KATHLEEN SKENE Gold Coast Bulletin
Photo: Mike Batterham
WHEN Australia won the historic America’s Cup in 1983, it was Rob Mundle’s voice that was heard on televisions across the nation calling the triumph. When the first copy of national newspaper The Australian rolled off the press, he was standing with Rupert Murdoch. The former Commodore of Southport Yacht Club has lived an enviable life, having found the sweet spot between his two loves — sailing and writing. The Medal of the Order of Australia winner will release his 15th book this year, having previously written bestsellers including the authorised biography of his friend Alan Bond and Fatal Storm — the story of the tragic 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race — which is published in six languages and has sold more than 200,000 copies. Mr Mundle has worked in all facets of journalism, writing, corporate promotions, event management, sailing and boat building. He has won local, state and Australian sailing championships and contested many major international offshore events.
In recent years Rob has been an organiser of Australia’s largest keelboat regatta. He’s sailed on three Sydney to Hobart races and worked the past seven years as media manager for Wild Oats XI, the most successful yacht in the 70-year history of the classic.
What do you love about the Gold Coast?
“The people who live here are so friendly, so open, so accommodating — I’ve been coming here since the mid-60s.
“My then-girlfriend’s father built Paradise Towers, then the only high-rise.
“I’ve always loved it.
“I came up (from Sydney) to stay with my friends in Main Beach, came to the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show and said ‘this is the place I want to live’.
“One of the great things about the Gold Coast when you live here is you realise the convenience and true beauty of the place.
“Mt Tamborine, which is the equivalent of the southern highlands in New South Wales, is only 40 minutes away.
“You’ve got the Broadwater, you’ve got the rivers, you’ve got everything here — the airport — it’s a little cosmos here that’s just perfect.
“And Sydney’s only an hour away on the plane.”
What do you think can be done better on the Gold Coast?
“We have to realise that we are a tourism-based economy and we have to foster that side of our lives.
“Sadly, there’s a well-engineered vocal minority here that, in so many ways, doesn’t do us any good.
“Different opinions are very valuable, but not when they’re engineered to overwhelm the situation where the majority should rule.
“The silent majority really needs to stand up and be heard on so many issues — my pet one is the Broadwater, which is an asset that is just begging to be developed.
“Fiction tends to override fact and people in these vocal minorities put forward what they claim to be facts and they’re scaremongering.
“It’s not in the interests of society — the place is evolving as a tourism destination, when you came here you knew it was a tourism destination so why try to stop it?
“We’re not destroying the place, we’re just moving with the times.”
In your travels, what have you seen being done elsewhere you think could work well here?
“Far better utilisation of the waterways.
“There’s a potential for a ferry service.
“When you look at it objectively, what can be done here for the benefit of everyone, it is just an absolute diamond mine.
“It needs planning and structure — we’ve got to have politicians and people in general who have beliefs in what can be done and don’t play party politics.”
“We went within an ace of getting the Volvo round-the-world yacht race here about three or four years ago but the political game crushed it.
“Yachting still has this elitist tag but boating is one of Australia’s highest participant sports and it’s from battlers to billionaires.”
If money, time, laws and approvals were no issue, what is one big project you’d undertake tomorrow?
“The Broadwater and the Skyride.
“It’s a goldmine for tourism in so many ways and I’m not talking about raping the Broadwater, I’m talking about making it a more sustainable, more beautiful place for everyone.
“Ian Murray, a race director of the America’s Cup, we had him up here and he said ‘mate, if this area out here was deep enough — and it only has to be a couple of metres deep — we would stage the America’s Cup preliminary races here’.
“All these international events would come — the sailing here offshore is some of the best in Australia because of the wind and waves.
“In Sydney you have the vertical cliffs and the backwash, here the beaches absorb it and we’ve got all these things to sell to Australia and the world.
“The skyrail up to The Hinterland — that’s not going to destroy the forest; that’s just an asset that’s begging to be there.”
What conversations should Gold Coast movers and shakers be having?
“The future of the Gold Coast — really good strategic planning for the longterm and not be influenced by the vocal minority or political parties.
“We must work towards the evolution of the Gold Coast where its character is retained and its assets deliver.”