SOS for Kirra Rally - Surfer's Path

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Environment

SOS for Kirra Rally

I am genuinely concerned about the loss of Kirra Point due to an over supply of sand pumped from the Tweed Sand bypass system started in 2002 with a contract signed for 25 years resulting in a massive overload – the equivalent of 10 years crammed into five and what it will now take to restore Kirra Point to it’s former glory days. As a professional activist I call on everyone that shares my concerns to attend a public rally with the central theme to bring Kirra back with a broad show of support for the loss of one of the greatest waves in the world.

Action speaks louder than words and this is not about AndyMAK grandstanding and air-raiding on the soap box, it’s calling for a full on public rally SOS (save our surf) at Kirra on Sunday 7th December, which happens to be Ocean Care Day and the anniversary of Pearl Harbour. What we need is as many people as possible to descend onto the beach at Kirra, of course there’s no lack of space on the sand but parking could be a problem.

How do you think the proposed shipping terminal at the Southport Spit and the artificial reef at Palm Beach were soundly defeated? It was due to a relentless ongoing campaign with People Power venting their frustration over negative Government and Council ill-conceived decisions without proper public consultation. Consequently, those campaigns turned the authorities around to the people’s way of thinking rather than bureaucrats and it worked!

This can be done at Kirra but we need to rally together, as I said there are many suggestions and solutions to fix this problem, Rabbit mentioned better management of the Sand Pumping, okay selective pumping would be better but right now we have too much sand and this is not rocket science or a no brainer conclusion, it pretty well stares you in the face every time you drive around the Kirra Headland.

When Damon Harvey caught the five-minute wave in 2002 from Snapper to North Kirra, everyone thought the sand-pumping was the most amazing invention for the creation of the Superbank. It was simply amazing and a virtual springboard for the careers of 2007 World Champ Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson and Dean Morrison aptly named the Coolie Kids. Back in the seventies it was Kirra Point which created the then Kirra Kids, the legendary Michael Peterson arguably the best ever at Kirra and our first world champs Peter Townend (’76) and Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew (’78). But the Superbank also had its negative after effects namely surf rage not to mention the creation of Coolangatta’s Sahara desert and the loss of Kirra and Greenmount Point.

We have the necessary machinery in case of beach erosion but we are not working enough with the natural process. A recent study by a Marine Engineer in Newcastle has sighted more natural long shore sand drifting on the NSW coast in the last five years compared to the last 50. It’s a big call but then if you were aware of the Byron situation where beach erosion almost accounted for the loss of the Belongil in the late 90’s, suddenly the sand flow occurred naturally at the start of the new millennium and in the last five years Byron which doesn’t use either sand pumping or dredging had its beaches restored naturally. The pass at Byron was back better than ever and the beach houses at the Belongil were saved from falling into the sea which backs up the Newcastle Engineer claims. During summer, the prevailing Northerly winds blow the sand back onto the beach and right now that is evident on Gold Coast beaches. The old school of engineers are convinced that one huge cyclone can rip it all away but when you look at the build-up it will take more than a Tsunami to move the over supply of sand.

The other side of creating a massive sand build-up on beachfront has played into the new high-rises built from Kirra to Coolangatta which have passed all regulations as the latest building do not cast a shadow over the foreshore because the shoreline is so far away. When talk of creating high sand dunes as natural buffet zones for the beach, high-rises and beachfront business alike in Coolangatta complained because it will spoil their view of the beach. The hidden agenda plays straight into the developers plan backed by seemingly knowledgeable beach erosion experts.

By and large the latest exploitation of the Gold Coast is slowly wrecking not only surf breaks but creating a suburban nightmare sustained by Council and state Governments complying with the rich end of town. Gold Coast surfing legend Peter Drouyn spoke about the six sisters and how they have been slowly raped and destroyed, he was referring to the famous Gold Coast points: Burleigh, Currumbin, Kirra, Greenmount, Rainbow and Snapper. Unless we do something about this and turn the tide, all these breaks are going to be wiped out by the dark forces of greed and over development. For some unknown reason, Council and Government have not factored in the amount of money the surf industry and it’s hugely popular lifestyle can bring in terms of benefits and real tourist dollars, if they wipe out the points, there’s goes the 70 million dollar year surfing trade.

Surfers and their families and friends outnumber most on the coastal strip and our surfing amenity is slowly getting killed off – no wonder more and more local surfers who can afford it are going overseas or elsewhere to find better waves. The Gold Coast used to be one of the best surf spots in the world and now we are struggling to find enough waves for everyone, especially in holiday period when surf rage rears its ugly head: overcrowded, not enough breaks, and every man, woman and grommet to battle it out with limited amenities.

The Gold Coast with help from the state Government public funds offer other sporting facilities generous handouts such as the new Titans (rugby league) venue and now backing a new AFL venue plus other community sporting facilities that’s good for mainstream sport but what about the sport of surfing and public amenities for recreational surfing? Surfing is still in the dark ages when it comes to hand-outs and now with an out of control sand bypass system we’ve got our backs to the wall and Council and state and its engineers have their heads buried in sand.

It really is time for a new approach and new awareness. In any other sport, lifestyle and development, there are certain guidelines to protect environment and seek the balance with development, and somehow surfing got written off and out of that state and Council policy. Its time to wise up and for surfers and all other lovers of the sea and beach culture to stand up and say their peace. In any major development, the overall consideration is to minimize the impact by evaluating criteria and seeking the balanced solution. The sand bypass has never abided by that process with proper environmental guidelines and accurate monitoring controls. One GC Councillor said to me that they were reviewing the matter but it always gets washed under the carpet when it comes to making real decisions.

The recent ‘Bring Back Kirra’ Committee, consisting of Griffith Uni engineer Neal Lazarow, ASP International President Rabbit Bartholomew, iconic Coolangatta legend Wayne Deane and Coastal Alliance’s Phil Arnott to mention a few, are to be applauded for their work and trying to find a solution to fix the problem but are the authorities listening and prepared to act on their advice? The sand bypass swamped the inside reef responsible for creating the famous Kirra double keg with its sucky-inside-out below sea level tube section, and then further out past Little Groyne, the outside reef which created a huge peak in the day. The playground of local divers is also swamped, and this devastation is unbelievably cruel and illegal. If there were to be a class action, there are solid grounds for destroying a marine habitat, let alone the surfing amenity, but who cares? Not the developers, not the high-rises, not the old school engineers, basically not the people who don’t surf and they are the players that are slowly wrecking what’s left of the Gold Coast.

The sand pumping contract for the next 25 years is a license to wreck whatever is left and perhaps the expediency of the operation has contravened the act and and blatant abuse of power leaves itself open to more class action. The Desal plant of Tugun is yet another con and sacrifice for the Gold Coast. Built on a tip and expanding by the day, the Desal has the potential to over-salinate the ocean but at the moment will be used to help Brisbane capital of Queensland with it water shortage at Ivanhoe dam and taking its effluent as well God save us and the marine life when they pump the saline effluent back down to the Gold Coast and out into the nearby ocean. One of the scariest things is the potential of this latest monster to be converted into a nuclear power plant in the future and, sorry to inform you folks, but this has already happened in America. I kid you not.

The Bring Back Kirra Point Rally on Sunday 7th December is wholly and solely to demonstrate en masse a passive protest that we are indeed a united front and are sincerely serious about the loss of Kirra and joining forces to help turn this around, we can turn it into a fun day! Bring down your bucket and spades, from the groms to the grannies, and the whole spectrum of the surfing demographic that use the public amenity that are shocked about the present state of the beach and lack of surf to be done in a symbolic gesture and allow everyone to participate. Imagine this scenario that we have thousands attending and create a human congo line print in the sand spelling out ‘Bring Back Kirra’ that can be seen from the sky for the chopper shot, the google satellites and maybe even a look in from the moon! Those that can’t be there can participate on line, via petitions; the pen is mightier than the sword! We are a huge global surfing family that can move mountains of sand! Let’s turn this around.

This is only the start of what can be a rolling campaign – for instance how about a memorabilia night showing how Kirra Point was back in the day (eg: Morning of the Earth, Steve Cores movies of MP, Rabbit and PT prior to Big Groyne, Dick Hooles Big Groyne of MP, Chris Bystroms Blazing Boards the Deane Family super 8 movies, Marty Tullemans photos land and water, Fred’s historical pics and a whole lot more), a fabulous fundraiser maybe during the ASP Quiksilver Pro 09 at Snapper Rocks with all the pro’s and eventually leading up to 09 State Elections (NSW & QLD)…

But for starters, first thing first, let’s unite around one flag with one central theme to Bring Kirra Back.

Please endorse this action as it is imperative if we are to succeed.

Yours very passionately,

Andrew McKinnon

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