Albany surfers search for big break for long-awaited Middleton Beach artificial surf reef

Headshot of Sarah Makse
Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
Albany Boardriders' Peter Bolt, Aido Shepherd, current president Dave Beeck and Darren Oostdam.
Camera IconAlbany Boardriders' Peter Bolt, Aido Shepherd, current president Dave Beeck and Darren Oostdam. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

The Albany Boardriders are not easing up on the push for a safe and consistent surf break in town, as the search continues for the $5 million needed to build the long-awaited Middleton Beach artificial surf reef.

The surf club will host a workshop tonight to rally support for the project, more than four years since the State Government pledged $5 million towards the project.

In September, City of Albany councillors backed a $500,000 detailed design and business case for the 165m submerged rock reef about 140m offshore from Middleton Beach and 150m north of the Surfers Beach carpark.

At a total estimated cost of $9.5 million, it is expected to provide consistent surf breaks of up to 100m for about 41 per cent of the year.

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Albany Boardriders reef working party convenor Peter Bolt said locally, all levels of government had committed to the reef and the benefits it would create, particularly for youth.

Mr Bolt said the group wanted all levels of government to “dip in and get this done”, nearly 24 years since the first feasibility study into the possibility of an artificial surf reef at Middleton Beach.

“There’s a lot of people who surf in Albany but it requires a 4WD,” he said.

“The closest locations are Nanarup and Muttonbird, and are away from any emergency services and not accessible for kids.”

Mr Bolt said an accessible surf break would be an investment into the long-term physical and mental health of Albany’s youth.

Later this year, the City of Albany will find out whether its application for $5 million in Commonwealth funding through the Building Better Regions Fund has been successful.

Mayor Dennis Wellington said once the application was decided, the council would consider putting money towards the project. In the meantime he shared the community’s frustrations over the wait.

“It is frustrating, the fact is it is a lot of money that you’ve got to try and find,” he said.

“These things are generally oversubscribed but there is a $200 million allocation in this round so it is always possible and there are other rounds that come up after it... we will continue to try.”

O’Connor MP Rick Wilson said he recently wrote a letter of support for the City’s application.

“I am keenly aware of the social and economic benefits of having a surf beach close to the centre of the city,” he said.

“The projected economic multipliers I have seen for the project are really very impressive. Having a surf beach so close to town would no doubt benefit accommodation and tourism service providers who would see spin-offs from provision of such a new adventure tourism option so close to town.

“That said, the Building Better Regions Fund is very competitive.”

The Albany Boardriders’ workshop will run from 6pm-8pm at the Albany Surf Lifesaving Club.

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