Surfers will no longer have to leave Melbourne in search of the perfect, six foot wave.
An $18.5 million surfing lagoon, the first in the Southern Hemisphere, is set to be built near Melbourne Airport.
The Perth-based Wave Park Group announced on Thursday morning that it had secured a sub-lease for a 7.1-hectare block of land adjacent to Essendon Football Club’s home base of Tullamarine, and planning approval to build the park.
URBNSURF Melbourne will boast a 320-metre pool that will produce waves between 0.6 metres and 1.9 metres, with rides lasting up to 32 seconds.
The development also includes a climbing wall, parkour track, bouldering course, mountain bike pump track, running track and surf training academy.
Wave Park Group founder Andrew Ross said it was about “bringing the waves to the people”.
“Victoria generally has pretty good surf but the surf is located a long way from the urban population – so to be one of the 20,000 surfers is rather a frustrating and inconvenient lifestyle,” he said.
Mr Ross said the wave lagoon was almost like a “driving range for surfers”.
“Because you have a very consistent wave (that’s the same shape, the some power, the same speed, the same size) it is a very good training tool,” he said.
Surfing Victoria chief executive, Adam Roberston, said the development would raise Victoria’s status in the surfing world.
He said time will tell if the wave lagoon concept would improve the sport. “There are some real advantages in the wave pools, similar to someone practicing on a skateboard ramp,” Mr Roberston said.
Although the final prices have not been confirmed, Mr Ross said a one-hour pass would probably cost between $20 and $50 depending on whether it was a peak or off-peak period.
The lagoon can hold about 68 surfers at any one time – 16 advanced, 8 intermediate and 44 beginners.
Work on the wave lagoon is set to begin later this year and surfers could be hanging ten by late 2017.
By Aisha Dow, The Age