Port Macquarie surf spot, Australia’s ‘bodyboarding capital’, fears threat from breakwater upgrade
Port Macquarie is known as Australia’s ‘bodyboarding capital’, home to a unique surfing spot, but locals fear it is under threat from repairs to its neighboring breakwater.
Three-time world bodyboarding champion Damian King of Port Macquarie grew up wall surfing.
“He’s been promoted not just in Port Macquarie, but in New South Wales and Australia, and even around the world.
“It helped me do what I did and helped the generation before me and after me.”
The New South Wales government plans to upgrade the breakwater wall, which runs alongside the Hastings River, to repair and stabilize the structure and meet current safety and accessibility guidelines.
The surfing community fears the works will change the shape at the end of the wall and impact the iconic surf spot.
The government is seeking public comment on the proposal, and a crowd from the surfing community turned out for a community session this week.
Scott Lawrence of Port Macquarie Boardriders said changes to breeze walls in other areas had an impact on surf spots.
“We’ve had feedback from other places like Tuncurry Breakwater and Ballina Breakwater where they’ve changed the front of the walls and [riders say] it ruined the wave that was there,” he said.
Is the breaking wave threatened?
Professor Rob Brander, a beach safety researcher at the University of New South Wales, said he thought the surf break would not be affected too much.
“Anytime you build something on the coast and change the shape of something, it will always have a feedback effect on waves and currents,” he said.
“But that said, looking at the design, it’s not too different from what’s in place.
“I think extending it and making it wider will probably just move the break.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Transport for NSW said the “proposed rock placement does not extend into the adjacent river or ocean floor” and that “the footprint of the breaker head -blades will remain unchanged”.
The spokesperson said maintenance work on the breakwater wall was also undertaken in 2015 and “surfers continued to enjoy surf breaks” once the work was completed.
Concern over loss of ‘iconic’ rocks
There are also concerns about the proposed removal of existing rocks along the breakwater which are covered in personal artwork.
Transport for NSW said the repairs required the graffitied rocks to be replaced and some “reused”.
Pam Green said she treasures a painted rock in memory of her late husband, Ian Green, who was an Ironman triathlon legend.
Mr Green died while competing in the Ironman swimming event in 2007.
The memorial rock was painted the following year.
“It would be really disastrous for me [to lose it].”
Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams said there would be an opportunity for new rock art.
The Transport for NSW spokesperson said it would aim to archive the history of the art wall.
“We will be capturing graffiti images and stories before work begins on the breakwater wall,” the spokesperson said.