Surfrider Foundation Australia puts Hunter beach on ‘endangered waves’ list

NIGHT VISION: Concept art showing how South Newcastle beach skate park will look at night.
NIGHT VISION: Concept art showing how South Newcastle beach skate park will look at night.

Surfrider Foundation Australia is placing South Newcastle on its national list of “endangered waves” over plans to build a skate bowl on the beach.

A group of local surfers is waging a campaign against the skate bowl’s location after Newcastle City Council and the state government announced an $11 million plan to revamp Bathers Way at South Newcastle.

The surfers fear backwash from the concrete bowl, which juts out onto the sand, will ruin waves at high tide and be susceptible to storm damage.

The council said in June that coastal engineering experts had used 25 years of tidal data to ensure the structure would withstand storm swells and had considered how it would affect sand and wave movement.

The South Newcastle development also includes a skate park on the Bathers Way promenade, blue lighting, a kiosk, outdoor gym, shade shelters, a widened pathway, tiered seating and indigenous art installations. 

The state government is contributing $5 million to the project. 

The Surfrider Foundation has joined the surfers’ crusade against the project infringing on the beach and is in the process of adding South Newcastle to its “endangered” list.

The other beaches on the list are Stockton, Bells, North Narrabeen, Sunshine Coast’s Double Island Point and Martha Lavinia on King Island in the Bass Strait.

Foundation board member Craig Macintyre said skaters were “kin” to surfers but the skate park should be contained to the Bathers Way promenade.

“Hard infrastructure on any beach is not the answer,” Mr Macintyre said. 

The beach’s inclusion on the endangered list was based on local surfers’ concerns and not a technical assessment of the project.

The council is working on plans for the development before submitting them to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. It hopes to start work on the project within a year and finish it in 2021. The OEH’s classification of the proposal will dictate whether it requires a development application.      

Stockton is listed on the foundation’s online list of threatened surf breaks because beach erosion “has meant that for a majority of the year the waves are reduced to a shore-dump”.

Surfrider Foundation Australia is part of a worldwide not-for-profit organisation dedicated to protecting waves and beaches. 

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