Canngu Under Threat

4 Jul 2018 6 Share

The scene at Canggu, Bali.

The scene at Canggu, Bali.

Development set to hack beach; paddle out protest held yesterday afternoon

Yesterday evening a paddle out was held to protest a proposed development that seems likely to destroy the Echo Beach left and beachie peak at Canngu. Rough plans for the development, which is already underway, show a rock jetty extending into the water directly in front of the left’s end section. Pressure from local elders may lead to changes in this development, but as of now, it’s rocks rocks rocks. Photographer Fran Miller reports from Canggu for CW:

I got the text message from a close friend around 3pm. Happily nestled up at Uluwatu, I almost couldn’t believe what I was reading.

“You won’t believe what I’m seeing. They are destroying Canggu. Come. Now.”

Intrigued, but somewhat un-fussed, having watched Canggu already develop from an idyllic rice paddy paradise to urban-hipster scene, I jumped on my moto for the hour ride on the chaotic Balinese roads to see what was going on.

Meeting up first with my friend in the Canggu satellite suburb of Berawa, I smirkingly asked, “So…what’s going on?” Half expecting some silly answer like Canggu had run out of Almond Milk or rainbow coloured yoga pants were out of stock and the hipsters and yogis were causing a scene, I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to hear or witness.

“You’re not going to believe it Fran. Two days ago it started. They are building a jetty to Echo Beach.”

My mind instantly flashed to thoughts of Kirra, my home wave, and how human intervention had arguably destroyed the perfect sand banks that formed the lines etched into our memories from the likes of MP and Rabbit.

We quickly hustled across the back alleys that lead to Pererenan beach, and there it was. In full flight, a bulldozer actively piling rock upon rock forming a new jetty, with the hallowed rocky sand bottom peak of Echo beach only 100 metres away.

Echo beach, one local expatriate next to me remarked, “is Trestles, but better. More swell, more consistency, and boardshorts. This is a surfing tragedy.”

Hundreds of locals, tourist and expatriates gathered around the development site as the evening approached, called in via a last-minute text and Facebook group message. Trying to grasp the context of the scene through a series of translations of yelling and arguments, it appeared we were witnessing a $35 million development supported by the government, though apparently the local Banjar (village elders) were not in support of the jetty proposal.

Local expatriate Rob Dubois, co-founder of local yoga studio “The Practice”, commented: “They think this will help business in the area. This will destroy Canggu.”

I met surfer after surfer, devastated by what they were witnessing. Young tourist Max had flown in only the day before. “I have never been here before, but this place is famous for its surf. That’s why I’m here.”

“You have no idea what you are doing! What this is going to do!” yelled local surfer Made in both English and Indonesian.

As the crowd thickened, a response team sent by the developers charged down to the beach front to try and disperse the crowd. Ironically wearing t-shirts embroidered with Save our Village, they were overheard saying, “Just get rid of the people. Just get rid of them.” Announcing that they would amend the plans whilst frantically waving the development papers over their heads, one member of their group began filming the faces in the crowd. I was told this was done in order to pressure or cause complications for any known protesting identities later. I suddenly felt quite threatened, having simply turned up on my surfing holiday to see what was going on, and now feeling like a criminal for doing what any self-respecting surfer would do when witnessing the destruction of one of the world’s most famous waves.”

(More updates to come on this situation)

The flyer for the community gathering/protest happening 5pm local time July 3, 2018.

The flyer for the community gathering/protest happening 5pm local time July 3, 2018.

The scene at Canggu, Bali.

The scene at Canggu, Bali.

Below: A gallery of aerial shots illustrating the construction at the famed surf spot, as well as the paddle out held in protest.

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