Kirra is a beach-side suburb of the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. The small rocky headland Kirra Point separates Kirra beach to the north and Coolangatta beach to the south, and is noted as one of the world’s premier surf breaks.
In the past the surf break was known for producing high quality barrels. Today sand pumping across the Tweed River mouth has filled it in and changed its character.
In May 1972 the Government of Queensland built a groyne, now called “big groyne”, extending Kirra Point, to trap sand on Coolangatta beach to the south. The growing tourist industry there relied on sandy beaches and the Coolangatta stretch had been plagued by erosion problems. Surfers were against the plan, believing it would kill the break, and they held protest meetings. They were right about its effect on the surf, for the following year a deep hole formed off the groyne. But after that first year the sand returned and it broke as well as ever.
A second smaller barrier, called “little groyne” was later built a short distance north on Kirra beach. Since then, the big groyne has been partially removed and both groynes have been almost completely covered by sand from the sand pumping.
There have been environmental effects of the sand pumping on the reef. A popular diving area with sea-life including manta rays and wobbegongs has been buried over since the pumping started. Dive companies have relocated or turned their focus to other smaller reef areas. The sand pumping contract held on the area is in place until 2024, when the contract will be re-evaluated.
- Prior to 1840 — Kirra is not known by its current name and is rarely visited by white settlers.
- 1840-1910 — The first white holiday-makers start to visit.
- 1910-1920 — Holiday-makers increase, making Kirra a popular recreational beach area.
- 1930s — The opening of the increases the popularity of the southern Gold Coast as a holiday destination. Camping was very popular for families because Kirra had a long beach and a low-lying dune system.
- 1960-early 1974 — The Tweed River breakwaters combine with a series of low-pressure weather systems to result in serious sand erosion. This brings the high-water level to just below the coastal road.
- 1970s — Big Groyne built at Kirra’s south end.
- 1995 — 30 metres taken off Big Groyne to help fight erosion at Greenmount Beach.
- 2001 — Start of Tweed River sand bypass project.
- 2003 — Little Groyne completely buried in sand.
- 2006 — Project launched by Griffith University Coastal Management Center to restore the beach
- , MP: The Life of Michael Peterson, Harper Collins, 2004, ISBN 0-7322-7609-8.
- Kirra beach camera at the University of New South Wales coastal imaging
- Tweed River Entrance Sand Byapssing Project