Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypass Project (TRESBP)

The Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypass Project (TRESBP) began in 2001, and has seen millions of cubic metres of sand moved out of the river entrance, and pumped to the southern Gold Coast beaches.

Infrastructure for Sand Bypass Project on the south side of Tweed River entrance

The advantages of the Project are in maintaining a navigable entrance to the Tweed River, and to replenish sand to the southern Gold Coast beaches, which had previously lost sand due to erosion during storms.

The majority of the sand pumped from the river entrance has been allocated to Snapper Rocks. As a result, there are now two new, small beaches here, in place of rocks - Snapper Rocks Beach, and Froggies Beach (so coined by the surfing fraternity). Refer to map below.

However, the TRESBP has not been without controversy, and has provided upset in two key areas.

Impact on Southern Gold Coast Beaches

The first controversy is with the changes to the southern Gold Coast beaches.

Prior to 2001, Rainbow Bay, Greenmount, and Coolangatta were very popular with young families. These beaches had crescent shaped shorelines between the headlands, which provided protected swimming conditions.

However, as a result of the TRESBP, the southern Gold Coast beaches are now considerably wider than they’ve been before (…well, at least since the 1960s). The crescent shapes are gone, and the beaches have effectively been moved out of the protection of the headlands - it now takes a further 50-100 metres walking across sand to reach the water.

Rainbow Bay Beach, on Queensland?s Gold Coast TQ Aerial View of Rainbow Bay Beach at Coolangatta TQ

Impact on Gold Coast Surfing Community

The second controversy has been with regards to the impact on the surfing community.

There are several factors that impact the quality of waves for surfing - such as ocean swell, local winds, and the tides. However, one of the key factors that affects how the wave rolls is the sand contours (or topography) of the ocean bed.

Kirra Point was, up until 2001, recognised as being the #1 surfing spot in Australia, due to the consistent quality of its barrel waves.

This changed at the end of 2001, when the TRESBP commenced, and the sand contours of Kirra Point changed.

However, on the plus side, there was a significant and entirely unexpected benefit for surfers from the TRESBP...

The millions of cubic metres of sand that were pumped by the TRESBP began to build up a massive sand bank along the back of the southern coast beaches - Snapper Rocks, Rainbow Bay, Greenmount, Coolangatta and Kirra.

This sand bank produced an amazing quality of wave, and quickly became an international legend in the surfing world. It was named accordingly, 'the Superbank'.

The Superbank was a world-class surf break with long, hollow barrels that could provide a single wave ride of up to two kilometres. It drew surfers far and wide, and rapidly became one of the top surfing spots.

The Superbank was named #2 in the top 101 surfing spots in Australia in 2006, as voted by a panel of 30 of Australia’s best surfers, surveyed by Tracks magazine. (Kirra Point was named #1, although the editors commented that it was probably voted in first place on the basis of voters' fond memories of the past, not based on actual surfing conditions at the time of the survey.)

However, the TRESBP stops for no man... or surfer, and continued to pump sand slurry from the Tweed River entrance. And so the sand contours of the southern Gold Coast beaches continued to change... And the Superbank's moment of glory passed. And, whilst there are still sand banks that provide good surfing, it is nowhere like the consistent good quality waves that rolled in during the first few years of the TRESBP's operation.

What's Next?

The story is not yet over... The surfing community has been campaigning for years to 'bring back Kirra', and are working with councils to see what can be done to restore the surf quality at Kirra Point to its former glory. This is still in process.

And when the next cyclone or major storm event occurs on the Gold Coast€ - and it will happen eventually - it is hoped that it will capture large amounts of sand from the southern beaches and push it towards the northern beaches. In this scenario, the impact may well result to an improvement in the southern Gold Coast beaches, and their sand contours that are so essential to producing the perfect wave.

Who knows - the Superbank may yet see a comeback!

The New South Wales and Queensland Governments provide further information and statistics regarding the Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypassing Project at this link.

Map of Tweed River Entrance

View Tweed River Entrance in a larger map

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Surfers Paradise Beach, Gold Coast TQ
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Boy on Boogyboard at Greenmount Beach TQ
Surfers at Coolangatta, Gold Coast TQ
Building Sandcastles on Greenmount Beach TQ
Beach Cricket on Greenmount Beach, Coolangatta TQ
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