Surf pumping at Currumbin Alley, one of the famous breaks that make up part of Gold Coast's surfing reserve.
Surf pumping at Currumbin Alley, one of the famous breaks that make up part of Gold Coast's surfing reserve. Steve Triance

Surfing legends create waves for the future

FORMER surfing world champion Wayne "Rabbit” Bartholomew has seen a lot of changes on the coastal strip but hopes a push for sustainability will produce only positive results.

The Gold Coast region, which was added as the world's eighth surfing reserve in March 2016, will be in the world spotlight for the inaugural International Surfing Symposium at Currumbin next month.

The 1978 world champion will provide anecdotal evidence of key changes he's witnessed over 50-plus years of surfing.

"I started surfing Kirra before there were groins and I've been a witness to all the mods the Gold Coast has been through,” Bartholomew said.

"The place is a world-famous surfing destination and (the symposium) is a great movement.

"I always thought it was a no-brainer for the Gold Coast to be designated as a world surfing reserve.”

Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew in action during Round two of the Grand Masters at the SuperSurf ASP Masters Championship in Arpoador, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2011.
Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew in action during Round two of the Grand Masters at the SuperSurf ASP Masters Championship in Arpoador, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2011. KELLY CESTARI

Joining Bartholomew will be the likes of Gold Coast Surfing Reserve chairman Andrew McKinnon, Peter Townend, Brad Gerlach, free-surfer Dave Rastovich and key academics, who'll cover topics including eco surfing, beaches and surfing amenities management, the 2020 Olympics, social media's impact and sharks over the two-day conference.

Bartholomew was the original Cooly Kid and, along with Townend, McKinnon and Michael Petersen, paved the way for future Coolangatta superstars Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson and Dean Morrison.

Bartholomew was front and centre in the 1970s when sand, pooling on the Coolangatta side of Kirra's rock groin, formed a natural bank.

He also saw Kirra's revolution after artificial sand-dredging from 2002 formed the Super Bank.

"I've found that many of the world's best waves are measured by Kirra,” Bartholomew said.

"I'll go to Mexico, California, and they'll say at a particular time of year they'll get a sand bank and it's just like Kirra. We also have Burleigh, Snapper Rocks and other world-famous breaks.”

Bartholomew said the coast had been lucky with Duranbah and South Stradbroke Island's breaks being formed after trade wall extensions, but impacts due to erosion and a reliance on sand needed addressing.

"The symposium will bring a lot of education, which is a big part of making the right decisions, identifying potential mistakes and not making those mistakes again in the future,” he said.



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