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New fight to protect Aussie beach culture

Date

Ed Jackson

Kelly Slater at Kirra on the Gold Coast, where surfers rallied against a proposed cruise ship terminal.

Kelly Slater at Kirra on the Gold Coast, where surfers rallied against a proposed cruise ship terminal.

From Bondi in the east to Margaret River in the west, Australia’s beaches remain an intrinsic part of Australia’s lifestyle.

Uniquely, and despite their value and attraction, none of the country’s 10,685 beaches is privatised.

Unlike parts of the Caribbean, Asia and United States, Australians anywhere can enjoy any beach, at any time.

Gold Coasters Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning have joined forces to protect beaches from private development.

Gold Coasters Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning have joined forces to protect beaches from private development.

It’s that freedom to head to the coast that sparked a protest on the Gold Coast last month when 2500 people - including champion surfers Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson - took to the sand of Kirra amid rumours a developer was eyeing off the iconic beach for a possible cruise ship terminal and casino.

That proposal was quickly quashed by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman but the idea that one of Australia’s beaches could be privatised clearly angered many.

Now it’s been suggested that 40 kilometres of Gold Coast coastline - from South Stradbroke Island down to Coolangatta - be nominated as a world surfing reserve.

The WSR movement doesn’t carry legislative protection but proponents feel the acknowledgement would give recreational surfers and other beachgoers more power to keep developers off beaches.

The WSR push is being promoted by the newly formed Recreational Surfers Association, with Parkinson and Fanning acting as ambassadors for the establishment of a reserve on the Gold Coast.

WSR co-founder Brad Farmer says it’s vital no beaches in Australia be given over to private hands.

‘‘It sets a legal precedent then,’’ Farmer says.

‘‘If we allow it to happen in one area, you can bet others will be watching with interest.

‘‘Most Australians live on, or near, the beach. We want them to remain somewhere everyone can enjoy, not somewhere to put roulette tables.’’

Starting in 2009, the WSR movement has dedicated five sites around the world as reserves, including Sydney’s Manly-Freshwater beach.

The site of Duke Kahanamoku’s famous surfing exhibition in 1914 stands alongside Malibu and Santa Cruz in the United States, Portugal’s Ericeira and Peru’s Huanchaco as dedicated reserve sites.

It’s all part of a movement that Farmer hopes, along with the support of champion surfer Kelly Slater, will one day mean surf breaks are able to be given UNESCO World Heritage listing.

‘‘These are unique and loved parts of our natural environment,’’ he said.

‘‘If volcanoes, caves and the like can be protected by UNESCO, there’s no reason a surf break or beach couldn’t be either.’’

Farmer believes the Gold Coast, with its key breaks at Kirra, Snapper Rocks and Currumbin, is a logical option to become the next WSR.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate says he’s not opposed to the idea of declaring the coast a WSR but he’s sceptical whether the proposal has any tangible benefits.

Tate feels council has already done more than anyone to protect the Gold Coast’s beaches, including an extension of the Kirra Groyne and a costly restoration of eroded beachfronts after ex-tropical cyclone Oswald last year.

He believes uncertainty over just what a WSR means and a lengthy application process could delay or undermine council beach works.

‘‘We’ve done the ocean beach strategy, taking in ideas from 4000 respondents, and that’s a 30-year plan,’’ Tate says.

‘‘We’ve also got our management plans ... what aggravated this was this Kirra terminal thing. There’s never been a project on the table ... there’s nothing on the table with council and it’d have no support from council.

‘‘When people say we want to have this so we can have our beach protected ... I’m not against it as long as they can present to me that our community can benefit more than what we already have.’’

Regardless of the WSR proposal, as far as 2012 world surfing champion Parkinson is concerned, the only satisfactory outcome is one which ensures Australia’s beaches and coastline remain off limits to private developers.

‘‘We need to protect our coastline from these type of developments and not find in 10-15 years that we are fighting all over again.’’

AAP

2 comments so far

  • "Aussie beach culture".....What's that. Aussie beach culture is dead or dying because "Aussie culture" in general is dead or dying. This is the inevitable consequence of multiculturalism. Australian culture has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades. Within another two decades the world recognised "Aussie" character will be a novelty and an historic anachronism. The idea that over a couple of decades you could double Australias' tiny population, swamping the country and culture with a mixture of ''alien'' cultures and yet expect Australia to remain Australian was always a childish naivety.....We even breed and export our own Al Qaeda terrorists these days. Twenty years ago the ordinary Australian would have bet their house against the absurdity of such an idea. We live in a different country now, with a different culture and cultural dynamics and characteristics. These days it's only Australia on the map.

    Commenter
    zac48
    Location
    Melb.
    Date and time
    February 08, 2014, 11:08AM
    • "Tate feels council has already done more than anyone to protect the Gold Coast’s beaches, including an extension of the Kirra Groyne and a costly restoration of eroded beachfronts after ex-tropical cyclone Oswald last year."

      Ha! What a hoot! The Gold Coast's beaches were comprehensively wrecked when the council permitted gigantic multi-storeyed towers to be constructed on the first set of dunes which anywhere else in Australia would be an abomination.

      It took the Beattie government to step in and remove the fencing which some beachfront landowners installed to snatch public beach land and incorporate into their own backyards.

      Then Tate wanted to build a casino and shipping terminal on the last remaining strip of public greenspace aka "The Spit", despite 3 governments funding a Federation Promenade pathway through the forest there. That's how much Tate cares about the beaches and greenspace at the south coast.

      Don't make me laugh Mr Tate.

      Commenter
      If it moves shoot it, if not chop it down
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      February 08, 2014, 5:43PM

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