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Australia's First Surf Park Will Finally Start Pumping Out Waves This Easter

Landlocked surfers, rejoice — Melbourne's urban surf park is set to open later this year.
By Jasmine Crittenden
February 06, 2019
By Jasmine Crittenden
February 06, 2019

Surfers of Melbourne — all 300,000 of you — don't go anywhere. Come Easter, the first waves will be rolling through Australia's very first surf park. And, no, you won't have to drive all the way out to Torquay or the Peninsula.

Instead, Urbnsurf Melbourne will be located on a huge site in Tullamarine, just near the airport. Plans for the park first surfaced way back in 2016, and Urbnsurf has today announced that the park has installed its wave generator. That means it will be pumping out surf by April, with a view to be open to the public by spring this year.

At the moment, the site is still a hole in the ground — but when it opens, the two-hectare lagoon will power up to 1000 waves per hour, day and night. And you'll get a choice of waves. Want to ride nothing but perfectly-formed right-handers for an hour? Or would you prefer a random selection, like what you'd experience in the ocean? You'll be able to take your pick. According to Urbnsurf founder Andrew Ross, "every wave has six different take-off spots", which equates to 3600 surfable positions every hour.

The waves are created by Wavegarden technology, which was developed by a Spanish engineering firm of the same name. So how does it work? Basically, the waves come from an 85-metre pier that runs down the centre of the lagoon (which you can see in the image below). A series of pistons located on the pier then push the water to the left, then to the right, to create the waves. Ross likens the movement to "moving your hand back and forward like a shark's tail".

The Urbnsurf lagoon under construction.

If you're worried about the amount of energy needed to drive such an operation, take comfort in the fact that Urbnsurf aims to run on 100 percent renewables within the first 12 months of opening. From the get-go, the rest of the facility's built environment — which includes a beach club, loads of eateries and a retail space — will be partially solar powered (with the rest sourced from renewable sources), and water will be sourced from storm water stores near the airport before being treated and filtered.

Once the lagoon is filled, the team will then enter a testing period — if you're a keen surfer, you can sign up to give it a test drive before the park opens to the public in spring this year. The ability to create waves means that the park will be built for both pros who are looking for steep, barrelling waves and novices looking for a safe place to get their start in the surf.

"Becoming a great surfer is all about getting waves under your feet," says Ross. "But, in Melbourne, the nearest waves are over an hour away. Unless you set up your life so you can get down there regularly, it's difficult to progress as a surfer, without dedicating decades of your life to it."

At Urbnsurf, Ross predicts, most novices will stand on their board within an hour and ride across the green face within two. And not only will you get guaranteed waves — you won't be fighting for them. The park holds 84 riders per hour. And, should you get seriously hooked, you'll be able to enter amateur competitions, maybe with (or against) your mates.

When completed, it will be the fourth commercial wave park in the world, and the first in Australia. But not for long. Urbnsurf has already has plans for a Sydney park approved, and it's also lodging a development application for a site in Perth. Another park has also been proposed for regional Queensland.

Urbnsurf is due to open in spring 2019 near Melbourne Airport. You can sign up to test out the surf park before it opens on the website.

Top image: Wavegarden San Sebastian, by Ed Sloane. All images courtesy Urbnsurf. 

Published on February 06, 2019 by Jasmine Crittenden
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