Top 10 surf spots in SE Qld, northern NSW

 Point break

Southeast Queensland/northern NSW is one of the world's top surfing meccas, luring boardriders from around the globe. While its waves might not boast the brute power of Hawaii or the cylindrical tropical perfection of Bali, the region offers a smorgasbord of world-class breaks along a relatively short stretch of coastline from Ballina to the Sunshine Coast.

Most of the top spots are winding, sand-bottom pointbreaks which serve up some of ther longest, most perfect "peelers" on the planet. Being able to surf much of the year in boardshorts or bikinis is an added attraction.
Come on a safari with Greg Stolz ...

Pic: Mike Batterham (Gold Coast Bulletin)

 1. The Superbank

The Superbank is actually a chain of three breaks - Snapper Rocks, Rainbow Bay and Greenmount - that can provide some of the longest and most scintillating rides anywhere. An accidental man-made creation, it was formed in the early 2000s by the Tweed River Sand Bypass, which pumps sand from the clogged rivermouth around into Rainbow and Coolangatta bays.
If conditions are right, surfers taking off behind the trickly rock ledge at Snapper can get tubed and score a leg-burning ride of hundreds of metres all the way through to Greenmount. But the crowds can be so thick you can almost use the surfers as stepping stones.

Pic: Scott Fletcher (Gold Coast Bulletin)

2. Kirra Point

The next break north of the Superbank, Kirra regularly ranks among the top five breaks of the world's top surfers. But in recent years, Kirra - famed for its deep, grinding barrels - has been a shadow of once spectacular self, ironically because of the Superbank.

Millions of tonnes of sand pumped out of the Tweed River has smothered the famed break, and it now breaks properly only in huge swells. Surfers such as Kirra's own world champion Mick Fanning are lobbying to have a rock groyne that was partially removed in the 1990s replaced to try to restore the break to its former glory.

Pic: Kit De Guymer (Gold Coast Bulletin)

 3. Currumbin Alley

Often seen as the poor cousin of the Gold Coast's more high-profile pointbreaks, The Alley can dish up awesome waves depending on the sand banks and swell direction. Barrelling waves break behind a rock shelf and rifle down the point into Lacey's Lane.
The Alley can handle big swells and is a popular spot with tow-in surfers. It's also a haven for novices, longboarders and the growing brigade of stand-up paddleboarders and gets crowded. Hazards include the crowds, fishing boats negotiating the notoriously shallow Currumbin Creek and a raging south-to-north sweep when the swell's running.

Pic: Paul Riley (The Courier-Mail)

 4. Burleigh Heads

This is another world-renowned pointbreak that helped put the Gold Coast on the world surfing map. Scoring a "Burleigh barrel" is one of the greatest thrills in surfing and in a good swell, boardriders pack the point hoping to snare one of its almost peerless peelers.

Jumping off the rocks and paddling out through Burleigh cove - against the picturesque backdrop of Burleigh National Park headland - can be dangerous, but the rewards are well worth the risks. A word of warning, however - the Burleigh locals are fiercely protective of their break, so avoid dropping in on them!

Pic: Glenn Hampson (Gold Coast Bulletin)

5. South Stradbroke Island

Affectionately known as TOS (The Other Side) or just plain Straddie, South Stradbroke is another man-made break, created when the Southport Seaway was built in the 1980s. The break is located on the island's southern tip, just past of the seaway's northern wall (hence TOS). Surfers can catch a boat, ferry or jetski across or make the dicy 300m paddle over, dodging vessels traversing the seaway.

Once you're there, Straddie offers some of the punchiest beachbreaks in Australia, with deep, powerful barrels when conditions are right. Unlike southern pointbreaks, Straddie works best in a northwester.

Pic: Terry Kavanagh (The Courier-Mail)

6. North Stradbroke Island

Because of its relatively remote location - accessible for non-locals only by boat - North Straddie is one of the few surf spots in southeast Queensland where you can get an uncrowded wave, particularly on weekdays. However conditions are notoriously fickle.

The surf spots are all centred around Point Lookout, with Cylinders on the northern side the pick. It takes a solid southerly swell to get the right-hand pointbreak cranking. On the southern side of Point Lookout, Main Beach gets big and powerful but doesn't take too much swell to be unrideable.

Pic: Supplied

7. Lennox Head

Another of Australia's finest pointbreaks, Lennox is also one of its most scenic, set against a soaring, verdant headland on the NSW north coast. The break can hold powerful 3-4m swells that can barrel and run for hundreds of metres down the point.
Lennox is mostly sand-bottom but shallow boulders can be exposed, especially at low tide.  The paddle out can also be treacherous, with surfers having to time their jump off the rocks to perfection. Getting back in can be even dicier, with surging waves washing you back onto the rocks. The parochial locals can also be hostile towards outsiders, especially disrespectful ones.

Pic: Adam Head (The Courier-Mail)

8. The Pass

These days, many surfers are tempted to give The Pass the pass it gets so crowded. But in a solid easterly swell, the iconic Byron Bay break can be mechanical in its perfection, with waves that wind for hundreds of metres into Clarkes Beach.

The Pass offers a tubing take-off next to a rocky outcrop, followed by a hot-dogging wave that provides plenty of scope for speed and turns. On smaller days, The Pass is packed with longboarders - many of them learner backpackers and other tourists - so it can get dangerous. Don't be surprised if a dolphin drops in and shows up your surfing skills.

Pic: Megan Slade (The Courier-Mail)

 9. Noosa

Whenever the swell is "maxing out", all roads lead to Noosa. The series of points that line Noosa headland - Granite, Tea Tree Bay, the Boiling Pot, National Park and First Point - are about the only surf spots on the southeast Queensland/northern NSW coast that handle massive surf.

The swells march in and wrap around the headland, forming long, perfect walls of water that break into the bay. Because Noosa is the "go to" spot when everywhere else is closing out, the crowds can be ridiculous. On smaller days, Noosa is a longboarder's paradise.

Pic: Scott Fletcher (Gold Coast Bulletin)

10. Duranbah

Arguably the most consistent break in Australia, Duranbah - or D-Bah as its known to most surfers - lies slap-bang on the Queensland-NSW border at the foot of Point Danger. Waves pour into this compressed beach between the Tweed River seawall and Lover's Rock and jack up in punchy fashion.
D-Bah can provide both long rides and throaty barrels, and is where many of Queensland's top surfers, including world champions Mick Fanning and Stephanie Gilmore, regularly hone their skills.

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