Surfers hit back at long lockout time for Surfers Point due to incoming World Surf League’s Margaret River Pro

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
The Pro's headquarters at Surfers Point.
Camera IconThe Pro's headquarters at Surfers Point. Credit: Russell Ord

The continued growth of the Margaret River Pro has triggered the region’s biggest recreational surfing group to call for limits on the time residents are locked out from Surfers Point.

Margaret River Recreational Surfers president Campbell Chalmers told the Times three weeks set-up, two weeks for the international contest, and about 10 days to unpack meant surfers, families and visitors were excluded from the key attraction for far too long, and made worse for the lockout occurring during Easter and the school holidays.

“The busiest time of the year for tourism and one of our town’s drawcards is only partially accessible to locals and tourists,” he said.

“The main contest is being set up weeks in advance — before the (WSL) event in Victoria has even started.”

Mr Chalmers said a Shire of Augusta-Margaret River policy limiting access to the Point hadn’t been honoured this year, with three surf contests held there to-date as well as a junior competition which unsettled parents of some junior surfers due to serious conditions usually reserved for adults and the World Surf League’s Championship Tour competitors.

“Surfers Point is for everyone,” Mr Chalmers said.

“What feels like the whole summer, it has been a run from one event to another.

“Maybe the Shire staff that approve all of these event permits should come down to the beach more often and see how many locals and tourists are there all the time and how much pressure is already on the place,” he said.

“Look into how much the local population actually want to be saturated with events and consider that something that looks great on the planning whiteboard in the Taj Mahal on Wallcliffe may not be what the community wants.”

Surfing WA chief executive Mark Lane acknowledged the set-up time was worsened this year because of the four-day Easter break and surfers were upset during prime conditions.

“The waves at Surfers Point and South Sides are fully accessible to all, and while we acknowledge the parking inconvenience during build times, we have done our best to eliminate this factor during the anticipated peak time at Easter,” he said.

“While we acknowledge the reduction in parking spaces and fencing-off lawn areas — for safety reasons and build footprint — there is still parking available and plenty of space to sit, walk, eat, etc.”

COVID-19 reduced some of the satellite events this year, but the CEO argued there was a strong economic benefit from the Pro benefitting local businesses and employment.

The Shire did not respond to inquiries before deadline.

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