Surfers Paradise Sand Backpass System

  • Project typeOcean, beaches & waterways
  • Project scheduleOngoing
The Spit aerial view

The Surfers Paradise Sand Backpass System is a major innovation in protecting and enhancing the Gold Coast's northern beaches.

The beaches of Surfers Paradise and surrounds are vulnerable to erosion from a dynamic and changing coastal environment. Powerful storms and king tides can strip the beaches of sand and threaten coastal infrastructure.

The backpass system provides a permanent beach nourishment solution. It enables regular sand nourishment campaigns, and the capability to transport sand where needed after a severe weather event.

The system will preserve and enhance our northern beaches at Surfers Paradise, Main Beach, and The Spit.

How the backpass system works

Sand naturally migrates in a northerly direction along the Gold Coast due to the prevailing wind and wave conditions, accumulating at the Gold Coast Seaway.

The existing Sand Bypass System jetty at The Spit, operated by the Gold Coast Waterways Authority, transports most of this sand north across the Seaway to South Stradbroke Island. This safely bypasses the Seaway and copies the natural northward drift of sand.

The backpass system is integrated with the Sand Bypass System. The backpass system allows a portion of available sand to be redirected to nourish beaches to the south.

Backpass system operations

Construction of the system was completed in 2023. We are now seeking a suitable contractor for trial operations to start in 2023–24 financial year.

Annual nourishment campaigns will occur in the winter months between June and August. During operations, sand is mixed with seawater and pumped to one of four outlets located at Surfers Paradise, Narrowneck, and Main Beach.

Temporary sections of flexible above-ground pipeline are then used to transport the sand to the beach. Four booster pumps provide the power to transport the sand through the system.

What to expect during backpass operations

There will be some temporary beach access restrictions, noise and visual impacts during setup and operation of the backpass system. Most sand pumping will take place during night-time hours, with site works occurring during the day.

Ongoing monitoring and observation

We will continue our long-running coastal monitoring program before, during and after backpass operations. Beach surveys, photography and wave buoys are all used to monitor and record changes to beach and surf conditions.

The Surfers Paradise Sand Backpass System is a long-term investment in maintaining our beaches. It supports all outcomes of our Ocean Beaches Strategy 2013–2023.

Protecting surf amenity on South Stradbroke Island

Coastal experts have agreed the backpass system will not affect surf quality on South Stradbroke Island, as only a small portion of available sand will be redirected south.

Watch a video overview of the project