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Superbank Saved; Straddie Under Threat

Political strong-arming led by Gold Coast Mayor, Tom Tate, forced South Straddie and the Spit - two world class waves at the northern end of the Gold Coast - to be dropped from the Gold Coast's World Surf Reserve bid. The move has freed up the areas to be turned into a proposed $70m cruise ship terminal, which would almost certainly kill one of the world's premiere waves in South Stradbroke.

"I was told in no uncertain terms from state government, local government and the Gold Coast Waterways Authority that they would not support a World Surf Reserve proposal with South Straddie in it," says Andy Mckinnon, Chairman of the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve.

The Gold Coast's recently declared World Surfing Reserve takes in only the southern end of the coast - an area running from Burleigh to Snapper. The initial bid had included the entire coast, going as far north as South Straddie. The bid even won support in its early stages from State Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, but political pressure won out.

"Behind Mayor Tate is a great number of international developers, consortiums, a Chinese Port company, many of the chamber of commerce people along the coast, and many people who believe success and progress is defined by cranes in the sky and concrete on the ground," says Luke Sorensen, of the Save Our Spit campaign group.

Straddie Inset

Yeah, Straddie is really something. Photo: Simon Muirhead

Asked about the World Surf Declaration, Mayor Tate said, "It’s an honour to recognise we are one of the eight surfing reserves. When it comes to the best surf, we are on the list.”

Not everyone is buying it.

"They try to divide communities with things like this but with the surfing community up here there is no north or south end on the coast,” says Sorenson. “We are all one community and that sentiment resonates across the whole coast. When you see proposed cruise ship terminals that will be detrimental to the north end you will see the same uprising as the south end and we have seen that already. The community is now seeing what they can accomplish to protect their waves and there is no doubt that's what they want.”

The fight to have the southern end of the Gold Coast declared a World Surf Reserve gained momentum when plans for a proposed cruise ship terminal at Kirra were leaked to the public. The news was met with a 4000-strong protest on the beach at Kirra and an eventual crushing political victory for Andy Mckinnon and the surfers and coastal conservation lobby.