Coast riding the wave of progress with a surf park

Press/Media: Expert Comment


Article in Gold Coast Bulletin about City of Gold Coast approving redevelopment of a local golf course into a surf park.


Living on the Gold Coast is a blessing, especially with the vast ocean at our front door. But even in paradise, there are moments when the waves are flat or blown-out, leaving surfers itching for their dose of Vitamin Sea.

That's where the concept of a surf park comes into play, and the recent approval by the Gold Coast City Council’s planning committee for a surf park at the Parkwood Golf Club is an exciting development.

As an Associate Professor of Sport Management at Bond University, I have published research into the ways in which surf parks impact on the communities that host them, and for the most part, it’s been a positive story.

The global surge in completed or in-development surf parks reflects a shift akin to the evolution of swimming pools, ice-skating rinks and indoor climbing facilities. Where once people might have swum in rivers, skated on frozen lakes or climbed mountain ranges, technology has brought these pursuits to areas lacking the natural attributes or climate.

Artificial wave technology is a game-changer that not only complements existing surf opportunities but opens new doors for enthusiasts. The costs associated with such projects can vary depending on the technology used and the site selected for development, with a ballpark minimum of $25-30 million for upfront investments. The estimated $300 million for the Parkwood development underscores the diverse factors influencing these costs, such as location and land conditions.

What makes artificial wave technology truly fascinating is its accessibility to surfers of all levels. The Endless Surf technology proposed for Parkwood Village features a pneumatic-based wave-driver that allows for customisable wave experiences tailored to individual preferences. Another company, WaveGarden, boasts 21 different types of waves that they can program for people who have never ridden a board before through to World Tour-level surf athletes. This adaptability ensures that everyone can find enjoyment.

Anyone who has seen the Gold Coast’s famed point breaks in the midst of a solid swell would understand the concerns among surfers about overcrowding. It is essential to acknowledge that a surf park might not alleviate these issues during optimal natural conditions. Taking on Mother Nature at her finest will always be the ultimate challenge for diehard surfers.

However, surf parks offer a unique experience that not only attract surfers, but also visitors just keen to give it a go, some of whom might find beach waves intimidating or harbour reservations about marine creatures. Surf parks provide a controlled and creature-free environment for enthusiasts of all abilities, adding a new dimension to our iconic surf culture.

In essence, the proposed surf park represents a significant addition to the Gold Coast's tourism portfolio. It is also worthwhile noting that surf parks have been shown to bolster property values for surrounding communities by up to 13%, as well as providing vocational training and employment opportunities in the construction, maintenance and operation of the surf park. Some parks, like The Wave in Bristol, England, are actually now carbon neutral too, providing opportunities to raise community awareness about the environment and how we can minimise our impacts upon it.

With the planning committee's approval, the Gold Coast could soon be home to a surf park, riding the wave of progress and offering a thrilling experience to both locals and visitors alike.


Period2 Dec 2023

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleCoast riding the wave of progress with a surf park
    Degree of recognitionRegional
    Media name/outletGold Coast Bulletin
    Media typePrint
    DescriptionArticle in Gold Coast Bulletin about City of Gold Coast approving construction of a local surf park
    Producer/AuthorDanny O'Brien
    PersonsDanny O'Brien