Thursday, May 18, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
Bowen residents worried about the future of the town's dilapidated jetty have received a "don't panic" assurance from some key players involved with the facility.
At the Bowen Chamber of Commerce meeting last Wednesday night, guest speaker John Martin, a former manager of the North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) tug facility on the jetty, spoke about the history of the facility and how it would be no easy task to demolish it after the NQBP lease on the facility lapses later this year, and if a new leaseholder cannot be found.
Mr Martin, who became manager of the facility in 1985 with responsibility for seven ports throughout Queensland, recalled how fire had damaged part of the wharf, which had to be knocked down.
"Nearly 18 months later they were still trying to demolish the piles," he said. "The cost of demolition is staggering.
"This wharf was built to carry trains ... the timber (Tasmanian hardwood beams) is just staggering and this is why it is still here now.
With loads of up to six tonnes per axle, Mr Martin said that once heavy traffic was no longer used on the jetty, it would last for "a very long time".
"I wouldn't be panicking right now about its demolition," he said.
Mr Martin said the Bowen community needed to consult with all levels of government about developing a long-term plan for the jetty.
He said the facility still had a role to play in developing tourism in the town.
NQBP community and stakeholder advisory director Lorelei van Dalen told the meeting that while the preferred base for the tug fleet was Abbott Point,"this will take time".
"We know how important the jetty is to the community. I'm sure we can find another partner to take on the lease," she said.
Bowen businessman Neil Holloway also was at the meeting to air his proposal for redeveloping the facility that potentially has spin-offs for the town as well.
Under the proposal, which is as yet to be costed and without timeframes, a rock groyne would almost encircle the jetty, which Mr Holloway said would eliminate the tidal surge that frequently backs up the town's drainage channels. It would also allow a range of ventures to go ahead on the jetty.
These included drawing a marine research facility to set up on the jetty; an observatory and a 'coral garden' being established between the jetty's arms; restaurants and a delicatessen to take advantage of Bowen's reputation as a food bowl; and possibly even attracting cruise ships.
The proposal would benefit the existing foreshore water park and skate park facilities and there were even plans for fishing platforms to be built on the proposed rock groyne.
Mr Holloway said that Bowen needed to develop as a tourism destination. "Only six per cent of traffic (on the Bruce Highway) comes to Bowen," he said.
The proposed Bowen Harbour and sea wall jetty development