14 January 2019
Noosa’s renowned surfing scene is the focus of new research at the University of the Sunshine Coast, with students hitting the beaches to survey surfers from near and far.
Research chief investigator Dr Javier Leon says the information will be used to build the most comprehensive picture to date of the economics, culture, attitudes and aspirations of people surfing in the Noosa World Surfing Reserve.
“I was surprised to find that there’s no real baseline data relating to surfing in Noosa,” Dr Leon said.
“There’s a lot of interaction between Noosa’s surf culture and the rest of the world, but there’s not been a systematic study of the cultural, social and economic impact.”
Students from USC’s new ‘surfonomics’ subject will be collecting the data as part of the fieldwork component of their Geography of Surfing course, with the results to be publicly available and presented during the Noosa Festival of Surfing.
They hope to hear from a broad spectrum of surfers from a range of backgrounds, including locals and visitors, both on the beaches and online.
The survey will cover four broad topics: The individual, including their gender, level of surfing, board preference and where they come from; Their surfing effort, including how often and for how long they surf; Their expenditure in the region and elsewhere for comparison; and Their motivation, including what could potentially deter them from surfing.
“For example, we know that many people leave Noosa on a good surf day because the surf is too crowded,” Dr Leon said.
“I know people from Noosa who won’t go to Noosa when the surf is good because you can’t even park, and yet on those same days people will come from Sydney and beyond.”
Since 1960s, Noosa has increasingly gained an international reputation as a surfing hotspot, with one of Australia’s few North-facing beaches offering protection from onshore winds.
Dr Leon said gathering a data on attitudes around these topics would help planners preserve and enhance the surfing amenity of Noosa, while helping local businesses understand the economic benefits of surfing.
The questions have been based on a similar “Surfonomics” survey conducted in 2010 which has informed the City of Gold Coast council’s 2015 Surf Management Plan.
The survey will run for eight weeks starting Monday 14 January and is also available online.
The results will be presented at the Surf and Sustainability Day hosted by USC on 7 March at The J Theatre at Noosa Junction as part of the Noosa Festival of Surfing.