The Gold Coast inched closer to hosting what is likely to become Australia’s second wave park to open after the city council gave Parkwood Village conditional approval to develop what it expects to become the ultimate integrated surf and golf resort.

Originally submitted to the city council in October 2021, the jewel in Parkwood’s proposal is a 4ha dual-zone 300-metre surfing lagoon (aka wave pool) capable of generating up to a 26-second end-to-end barrelling six-foot wave ride.

By deploying Endless Surf technology, which launched in 2020 and initially used at O2 Surftown, Munich, which opens next year, Parkwood expects to offer near limitless wave customisation to suit surfers of all abilities.

An 18-minute drive from Surfers Paradise, Parkwood Village is also the training base of the Gold Coast Titans.

Resort-style development

But the proposed surfing lagoon, which is expected to sit alongside the existing 18-hole golf course [at the Parkwood] site is only one element within Parkwood’s proposed $300-million resort-style surf/golf resort development, which has been on the drawing board for over three years.

In addition to a $10m redevelopment of the existing golf course, there are also plans to build:

  • 225 residential apartments.
  • A hotel.
  • Retail and medical components.
  • An entertainment and dining precinct.
  • 3000-person events lawn.
  • Beach club.
  • Gym and restaurants.

Readily walkable precinct

Managing director of Parkwood Village Luke Altschwager plans to break ground by mid-2024 on the project and expects it to be completed by late 2026.

Altschwager expects the Endless Surf Wave Pool, childcare, retail, food and beverage, commercial and medical tenancies to dovetail into existing uses at Parkwood Village to become a readily walkable precinct.

“There is nothing more quintessentially Australian than surfing and, complemented by the upgraded golf course and Titans training facilities, we want to make sure Parkwood becomes the heart of sport here on the Gold Coast,” said Altschwager.

While a wave park’s ability to make money depends on the frequency of waves and the number of surfers in the water at any time, Altschwager believes a standalone model can still be viable. Nevertheless, he concedes that diversifying the revenue makes sense from a business model point of view.

“I genuinely think there will be four [wave parks] in this region. It’s one of the reasons we are going as hard as we can, we want to be first,” said Altschwager.

Difficult to design – costly to fund and maintain

There’s no shortage of rival [wave park] projects to have received approval across Australia – including one on the Sunshine Coast and another next to the Bruce Highway at the Glasshouse Mountains.

However, due to the complications and costs associated with their design and ongoing maintenance, institutional investors have typically viewed surf parks as too risky to fund.

Unsurprisingly, only one has successfully come to market here in Australia: Urbnsurf, which opened near the Melbourne airport in 2020, where a session with 12 guaranteed waves can cost between $80 and $160.

It’s understood that Urbnsurf founder Andrew Ross is planning to build a $100m wave pool on government-owned land in the Perth suburb of Jandakot.

Meantime, the Kelly Slater Wave Co, which is owned by the World Surf League, abandoned plans for one in Coolum after plans to secure council approval were rejected.

Image: A render of the Parkwood Village redevelopment, which includes a 300m wave pool.