Aussie firm hopes to ride wave of success with $187m surf park
An “insane” world-first, wave-generating surf pool near the Queensland town of Yeppoon – built in 2018 as a prototype by an Aussie start-up – could be open to the public by late 2022 if a $187 million development plan gets the nod.
Broadbeach-based company Surf Lakes built the eye-popping facility, which generates eight surfable waves every six seconds using a massive “plunger”, as an R&D site, but last month lodged an application with Livingstone Council to develop it as a year-round tourist attraction.
If approved, the company expects the facility to become “Central Queensland’s premier outdoor recreational and active tourism hub” that, once complete in 2031, will bring $17.4 million of ongoing benefits to the local economy and support 229 full-time, ongoing jobs.
In the development stages, it’s predicted to add about $39 million to the local economy and create 349 jobs.
Surf Lakes’ general manager of global operations and international media and marketing director Wayne Dart said the initial phase would include opening the site to the public with basic camping and “glamping” facilities, as well as pop-up food and beverage sites.
He said the next, $122 million stage would include a skate park, scuba “hole”, overflow lake, junior playground, solar farm and tourist park with 52 cabins and another 60 camp sites.
In the final stage, the company plans to add 100 short-term accommodation beds, a 75-bed boutique hotel and a village green, as well as an inflatable water aqua park and café and restaurant.
“It’s envisaged to be a huge tourist drawcard for the Capricorn Coast and Rockhampton regions,” Mr Dart said.
An economic report submitted with the application explained how the project would increase tourism output in the council area by 15 per cent, grow full-time employment by 20 per cent and grow tourism economy by 14 per cent.
“We think Surf Lakes Yeppoon would attract 272,000 visitors around 2026 and 83 per cent would be for the surfing experience. This would generate an estimated additional 31,000 visitor nights in the Livingstone Shire, creating $4.5 million in additional expenditure.”
Once fully developed in 2031, the facility would attract an estimated 495,000 visitors, with 74,000 visitor nights, growing to $10.9 million in additional expenditure.
Planning and design company, Place Design Group, the outfit behind the $36 million revitalisation of the Rockhampton riverfront and $53 million Yeppoon lagoon have partnered with Surf Lakes to deliver the planning and approvals, Mr Dart said.
As well as a commercial operation, the operation would give Surf Lakes a way to stress-test and showcase the wave-making technology’s reliability and financial viability, as it looks to sell it to the world.
The “turnkey” product – the construction of a functioning surf lake – comes with a US$38 million price tag and that’s without factoring in the cost of the water, land or any development around it.
Mr Dart, a keen surfer who described the sensation of riding waves at the site as “insane”, said the company had already signed exclusive territory deals with potential licensees in Texas, California, Nevada, Tennessee and Hawaii. And it’s talking to a number of interest parties across Australia, too.
He said buyers generally fall into one of three categories; individual, surf-loving entrepreneurs, residential and commercial property developers or existing water/tourist park operators.
“From a commercial perspective, being able to produce 2000 consistent rides an hour using the unique plunger technology puts us head and shoulders above any other wave pools out there right now.
“Then you have 850 metres or so of ‘beachfront’ property that you can develop. It’s not just a pool, it’s a lake. The whole thing is mind-blowing.”