Australian surfers paddle out to save Kirra Point

January 26, 2009 | Surfing
Kirra Surfriders

The Kirra Surfriders Club (KSC) in conjunction with the Kirra Surf Club are hosting a Public Paddle Out on Australia Day 09 at Kirra (Monday 26th of January) to mark the loss of Kirra Point regarded as one of the best Point Breaks in the World.

The Australia Day Paddle Out will meet at 10 am QLD time and paddle off Kirra Point to shape the map of Australia which will be seen visibly from on top of the Kirra Hill.

In 2001 the Tweed Sand By-Pass system was established by NSW and QLD State Governments, a unique joint agreement to replenish sand onto Gold Coast beaches that were robbed of natural sand flow due to the NSW Tweed training walls of the Tweed River and to dredge the entrance of the Tweed River for a safe boating passage.

Initially, the sand pumping was hailed as a success with the evolution of the Super Bank at Snapper Rocks creating a whole new sandbar from Snapper through to Coolangatta with up to 800-meter rides.

The only problem was that over the last 6 years, 10 million cubic meters valued at over $60,000 million dollars was pumped into Coolangatta which was the death knoll of Kirra Point and has not broken properly since 2001.

The last pro event held at Kirra was the Brothers Neilsen Pro Junior in 2002 won by Luke Munro from Bede Durbidge.

Interestingly Kirra Point still holds the highest competitive score in ASP World history when Shane Beschen of California scored three perfect 10’s (30 out of 30) at the Billabong Pro in 1996, a surfing statistic that will never be broken now that the judging format is based on the best of two scores than 3.

The eventual winner of the 96 Billabong Pro was Hawaii’s Kaipo Jaquias who named his newly born daughter Kirra.

Apart from Kirra Point losing its famous barreling double keg section and the deepest tube rides on the Gold Coast, the reefs that created the Kirra Point wave namely the inside reef Butterbox and the Miles Street Outside reef were also buried with an oversupply of sand completely wrecking the marine habitat once popular with divers and fisherman.

Currently the sand flow has moved slowly from Coolangatta Bay and into Kirra Beach which resembles a deserted oasis and a 400-meter walk to the water's edge.

After 6 years of sand pumping, only 1/8 of the volume has moved north along Gold Coast beaches with the majority of sand volume lodged at Coolangatta and more so at Kirra and especially North Kirra.

It’s the biggest pile-up of sand ever seen from Kirra to North Kirra, yet the sand continues to pump from the main outlet at Lovers Rock, Point Danger.

The idea behind the Australia Day Paddle Out is to demonstrate that the community at large care about their public amenity and will endeavor to convince the State Governments and Local Council Authorities that something needs to be done.

Ironically both State Governments are facing the polls this year and the Kirra Point situation is now developing into a red hot political State election issue.

At the core of that matter is the 25-year contract between NSW and QLD to continue pumping regardless of future damage to the surf and reefs although the latest word is that the NSW Department of Lands are privately conceding that too much sand has been pumped and are trying to assess the operation with possible changes for the future, yet the Sand Contractor continues to pump sand into Snapper, Coolangatta, and Kirra.

There are many options being considered to seek out solutions namely selective pumping, dredging the unwanted sand, sand sculpturing the beach and restoring dunes to allow the sand to flow, alternative sand pumping outlets, and adjusting the volumes of sand so as not to repeat the current oversupply of sand.

International Surfrider has just won a major battle in California to stop the development of Trestles, one of the last bastions of undeveloped California coastlines and also a venue for the ASP World Tour event, the Boost Mobile Pro.

President of the Kirra Surfriders club Stuart Ball welcomes the public to attend the Paddle Out for Kirra Point on Australia Day.

“We are very concerned to lose our local break and to see the public amenity reduced to a desert and the marine reefs wiped out. As a board riding club which helps foster junior development, we have lost one of the best training grounds and we would like to see this quintessential bank returned for the future. The Paddle Out normally reserved for the loss of life and tragedy’s is our way of getting everyone together to demonstrate in a positive and passive way the loss of one of the best breaks in the World. Enough is enough, we’re homesick for Kirra and we want our break back!”

During the ’60s, it was the training ground for Peter Drouyn, Keith Paul, and the Deane Bros, in the 70’s it was Michael Peterson, PT, and Rabbit Bartholomew, in the ’80s Joe Engel, Glen Rawlings, Munga Barry, and in the Nineties, Coolangatta’s Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning and Dean Morrison known as the Cooly Kids competed there as Pro Juniors.

Parko is very passionate about the loss of Kirra Point rated 4th on the ASP World rankings and 2008 Hawaiian Triple Crown champion, Joel would love to see Kirra Point back in action.

“I am really upset about the loss of Kirra Point and would dearly love to see it restored in all its glory. Dean (Morrison), Mick (Fanning), and I were fortunate to surf and compete there as juniors throughout the ’90s, today’s kids have really missed out and as a Father, I would like to see Kirra Point restored for future generations.”

Event coordinator of the Australia Day 09 Paddle Out at Kirra Andrew McKinnon had his first surfing lesson at Kirra in 1962 with the late Billy Rack and believes that we can bring back Kirra Point but it won’t happen overnight.

“Surely with all the existing infrastructure in place and some creative engineering on the Southern Points from Snapper to Kirra, We could have the best of both worlds with good sandbanks for waves and enough sand for the beachgoer. The over-supply of sand has been a blatant waste of taxpayers' money and the loss of public amenity is gut-wrenching,  the problem needs urgent attention by both NSW & QLD State Governments working in with Tweed and Gold Coast Councils to fine-tune the operation. Right now there is so much sand at Kirra Beach, not even a tsunami could move it!”

At the Australia Day Paddle Out rally, a group of concerned locals will address the crowd including Marine Biologists Bob Moffatt and Neal Lazarow, Surfing Legends Michael Peterson, Wayne Deane and John Standing. State and local politicians will be present to speak including Ian Cohen MP Green from NSW, QLD member of Currumbin Jann Stuckey, State Candidate for Currumbin Michael Riordan, and Southern Gold Coast Councilor Chris Robbins and Tweed Shire Greens Councilor. Local Gold Coast Band, Quiet Excitement will perform the National Anthem and also play their popular hit single, “Let Kirra be Kirra.”

National Surfrider Foundation and its Tweed/Gold Coast chapter are totally behind the Australia Day Paddle Out.

Recently the International Surfrider Foundation won a major battle to save Trestles in California, the venue of the ASP WCT event the Boost Mobile Pro from a major development.

Trestles is one of the last bastions of coastal land in California which has been saved thanks to the efforts of the local community and the Surfrider Foundation.

Supporting the Australia Day 09 Paddle Out at Kirra includes Surfing Professionals such as current 2 times ASP Women's World Champ Stephanie Gilmore, No 2 in the ASP World Men's Tour Bede Durbidge, No 4  Joel Parkinson, 2007 World Champ Mick Fanning, and 1999 World Champ Mark “Occy” Occhilupo.