On Monday Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate decided to close The Spit, Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta beaches effective from midnight Tuesday the 7th of April. He said others would remain open however they would be off-limits to non-Gold Coast residents.  

The announcement comes off the back of the state closing its border to non-Queensland residents who aren’t traveling to the area for essential reasons. Efforts continue across the country to flatten the curve and stop the spread of the coronavirus and now popular beaches and breaks are in the sights of police and local councils.

There is a fear that the measures Cr Tate has taken will just funnel the crowd down to Tweed, Byron and Ballina Shires. Interstate number plates now poke out like a sore thumb depending on what state you reside in. Currently, there’s a push to close the QLD/NSW border heading south to keep non-residents away over Easter. 

Tracks spoke to Mitch Crews earlier today who was still dripping wet from surfing D-Bah, ironically located meters from the Queensland border, to gauge how the new rules were being enforced on the Goldy. 

Tracks: What was your take when you heard the announcement that Gold Coast beaches were closing and certain breaks would be restricted to locals only?

Mitch Crews: That’s kind of why I just went surfing. I wanted to have a look at what the fuck was going on down here. I did a lap to Greenmount and Snapper then and they’ve basically shut all the actual beach, all tracks are all roped off and there are patrols all the way to Snapper. They are literally closing the car park at D-Bah as we speak. 

But there are still a million people surfing which is pretty funny [laughs]. But it’s going to be interesting to see by tomorrow especially with the D-Bah car park shut off because there’s been a lot of Brazilian backpackers in town sleeping in vans. So, I dunno it might thin that crowd out. 

A grab from Parko's Instagram showing barriers moved into place at D'Bah.

It’d be interesting to see how they’re enforcing it. Are there clubbies or police that are doing patrols?

Both actually. It’s police but there’s also just knockabout blokes in high vis. So it’s like blokes with high vis patrolling alongside cops. It’s a really strange thing. 

At the main roundabout at Cooly there’s a big checkpoint there and it’s shut off where you know the main street at Coolangatta there runs up the hill. One side is NSW and the other side is QLD. There’s a checkpoint and if you get caught on the southern side of the road you have to go through this checkpoint but if you’re on the northern side going driving towards Snapper you’re in Queensland so you can avoid the checkpoint. So that’s fucking ridiculous man, it’s crazy. 

That’s wild. Holy shit. 

It’s such a unique time man I’m tripping out. All the businesses along there it’s just a full-blown ghost town. 

It sounds like they’re serious up there. 

Yeah, I feel like the council here is kind of feeling it out. They’re learning as they go because they shut the border a week ago now and the first few days were pretty easy. They figured out everyone can go sneak through these back streets and they’ve closed them all off. Now everyone has to have this special pass. In a way we thought, ‘Nah this isn’t going to work,’ and now it’s like, shit this is a bit of a nightmare going back and forth. 

With these beach closures, I’d imagine that they’re going to do the same thing. They’re going to learn as they go and probably put into place some harder restrictions and stuff. I think surfing should be fine. All you have to do is grab your shit, run to the water, jump in, jump out and you’ll be fine. It’s all the hanging and stuff. But no one’s really hanging too much besides the people from overseas. That’s the only people I saw on the beach just then cruising in packs. Everyone understands how serious all this shit is. People are putting their time in the water and then leaving. 

Where to for all the van-life crew?

What are they asking you to produce, something that proves where you live? 

Yeah with the pass you have to go to the council website, sign up and put your car registration details in and then if you live in Queensland you get a special pass and you can go back and forth without any dramas. But if you live in NSW and work in Queensland then you’ve got to get some proof from your work. It’s pretty crazy I don’t know how long it’s going to last but from what it sounds like it’s going to last a fair while. 

Do you reckon they could ever adopt a registration process like that to enforce surfing a break? Like if you’re from Cooly you can surf Snapper for instance.

I really can’t see them checking everyone’s license when they’re about to go run out for a surf and go, ‘Ok you’re from Tugan you’re sweet, oh you’re from Burleigh what are you doing in Cooly,’ kind of thing. I think they’ll be cracking down more on the tourists. That’s kind of in my eyes the biggest problem I see. Maybe they’re not up to date with the news or receiving the news that we’re all receiving and they’re oblivious to it and are just hanging out doing the same old thing. But we could get the repercussions from it. 

Could you imagine they would ever ban surfing on the Gold Coast if things got out of hand?

I can’t imagine they would shut down breaks and ban surfing completely. But they have done that at places like Bondi and on the eastern suburbs beaches. I think it’s impossible for them to regulate up here where there are just so many people surfing on this gigantic stretch of coastline. But it’ll be interesting to see how they take it over the next few weeks. 

Do you there’s a risk that if more beaches north of the border close people will slip down to northern NSW and look for waves there? There were reports it was already happening last weekend as far south as Ballina. 

“It’s funny because my initial reaction when I heard they were closing in my head I was like, ‘Oh fuck it I’ll just go down the coast,’ [laughs]. I was thinking of all my friends that live south of the border and that if they saw me they’d be like, ‘What the fuck are you doing down here Crewsy?’ [Laughs]. That’s when I realised that’s probably not a good idea either.

I’m sure people are thinking about it for sure especially along that northern NSW coastline. And that’s the thing, once the southern end of Queensland beaches are closed you can’t surf anywhere north. You can’t surf North Straddie right now because the barges have stopped. The only place you can go is Sunny Coast and it’s not decent for the Sunny Coast right now because it’s coming into Autumn and Winter where we get a lot of southerly swells and it’s just flat up there. 

Well, you might be marooned at Snapper and D-Bah for a while Crewsy but it’s not a bad place to be. 

Nah I’m not too worried about it, I’m kind of frothing to be able to still surf here.