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How the Gold Coast is building a giant pipe to claim its sandy beaches back


The Gold Coast’s iconic Surfers Paradise beach will be replenished with tonnes of pristine sand each year through an 8km underground pipe that will capture and divert sand that had been heading north along the Queensland coast.

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The pipe, being installed at a cost of around $1 million per kilometre, is the latest move by the Gold Coast to protect its world famous stretch of coastline from devastating erosion brought by cyclones, king tides and high swells.

Work on Stage 2 of the Surfers Paradise Sand Backpass Pipeline began Wednesday to extract sand from the existing Sand Pumping Jetty at The Spit and move it back towards Surfers Paradise beach.

“It’s a recycling thing, we’re using Mother Nature to help us,” Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said.

“The sand does migrate north and we’re merely pumping it back all the way to Surfers Paradise.”

Sand naturally moves north along the Gold Coast coastline due to the predominant south-easterly swells.

An existing underground pipe at The Spit already captures the sand and transports around 500,000 cubic metres of sand a year onto the beach at South Stradbroke Island.

That pipe to South Stradbroke Island ensures the Seaway navigation channel remains clear of sand build up.

The new pipeline will redirect around 120,000 cubic metres of the sand a year that has been captured at The Spit back to the Surfers Paradise beach.

“It gives us the flexibility at various junction points should the next tropical cyclone come and we need to replenish our beach with a lot of sand, we’ll pump it from the sand bypass system end of The Spit all the way to Surfers Paradise,” Tate said.

Around 6.3 kilometres of the permanent pipe will run underground through the northern Gold Coast and connect to 1.5 kilometres of temporary above-ground pipe that will be laid when needed.

The big new pipe is the latest effort by the Gold Coast to protect its coastline and tourism jewel and keep the beaches picture-perfect.

It has spent millions of dollars replenishing sand on beaches and combatting erosion through projects including artificial reefs at Palm Beach and Narrowneck, seawalls built along the coast, and the 2017  ‘sand rainbowing’ project that pumped around 3 million cubic metres of sand onto beaches.


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