New breakwaters could spell survival for local businesses
NEW breakwaters at the Bowen Boat Harbour are set to give more than a great location for tourists and residents alike to enjoy - they could be the game changer the harbour needs.
Preliminary work on the $3m project began earlier this week, with truckloads of rocks already being carted into a worksite at the end of Starboard Drive, Bowen.
The breakwaters are a project by Transport and Main Roads which will see the Bowen boat harbour be protected against waves for all harbour users.
For local businesses and organisations, the project could be the beginning of a lifesaver as they have struggled to operate since Tropical Cyclone Debbie in 2017.
Terry Pilcher, deputy president of the Marina Association who maintains and tend to the 32 marina berths in front of the North Queensland Yacht Club, said having a safe harbour could be the beginning of rejuvenation to the area.
He said the associations marina berths had traditionally been full, but now they were seeing empty spaces.
"Not having a safe harbour has definitely impacted us," he said.
"Boaties talk, and we hear all the whispers that the Bowen Harbour isn't a safe harbour to berth in, so people are skipping Bowen.
"This project can change that, it's a great start."
Mr Pilcher said he would like to see footpaths that would link the new breakwater paths to the marina, yacht club and Bowen foreshore.
He said it would help surrounding businesses to have 'everything connected'.
"We're blessed, there's nowhere like us in the area with a marina where you can berth and walk your way up to the CBD," he said.
"We've spent a lot sprucing up the front of the town to get travellers in, now we have a chance to bring people in the back who would boat in."
Owner of Arabon Seafoods, Terry Must, is excited by the addition of the breakwaters and what it could mean for both his business and the Bowen Harbour.
He also part-owns the Bowen Marina at the end of Henry Darwen Drive, which he said has been subject to powerful waves which have damaged structures.
He said hinges on the moorings have been breaking almost monthly, at a cost of about $1000 every time, due to the strength of the waves coming in.
"This will definitely stop that and hopefully get people using the marina, which has struggled," he said.
Mr Must said that the new breakwaters would help to continue fishing boats coming into Bowen.
"To get a fishing boat back out on the water, you're looking at around $8,000 to $10,000," he said.
"They go to town, they'll do their supply shops, and they'll eat at our restaurants. It all goes back to Bowen."
Mr Must said that the commercial side of the harbour was only one element of the potential of the new breakwaters, and heralded a push for more recreational use of the harbour.
"We have the highest concentration of registered boats in the Whitsundays, so we know there's an opportunity," he said.
"If we can attract people to the harbour, it can only get better.
"That's not just boaties either, people like to come to harbours by car and sit and enjoy themselves by the water.
"It won't just be one business that will flourish, it will flow on to help all of us."
Mr Must said the next step would be to see a 'greenification' of the harbour area.
"That's what I'd like next, the harbour to flow from the foreshore and Henry Darwen park and continue to show people why Bowen is so beautiful."