$40m Vision: Australia's First Surf Park Opens


A two-hectare surfing lagoon, the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere, has opened to the public in Melbourne as technology continues to send ripples through the surf world.

Urbnsurf is the owner, developer and operator of Australia's first surf park, a multi-million-dollar venture located near Melbourne Airport in Tullamarine, roughly 16 kilometres from the CBD.

The Australian company, led by former lawyer and keen surfer Andrew Ross says he held a vision for the project for almost a decade, after meeting the creators of Spanish wave park tech company Wavegarden in 2012.

“It can produce perfect, ocean-like surfing waves, that range between 0.5 metres to two metres in height,” Ross said.

“With conditions not reliant on weather, it’s delivering that authentic surfing wave in a safe and controlled environment.”

▲ Australia's first surf park. Urbnsurf Melbourne uses technology developed by Spanish engineering firm, Wavegarden.
▲ When tech meets surf. Urbnsurf Melbourne uses technology developed by Spanish engineering firm, Wavegarden.

Surfing will officially debut as an Olympic sport this year in Tokyo following the unanimous decision made by the International Olympic Committee in 2016.

Australia is tipped to see an increase in the development of surf parks and artificial waves, with the likes of world surf champ Kelly Slater announcing he was attached to the $100 million surf ranch proposal at Coolum in Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Spanning a 529-hectare site, and delivered in partnership with the World Surf League, the Sunshine Coast proposal is tipped, or touted, to be a boost for Queensland's bid in hosting the 2032 Olympic Games.

▲ Urbansurf Melbourne. Australia's first surf park.
▲ The rise of the artificial wave: The project's build cost sits between $30 million and $40 million.

Urbnsurf is also planning additional surf parks to roll-out, while Melbourne marks the company's first venue, Ross says it will be followed closely by a Sydney based wave pool in Sydney Olympic Park.

As for the development side of things, Urbnsurf had an internal development team at the 309 Melrose Drive project, working closely with managing civil contractor Ertech to complete the earthworks and develop the 22,000 sq m surf lagoon.

In 2018, Urbnsurf announced it had secured $28.3 million in development capital towards the project after tapping into a range of “high-net worth investors and private equity”, without confirming names.

The build cost of the development, which Ross says is roughly the same size as the Melbourne Cricket Ground, sits between $30 million and $40 million, with the park allowing up to 84 surfers an hour across its six surf zones.

Australia's first surf park. Urbnsurf in Melbourne
▲ The wave park covers approximately 5.3 hectares, and the lagoon spans two hectares.

Harris HMC was the builder, responsible for delivering the project’s buildings and landscaping, while Turner & Townsend managed the project.

Construction included 18,000 tonnes of recycled concrete, which the company says also makes it the largest recycled concrete structure in Australia.

The site is also home to a Surf Academy for lessons and training, and lagoon-side amenities including a kids’ playground.

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