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Beach Grit

Revealed: Taj Burrow gentrifies region!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Yallingup is one of the most popular places in the world!

Do you love the upward swing of economics? When, for example, young, wealthy, socially aware folk move into a depressed town, or neighborhood, and turn it all around? Like Venice Beach 20 years ago, Bondi 15 years ago, Highland Park, California yesterday.

Oh sure locals often get priced out but that’s a small price to pay for good coffee and innovative takes on gastropub fare.


And a story in today’s Australian Financial Review details how surf can lift a region from struggling to STRUGGLING! Shall we taste?

A study released on Monday by wave-chasing Sydney University academic and economist Sam Wills attempts to quantify the impact a quality surf break can have on a local economy.

By studying 5000 surf locations across 146 countries between 1992 and 2013, he and his team from the university’s School of Economics concluded that a perfect peak, peeling left-hander or freight-train right-hand reef break can add up to 2.2 percentage points a year to local gross domestic product.

Economic growth around the breaks was tracked via satellite images of night-time light emission, and by following population expansion over the same period. The theory was tested along with the influence on wave access and quality of wetsuit technology and climate patterns.

“We conducted four sets of experiments and they all confirm that good waves significantly increase growth, particularly after recent discoveries and during El Niño years [when better swells and winds prevail],” said Dr Sam Wills.

The University of Sydney research, entitled “Surfing a wave of economic growth”, has also yielded a list of Australia’s and the world’s fastest-growing surf breaks over the 21 years to 2013.

Nine of the 10 top Australian breaks are in the Margaret River-Yallingup region of Western Australia. Three of them – Rabbits, Isolators and Yallingup Beachbreak – also make the world’s top 10, after breaks in Costa Rica – a notable beneficiary of surf tourism – Peru, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Wow! The Marg River-Yallingup region is smoking it and why? I think Taj Burrow. I think Yallingup’s most famous export shined a very bright light on his hometown and now it is packed. The locals should throw him a parade! Serve him good coffee! Serve him a Japanese hot dog with wasabi aioli, bonito flakes, seaweed strips, and togarashi powder and house-made spaghetti with pork cheek, Fresno chile, and garlic.