OUR OWN DARLING HARBOUR - JUST A LOT SMALLER
Written on the 7 November 2014 by Nick Nichols
IT MAY not be the scale of Darling Harbour, but the long-neglected Surfers Paradise riverfront is being targeted for a facelift that is aimed at boosting recreational space in the city’s tourism heart.
The Gold Coast City Council and the Gold Coast Waterways Authority have released a draft plan that will create a new waterfront precinct along the Nerang River, which is seen as a precursor to connecting Surfers Paradise with the proposed new cultural precinct at Evandale.
The plan, which is open to public consultation, will connect Lionel Perry Park and Appel Park through a new riverside boardwalk that will create a new destination for tourists and residents.
The proposal includes a range of new waterfront facilities, including recreational moorings, improved commercial moorings, a public swimming enclosure and family areas with playgrounds along the riverfront.
“The point of delivering this project is to connect the community with the river, encouraging use and enjoyment of our world class waterways while bringing new tourism opportunities and water transport options to the area,” says Gold Coast Waterways chairman Gary Baildon.
“Work is already well under way to demolish the ugly old wharf and construct a new commercial pontoon and there are great opportunities for a lot more work to be done to enhance this important connection to the water,” he says.
The new precinct has been allocated a $1 million planning budget with the consultation process encouraging input from both businesses and residents.
Gold Coast Waterways Authority CEO Hal Morris says he is conscious that there have been attempts in the past to bring the riverside to life and the plan will take into account noise issues for residents.
“We need to know what the business community and residents want to see there,” he says.
“It is a very important area of the waterway, where Surfers meets the river and it will allow us to value the river side as much as we do the Surfers Paradise beachfront.
“It’s not of the size of Darling Harbour, but it could be to Surfers Paradise what Darling Harbour is to Sydney.”
Mayor Tom Tate says it is a new beginning for Surfers’ “lesser known waterfront”.
"The time has come to maximise the enormous potential of the riverside, providing better access and facilities for both locals and visitors to enjoy the river as an integral part of Surfers Paradise,” he says.
“Together with Gold Coast Waterways Authority, we're making a significant investment to create an improved waterfront destination for social, outdoor and cultural activities."
A masterplan for the precinct is expected to be produced by the end of the year.
Online consultation will run from November 8 to 22. To participate in the survey and to view the waterways management strategy and program visit www.gcwa.qld.gov.au
Author: Nick Nichols