural sand flow rates, however, the first 10 years of operation, and the shortening of the Kirra Point Groyne by 30m in 1996, resulted in Kirra Reef being buried in sand.

The key aims of the Bring Back Kirra campaign led by Kirra Point Inc are for the better management of the TRESBP, and the extension of the Kirra Groyne to its former length. The relationship between the extension of the Kirra Point Groyne and the management of the TRESBP must be carefully managed to ensure surf amenity at this world famous surf break are enhanced.

Despite the extension of Kirra Point groyne, GCCC have not mentioned the dynamic relationship between the management of the TRESBP and surf amenity at Kirra Point. Surfrider Foundation believes monitoring and evaluation of the extension, and its relationship with the TRESBP is a key factor in successfully reviving and maintaining this famous wave.

Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast Tweed Branch has played an important role supporting the Bring Back Kirra campaign in garnering community support, sitting on GCCC committees, writing submissions, meeting with state and local government officials, attending rallies and gathering petition signatures. More broadly Surfrider Foundation Australia has supported by raising the profile of this threatened wave through it's national membership base.

Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast Tweed Branch will continue to monitor the health of Kirra Point and engage with GCCC in collaboration with Kirra Point Inc and community groups to ensure this wave is protected for future generations.


Westernport Bay, VIC

THREATS: COASTAL DEV, POLLUTED WATER, ECOSYSTEM INTEGRITY, CLIMATE CHANGE

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Westernport Bay, unique in it’s geographical makeup is home to over a dozen classic surf breaks handling big south west winter swells on the Shoreham side, and offering south east protected summer waves towards Phillip Island. This unique area of surf coast is still largely untouched, offering a distinctive surfing experience increasingly hard to find in our modern coastal cities.

Over the years the Bay has been the target of a number of large industrial developments including a proposed Nuclear Power Plant Facility and a Super tanker oil proposal in the 1990’s. Once again, a new proposal is on the table which would transform the existing port into an international container port, increasing shipping traffic from under 100 a year to over 3000 annually. This increase in shipping traffic will significantly heighten the risk of oil spills, require substantial dredging and clearing of marine and coastal vegetation, which will undoubtedly impact on the dozens of surf breaks and the natural environment of this unique coastline.

The approval and assessment process has started, with the Victorian Government bypassing many environmental checks and balances by deciding to assess the development under the state’s Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act 2009. Normally this type of major development would also need approval under Federal environment laws because of the bay’s Ramsar wetlands and threatened species, but there is a danger that the Federal Government will hand over all assessment powers to the State under the new ‘one stop shop’ plans, therefore bypassing the need to assess the proposal against these Federal laws.

Westernport’s many breaks are all threatened by this proposed port expansion in Hastings, namely the potential dredging of the shipping channel and oil spills that would pollute the waves and beaches. The ecosystem threats include ecological and hydrological impacts from dredging, potential oil spills into the bay’s sensitive mangroves, saltmarshes and seagrass meadows, and the associated threats to the inhabiting penguin colonies and many threatened bird species. Other impacts include the introduction of invasive species, as well as marine debris and other pollution from the increase in container ships.

The impact of dredging on the surf breaks has not been considered in the Ports studies so far and the Surfrider Foundation are campaigning on this basis.

Local Victorian conservation groups are also campaigning hard to stop the port development, with the Victorian National Parks Association in collaboration with others, including Surfrider Foundation, commissioning a series of expert reports about the likely environmental impacts of this port expansion.


Tam O’Shanter Bay, TAS

THREATS: COASTAL DEVELOPMENTS, POLLUTED WATER, VISUAL AMENITY, ECOSYSTEM INTEGRITY

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Tam O’Shanter is endangered from toxic waste by proposed Gunns pulp mill. If Gunns Ltd is able to proceed with the construction and operation of its controversial Long Reach Kraft Pulp in Northern Tasmania, one of the biggest Pulp Mills in the world, it will have permission from both State and Federal Government to dump annually up to 50 billion litres of industrial waste directly into Bass Strait, just a few kilometres directly upwind from two of the North Coasts best left hand point breaks (see photo from PWW).

This effluent will contain 150 “chemicals of interest” identified by the Commonwealth Chief Scientist, including dioxins and furans, 2 of the most deadly substances known to man. Surfrider Foundation Tasmania Branch has waged a relentless scientific campaign over the past 8 years to have the risks to local beaches, waves and marine life fully identified and dealt with.

Surfrider Foundation Tasmania Branch maintains the line that in this day and age “the ocean is no longer a dumping ground for any company’s industrial waste” and will continue its campaign to have the Gunns Ltd pulp mill risks fully addressed and acknowledged.


Endangered Waves (Extinct)

Bastion Pt Mallacoota VIC

THREATS: COASTAL DEVELOPMENTS, VISUAL AMENITY & ECOSYSTEM INTEGRITY

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Bastion Point is a remote right hand point break near the border of New South Wales in the far east of Victoria’s wilderness coast. The point is surrounded by Croajingolong National Park and is a stones throw from the sleepy coastal town of Mallacoota.

For over a generation now this wave and natural setting has been threatened by various boating access developments. A large number of organisations and individuals formed a Coalition (Save Bastion Point Campaign) in 2004 to fight the East Gippsland Shire Council’s proposal for a large scale breakwater and boat ramp development (known as Option 3b).

After 9 years of campaigning by the Coalition the fight was lost to preserve Bastion Point when construction of the beach road and breakwater began on 11 November 2013.

This is a story of vested interests, dodgy political decisions and a Council that blindly pushed ahead with a proposal despite overwhelming community opposition and an expert independent planning panel recommending against the development.

Surfrider Foundation supported the Save Bastion Point Campaign by raising the profile of this threatened wave through it's national membership base, including the development of a video highlighting community concern for the project.