Palm Beach Artificial Reef is currently under construction
After years of rumour, lobbying, consulting, negotiating, planning, and testing, Gold Coast City Council is currently building Palm Beach Artificial Reef.
It's the second artificial reef to be built on the Gold Coast following Narrowneck Artificial Reef which was completed twenty years ago. Both are what's termed MPRs - or Multi-Purpose Reefs - built primarily to counter erosion while also providing surfing amenity. However, there are some differences between Palm Beach and its northern neighbour.
For one, Palm Beach reef will be built from quarried rocks with a 160m x 80m core covered by rock cubes weighing between 1 and 8 tonnes stacked upon each other, unlike Narrowneck which used geotextile bags that over time either settled into the sand bed or split, resulting in a misshapen and ineffective reef.
Profile of Palm Beach Artificial Reef (Supplied: Gold Coast City Council)
Also, Palm Beach reef is situated closer to the surf zone and is shallower at its peak, which should give it greater influence in altering wave shape. Theoretically, this applies not just to the area immediately inshore from the reef but also upstream from it - i.e to the south - where sand should build up, bending from the beach towards the head of the reef (see pink area in image below)
Location of reef and benefit area (Supplied: Gold Coast City Council)
And lastly, Palm Beach has had a greater weighting towards surfing amenity than Narrowneck, which was built before the Gold Coast Surf Mangement Plan was created. Bureaucracy has its benefits! Then again, the website drably notes: "Under certain swell conditions, there is predicted to be waves breaking on the structure suitable for intermediate surfers."
Next week Swellnet will have a full discussion with Council engineers about what surfers can expect.
Location of reef in relation to Palm Beach Natural Reef (Supplied: Gold Coast City Council)
As for the specifics, it'll be located directly offshore from Nineteenth Avenue, roughly 270 metres from the shoreline. That places it approximately halfway to the natural reef, though the natural reef runs closer to shore just south of the new reef. It'll be 1.5 metres deep at its shallowest part at average tidal level. The footprint of the reef will be approximately 160 metres long and 80 metres wide. Construction finishes this October, weather permitting.