Waterways Place Strategy

Gold Coast Waterways Authority is developing the Waterways Place Strategy to facilitate future planning, investment decision-making and management activity for our Gold Coast waterways.

The Gold Coast has grown from a holiday destination to Australia’s sixth largest City and our beautiful waterways are what sets us apart.  As the City continues to rapidly grow and evolve, our relationship with our waterways does too.

Balanced and considered planning and management of the waterways is critical to ensure existing values, and future opportunities are maintained and enhanced. To plan effectively for the future, we need to understand the values and aspirations of Gold Coast waterways in context of their:

  • support of lifestyle and culture
  • contribution to economy
  • natural environmental values.

The Waterways Place Strategy (Strategy) will draw together this information to propose what we want the waterways to look like, how we can maximise benefits and manage sustainable growth. Ultimately the Strategy will guide and inform good decisions and enable great place-based outcomes for the waterways of the Gold Coast.


We are undertaking comprehensive consultation with the community, key stakeholders, partners and First Nations groups throughout development of the Strategy. 

In April 2024 we ran our community survey, asking how you experience the waterway places in your local area and across the Gold Coast. We had a fantastic response to the survey, with many of you taking the opportunity to tell us what is important to you now and in the future in relation to our waterways. Throughout April 2024 we also held up pop up stands across the Gold Coast to answer your questions and promote our survey. We would like to thank everyone that attended.

We are currently reviewing the survey results and feedback given to us at the pop up stands. We will be checking back in with you in July 2024.  We will summarise the key themes and feedback received, and the aspirations and ideas for Gold Coast waterways. We will also provide you the opportunity to review and provide feedback on the draft Strategy in September 2024 before it is finalised in November 2024.


The Waterways Place Strategy is currently underway.  Activities completed to date have included preliminary studies to help understand best practice placemaking and community sentiment of the waterways, and preliminary engagement with partners and industry.

Technical studies (across social, cultural, environmental, economic and planning/policy) are nearing completion. This includes an economic analysis to understand the total economic value of the Gold Coast Waterways. Governance arrangements to support the project have also been initiated.

We are currently undertaking engagement activities with community, First Nations groups, industry and other stakeholders to enhance our understanding of their values and aspirations of the waterways.


  • Review Project Ideas: we will check in with you to present the key themes and feedback received, and the aspirations and ideas for Gold Coast waterways.
  • Draft Waterways Place Strategy: delivery of a draft Strategy, based on the inputs of the technical studies and stakeholder engagement and adapted from the Movement and Place methodology.
  • Targeted Engagement: engage with stakeholders about the draft Strategy to support and define requirement amendments and identify opportunities.
  • Final Waterways Place Strategy: delivery of the Strategy.


Project start: July 2023

Have your say: March – April 2024

Review project ideas: Commencing July 2024

Estimated review of draft strategy:  September 2024

Estimated completion of final strategy: November 2024

Current status: Delivery

The above dates are estimated only and are subject to change.

GCWA Waterways Place Strategy Survey Winners:  Winners of the survey promotion were drawn on Friday 5 May 2024. Congratulations to M.Duke and M.Quevedo.


The Gold Coast is built along the water, with the most diverse and extensive waterways of any city in Australia. The stunning natural beauty of the waterways, and their accessibility makes the city and its lifestyle so attractive. As the Gold Coast continues to rapidly grow and evolve, balanced and considered planning and management of the waterways is critical. This will ensure existing values, and future opportunities are maintained and enhanced.

The scope of the Strategy will include the following:

It does not include ocean beaches, lakes or private residential land.

The Strategy will cover the entire Gold Coast waterways network – the specific rivers, creeks and the Broadwater, and the unique places that exist within these areas. A map of the project area is shown here – Place Strategy Area of Study.

The Gold Coast has the most extensive and diverse waterway network in Australia, with incredible natural beauty. The Gold Coast waterways support our unique lifestyle and culture, contribute to the regional economy, and hold significant natural environmental values. 

To effectively plan for the future, and shape what the Gold Coast waterways will look like in decades to come, the Waterways Place Strategy (the Strategy) is needed. 

A place-based approach ensures that planning and management strategies consider each waterside place individually, with no single approach being applied to the whole waterways. 

Header photo by City of Gold Coast (Source: Unsplash).