Lennox Head Project Abandoned


With completion nearing, at 3PM on the 13th of September, the Aquarius Barrier installation at Lennox Head was abandoned. What was meant to be a three week installation program had taken eight weeks. This was the most devastating outcome of a project that I have encountered in my 35 years of industrial design. When commiserating with me, one of my clients asked me, why on earth are you doing this? You are a successful industrial designer, taking on the forces of nature in an environment that is so volatile and unpredictable, do you really need this now in your life?

This got me reflecting and made me question whether, if I had the opportunity to choose to do it again, knowing now what I didn’t know then, would I still do it? Would I put my family and life on hold to challenge this environmental issue? The answer is yes, without a doubt.

Commercial dive team attempting to connect the barrier in the surf zone

Why am I doing this?

I am an environmentalist who believes that every creature on this earth has a right to life. I believe that the human effect on the environment is our responsibility and that it would be irresponsible to look away from an environmental issue that I have been blessed with an ability to solve. It is my ambition to cease shark culling practices in Australia by creating a viable, environmentally friendly alternative that will allow us to live in harmony with our environment. 

From here there are two paths we can take. We can bury our head in the sand and continue with the shark culling methods that our nation has grown accustomed to. Or we can recognise the incredible opportunity we have to find an effective solution that will provide peace of mind for our families and children, so that they can swim in the ocean and co-exist with its rich marine life. The trial of the Aquarius Barrier at Seven Mile Beach, Lennox Head has established the foundations for further development of the technology, and giving up after this first trial in a high energy environment would be counterproductive.

Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head is a beautiful, ever changing coastline that is seldom gentle, mostly energetic and sometimes extremely powerful. Placing an enclosure in this pristine part of Northern NSW was first discussed in April 2015 and has resulted in months of collaboration, design and engineering with experts in various fields. The aim of this trial was to uncover a wealth of information that would help establish the design, installation and environmental criteria for future barriers, not just in NSW but around the world. We thank and take our hat off to the Department of Primary Industries and the NSW Government for taking the initiative and supporting such a challenging environmental issue and for trialling this one of a number of ground breaking technologies.

We apologize to the Lennox Head community for the disruptions to the beach during the attempted installation and thank them wholeheartedly for their encouragement and support throughout the project. We are working hard to clean up and return the beach to its original condition. We have already begun working on new design improvements to advance our technology and hopefully we might have another opportunity in the future to provide a safe swimming enclosure at Lennox Head. This is not the end of our journey, it is just the beginning.

Attempted installation of barrier at Lennox Head