All tidal access will unlock tourism
THE success of a proposed eco-tourism venture on Hinchinbrook Island that will incorporate the Thorsborne Trail hinges on the State Government restoring all-tidal access to One Mile Creek and Dungeness, says Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto.
Mr Dametto said the State’s recent call for expressions of interest (EOI) for a commercial operator to develop an eco-tourism experience on the trail needed to be backed by a firm commitment to dredge at both locations where tourists are likely to travel from.
“All tidal access is imperative for safe and uninterrupted passage to Hinchinbrook Island’s Thorsborne Trail,” the Katter’s Australian Party MP said.
“It is almost impossible to run a tourism business waiting on the tide. This might suit some operators but if we are going to ensure the success of this venture we need to guarantee we have a solid supply chain and this means connecting the island with visitors.”
Mr Dametto said potential customers would be travelling via bus or hire car to Dungeness at Lucinda or Cardwell’s One Mile Creek before transferring via boat in order to get to Hinchinbrook Island.
“People will be planning their holiday around flights or other travel commitments so reliable, on-time transport will be necessary for the island trail to run efficiently,” he said.
“Simply put, you can’t operate a tourism business waiting on the tide to come in and customers want to leave and return on a set schedule.”
Mr Dametto said all tidal access to both the northern and southern end of the Hinchinbrook Channel would “see our region reap the benefits of tourism”.
Hinchinbrook Shire Council has already done significant work on acid sulphate testing at Lucinda’s Enterprise Channel (Dungeness), while Port Hinchinbrook mortgagee Sino are in discussions with the Department of State Development to find a way forward for dredging both the marina and One Mile Creek itself.
In July, Mr Dametto brought representatives from Port Hinchinbrook mortgagee Sino, Cassowary Coast Regional Council and maintenance firm Norship Marine to Cardwell for a discussion on how to restore town’s ailing development to its former glory.
Some of the topics discussed included determining who takes responsibility for its future maintenance, upkeep of roads and essential services within the development and potentially submitting an application to dredge and rebuild Port Hinchinbrook’s marina as well as the area in front of Norship’s facilities.
That was followed by State Infrastructure Minister Cameron Dick’s announcement in August that Cassowary Coast Regional Council had secured $200,000 in State Government funding for emergency repairs to Port Hinchinbrook’s Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP).
“I will continue to offer whatever assistance I can to councils and Sino in advocating for dredging at both locations but the State Government needs step up and invest in the future of our region,” Mr Dametto said.
“All-tidal access should be a fundamental right for any recreational or commercial boat operator living in a coastal community. We also have a safety issue with the Cardwell Coast Guard vessel unable to respond to vessels in distress at low tide. It’s only a matter of time before lives are lost at sea.”
A call for Tourism Minister Kate Jones to assist in restoring all-tidal access to tourism hotspots in Hinchinbrook was palmed off to Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey during a Question on Notice asked by Mr Dametto in parliament in August.
Earlier that year in March, Mr Dametto also tabled a paper petition in parliament with 1355 signatures to the State Government calling for One Mile Creek to be dredged to allow all-tidal access for Cardwell Coast Guard.
“Since tabling that petition and the recent Thorsborne Trail announcement, I see momentum is building, with an increased appetite from the State to act on finding fixes for these long running problems,” he said.
“This will be the first step towards transforming the Hinchinbrook region into a must-see visitor destination.”