Surf Spots: The Superbank

Surfing and local communities go hand in hand. There are few better examples of this than in Queensland, Australia's Gold Coast, where surfers and the community are one. On the Goldy–where WCT results are headlines of local papers regularly–the surf IQ is so high amongst local residents, it's almost creepy. Few places on Earth will you overhear a mailman arguing with a shop owner on his route about how exactly to define “interference.”

The Goldy loves its surfing, and it should. Not only does it have one of the highest surfer-to-resident ratios in the world, but it's home to some of the best point breaks and beachbreaks known to man. Photos from spots like Snapper Rocks, Greenmount, Kirra, Burleigh Heads, and Duranbah have filled surf magazines since long before most surfers can remember, and their names have become synonymous with perfection. (Example: “Dude, how good was Trestles this morning?” “Dude, it was like Kirra out there.”)

On the Gold Coast, surfers are so tightly woven into the fabric of community that when local and state governments recently decided to build a “sand bypass” system to pump vast quantities of sand underneath the Tweed River to the beaches of Queensland, they looked for advice from the local surfers Rabbit Bartholomew and Bruce Lee. The result has been a gigantic bank of blinding white sand that's transformed the coast from a once-great series of point breaks to probably the longest, most perfect right-hander in the Pacific. Since the pumping began in 2001, an endless stream of stories about fifteen-second barrels and two-kilometer rides has poured from the Goldy.

But perfect waves can have their drawbacks. Since the building of the “Superbank” (as it's now being called), crowds have swelled, and not everyone is happy about the sudden change to the coast as well as the quality of the surf. “The longboarders and the old guys actually think it's the worst thing that's ever happened on the planet Earth,” says 1978 World Champ Wayne Rabbit Bartholomew, “but the young guys and the guys who like tube-riding think it's heaven on Earth.”

You can bet there's been no shortage of community debate on the subject.–J.P.

For the story about the building of the bank, go to