Melbourne surfers will have an alternative to the beach from late next year with the opening of URBNSURF – a surf park created in collaboration with Melbourne Airport and Wave Park Group.
The development site has been secured on a 30-year lease across the road from Essendon Football Club’s base on Airport Drive, Melbourne. Costing $18.5 million, the 7.1 hectare development aims to provide surfers with alternatives to the ocean when optimal surfing conditions aren’t present.
Wave Park Group founder and executive chairman Andrew Ross told The Newsroom: “It’s absolutely necessary. Victoria has some pretty good waves along its coast, but unfortunately those waves are nowhere near its urban population. So if you’re one of the 200,000 or so surfers that live and work in Melbourne, you’ve got this incredibly inconvenient, frustrating lifestyle that consumes you.”
Mr Ross also said that a large part of URBNSURF’s mission was to encourage women to surf.
“More than half of all surf lessons are taken by women, and within that subset, the majority of those lessons are taken by 13- to 21-year-old females.” He said that if you were to drive down to the coast, you would see that there are few female surfers in the most popular breaks.
“For us, that’s going to be our challenge”, Mr Ross said. “We are going to be making sure that we can provide facilities that meet the needs of women and we’re looking at working with Layne Beachley [to deliver] female-centric programs to really encourage women … to surf.”
URBNSURF will have a licensed cafe, children’s playground, and retail store, alongside four different skill level pools for which surfers will be able to buy memberships. – Taylor Yates
Artist’s impression of proposed URBNSURF site supplied by Wave Park Group.