THE GREAT: Michael Peterson surfs Kirra in 1975.
THE GREAT: Michael Peterson surfs Kirra in 1975. Martin Tullemans

Groundswell for Big Groyne

BIG Groyne Kirra is back on the radar and open to discussion on which option could best serve up the legendary Kirra barrels.

The question is: will replacing the 30 metres removed from the artificial groyne in late 1996 help to bring back those famous Kirra Point kegs?

Recently, the Queensland Government announced a detailed study from the Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypassing Project (TRESBP), outlining the sand flow and management of the system.

It ventured four options for the public to consider:

North Kirra outlet;

Dredging offshore between Coolangatta/Bilinga Tugun;

Kingscliff sand rescue; and

Sand back passing for Letitia Spit and D'Bah.

All those options have a great deal of merit, bar the North Kirra outlet option, which is not popular and would deprive Snapper Rocks and the SuperBank. The cost of a North Kirra outlet has been priced at between $4 and $7 million.

However, the most noticeable option not considered for Kirra was extending the Big Groyne to its original length.

Initially, TRESBP had viewed three options for the Kirra Groyne situation, in light of sand movement, but not necessarily surfing success. The three options were:

Do nothing and allow the sand to be pumped as it is, with the hope that either a cyclone will reshape the banks or we have to be content with those one-off days like in May 2009 or February 2011, when everything lines up for one day of the year.

Completely remove the groyne and go back to the old days: Deputy Mayor Peter Turner was keen to remove the Big Groyne in 1996 prior to the sand pumping and managed to take off between 10 and 15 metres. Council engineers told me it was an incredibly difficult and dangerous job and stopped well short of completion. Removing Big Groyne is like removing a high rise; its infrastructure set in concrete.

Replace the rocks taken off the front of Big Groyne. This could now be done with geotextile bags, similar to those used for the artificial reef at Narrow Neck. During the 1990s, Gold Coast Mayor Gary Baildon proposed to build an artificial headland for Narrow Neck, which was subsequently opposed by beach walkers and hence the reef at the Neck was built to buffet the erosion.

Building back the Big Groyne at Kirra could work, like Baildon's artificial headland, to create an attraction for spectators to enjoy the view, cast a fishing line and, with any luck, improve the surf consistency at Kirra Point, with swell refracting off the Big Groyne and curving into the southern bay.

In 2004, I was opposed to replacing the Big Groyne and was keen on removing it all together, but I now realise this ain't going to ever happen. The 'do nothing' option is really no answer at all.

There is no guarantee that replacing the front of Big Groyne could work like the old days. But what if it could?

There seems to be (excuse the pun) a groundswell of opinion to bring back Big Groyne.

Most surfers view this as the most appealing option to improve Kirra.

I know the locals are getting restless on this issue. Check out: derm.qld.gov.au or tweedsandbypass.nsw.gov.au.



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