Great Barrier Reef Minister visits Whitehaven
NATIONAL Parks Minister Steven Miles toured the Whitsundays yesterday to asses the damage of Cyclone Debbie.
Along the way he visited Whitehaven Beach and also snorkelled Mantaray Bay and and Stonehaven.
Dr Miles, also the Minister for Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef, congratulated the crews of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers who worked day and night to clean up Whitehaven Beach.
"Despite the damage, we responded immediately to make sure the region's primary tourist attraction was open for business," he said.
"QPWS crews assisted by contractors took advantage of the low tides day and night, and moved 10,000 cubic metres of sand to create 350 metres of beach and a foredune to protect the vulnerable vegetation from further damage.
"Uprooted vegetation was removed from along the foreshore and used to create 650-700 cubic metres of mulch.
"About 150 cubic metres of mulch was spread on the island's infrastructure and walking tracks and the remaining material was transferred off the island."
Tourism Whitsundays chairman Al Grundy said he thought it was a productive visit.
"We went snorkelling with one of our dive instructors with Mr Miles at two sites firstly at Mantaray Bay and Stonehaven,” he said.
"At Mantaray we wanted to show him how the coral had been impacted at the shore and what opportunities there were for us to look at restoration programs
"Then at Stonehaven we went to a site where there was about three charter vessels there. About 80 guests were there snorkelling and having a look at coral and the marine life.
"In effect we wanted to give him some balance. One of the sights been damaged where we obviously need to do some programs to restore the reef then another where we could see marine life in its glory.
"He had actually snorkelled at Mantaray before so he was able to get a vision of what it was like before and now he was able to see it after the storm.”
Mr Miles said re-profiling the beach had created a foredune where visitors can spread out their towels and relax.
"The re-profiled beach has improved tourism operators' ability to land their vessels directly onto the beach, and has mitigated further impacts on the fragile foreshore vegetation,” he said.
"The track to Hill Inlet lookout, with its spectacular views, is also open and the nearby boat moorings are now fully operational."
Mr Miles said the work showed Cyclone Debbie may have eroded the beach but couldn't erode the Queensland spirit.
"The campground was destroyed, the beach was eroded to the foreshore vegetation and tourist facilities were damaged,” he said.
"Thanks to the hard work of our dedicated rangers, one of the most pristine beaches in the world is well on its way to being restored to its former glory."