If you’re like me, the first thought on your mind when touching back down in Australia after a long-haul flight from some dreary landlocked northern metropolis is to the closest point from which you can fling yourself off the great island and into the blue continent, into the surf. If there are some waves to catch then all the better, but, of course, that would require getting home first, unpacking, and lugging your board however far you live from the beach. For some that could take as long as the flight.
Thankfully, the team at Urbnsurf have solved this problem, they’ve built Australia’s first full-sized surf park, solar-powered, and it’s right off Airport Drive in Melbourne’s Tullamarine. On your way to catch a flight? Catch a few waves on the road. On your way home? You’ll have no trouble finding a mate to do the airport run with the sure promise of good surf day and night; leave your luggage in the car and paddle away from jetlag at an MCG-sized lagoon.
Did I mention the whole shebang is solar-powered? Well, partly, but it will be. Though the park features solar panels throughout to offset its usage, Urbnsurf is still searching for a renewable energy provider through which to secure long-term supply. The park’s own solar arrays help to carry the load, but we are talking about a Wavegarden Cove wave generator, nicknamed Roary, that can produce up to 1000 “ocean-like” waves every hour. What Urbnsurf really needs to power its waves, is to catch a wave itself, the wave of PPAs for commercial and industrial customers that has picked up over the last year.
Excitement for this project has been growing since it first gained approval back in 2016, and frankly, for all those landlocked surfers the excitement cannot be understated. At the time the project was first tabled, 2015/2016, I had the bright idea of moving to Melbourne from one of Sydney’s famed beachside suburbs. Once there I found myself unloading shipping containers at Tullamarine Airport, the interiors of which reached upwards of 60°C, and so I can tell you from personal experience there is nothing that place needs more than a good surf spot.
Construction on Urbnsurf Melbourne began in Autumn 2018. This October, a year later, with the wave generator installed and the lagoon filled, the first perfect waves started peeling off. The park is set to open for the public this Summer 2019/2020.
Urbnsurf has a similar project underway at Sydney Olympic Park, also to be renewably powered, which is expected to commence construction early next year for a summer 2021/2022 opening.