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Friday, April 19, 2024

Save the jetty

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BOWEN’S jetty needs a vision for the future, similar to Busselton in Western Australia.

The jetty is coming to the end of its working life and the local Chamber of Commerce wants to see it retained as a tourist attraction and community asset.

Chamber chairman Bruce Hedditch said it’s too late to cry out once it has been lost and that community agitation is needed now, to save it for future generations.

He said the jetty was built in 1866 and was a staple of Bowen’s early history.

It serviced ships from around the nation and the world, loading cargoes of frozen beef, coal and minerals from the hinterland.

He said it used to be 150m longer but has been chopped short by nature’s storms, as well as wear and tear.

It is kept alive by the tugs operating from an arm on one side but there are plans to move them closer to their ‘work site’ at Abbot Point.

Once they’re gone, the future is bleak.

Mr Hedditch said the State Government and the council didn’t want it because they claim it is too expensive to maintain.

He has a vision of a redeveloped jetty as a tourist attraction, along with the foreshore with its waterpark, barbecues, shady seating and along to the Catalina memorial.

“There is too much negativity (from the government and council). Once it goes, it will never come back.

“The chamber has a vision to keep it, you only have to look at other old jetties to see what can happen.”

He cites Busselton, in Western Australia, as an example. Busselton community pressure and initiatives stopped its demolition – today it is probably the biggest tourist attraction in the city and visited by millions each year.

Built in 1863, it is 1.8km long, the longest timber-piled jetty in the southern hemisphere, and is operated by a non-profit community organisation, formed in 1987.

It has grown to include a museum, shops and restaurants, fees from which help pay for maintenance.

“We don’t have to go that far but visitors from around the country walk out to the end, marvelling at the turtles, stingrays, the thousands of sky-blue soldier crabs, bigger sand crabs and fish they see in the water,” Mr Hedditch said.

He said the community had to push the government, and council, to save it and fund its redevelopment.

He can see ice cream and coffee shops along the length of the jetty, which has plenty of room for shops at the end.

Licence fees from shops could help fund the jetty’s preservation, Mr Hedditch believes.

“The government might not think it’s worth saving but that’s not our view,” he said.

The jetty has been part of the community for years, from kids fishing to people just walking in the sunshine, getting some exercise.

“We have an application in (to the government) to save it, we need the community to have a say in saving it. But first up, we need a proper study done to see what we need to do to save it,” Mr Hedditch said.

A North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) spokesperson said: “We know how important the jetty is to the Bowen community.

“We recently completed a $3.6m works program on the jetty, which repaired the worst timber sections, to ensure it remains open for public access and available to meet the commercial needs of the tugs that service the Port of Abbot Point.

“We are currently working with key stakeholders to consider long-term infrastructure options for the Abbot Point tugs.

“We plan to engage with all relevant stakeholders at the appropriate time, when considering the future of the jetty, as it relates to the Abbot Point towage infrastructure.

‚ÄúThis will involve ongoing consultation with Whitsunday Regional Council, Bowen Collinsville Enterprise, Bowen Chamber of Commerce, our shareholding ministers and, of course, the community,” the spokesperson said.

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