Save Gnaraloo

17 Dec - The first lot of signatories are being compiled and sent to the Premier. BUT WE NEED MANY MORE! NEXT YEAR IS WA ELECTION SO NUMBERS COUNT. LET THE POLITICIANS KNOW WHAT YOU WANT FOR THE NORTHWEST.

24 DEC  07
The proponents are preparing an Environmental Impact Assessment 'to be completed by Feburary'.  WELL DONE! THEY ARE LISTENING AND STARTING TO CROSS THEIR T's AND DOT THEIR I's rather than the Ministerial announcement that was going to be sprung on  surfers last  December 11.  WATCH THIS WEBSITE FOR  MORE NEWS IN THE NEW YEAR.

Rip Curl is about to gain government approval for an ASP event in August 2008 at "Tombies" at Gnarloo. WE HAVE BEEN TOLD BY RIP CURL THAT THIS IS NOW LESS DEFINITE.  BUT THEY WILL NOT RULE OUT A COMP  BETWEEN KALBARRI AND EXMOUTH SOMETIME IN THE FUTURE

That would probably mean you wont be able to surf WA premier break during the best two weeks of the year. 40 pros will be on the break while the other 400 campers at both breaks will be scrabbling for a wave at Red Bluff (along with the pros not in a heat). If it is run like other comps.

The attendant publicity will draw huge crowds now and into the future. That means the end of that cruisy laidback desert vibe we have all come to share in and enjoy.

Think of what this will mean to the environment also in terms of  the reef and sealife, fragile desert vegetation and coastline, and all the services? Let alone the effect on roads and infrastructure now and ever more.

Meanwhile Rip Curl will spread their publicity worldwide, make their bucks move on and leave us with the aftermath unless something is done.

The Premier

Mr Allan Carpenter

Parliament House, Perth WA

Re: Proposed Rip Curl ASP Surfing Event, Gnaraloo Reef, Ningaloo Marine Park August 2008.

We, the undersigned, humbly petition you and your colleagues in government to offer the following information and consider the consequence of this major international surfing event proposed for August 2008 at Gnaraloo Reef in the Ningaloo Marine Park, 150 km north from Carnarvon along a rough dirt track.

We petitioners are representative of the majority opinion of the more than 5000 recreational surfers who use the surf breaks at Gnaraloo and Quobba stations annually. We include residents and ratepayers of Carnarvon, surfers drawn from all over the State, national and international visitors. Recreational surfers travel long distances at considerable personal expense to holiday at Red Bluff and Gnaraloo camping grounds and enjoy the unique character of the sea and landscapes. The number of surfers coming has steadily increased since the breaks were discovered in the 1970s to the benefit of the state and the local economy.  

It has come to our attention that the Rip Curl Search is proposing to hold an Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) rated surfing competition for the top 44 competitors at the 3 Mile surf break at Gnaraloo Station in early August, 2008. We understand this will entail over 150 surfers and support staff, an unpredictable number of spectators, requisite vehicles, equipment and temporary facilities and intense media hype. Gnaraloo management are already refusing bookings and the surf break will be closed to non competitors for the two week period the proposed event takes place.  In usual locations and circumstances, recreational surfers are tolerant of inconvenience and pleased to view world class performances of their chosen sport.

There are, however, a unique set of characteristics and circumstances that makes this venue unsuitable for an event of such magnitude. Therefore, we beg the responsible authorities to withhold permission for this ill considered proposal.

This request is not lightly made, but must be considered on the following grounds and is supported by the detailed information attached:

  •   The manifest lack of good faith displayed by the event promoters and organisers prior to proposing an announcement of the event by your government. There has been no advertising or open public consultation about this proposal. They are well aware the staging of an event at this specific location will generate hostility within the surfing public and cause controversy for your government.

  • The gross impingement, the timing and unwarranted intrusion this event will have, upon on the use and enjoyment of the majority of users of this public resource. This justly famed and unique surf spot breaks only occasionally in the year, and only regularly in the months of July and August when  prevailing winds send swells generated by strong winter fronts up the coast. A predictable onshore wind shift renders it unsurfable in the afternoon and it can only surfed in the four hours around a high tide with reasonable safety. Surfers therefore plan their limited vacation time around these factors. This event proposes to take a two week block from this precise window of opportunity.
  • The adverse impact an event of this scale will inevitably have upon the fragile terrestrial and marine environment given the current capacities, tenure arrangements, infrastructure and planning for this and neighbouring sites. The Ningaloo Coastal Strategy defines the carrying capacity of the Gnaraloo and Red Bluff camping sites to be 200 people/night [WAPC 2004]. These camps are fully subscribed at this time of year. An event of this magnitude will overwhelm the resources of Red Bluff to cope with the overflow. People travelling thousands of miles will arrive only to find their planned visit ruined.
  • Infrastructure in terms of water, waste disposal, toilets, roads, medical facilities, restrictions on egress and disturbance to fragile land and marine park environments are currently non-existent or inadequate. The event organiser's experience is based on the Margaret River Masters competition and is untested and unproven in a remote and harsh environment. This presents a grave risk to the Government in light of the imminent hand back of tenure of this portion of the pastoral lease back to the Crown.
  • The unsustainable outcomes the event will impose on tourist resource in terms of user conflict and visitor risk management in this portion of the Ningaloo Marine Park. Carnarvon has a balanced and vibrant mixed economy with tourism a steadily increasing contributor. Employment is available for all who want it and accommodations are filled to capacity in August. An ephemeral and self contained event contributes little in this context.

Publicity generated by ASP events exponentially increases the number of surfers that come to surf the featured break. What will surfing tourists find when they come here over the next few years? Surf breaks that have already reached their carrying capacity. Tombstones already has 40-50 surfers vying for a spot in the 30mtr takeoff position on a powerful wave breaking on a shallow reef. Red Bluff is a similarly dangerous and crowded. Hospital admissions have noticeably increased as the crowds have built over the years. The experience will be significantly diminished for all and compramise the overall tourism product.

We therefore humbly petition the government to prevent the imposition this event represents to your government, its responsibilities and the recreational surfers of this State and beyond by refusing permission for the Rip Curl Search ASP surfing event to proceed.

   See supporting documents attached.

cc.           The Hon Shelia McHale - Minister of Tourism

                The Hon David Templeman- Minister for Environment and Conservation

                The Hon Allanah McTiernan - Minister for Planning and Infrastructure

                Mr Dudley Maslen - President, Shire of Carnarvon.

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