We have promised to visit Melbourne’s URBNSURF for close to 12 months since its launch in early 2020. The concept of inland surfing in a country surrounded by water is a bit odd, but when you live over 1.5 hours from the nearest surf beach, it’s actually genius.
On the first visit, I took my niece just to experience the place. Unfortunately, it was the middle of winter and nothing can really prepare you for just how cold it can be as the wind whips through the place.
So yes, be prepared if you’re coming from Sydney or anywhere warm. Regardless of temperature, the experience is unique and so good that I went back a second time a month later (paying ourselves, of course) to try a more advanced session.
What’s It Like Catching An Inland Wave?
I’m not an expert surfer but the rides are short, the waves are clean. It’s easy to get going once you’ve worked out how it all works too.
The park is split into two sections, left and right, depending on whether you’re goofy or natural footed. The right side tends to be busier for some reason for the natural footers. It was booked out both times we visited. So it pays to be goofy, sometimes.
As mentioned earlier, it takes a few minutes to get your head around how it all works. In short, you paddle up one side, wait in line and wait for the waves to pump in. There are about 10 waves per set, then a break to ensure anyone who has fallen off can escape.
URBNSURF caters for all levels of surfing
Whether you’re an expert or on a bucks party, URBNSURF offers multiple levels for all experience and skill level. The more beginner level will have you catching white water, in the middle, you have cruiser and intermediate levels and advanced if you want barrels and turns.
We chose cruiser sessions just to get a feel of the place, however, you soon realise intermediate and advanced are the levels to aspire to. These were often booked out when we tried, so plan ahead.
Do you need to bring your own board to URBNSURF?
That’s a tough one. If you’re flying into Melbourne and want to give it a go, you can hire everything there. wetsuits, surfboards; the lot.
Another factor to think about is this: URBNSURF is a concrete surf park, so any time you come off you’re going to either hit yourself or your board. URBNSURF don’t fuck around when it comes to breakage and dings of rented surfboards. If you break it they will charge you and charge you big. So be warned.
We took a brand new Pyzel Phantom and it was kinda fucked after 1 hour. Nose, dings, etc. So it’s a 50/50 call, but bringing on old surfboard is recommended.
It cost about $25 plus $10 for board and wetsuit hire for a 1 hour session.
How many waves do you get in a session at URBNSURF?
On average there were about 15 people on each side in each session. On both visits, we caught about 12 waves in a session. You will find people tend to get tired so they will rest or finish early, making the queue shorter each time you paddle out.
Paddling out is easy too as there’s a rip that will take you most of the way, so no duck diving either. There are instructors nearby just in case anything goes wrong and to keep surfers safe.
When your session is almost done an alarm will sound.
What happens when you fall off your surfboard?
It happens, but people tend to fall toward the wall and the next person will usually miss them as they’re going in the other direction. So don’t be too worried or scared.
How much does URBNSURF cost?
Expect your session to cost about $80 plus wetsuit and board hire. This will take you to around $120 for an hour of fun. Not cheap but money well spent in my humble opinion.
How does URBNSURF work?
URBNSURF comprises of a big jetty in the middle of a pool. The secret weapon, however, which creates the waves, is an almost airplane-style hangar sitting at the end, in which there is a long line of more than 40 pistons, which pump in sequence (a bit like a Mexican wave).
The force and timing of this pumping can be altered to generate different sizes and strengths of waves upon the specially formulated bottom.
URBNSURF have also done a deal to power their park entirely by renewable energy, so the place, as unnatural as it might feel, being nowhere near the coast, is actually similar to the ocean (somewhat) in that the waves are (technically) generated by the elements too.
What else do you need to know?
- Don’t bring valuables. The lockers don’t work so keep phones, etc in your car.
- There are change rooms with showers, hot showers which are perfect when it’s cold, which is always in Melbourne.
- Plenty of parking on site.
- Allow time to sign up and sign in, it is a painfully slow process.
If you live far from the ocean, or you want to guarantee yourself some waves, URBNSURF is the perfect destination.
Check out the URBNSURF website and book yourself a session.