GALLERY: The Northern beachfront and waterways on the Gold Coast – Australia’s 6th largest city – represents the last bastion of relatively undeveloped and open landscape and seascape that remains in a city that has seen many parts of itself been ravaged by half a century of some of the fastest growth (development) in the nation.

The absolute key identifier and measure of quality for locals and visitors alike is the fact that this city is uniquely positioned to NOT destroy and greedily consume it’s remaining culturally, socially, economically and environmentally rich spaces as our population edges upwards – to not make the mistake hundreds of cities around the world have already much to the regretful lament of those city’s leaders and people as they look back at what could have been.

“If I could, I’d get rid of the cruise ships tomorrow. Their passengers clog up our airport and leave empty hotel rooms that tourists wishing to stay in the city can’t access. They don’t spend any money, other than cab fares getting between the airport and the cruise terminal. And they’re a huge drain on our city’s resources”
– Jim Naugle, then mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA

A great opportunity exists to protect and ensure our major point of difference, to secure and retain our ‘Central Park’ and to ensure our own marine park remains clean, free, open and undeveloped for generations of locals and visitors to come.

I’ve been a local for all of my life and my family has also – for over a century – been part of this geography and community. The history, culture and environment here in this area is second to none for such a city. I’ve travelled to many countries, ports, harbours, cities, continents and places around the world, and whilst every place I’ve seen has held its own beauty and value, I’m yet to find any city of similar scope or size that even comes close to having such contrast, opportunity, unique amenities and natural balance.

Below are some of my photographs from over the years and of some of the wonderful natural spaces – spaces that frame, bound and highlight that we truly do live in paradise no matter what perspective your viewpoint may be.

The vast expanse that is The Spit, Federation Walk Reserve and Philip Park – a perfect and necessary complimentary space to the congested and developed city behind it

Fish a plenty bask in the sun beams along the Southern Seaway Wall
Full throttle as Burleigh lad Toby Mossop flies through a South Stradbroke Island barrel
Pair of Rainbow Bee Eaters, photographed on the contentious vacant public land site just south of Sea World
The mass of traffic, concrete and urban density that have become the norm for parts of our city
Thousands turn out at the Broadwater Parklands in 2014 to oppose the mayor and then LNP state government’s plan to turn The Broadwater, Wavebreak Island and parts of The Spit into a Chinese-developed segregated resort city, unlikely cruise terminal and casino Mecca. Here, Gold Coast & Hinterland Environment Council’s Lois Levy adresses the burgeoning crowd.
A White Faced Heron snares a Burton’s Legless Lizard for its lunch on the beach in front of Philip Park on The Spit.
My boys and I love to explore dunes and spend time along our shores.
The extraordinary world that is truly world’s away when you step into The Seaway – no matter of you fish, dive or surf. Mayor Tom Tate famously remarked fearfully that he ‘wouldn’t want to look down’ into The Seaway, that there’s ‘all sorts of things’ under the water, a thoroughly embarrassing and ignorant remark.
The cavernous cave that is a bright and blue South Stradbroke barrel.
Traffic and the lack of accessibility to large volumes of it has long been an impasse preventing further development and encroachment on The Spit. Plans are still afoot to ram light rail up there, widen roads and build bridges – driven but the ongoing greed-fuelled desire by a minority seeking to take public land for private development. Here, the Main Beach roundabout intersection shows the only way in or out for motorists.
Climbing skyward, no this isn’t a scene from Kakadu or some National Park near Cairns, this is Philip Park on The Spit and it’s visually spectacular at times.
Recent submissions bu the Gold Coast City Council to the federal government claimed there was no ‘surf amenity’ to be lost if a massive international shipping port was built right on the place where these waves are breaking in the photograph.
Whilst not the most consistent location, the beach breaks along Federation Walk and Philip Park provide a critically important pressure-valve for surf crowding along the Northern Gold Coast and are one of the few locations left to score uncrowded perfect waves for those in the know. The council is lying, lying it’s arse off.

Green moss lit up amongst the trees in Philip Park at The Spit.
The sandpumping jetty is a marvel of modern engineering and has become a familiar feature since it was installed in the mid 1980s. It is now a popular surfing, fishing, walking and off-leash dog area.
Morning sunlight filters through the fresh gasses in Philip Park.
1993 and an example of what a dredged Seaway can do, allowing large swell to penetrate the navigation channel, making for epic surfing conditions and a boaties worst nightmare. Local surfer and shaper Wayne McKewen on a wave that resembled more Hawaii’s Pipeline than a Gold Coast spot.
The surfers and bodyboarders of South Stradbroke are extremely passionate and protective of the surf break and world-class waves there. An extensive 2008 study by renowned expert Dr Neil Lazarus determined the surf break (by way of attracting visitation, spending, domestic tourism etc) to deliver between $20 to $33 million in direct spend benefit to our city each year. The costs of maintaining it are minimal and it doesn’t require development, repairs, paint jobs or anything to provide that benefit. Add on the benefit to local surf amenity and it’s easy to see that it’s an economic as well as socially beneficial jewel in the northern Gold Coast’s fabric – not worth risking and very much worth protecting.
Main Beach just south of Philip Park, June 2016. An example of the kid of powerful swell and amazing waves we get on the northern beaches each year. No place for cruise ships to be scheduling stops or manoeuvring, and the major companies know this. Waves as high as 12 metres have historically been recording right where they want to construct this suspicious breakwater and cruise terminal dock.
2012 and the masses rose up yet again to fight for The Spit and oppose hideous attempts to take the land and destroy the environment and public amenity of the area. Doug Jennings Park.
A rare Northern swell that created a reflection and refraction to break up single lines of wave energy into mirror-image peaks, barreling into The Spit next to the sandpumping jetty. Incredible sight!
Federation Walk Reserve is a spectacular series of linked walking tracks, filled with birds, flora and colour, free and available for anyone to enjoy.
A deliberately-lit fire rages in the background, tearing through Federation Walk and threatening the lives of hundreds of people. We were trapped for several by the flames this day. You can read more about the issue here at LIQUIFY MAG.

Wavebreak Island truly is a jewell of open space, isolation and wonderful outdoor experiences. It’s rare to find any city in the whole world with such a unique space.

 

Pumping waves and fishing action, The Spit provides so much for so many.
The Spit, Seaway, Wavebreak and South Stradbroke … get into it and fight for it, it belongs to you all!

 

Please check out www.saveourspit.com to join the campaign to protect these spaces

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