'Bashful plant' to blame
HOLIDAYMAKERS have been barred from camping at a popular Proserpine fishing spot for nearly two decades because of an infestation of a sensitive plant with pink flowers.
The infestation of Mimosa pigra, or "bashful plant", at the Peter Faust Dam is the only one on record in Queensland since 2001, and the first outside of the Northern Territory.
Tight biosecurity controls put in place to stop the spread of the aggressive shrub has meant no-one will be able to enjoy a camping weekend at the dam for the foreseeable future.
This comes as the Minister for Natural Resources Dr Anthony Lynham reveals works on new tourism infrastructure at the Peter Faust Dam recreation area can begin once negotiations between SunWater and the Whitsunday Regional Council are complete.
"SunWater is currently in negotiations to transfer the management of the dam's recreation area to the Whitsunday Regional Council," he said.
"Under council's management, the focus will be on improving recreational amenities, and improvement options will include on-site camping.
"Joint Commonwealth and Queensland governments funding of $1 million has been allocated for new tourism infrastructure at Lake Proserpine (where Peter Faust Dam is located), and works are expected to commence once the transfer to the Whitsunday Regional Council has been finalised."
Whitsunday Regional Council major projects manager Tim Rose said the council hoped to have the lease finalised by June or July.
Mr Rose said the council was also working on a masterplan for the project and a constraints analysis report.
"Council is very keen to create new recreation infrastructure but we are very aware we need to do deal with the Mimosa pigra issue," he said.
Mimosa pigra have been found in the upstream areas of the Peter Faust Dam flood margin area as recently as March 2017.
"Mimosa pigra restricts stock access and chokes water ways, and is a risk to sugarcane fields, cattle-grazing areas, and wetland areas with conservation significance, in Central Queensland," Dr Lynham said.
"Camping remains restricted to existing cleared areas, and no access is allowed in areas of the flood margin where surveillance for Mimosa pigra continues."
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has conducted an ongoing eradication program for Mimosa Pigra at Peter Faust Dam since it was first discovered there in 2001.
Principal Biosecurity Officer Michelle Smith said the invasive plant has been detected in four of the five zones that the Department monitors regularly.
"Mimosa Pigra can be eradicated, although destroying seedlings before they germinate is determined by the level of water in the dam," she said.
"Seedlings can survive under water for more than 20 years and cannot be removed until the water level drops to a point where they can be accessed."