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Surf’s up. Potentially permanently on the Sunshine Coast

Forget chasing the perfect wave, the barrels might soon be permanently rolling on the Sunshine Coast. That’s if a plan by a couple of of beach blokes who want to build a surf park gets the green light, writes Rebecca Levingston.

Sep 22, 2021, updated Sep 22, 2021

Right now, it’s a pineapple farm.  Ten hectares of dirt as you head north from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast that’ll make waves if it gets turned into the perfect swell.

“It’s the ultimate spot x,” says Drew Walker rather humbly when I give him a call to chat about the concept behind Surf Parks Australia.

Drew’s a keen surfer and even keener to sell some of his Glass House Mountains turf to a bloke who’s secured the rights to American Wave Machines technology. Together they’d be stoked if they could create consistent waves on land.

“It’s the perfect spot… ready to roll,” says Drew, and I think even he’d acknowledge the irony of chasing waves on solid ground when you could head east and paddle out into what mother nature does for free.

A surf park in Texas.

It was a freezing surf in Melbourne that reminded Drew of the dream he’s had for decades. During a three hour stopover at Tullamarine, Drew killed time at URBNSURF which he says is a wave pool next door to the airport. He rented a board and surfed for an hour and loved it. It was pumping but cold. Drew says afterwards he thought “How good would this be in Queensland?”.

Drew’s dad Vic (the Moby Vic servo namesake) purchased the land that’s now in play back in the early 1990s. Almost 40 hectares around what was then a schmick new Bruce Highway adjoining the two service stations owned by his dad. Vic always knew it’d be ripe for a family tourist attraction some day.

Drew says he remembers when Kelly Slater built his wave pool and hoped he could be part of something similar locally. For years he put the word out and eventually a town planner called up and said, I’ve got a guy. Interested? Absolutely.

Enter Craig Morrison who got on board with the vision.

Craig is the director of TOWN Sunshine Coast property specialists. He had acquired the rights to the technology that promises perfect barrels using air.

Craig said he needed 10 hectares to build a wave pool. Drew invited him to draw a line on the map and told him he’d happily sell. A year’s worth of work has gotten them to a point where they hope council approval is imminent.

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Depending on the deal that’s done, Drew makes no secret that he wants to be the first investor. He says he’s keen to reinvest proceeds from the land sale into building the wave pool. There’s a development approval already lodged with council that includes a clubhouse and restaurant.

“Hire the boards, watch the surf, drink a cocktail.” You can almost taste his enthusiasm. It’s a multimillion dollar dream and based on 1000 responses to a recent development approval survey, coastal residents are keen too.

What do surfers think of the idea of man made waves?

Drew admits he wondered about that too. “It’s not trying to replace the ocean. It’s an alternative.”

It’s all about consistency. From beginners to barrels, you can learn to surf or really test yourself, according to Drew. Guaranteed surf with a sandy beach and a saltwater pool that pumps out pristine waves everyday.

Drew’s favourite surf spot in the world is the Mentawai Islands off Sumatra in Indonesia. But you get the feeling that this wave pool would be a close second if it gets the go ahead. And he’s hopeful others will enjoy the fruits of his old farm land.

There’s also something special about the love and legacy of a father who purchased land 30 years ago that might now be developed into a spot generations of families could enjoy.

Vic passed away in 1996, when Drew was 19. He’s kept his father’s dream alive. There’s something sweet about that. Even without the pineapples.

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