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Gold Coast World Surf Reserve: latest on Coolangatta Sand Tunes Concert

16 August 19


"Maybe it’s not too late, like Woodstock, to find a more suitable venue?" 

From GCWSR chairman Andrew McKinnon: On behalf of Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve Inc., I would like to state that we are not in favour of the upcoming Sands Rappers Concert on Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3 rd. of November at Coolangatta Beach from Big Groyne Kirra to John Cunningham Lifeguard building. That’s ¾ of Coolangatta beach an area that’s over two football lengths.

We would prefer that an event of this size was in a more suitable less impacted area such as the example of Byron Blues Fest shifting their event to Tyagarah and Splendour on the Grass to Yelgun.

Both those events were originally in the Byron township but because of the sheer size were relocated to be far more successful.

Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve approves of beach events such as New Year’s celebrations at Surfers, National Surf lifesaving titles and the Quiksilver Pro with the Drop Festival. 

Councils Surf Management plan underpins the management of the World Surfing Reserve area Burleigh to Snapper Rocks and allows for the above events but allowing for a crowd of 35,000 crammed onto the beach in a caged off area is a different type of animal and one we cannot support.

Our very own Chair of Councils Advisory Group for the management of Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve Division 12 Councillor Pauline Young and fellow Southern End Councillor Division 14 Gail O’Neil voted against this proposal.

We are not against the concert and particularly young people having a good time at live music events. It’s the venue we object to. As teenager I’ve been to some awesome shows including watching Carlos Santana entertain a crowd of 50,000 in Hawaii’s Diamond Crater New Years Day celebration in 1972.

We are proud of what Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve stands for as the 8thWSR.  Currently we are preparing for one of the most significant International Ocean Conservation events ever held in Australia on the Southern Gold Coast, the 6thbiennial Global Wave Conference in February 2020 to be held at Gold Coast Campus Southern Cross University

However, this Sands event is not in line with the beliefs and values of a World Surfing Reserve. We are about preserving beach and surf enmity and while we acknowledge that the organisers are doing their best to mitigate the impact including building bridges across the fragile sandunes to avoid a repeat of crushing sand dunes during the Commonwealth Games, we would much prefer that a better venue was used for such a massive show that shouldn’t be on the beach. We were never consulted about this project and after meeting at Coolangatta this morning to discuss with organisers ways of minimizing the impact, there were a lot of unanswered questions. 

Why Coolangatta beach was chosen from any other beach in Australia was not answered adequately. Were other non-beach options considered? Ironically when Woodstock was organised the original site was opposed, and organisers had to relocate to Yasgurs Farm 6 weeks out to create one of the greatest concerts ever. I suggest that the organisers look for a replacement venue than on the beach. I feel for the locals and business that have been impacted. It’s unfortunate that the decision to go ahead was done without proper community consultation begging the question who benefits?

Maybe it’s not too late like Woodstock to find a more suitable venue.  The Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve will continue to advocate for better use of the beaches and maintain and celebrate its natural surfing attraction.

 - Written by Andrew McKinnon Chairman of Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve Inc.

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