In 1969 Australia sought Queensland location for wave pool

Professional surfing’s first world champion and bon vivant Peter Townend dropped a bomb in our inbox recently with an old newspaper clip.

“Was researching in the PT collection over last weekend and found this Aussie newspaper column on the Tempe, Arizona wave pool,” said Peter PT Townend.

What was this bombshell? It appears that Queensland, currently the site of three planned wave pool developments and one test facility, entertained the same concept back in 1969.

When Big Surf opened in Arizona the same year, an area newspaper reported that active parties were searching out a location for an Aussie counterpart wave pool.

newspaper clipping
1969 Newspaper clipping from the personal collection of Peter Townend speculates on Queensland wave pool

“Mike Doyle has been here for the past few months probing Australian interest in a similar venture,” read the column. “Mr. Frank Alder at Alders Surf Centre said that there were many people interested in financing an Australian version.”

The article went on to say the planned development was a natural win-win due to the area’s weather. They also suggested that Brisbane and the Gold Coast were blowing it by not jumping in.

“The Queensland South Coast has a perfect all year-round climate,” the article continued. “They had not found much interest from Brisbane or Gold Coast Councils, but the Albert Shire could see the fantastic tourist potential of an inland surf, and hoped to propose the Beenleigh area. The main criticism of the idea is that we do not have sufficient population to yet make a $2million inland surf a profitable enterprise.”

Both the Gold Coast and Brisbane passed on the idea, but Beenleigh was keen to the wave pool according to the article

Of note is that Beenleigh is just half an hour north of Robina, the headquarters for Surf Lakes. Yeppoon, the site of Surf Lakes’ test facility is 8 hours north by car, but still in Queensland.

The newspaper’s surf round up column moves on to describe how a local surfer bravely saved a swimmer from drowning. And just like that, Australia’s first surfing wave pool appeared and vanished.

Whenever PT reaches out to us it’s incredibly frustrating. He’s jovial and enthusiastic. But his messages are cryptic. And he doesn’t always follow up. Still we’re thankful for the tip and the insight into wave pool history. Particularly this brief glimpse into the first wave pool boom that never quite happened.

*Main story image copyright of Big Surf Arizona

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