To be or not to be: the Gold Coast Oceanway

To be, or not to be, that is the question – as the battle of the Gold Coast Oceanway reignites only to sadly disconnect the  quaint coastal community of Tugun.

Beach accessibility, coastal social-class clashes, desires for ocean views and obsession with the beach experience are social concerns and values that can influence the way we use, develop and manage beaches. The Gold Coast is a classic example of how social concerns and values for beachfront views flattened the dunes, subdivided beachfront lots for residential development and in between saw the rise of coastal parks, viewing platforms, car parks, playgrounds, surf clubs and hotels. Then once prime beachfront locations were sold out we started to build upwards to maximise the opportunity for ocean views to the extent where highrises now blanket shadows over the beloved beaches. And soon enough developers dredged and infilled the swamps and coastal lowlands to create Florida-inspired canal and lake estates to capitalise on our geography, climate and social-obsession with a waterfront view.

You can understand why outsiders give the Gold Coast so much slack from the over development of the coast. But locals are proud and being a home-grown coastal expert it’s important to understand the Gold Coast story. At the same time it is also important to advocate for what’s best for the beaches we all adore and in this case I am referring to the Oceanway.

Quick background for non Gold Coast localsthe Oceanway is the ocean pathway extending from Point Danger to The Spit. There are only a few locations where it doesn’t connect – basically where there is no space for a 5m-wide north to south pathway corridor.

Despite the Gold Coast City Council abandoning the concept of the Oceanway to connect the south of Bilinga with the north of Tugun after extensive consultation in 2011-12 showed 64.37 per cent of the community were against it, it has been campaigned and recampainged by pro-Oceanway campaigners who almost got it over the line early 2014 – or so they thought. But once again, it was downed and for good reasons.

Now I haven’t been entirely public on my position for or against the Oceanway. So, I believe it is time to come clean.

You see we are debating about 1.7km of coastline! And 1.7km of coastline where beachfront properties abut the beach. The only thing between the properties and the beach is a seawall to protect them from extensive coastal erosion that we have experienced not too far north of Tugun – e.g. Palm Beach (there you can’t even squeeze in a few dune plants to encourage dune development let alone the Oceanway). Currently, the public can access a grass north to south ‘pathway’ to lead them to the beach where at every street end there is a beach access pathway. But in many areas the grass pathway is directly on top of the beachfront owners seawall. I present issue number 1: way too much public liability for my liking!

The next issue is whether there is a need when there is 8 lanes of traffic and multiple bike lanes only a block west; and pathway upgrades have been promised.

The next issue is central to the sustainability of the coast. We need to be thinking 100+ years down the track and unfortunately Australia’s decision-making track record isn’t very good – considering we once allowed extensive development on coastal dunes??? With sea-level rise predictions and more intense weather patterns, we need to conserve what is left of our coastal dune corridor and beaches … and not develop a pathway. As constructing the Oceanway along this narrow stretch of beach means we will have to demolish sections of the dunes, fence areas, erect light-emitting pollution and impact biodiversity.

The next issue is a moral issue. Who are we to selfishly destroy the natural values of this stretch of coast only for us to enjoy the priced horizon view while leisurely riding a bike or enjoying an easy stroll.Do we really need more ocean view infrastructure. Do we really need more concrete on our beaches?

The list could seriously go on. But, yet again who I am to say this? I live in Labrador… But I believe I can say this because I stand up for the sustainability of the coast, the wellbeing of the community and the future of Gold Coast’s beaches.

What do you stand for? The Oceanway or would you rather invest the millions of dollars that would be needed to construct the ocean pathway spent on real issues, like domestic violence, homelessness and youth suicide.

I have some simple advice. Get real, get over the Oceanway along this stretch of coastline and if you really want to protect the beach starting pulling out the weeds and support local organisations that actually do something about the state of the beach.

the green line indicates north and south grassed 'pathway' extending from Bilinga

the green line indicates the north and south grass ‘pathway’ extending from Bilinga. the dunes are very narrow.

the green line indicates north and south grass 'pathway' extending from Tugun SLSC

the green line indicates north and south grass ‘pathway’ extending from Tugun SLSC. the dunes are very narrow and here are many established native trees.

Two words of advice for you

Consistence and committment

While the house is clean, washing is on, the worms are fed and have cup cakes in the oven, I need to take advantage for this quiet time, me time, to collect my whirlpool of thoughts and share them across the world. Time for indulge in a quick tangent.

Before I move on I must acknowledge everyone in my life and those who are close to me, support me, and pick me up and dust me off when life becomes overwhelming. You know who you are and thank you.

Life seems to be in fast forward at the moment. I feel like it was only yesterday when I packed up my desk at the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management after an amazing half a decade of sharing my passion for Gold Coast’s beaches, and making them even better. It’s been 6 months since that day and to be honest I haven’t had a chance to look back as my journey in front of me is widening into a 6-lane highway of possibilities – someone last night was telling me about the 12-lane highways in Korea! Now that is crazy – too many cars, I think so.

This makes me wonder, which exit may approach first and where may that runway take me. Because never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be co-driving Australia’s Happy Beaches competition. Seriously, and get on prime-time live television to share my idea, my big dream, the Beach Happiness Index. How cool is that? 

So, how did this happen? How did a talkative, smiling, skinny gal from Keebra Park SHS on the Gold Coast rise up in the classroom, study hard and inspire change?

To be honest I have been spoilt with opportunities. I have amazing, supportive parents. I have been blessed with foundation inspiration from my science teachers and the bilby man at school. This led me to life-changing education and experiences at Griffith University, Deakin University and the United Nations University and in between gain meaningful work, indulge in lots of volunteering and be creative, debate issues and connect with the right people.

I am now in the Board room and on the beach inspiring change for a happy, sustainable future. I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer and I am as persistent as ever before to share my ideas on how to create a better world with happy and happier beaches. Since I have incredible knowledge about the environment and environmental sector and know that I still have a lifetime to learn. I understand the challenges we have to overcome and that there are challenges yet to be discovered. But at the same time I don’t dwell on what is not happening and focus on what is. Cause being positive is the only way to be in a world where war still out-competes love, peace and happiness.

Above all I have been consistent and committed to my causes. If I need to get something done, I just do it, wholeheartedly and complete. Yes, I could be out frolicking in the waves more often, but I know what needs to happen and get it done, and it’s the best feeling when something is completed.

I am sharing this formula with you as it has enabled me to complete my studies (and go back the third time – I am submitting my Honours thesis in Humanities and Coastal Knowledge in about 6 weeks!), get an idea into action and make it all the above happen and strive towards being the person I dream to be.

That is… an expert in making beaches happier, a National Ambassador for Landcare Australia, a Board member for environmental networks, a networker, collaborator and be a person in full-action everyday. Actually, I am that person. I am living my dream. I am the person I aspire to be.

So, my two words of advice for you to be the person you aspire to be – consistence and commitment. 

This is it

life with purpose, passion and full commitment.

This is it. Life is perfect. Life is fulfilling. Life is happening. For me, my life has purpose and is full with passion and commitment.

I am been living my life for over 28 years and over this time I have been blessed with meaningful relationships, opportunities and circumstances.

Relationships in my life are my support network, especially when I exhaust myself to the brink of burnout. As my enthusiasm and passion to make a world that is beautiful, connected and in balance takes it toll and sometimes I do need to chill out. But there is no time for chilling out until my job is done – whenever that is.

Opportunities flow like a roaring waterfall to say the least. Each day presents a new opportunity where I develop a new possibility to take me to the next level. Today, I am empowered and out to achieve beyond my own expectations – with uni, work, fitness, friends, love and create time to watch The Block (I’m obsessed)!

But this all comes down to circumstances. I was born into a loving family with inspiring parents and crazy siblings. Yeah we have our ups and downs but we are getting there. Then it’s been the circumstance of saying yes, to almost everything … well almost.

This is it, it’s called living a life with purpose, passion and full commitment.

What’s your purpose?

What’s your passion?

And are you committed?