Newcastle ‘too small’ for wave park | images

The firm behind man-made surfing lagoons planned for Sydney, Melbourne and Perth says Newcastle is too small to support a wave pool, but the idea may not be that far-fetched.

Wave Park Group has development approval to build an $18 million wave park near Melbourne airport, although the company is still raising funds for the project.

It also has plans for surf lagoons at Sydney’s Olympic Park and beside the Swan River in Perth, but a company spokesman said the Newcastle market was too small to support a stand-alone wave pool.

Wave Park Group would welcome the opportunity to explore a potential joint project with Newcastle City Council.

Wave Park Group

“We would love to come to Newcastle or Port Stephens, however, the local resident and tourist population size is not large enough to self-sustain a surf park in its own right,” the spokesman told the Herald.

“Notwithstanding, we have received interest from a number of other local governments that are considering it as an alternative or in addition to an aquatic facility, which typically don’t come close to recovering their own operating costs. 

“In most instances, a surf park can help offset these operational deficits, particularly if development costs are subsidised. Wave Park Group would welcome the opportunity to explore a potential joint project with Newcastle City Council.”

A council representative said it had no plans to develop a water park and had not received proposals from a private operator.

But Surfest organiser Warren Smith said he was aware of talk early this year about bringing a wave park to Newcastle.

“They could be like skate parks,” Mr Smith said. “It seems inevitable that as the cost of producing the waves comes down they will become more common.”    

Wave pools have also been floated for the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, but none has proceeded to construction.

Newcastle surfing great Mark Richards helped test fellow world champion Kelly Slater’s high-performance, man-made wave in California last month and returned with a glowing endorsement.

The Wave Park Group uses different wave-generating technology to Slater’s and says it can produce 1000 high-quality left-hand and right-hand waves an hour.

The company that makes the wave generator, Wavegarden, has a test facility in Spain.

The “URBNSURF” wave lagoons in the three state capitals would accommodate night surfing. Wave rides would last 16 to 18 seconds.