'Breakwall' Under Threat
It's a situation that has faint echoes of Sebastian Inlet, Florida. Decades ago a breakwall was built to stabilise a rivermouth with the unintended side effect of creating a good wave, which in turn spawned a vibrant and competitive surf culture. Now the breakwall needs to be maintained, Port Macquarie surfers are hoping their story doesn't end like Sebastian's did - with a ruined wave and a culture in tatters.
The southern training wall of the Hastings river in Port Macquarie is simply known to the local surfing community as 'Breakwall'.
The iconic break, which all but raised three-times bodyboard champ Damian King and nourished the careers of countless other Breakwall groms who graduated to the professional boogin’ ranks over the decades may be under threat from a proposed new upgrade.
As per the New South Wales government Roads and Maritime services website:
“The Port Macquarie breakwall was built over a period of 40 years with completion in 1939. The last major maintenance was carried out on the head of the breakwall to repair damage caused by the 2015 major weather event.
"As part of the project early investigations, including underwater assessments and scans shows the southern breakwall is in need of major repairs. The rock has settled and shifted over time, creating voids which compromise the effectiveness and stability of the structure.
"A $205 million stimulus funding program was announced in November 2020 to invest in maritime infrastructure and safety upgrade projects across the state.
"The southern breakwall at Port Macquarie needs maintenance to extend this critical maritime infrastructure’s life.”
While officially there are no plans to tinker with the end of the wall where the world’s best onshore wave breaks, there's an increasing concern among the local surfing community that once work begins, extra ”alterations” will be deemed necessary and undertaken without community consent.
The Port Macquarie Bodyboard Association recently posted the following message on the socials, seemingly also very nervous that the proposed works could have a negative affect on the wave quality at Breakwall:
"The NSW government and Maritime has put foward plans to upgrade the breakwall. Although some parts of the breakwall do need maintenance, and widening of the path would benefit the foot traffic, the proposed changes could change the wave dramatically. At the end of the day, yes, it is just a wave, but this “wave” has given our town two world champion bodyboarders (@damianking2444 & @eppo1993 ), it’s given the “at risk youth” something to do and allowed so many more of us an opportunity to travel the world for the sport we love.
"We just recently ran our annual teams challenge at Breakwall and it was one of the better competitions we’ve run in years! Changing this wall and losing this wave will be a massive loss to our community so we ask you to follow the link and have your say to stop this from going forward. Share this around tell your friends, the more people that sign, the better our chances.
"Thank you everyone that gets involved."
Brody Brockman, a member of Port Macquarie Bodyboard Association, layed out the concerns about how the wave could be changed:
“They’ve been trying to change it for a few years now and back in 2016 we got enough people behind it to at least slow down planning. What they're proposing isn’t the worst thing, it’s where they want to do it. The wall walk is one of the key things to do in the town but with the amount of foot traffic it turns into Sydney at 4:30pm on a Thursday."
"The expansion of the footpath would be amazing but they want to put larger boulders on a less steep angle which will push the tides and the sand more out the middle rather than dumping it along the wall and infront of it. They also want to scatter larger rocks around the front of the wall to hold the weight of the new path to create a viewing platform, but if the waves are gone there’ll be nothing to view.”
The man who’s spent more time in the water at Breakwall than anyone, world champ Damian King had this to say about the situation and how local surfers can have there say:
“They are looking at redoing the breakwall which includes dropping a bunch of rocks around the breakwall head that could effect how the wave breaks for sure. Focus on the Orange Dots at the front of the Breakwall, they are dropping multiple boulders at the tip, which wasn’t discussed on the original paperwork.
"We need to get everyone to start filling in the 'Have Your Say' section on the website, as they are saying they only have feedback from fifty fisherman.
"We are meeting down at Breakwall 12pm Tuesday. It would be great to get as many people down there as possible.”
Concerned surfers can send their thoughts and opinions here: