RAMPING UP: Members of the Save Blackcurrant Island group protest the development of an all-tide facility at Blackcurrant Island in between the communities of Dingo Beach and Hydeaway Bay.
RAMPING UP: Members of the Save Blackcurrant Island group protest the development of an all-tide facility at Blackcurrant Island in between the communities of Dingo Beach and Hydeaway Bay. Peter Carruthers

Push to 'save' Blackcurrant Island

OPPOSITION to the long discussed all-tide boat ramp at Blackcurrant Island in the Gloucester area has been getting louder at the communities of Dingo Beach and Hydeaway Bay.

A recent meeting of the newly formed Save Blackcurrant Island at the Dingo Beach pub drew more than 65 locals who oppose the proposed all-tide facility on the southern side of the island.

In December 2016 a GHD surveyor's report, commissioned by the Whitsunday Regional Council, listed the island as the sixth most favourable site from a total of eight sites investigated for the suitability of an all-tide facility.

In late 2016 the Whitsunday Regional Council resolved to further investigate option six at Blackcurrant Island and option four at Frog Rock.

In August 2017 council nominated the Blackcurrant Island site as its "preferred option” but said there was "no funding in its long term capital plan” and it would be seeking funding from the State Government to build the boat ramp.

In the lead up to the State election last November Queensland Labor committed $4 million for marine infrastructure if elected and defeated candidate Bronwyn Taha said the money would be spent at the Blackcurrant Island site after a community consultation period.

Since the re-election of the Palaszczuk government on January 2, dissent from the community gained an online presence with the creation of the Save Blackcurrant Island Facebook group, which now has 44 members.

In a statement, the Save Blackcurrant Island group said it was "alarmed at the potentially devastating and irreversible effects of the GHD design proposal on the delicate ecosystem”.

After a meeting with the mayor Andrew Willcox it was resolved by the group to submit a petition to the State Government.

The petition now has 510 local signatures and a second petition, hosted by Change.org, has garnered more than 1360 signatures.

The group states Blackcurrant Island is "surrounded by mangroves, sea grass and coral reefs that provide shelter, feeding and nesting areas for dugong, turtles, stingray, numerous fish species and other marine creatures”.

In mid-2016 a petition proposing to extend and make the existing boat ramp at Dingo Beach an all-tide facility gained the support of a 400 signatories.

However the Save Blackcurrant Island group is also opposed to any plan to dredge out the front of the Dingo Beach pub and allow all-tide access to the existing boat ramp.

The group is advocating for improvements to the existing boat ramp.

At a meeting at the Dingo Beach pub on Tuesday, owner of the Dingo Beach store Murray Cockburn said he was advocating for a dual lane boat ramp at the existing facility which would be slightly extended and would incorporate a swing basin at the end of the ramp.

"So when you put your boat in you put it in water and not on to the sand,” he said.

"And a pontoon so when people come in from fishing and its windy they don't have problems getting their boat on the trailer.”

Owner of the Dingo Beach pub Tony Sellers said most people of Dingo Beach and Hydeaway Bay didn't want the boat ramp at Blackcurrant Island and called on Division 4 councillor Peter Ramage to make his position on the project clear.

"Peter Ramage and Dave Clarke have told me they don't support it,” he said.

"But they need to let us know where the council really stands.”

A spokesperson for the Save Blackcurrant Island group said individual councillors voting in the council chamber did not reflect what they had personally told the people of the Gloucester area.

"They all tell us 'no, no, its never going to happen, we don't have the money and we don't want it' and yet (motions) get carried six to zero,” she said.

Cr Ramage was contacted for comment by the Whitsunday Times.

ED'S NOTE: The story entitled Ramping up support for an all-tide access appearing in the Whitsunday Coast Guardian last week may have implied the group pictured was in support of the proposed Blackcurrant Island project. This is not the case, the group pictured was opposed to the all-tide proposal.


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