Beaches off surfing reserve list

Seeking recognition: SCU researcher and surfer Dirk Erler of Lismore checking the quality of the waves at Boulder Beach near Lennox Head yesterday.
Seeking recognition: SCU researcher and surfer Dirk Erler of Lismore checking the quality of the waves at Boulder Beach near Lennox Head yesterday. David Nielsen

AN AUSTRALIAN beach is to be named a World Surfing Reserve this year – but the Far North Coast has been left off the list.

Although Lennox Head was the third Aussie beach area to be made a National Surfing Reserve, it has been passed over for world status in favour of Margaret River in Western Australia, Queensland’s Gold Coast and a Sydney beach to be chosen from Cronulla, Manly and North Narrabeen.

Byron Bay isn’t even in the running – despite the fact that many surfers prize it as having some of their favourite breaks.

“I’ve surfed all over the world and the Pass is still my favourite spot,” said retired world tour contender Danny Wills. He also rates the Wreck and Lennox among his top three.

“Main Beach is a beautiful wave; Broken Head is beautiful too,” he said.

“I grew up here and I still find it amazing whenever I drive up and see the water. There’s nowhere you’d rather be.

“The great thing about Byron is that it can be surfed no matter the direction of the wind, and you don’t have that in too many parts of the world.”

Dirk Erler, of Lismore, prefers to surf the Ballina breaks, such as at Boulder Beach, North Wall and Flat Rock. But he is hugely enthusiastic about the whole of the North Coast.

“What it lacks in consistency of waves, it more than makes up for in visual beauty and fewer numbers in the water,” Mr Erler said.

So why is the area not getting the recognition it deserves?

“For world status, you need to be classified as a national reserve first,” said chairman of Australia’s National Surfing Reserves Brad Farmer.

Byron would certainly qualify, Mr Farmer said, but there had not yet been any nomination from the community.

“As well as heritage value and the quality of the waves, there needs to be community support,” he said.

Veteran surfer Rusty Miller is one who would give such a nomination his backing.

“I’m all for it, and for anything that protects a place that is used by lovers of the waves.”

He helped Lennox gain reserve status, and said it had ‘been a really fun and interesting exercise’.

Community consultation was the key element, Mr Miller said. The public needed to understand that a reserve will exclude no one, and that it is a symbolic status, with no legal power, he said.

Nomination of Byron was ‘on the agenda’, Mr Miller said.

The winning beach will join Waikiki in Hawaii and Malibu in California on the newly-established list.

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