Melbourne surfers will, from January, be able to access the URBNSURF wave pool in Tullamarine for $79 an hour. World Surf League’s Andrew Stark has failed to answer questions about who would be able to access a Kelly Slater wave pool proposed for west of Coolum and what it was likely to cost. Picture: Julian Smith/AAP Image
Melbourne surfers will, from January, be able to access the URBNSURF wave pool in Tullamarine for $79 an hour. World Surf League’s Andrew Stark has failed to answer questions about who would be able to access a Kelly Slater wave pool proposed for west of Coolum and what it was likely to cost. Picture: Julian Smith/AAP Image

Stark mute on wave pool cost, public access

SURFERS who think they would be able to get an after-work wave at a proposed Kelly Slater wave pool west of Coolum were in for a rude shock, according to one board rider who has been briefed on the project.

"Can the average surfer get access? The short answer is 'no'," said Friends of Yaroomba representative Jason Ward.

He attended a briefing by World Surf League (Australia) general manager Andrew Stark and popped the question.

Julian Wilson, of Coolum, surfing during the 2019 Freshwater Pro in the Kelly Slater Wave Pool in Lemoore, CA, United States.
Julian Wilson, of Coolum, surfing during the 2019 Freshwater Pro in the Kelly Slater Wave Pool in Lemoore, CA, United States.

 

"Guys finishing work on a hot day, with a north-easter blowing and flat surf can't just turn up at the door and have a wave," Mr Ward said.

"He was very uncomfortable answering that question and didn't want to elaborate on costs.

"Why would you not want a wave pool, but not everyone is going to get to use it."

Mr Ward said access would be limited to corporate days and some special board rider club events but at an estimated $550 a wave there would only be a small percentage of surfers keen to have a crack.

 

Australian actor Chris Hemsworth surfing the URBNSURF Melbourne wave park during a pre-opening day earlier this month. Picture: Ed Slaone/AAP Image
Australian actor Chris Hemsworth surfing the URBNSURF Melbourne wave park during a pre-opening day earlier this month. Picture: Ed Slaone/AAP Image

 

The general surfing population's attention has been drawn away from the Kelly Slater wave pool model now owned by World Surf League and has turned to a new facility set to open in Melbourne in January.

The Urbnsurf model has already been labelled the world's best wave pool. It produced more waves, more regularly than the existing Kelly Slater wave pool in Lemoore, California, and was ready for launch offering broad public engagement.

"I think there would be a lot of surprise among some surfers about how much access they could expect at Coolum," Mr Ward said.

"I've spoken with heaps who think they will have access. There are others who will analyse the information and realise they won't."

Mr Ward was also perplexed why a south-east Queensland Olympic bid would need a wave pool when the Gold Coast had the mechanical waves of Snapper plus Duranbah, Burleigh, Kirra and the wave magnet beaches of the NSW Far North Coast to draw on.

"There are so many options if Queensland wins an Olympic bid," he said.

 

WSL’s man in Australia, Andrew Stark, poses in the cane paddock where there are plans for a Kelly Slater wave pool and a 1500-lot residential subdivision. Picture: Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily
WSL’s man in Australia, Andrew Stark, poses in the cane paddock where there are plans for a Kelly Slater wave pool and a 1500-lot residential subdivision. Picture: Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily

 

Questions put Friday morning to Mr Stark have remained unanswered.

They covered who would have access, at what cost and during which hours; whether members of the public would be able to show up after work to have a go and the number of waves the pool would create an hour.

Questions were also put but left unanswered about a survey being conducted by KPMG into people's reaction to the proposal.

The proposed Coolum Surf Ranch fronts a massive 1500-lot residential subdivision being planned by Consolidated Properties for tidal, low-lying caneland west of Coolum that floods to depths of two to four metres.

The proposal is outside the SEQ Urban Footprint and at odds with the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme.

Sunshine Coast Council has said any decision about whether the project should go ahead was for the State Government to determine.


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