These three focus areas aim to ensure the Gold Coast continues to embrace our waterways as it embraces the opportunities of being a waterways city.

Access – The ability to get out onto the water quickly from a launching point such as a boat ramp, jetty or pontoon.

Connections – A navigable channel network supported by infrastructure needed to access it.

Destinations – Locations promoted for a variety of uses including recreation, events and industry activities such as shipbuilding and maintenance, tourism, film and television production.

Our Mission

Our mission is to manage and enhance Gold Coast waterways in partnership with the public and on behalf of the Queensland Government.

We aspire to set the standard for and spread the principles of world-class waterways management – emphasising environmental excellence – to improve the quality of open waterways space for the enjoyment of all.

In embracing this mission, the GCWA of the future will retain and build on its successful infrastructure program while adopting a broader focus on supporting sustainable commercial and recreational uses of the waterways as the Gold Coast population grows, managing these multiple uses and ensuring acceptable behaviours as well as preserving environmental values including water quality and waterways resilience.



  • Integrated, place-based Management Land and Waterways network planning and management are integrated and centred around local needs and local solutions.
  • Engaged users and communities Residents of the Gold Coast and surrounding areas value, use, understand, protect, respect, enhance and enjoy the waterways
  • Sustainable and resilient waterways Waterways and land are sustainably managed and are resilient to the impacts of population growth, economic and environmental challenges, and climate change.

Our Strategy

The Gold Coast Waterways Management Strategy 2021-2030 is the second 10-year strategy prepared by the Authority to guide the responsible management of the Gold Coast’s waterways and the Authority’s land-based reserves.

Since the first Strategy was published in 2014, the Gold Coast waterways and the GCWA have undergone significant changes. With population increases, changes in use and the addition of responsibilities under the Implementation of the Spit Master Plan Act 2020, there was a clear need to refresh the Strategy and align the direction of the GCWA towards the opportunities and challenges of today.

The Strategy outlines the collective vision of the GCWA, our agency partners, the City of Gold Coast, the community and industry for the future of the waterways. It provides clear guidance on the development and implementation of the waterways management plan whilst ensuring alignment with other plans such as The Spit Master Plan and the Queensland Government’s objectives for the community.

This Strategy provides the foundations to ensure that locals and visitors can continue to enjoy, and thrive in our waterways city now, and into the future.


Congestion: Management of the Gold Coast waterways needs to be able to anticipate and respond to population growth and changes in waterways users and uses, as well as improved use of waterside land to accommodate future needs.

Resilience to Climate Change: There is an opportunity for our waterways to become an asset capable of reducing these risks for the broader community, through adaptive infrastructure solutions including green infrastructure that seeks to increase the area of natural buffers. Examples such as wetlands or utilising dredge materials to build resilience to rising seas or to create new habitat may be considered.

The use of green infrastructure is growing both internationally and across Australia as a cost effective and appropriate way to enhance resilience and address other urban challenges like water quality and amenity.

Last updated: 1 September 2021