First impressions at the Palm Beach Artificial Reef

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

Over the weekend a long range east swell made landfall on the Gold Coast, allowing an early glimpse of the half-complete Palm Beach Artificial Reef.

Saturday morning before the wind picked up was reportedly the best of it, however it broke all weekend between 4'-5' running for up to 30m from takeoff on the better waves.

Those who surfed it said the takeoff area is only small, though as one of them told Swellnet, "At least none of the reef's real estate is wasted in a closeout section. The takeoff area is small but it has a surprisngly long wall." And this is without sand build up around it.

The reef is alarmingly shallow, with one rock even breaking the surface, leading locals to question the design. However, it's still a construction zone, not meant to be surfed, so if by September - the end date for the project - the larger boulders haven't settled into the sand, or the smaller boulders haven't settled into each other, then the leading edge of the reef will be altered. It'll either be machined down or the uppermost boulders will be replaced with smaller ones.

When complete, the reef will have a minimum freeboard of 1.5m at mean sea level, equating to 60cm at the lowest astronomical low tide - which is the lowest tide possible.

All of which means the finished reef will be deeper than its current state.

The remaining 50% of the work will most likely extend the footprint and also build an offshore platform. The offshore platform is the leading edge of the reef, its role being to 'precondition' swell lines: have them stand up, focus on the reef, and also moderate the change in depth so the waves don't undersuck or slab too hard.

The design of the reef incorporated six years of swell data for Palm Beach, with east through to east/southeast being most prevalent. So having it perform on a straight east swell is a promising early sign as it's summertime bread and butter on the Goldy.

Equally as important as what happens over the reef is what happens on the leeward side of it, and again the early indications are good with swell diffraction creating scattered shorebreak peaks. Being sand dependant it'll take a while to assess the surf quality of the adjacent areas.

Surf quality aside, the primary purpose of the reef is to halt erosion, which is pegged as an increasing threat for coastal councils, hence many of those councils are eagerly awaiting the outcome at Palmy.

Similarly, there are engineering firms also watching the project closely, ready to pitch artificial reefs as a cheaper solution to coastal erosion than compulsory land acquisitions or perpetual remedial work.

So let's stop and indulge our imaginations for a moment, and not just Palm Beach locals but surfers everywhere: If the reef at Palm Beach works, and if other councils think artifical reefs are justifiable, then surfers stand to be the beneficiaries of any forthcoming program. Just as we were the inadvertent beneficiaries of those other great coastal projects - river breakwalls - the potential exists for surfers to again scoop the lucrative byproduct.

Over the weekend we got the first glimpse of it at Palm Beach Reef.

Comments

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 3:15pm

sweet, any eyewitness reports?

Sam Mozaffari's picture
Sam Mozaffari's picture
Sam Mozaffari commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 3:20pm

I wish we could get one at South Narra.

John_Clark's picture
John_Clark's picture
John_Clark commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 4:09pm

Yes South Narra would be a great spot for one.

wildenstein8's picture
wildenstein8's picture
wildenstein8 commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 3:54pm

I surfed it on the weekend FR. I wouldn't call it impressive, it goes from too shallow to too deep really quickly, though I saw some guys get "OK" waves. What struck me too was the difference between high and low tides, even just low tide and mid tide made a real difference in how the wave stood up.

I had a better session on the shorebreak which has more promise I think.

pcrisp's picture
pcrisp's picture
pcrisp commented Wednesday, 31 Jul 2019 at 2:25pm

it will never be as good as the sessions before commonwealth games when they pumped all the sand out there

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 3:57pm

Didnt surf it but saw it on sat ,maybe a dozen out and there was the odd wave which ran a bit,so it was showing potential which is great news for the locals and land owners.

simba

billie's picture
billie's picture
billie commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 4:19pm

hi dudes im billies daughter

Billie

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 4:46pm

any shots from the beach?

Frogg

Sam Mozaffari's picture
Sam Mozaffari's picture
Sam Mozaffari commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 10:17pm
Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 5:45pm

Who got naming rights then?
Must have been a shit-fight to get the first wave.

ishredinmyhead's picture
ishredinmyhead's picture
ishredinmyhead commented Tuesday, 30 Jul 2019 at 1:43pm

If we're going to get technical regarding naming rights for the first person to get Pitted then it should rightly be named "Hendy's Reef".
Literally 80 seconds after witnessing the original Sand Spitting Vessel 'dumping its load' in that exact spot, during part of the replenishment scheme done by GCCC, I watched surf life saving's Trevor Hendy paddle over on his rescue board, as the vessel turned & sailed away. he took off on what was probably the 3rd or 4th wave to even break there, got to his knees and placed himself right in the middle of a 2 foot "mini chopes" left hander.
I literally giggled out loud with excitement, turned & ran for my car, drove as fast as i (legally) could to get my board from home (5 min drive) & by the time i got back to 19th, there were 4 more crew that had joined Mr Hendy. we all got some tasty little, but powerful waves for about half an hour or so before the tide became too high. I had quite a few surfs on the sand reef over the next few weeks until mother nature took it back from us, but i'll never forget watching Hendy pull in to the first ever barrel in that spot.

bukz's picture
bukz's picture
bukz commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 6:53pm

I still think this sand catcher is a better option. Cheaper and quicker to build but I hope the reef works good.

https://www.swellnet.com/forums/surfing-reef-designs/447027

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 6:58pm

You've got equal sand accumulated on both sides of the structure. No way that'd occur at somewhere like Palm Beach where approximately 500,000 cubic metres of sand passes each year. There'd be a featureless pile of sand on the upstream side yet very little on the downstream side

bukz's picture
bukz's picture
bukz commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 7:06pm

You mean sand would accumulate on the South side but not on the North side of the structure?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 7:28pm

Yeah.

bukz's picture
bukz's picture
bukz commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 8:26pm

Depending on where the boulders end on the outside it could have a similar effect to what we see on the points, this structure would not sit as deep as the reef. But yes definitely different accumulation on each side.

bukz's picture
bukz's picture
bukz commented Thursday, 1 Aug 2019 at 4:07pm

I've been thinking about this and you are actually wrong stunet. The pile of sand accumulating next to the structure can be only as high as the structure itself. Remember, the structure is under water sitting at wave breaking height. What happens to extra sand when thw South side fills in? Yes, it travels across the top of the narrow structure and lands (feeds) on the other side.

bukz's picture
bukz's picture
bukz commented Thursday, 1 Aug 2019 at 4:49pm

Updated version:

Sand catcher artificial surf reef structure, v2 gapped up https://imgur.com/gallery/Y8HEYNt

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 8:25pm

Would sink into the sand. No base. They did not build a huge base on the palmy reef just to spend spare cash.

Frogg

bukz's picture
bukz's picture
bukz commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 8:28pm

What about groynes? Heavier, super narrow and don't seem to sink over time.

dazzler's picture
dazzler's picture
dazzler commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 7:00pm

I watched from Burleigh Headland yesterday about 10.30 & it wasnt breaking.

Will it break when it fills in with sand in the normal 7 - 8 sec wind swell compared to ground swell?

bukz's picture
bukz's picture
bukz commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 7:11pm

We don't know, it's far from ready. That was an inconsistent but very strong swell, still pushing some bombs this morning. Short period swells would not even tickle it a.t.m.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 30 Jul 2019 at 12:40am

tbb briefly met the Council rep on-site today.
Council rep reminded that Reef prohibits surfing as it's still a work site!
Council LG Patrols Signed & Flagged Closed site! (Tsunami Stickers buy Gold pass!)

Sat 27th July . The Dredge took off due to incoming big swell.
Last big swell shuffled the ocean side rubble & silted over the top of Reef.
Rep said Dredge will attend to Narrowneck reef before returning to Palmy.

Reef height is finished & 80% complete only the rear (1-4 t Green Boulders to go)
1-2 weeks tops will finish it off in calmer seas.

Locals say while the dredge is away the whales return to play.
tbb saw 3 Whales in close playing by the reef today. First sighting for a long time!

Paddle out is long & deep on left gutter then Right is a shallow white out to shore.

Yes the Reef is very shallow! Locals say boulders often sat above water line.
Council rep tried to write it off by motioning it's waist deep...(He convinced no one!)
Also he explained that top dressing of gaps in boulders will make it safer.
Low tide is ankle deep & Surfers straddle gaps to jump off onto the Right.

The Reef doesn't tolerate onshore wind - Premature breaking waves splosh the reef.
Anything over 10 knots & waves couch potato the reef & hog the TV...(take a hint!)

The fav' tide is mid-outgoing as this stokes up the right shoulder for backdoors.
The deeper drop off pulls up the ride. Surfers prone paddle to link reform. Yeah! Nah!
Low tide buys 2 wind ups for a big ramp off the closeout. (Oddly lacking Power!)
Short rides return surfers to right lineup before next set so a crew of 5 are a crowd!

Left just backs down & skips. Needs to build up a bank up a brighter future!

PB Reef surf report is via 7/11 > $1 coffee buys 15mins [P] ...(Wanna hit the reef?)
Reef [P] is packed am/high-mid tide (Try) School [P] a/h + weekends > 350m walk!

I'm sure when offshore lines up swell angle...(Ballbagz Jump-offs bloopers).

bukz's picture
bukz's picture
bukz commented Tuesday, 30 Jul 2019 at 8:41am

We didn't see sand build up around the reef at narrow neck, why would it happen here on deeper waters? They were supposed to finish it in October. It's only July and it's already finished? Looks like a half arsed job.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 30 Jul 2019 at 10:35am

Yeah! Let's talk about Qld / Gold Coast breakwalls... (D'bah=Tweed NSW)

"Gold Coast Iconic Rockwall Surfbreaks Encyclopedia".

Tweed breakwall bypass buried GC #1 Greenmount Point (TRSBP a WSR criminal!)
Kirra Groyne is best described as an ongoing money pit that killed iconic Kirra Point
Little Groyne was a short blast of fun but is buried,gone & forgotten
Sausage Groyne also got the Chop
Currumbin South Groyne is forever clogged up
Currumbin North Groyne stole Palm Beach bottomed out & has no waves to speak of.
Palmy South/North Groynes once put out but no longer venture down for a swim.
Talle Ck Groyne = Stage 1 shaped up Talle Left Point - Stage 2 starved all North Lefts.
Seaway Walls were fun but run too deep & Wall Left grows shorter by the minute.

All our High & Dry Points were long ago re-gazetted as glorified beach breaks.
Our Bombies smothered by dead cat speed bump reefs ramping new Big Air Runway.

GCCC flush our rates, sandblast any new banks & iron out any sign of rising wave.

We all desperately wish for a return to Surfing's Golden Years.
All hail Palm Beach Reef as next messiah or is 'Ball Bagz' just another naughty boy?

billie's picture
billie's picture
billie commented Tuesday, 30 Jul 2019 at 12:57pm

That looks spookily similar to Long Reef Bombora (or bommie suck or whatever the young fellas call it). Even the bank on the inside looks similar.

Billie

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 30 Jul 2019 at 5:46pm

23rd May 2019 ...Palm Beach Surfer overshadowed by The Machiavelli.
Photo by Jo Bear ...big thanx from the crew! Love yer photos Jo!
https://picgardens.com/media-Bx0iu_BlxaM/

hughie's picture
hughie's picture
hughie commented Tuesday, 30 Jul 2019 at 8:46pm

I don’t have much faith that the new Reef is helping the banks from 21st to 27th ave.
25th ave which is fairly consistent is looking atrocious
Pre Reef , everyone is spread across the banks of palmy
If all we have left is the Reef then it will be a shit fight

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Wednesday, 31 Jul 2019 at 10:24am

Hughie, banks will come and go. The Palmy reef will shift things around in unknown ways but, as a general rule, with straight beaches, disruption to sand flows and wave patterns is good for bank formation. Straight swells and straight banks are the worst. The banks may shift around as a result of the reef but will still tend to form somewhere if that was the "normal" historically.

Some beaches seem to "want" banks to "manage" water flows. Some fight them and keep reverting to straightness unless forced otherwise by storms.

Hopefully they don't over flood the area with pumped sand though and swamp the normal kinks and gutters.

Frogg

quokka's picture
quokka's picture
quokka commented Thursday, 1 Aug 2019 at 4:35pm

"Some beaches seem to "want" banks to "manage" water flows. Some fight them and keep reverting to straightness unless forced otherwise by storms."

Perth beaches are prime example frog. I'd love one of these off our northern beaches, anything to break up the straightness!
We have a good swell running today and it's being completely wasted by km's of straightness.

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Sunday, 4 Aug 2019 at 8:31am

Perth city beaches are low energy with mostly straight swells. Perfect for a steady grooming of the banks in to a nice long closeout. From what I've read past local currents and wind blown sand used to create banks there but now that is all stablised by man, there is nothing but the swell action to disturb them. Reefs there would work but would need the rock to do most of the work. To get a good, long wave would take a lot of rock.

Whereas at Palmy (Basher's Ball Bag Reef) the north moving slow river of sand flowing up the coast creates the possibility of a sand build up. A best case outcome would be a sandbar improving and extending the reef wave.

I reckon there could be a reef design that creates a permanent rip through the reef that would help move the sand favourably in any beach type assisting in building sand out off the end. Perhaps a V shape with a gap as the peak of the V so water build up inside tends to move out under the shelter of the reef and through the gap. If something like that worked much lower cost reef could be built to benefit erosion and surfers.

Get testing GCC or someone.

Frogg

philosurphizingkerching's picture
philosurphizingkerching's picture
philosurphizing... commented Sunday, 4 Aug 2019 at 10:38am
frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Sunday, 4 Aug 2019 at 11:01am

Read a paper and looked at the piccies for Narrowneck. The Narrowneck reef shows how a lot of work (money) can produce very little. Palmy has more hope and at least will produce inside wedges.

Frogg

quokka's picture
quokka's picture
quokka commented Tuesday, 13 Aug 2019 at 6:47pm

Yep dune stabilisation has assisted greatly in ruining the little quality surf Perth used to get. I'm not after a long wave just something that doesn't cloesout 95% of the time. Anything to create some gutters. There's a a cpouple of spots on the northern beaches that have rock on the shoreline and whenever they get uncovered a channel forms and hey presto there are usually waves.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Wednesday, 31 Jul 2019 at 12:38pm

Palm Beach Reef (Basic Tool Box)

GCCC Palm Beach Reef Websites
http://www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/palm-beach-shoreline-project-46031.html

https://beachesgoldcoast.com.au/projects/palm-beach-shoreline-project/

GCCC Live Hourly Timelapse Cam
http://www.livetimelapse.com.au/clients/city-of-gold-coast/palm-beach/if...

Reef worksite Promo complete with Message from Mayor.
https://www.facebook.com/7NEWSGoldCoast/videos/1276122889217803/

Overhead Palm Beach Cam [Frame 2- Distant view] Archive of Reef-vessels
http://ci.wrl.unsw.edu.au/current-projects/central-gold-coast-palm-beach...

Rainbow Dredge Sand Load counts in & around Reef (Phase 1)
http://www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/gold-coast-beach-nourishment-38539.html

Sand Levels (Post > Phase 1) [Best for Reef Wave Shape] * tbb Recommended.
http://www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/_images/sand-levels-post-palm-beach-nour...

Palm Beach Phases 3 + 4 ...*tbb recommended (Yellow = Pumped sand Cape + Bommie)
https://www.smh.com.au/content/dam/images/4/e/3/a/5/image.imgtype.videoT...
https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/20-million-artifici...

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Thursday, 1 Aug 2019 at 2:10pm
yocal's picture
yocal's picture
yocal commented Thursday, 1 Aug 2019 at 9:31am

"waves couch potato the reef & hog the TV...(take a hint!)"

Best analogy ever TB

Go deeper Taylor, go deeper!

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Monday, 5 Aug 2019 at 9:39am

Sunday Morning 4th Aug...2 separate tugs tow 2 barge loads.(1-4t boulders)
This odd double Sunday dump must be close to being the last drop offs?
Monday Morning 5th Aug...(calmer seas) the dredge returns to Reef.

'Frog' raises a good point in that a shallow Reef should act as a tidal weir.
North Burleigh iconic Rainbow Bank traps the tide until it escapes around Headland.

PB Reef (weir) could harness sweep with tide to stoke up a rising reverse flow left.
In doing so, brewing up chunky inside pits amidst the boiling undertow.
Once tide is low enough the lot rushes the Reef to stoke up a rip bank on the Right.

Regardless of Reef shape & size it's the shallow nature that offers up wave options.
Reef wave options care less of wave size but more on tide charts & swell direction.
Crew will agree PB surfers speak mostly of Reef tides & depth seldom wave height.
tbb has also informed that wind/s can kill off a reef break sooner than a beach break.

Palm Beach reef will be fussy, so milk them tides before the onshore kicks in...Durr!
Ok! tbb realizes that's the same plan every local surfer has adopted...Sorry crew!

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Friday, 9 Aug 2019 at 2:06pm

GCCC whiteshoe Palmy A Line wall now 10 stories with penthouses & carpet bowls.

https://image-store.slidesharecdn.com/5bd7b629-1f5c-4ab4-92e2-fadf685520...
https://scontent.fbne5-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/29062930_203002655394063...

https://www.facebook.com/savepalmbeachqld/

https://www.theweeklysource.com.au/regis-splashes-12-1m-prestigious-beac...

x\\x Ball Bagz Reef x//x > { Hodads Reef } [IRONING BOARDS ONLY] [ No Gromz ]

Lets hear from Whiteshoe City Fire Chief...
"So waves crash thru here with bedridden trapped up there & we rescue wot where?"

Mayor's message : "The Reef will provide shade for the whole of Palm Beach."

Guess that's a firm "No" from the Mayor for the Palm Beach Oceanway.

Smorto's picture
Smorto's picture
Smorto commented Friday, 9 Aug 2019 at 8:34pm

.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Friday, 9 Aug 2019 at 9:07pm

History records Palm Beach as most greedy with beach encroachment (see hi-rise).

Smorto is right on all accounts but development equally differs on many fronts.

For a start should wealthiest or healthiest live in aged care upper units?

Emergency services warn of dangers in cramming invalids into Hi Rises.
Perhaps a care plan where the fittest rise to the top & bedridden reside ground floor.
In market place the wealthiest rise to the top. Ones health is without judgement.

Council place Hi-Rise evacuation low on list so the evacuation plan is slowest in Oz.
Imagine timing High Rise elderly fire drill (No lifts) ..2-3-4 hrs...Good'nuff (Pass!)

How is it even fair to ask the Fire Brigade to evacuate a Hi Rise of frail elderly ?
Absolute Beachfront Hi-rise also denies balcony fire access for the Fire Brigade.
PB Aged Care Hi-Rise is also amongst the farthest from a Fire Station...(Just kill me!)
By far he most dangerous thoughtless selfish aged care development in Oz .
Best case scenario is a recipe for disaster.(Everything is alarmingly wrong!)

Palm Beach is only town without a Bowls Club & SLSC / Tower is closed over winter.
Hi-rise of elderly patients emptying out onto non-patrolled beach.(Drowning Risk!)
Staff will be a bundle of nerves every roll count...If he's not on the beach then where?

As there is no Oceanway this only leaves a North< >South narrow footpath on Hwy.
I doubt if any Age care facility recommends GC Hwy walkies as a safe pastime.

PB Hi-rise is also the tallest, closest to surf-line than any GC building past & present.
If any are in doubt it only takes about 2 mins to check on Google Maps.
Precedent is of 1: 00 pm shadow for all Dune Habitat (Half the day cycle of critters)

Northern High Rise beach bars are drooling at the prospect of beach encroachment.

tbb was a '60 / 70's Palmy Local & recalls turtle watching up this end of Palmy.
Qld Govt would never approve of bank of lights so close to Turtles in other towns.

This is a death star on all fronts for elderly residents,beach lovers & sea critters.

[Disclaimer] tbb has no contacts or links to any concerning this development site.
Links & observations are for civic awareness & studies surrounding Palm Beach Reef.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Monday, 19 Aug 2019 at 1:32pm

Palm Beach Artificial Reef sounds nerdy...swellnet & Palmy locals lend new names.

Stu's Reef on account he summoned up the 1st swells to break on Reef.
Kelly's Door Mat as his private oceanway opens out onto to Nasa Palmy Launch Slab.
Dutto's Dole Mine -Dutto dole'cardz the bludgerz surfing his Palmy sea mine defence.
Ball Bagz Reef on account of gnarly bottom turn may cost a bloke his family jewels.
Mayor's Malibooboo as Mayor wishes to hit exposed Reef with his Mal. (Live in hope!)

swellnet crew will respectfully share a Reef title that tributes a Palmy senior Grom.
https://insta.redditcim.xyz/media/2075980778214460487/BzPXYTOAwxH

Luke 'Chippa' Hansen {r.i.p} 26/8/1993 ~ 16/6/2019....' Chippa's Reef '
Responses:
"Can't wait to Chip into a couple"
"Fkn oath lad"
"Palmy as all Fuck"
https://au.news.yahoo.com/gold-coast-man-killed-after-being-hit-by-car-w...

70's Palmy grom tbb swears that's about as Palmy as it gets & it is what it is.
Respect to driver & families of the many affected, a case of live fast-die young!