Perth To Get Wavepool
The largest surf park in the southern hemisphere with 150-metre-long waves and the potential for "beast mode" surf will be built in Perth with special government assistance to guide it through the regulatory process.
Planning Minister Rita Saffioti was adamant that even though the wave park — on state government land next to Kwinana Freeway in Cockburn — had been given "state significant project" status, there would still be rigorous environmental and other assessments.
The state government and project proponent Aventuur have signed a 21-year lease agreement for the project, with the option to extend it for another 17 years.
Ms Saffioti and Aventuur said the park would provide consistent and quality waves for the almost 300,000 wave-starved surfers who contend with often "awful" surf in the metropolitan area, and also be a significant drawcard for interstate and international visitors.
Cost and time frame blow out
Aventuur confirmed the price had blown out by $20 million to $100 million, to be funded by private equity, because of higher construction costs. It also confirmed the timeline for it to open to the public with surfable waves had been pushed back by six months to early 2025.
The company was announced as the developer and operator in September last year after a competitive tender, with URBNSURF, which built the Melbourne wave pool, also in competition for the Perth site.
URBNSURF had initially planned to build a $30 million surf pool on parkland at the riverside suburb of Alfred Cove, south of Perth's CBD. But that met with intense opposition from parts of the local community, and in March 2019 the WA Government rejected a request to hand over Crown land for the project.
'Surfing's deeply ingrained in Perth culture'
A little over a year later, the founder of URBNSURF Andrew Ross left the company and joined Aventuur, which has also now won the rights to the "Wavegarden" technology which powers the Melbourne wave pool.
Mr Ross, the chairman of Aventuur, today described signing of the lease agreement for the surf park as a "major milestone" for Aventuur's project.
"Surfing's deeply ingrained in the Perth culture," he said. "But to be a Perth surfer is actually a very challenging career choice. We often have pretty awful waves, conditions of lull, we have very busy line-ups when the waves are good. We also have obviously marine hazards which float up and down the coast from time to time."
"So the Perth surf park will be a a game changer in that respect allowing perfect waves for everyone from absolute beginners, all the way through to professional surfers."
Mr Ross presented Ms Saffioti with a custom-made, locally-shaped twin fin surfboard, which she promised to one day ride.
Project subject to 'rigorous' assessment
Ms Saffioti said that state significant project status mean government agencies would work with Aventuur to support and "guide" it through the regulatory approvals. But she stressed no environmental or other corners would be cut and it would be a "rigorous" process."
"This agreement for lease now allows the company to seek and receive developmental approval, it will also help them in respect to their financing and that lease will come into play once that surf park is actually built," Ms Saffioti said.
Piston power equal to South Korean wave park
The wave park will also have food outlets, a beach club and an entertainment hub. There will be a choice in wave size and intensity from small beginner surf to hollow, barrelling two-metre advanced waves, with "beast mode" the most challenging and dangerous level.
The waves are created by 56 pistons, equal to a wave park in South Korea, which push out water into either side of a pier in a fan shape for rides up to 150 metres and 18 seconds long. The Melbourne wave park has 46 pistons and will be 30-40 metres shorter.
Mr Ross said in "beast mode" the last 15-20 pistons push out water all at once, creating a powerful wedge of water with a big, deep barrel. He compared it to an infamous, and much, much larger wave off WA's south coast called "The Right", pointing out he had split his lip surfing in "beast mode".
But at the same time, Mr Ross assured the wave pool would be safe and, unlike surfing a remote surf spot, there was medical help at hand.
He explained the wave pool used the same amount of water as for three holes at a golf course per year, which would need to be topped up for evaporation, especially in summer. Prices for a one-hour session would likely range from $50 to $120, for the beast mode.
Aventuur hopes to be granted developmental approval in the next couple of months, with the first waves pumping through by the end of 2024 and open to the general public in early 2025.
It estimates the wave park will attract 300,000 visitors annually and contribute $250 million to the state economy over the life of the project.
// NICOLAS PERPITCH
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