"I feel sad that surfers will be the ones behind the bulldozers, erasing this wildlife, this bush from history."
Two years ago, the pro-environment and wildlife advocate Kelly Slater “urged” the Queensland government to approve a one-billion dollar wavepool, eco-resort and real real estate development.
“This wave would become somewhat of a mecca and put the Sunshine Coast back on the (surfing) map,” Kelly Slater said. “It will bring a lot of interest to the area and it will be a place that I know a lot of people are going to want to surf and have an ongoing impact on the local area.”
The proposal included a Surf Ranch wrapped in a 20,000-person stadium, a six-star eco-resort, restaurants, bars, a retail village and “an environmental education centre based on the site’s wetlands and nearby waterways.”
Unfortunately, the proposed site was on some of the most flood-affected land on the Sunshine Coast and “was a natural storage area providing downstream protection during major flood events” according to a local councillor.
When there was pushback from locals, the developer said unless government red tape was slashed and the project bathed in green light they’d move the development to the Gold Coast, a couple hundred clicks south.
Consolidated Properties’ Don O’Rorke, who “donated the land and a half-a-million dollars for the Hurley HPC in Casuarina and was subsequently made a life member of Surfing Australia” said concerns the joint was on a flood-plain were unfounded and pointed out that heavy rains didn’t affect the site.
Anyway, much back and forthing and the high point of the whole thing, I think, was the late Steve Shearer’s terrific reporting.
I put boots on the ground at the site. I know this country very well. It’s in my blood. My people come from the Queensland cane swamps. They are Danes, Swedes, Sicilians.
They would understand the necessity of bulldozing the bush to make way for jobs. But I do not. The developer’s eye eludes me. I see trees and bush. Birds, insects, frogs. I feel sad that surfers will be the ones behind the bulldozers, erasing this wildlife, this bush from history.
From what I can see though, although there is ambivalence, distrust and even hostility to the Coolum wave pool development, that is unlikely to stop the bulldozers.
The greenwashing on the project will be immense. Next level.
But I wonder, when Kelly thinks about what is being done in his name and looks in the mirror, does he still see an environmentalist looking back at him?
Anyway, the Kelly Slater wavepool has come to naught, as they say, Consolidated Properties’ Don O’Rorke selling the 300 acres of cursed dirt for six million dollars to the Queensland government.
It’s part of the gov’s plan to protect natural flood plains with the land now used for rural or agriculture, for the generation of renewable energy and for public open space.
O’Rorke said he was “obviously disappointed” with shelving of the Kelly Slater pool and real estate play but “we do understand Sunshine Coast Council’s strong desire to protect flood plain capacity and maintain these lands in public hands in perpetuity.”