SOS for Dungeness Rockwall

Enterprise Channel, Lucinda. Photo credit: Ingham Coast Guard.

9 February 2024

The popular seaside town of Lucinda is the departure point of choice for commercial and recreational users and emergency services seeking to access the Hinchinbrook Channel, the Palm Island Group and the Great Barrier Reef.

However, due to the erosion of the spit and siltation at the entrance of Enterprise Channel, a defined channel no longer exists leaving authorities with no choice but to remove the safety markers.

Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) have refused to reinstate channel marker buoys due to the absence of a defined channel, which has exacerbated the risks for vessels navigating the area.

Hinchinbrook MP and Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) Deputy Leader Nick Dametto said the fact that we have got to this point was absolute absurd.

“For as long as I can remember there has been a defined channel for mariners to use to enter at Dungeness. The marker buoys have always guided boaties to safe passage,” Mr Dametto said.

“The problem of siltation and erosion at the mouth of the channel is not something that has happened overnight and the State Government have been fully aware of this developing problem.

“I have worked closely with the Hinchinbrook Shire Council to lobby the State Government on a solution that would fix this problem now and into the future.

“Bureaucratic bastardry has held this project up too long. With the help of Hinchinbrook Mayor Ramon Jayo, last year we were able to successfully lobby the then Deputy Premier to allocate funding of nearly $400,000 to complete the final sand movement modelling.

“We were also able to lock the department down with clearly defined steps in order to apply for the approval of a rock groyne that will work in conjunction with dredging at the mouth of the creek which has already been approved.

“We have made it clear to the government that it would be ridiculous to start dredging before the rockwall is constructed to ensure the success of the dredging project.

“We were assured this would be the last study required in order to streamline the process for the State Assessment and Referral Agency to make their final decision.

“No longer having a defined channel that MSQ feels comfortable to mark should be a stark indicator that things must move quickly to restore access to Enterprise Channel, Dungeness as soon as possible.

“Both recreational and commercial operators and the Coastguard must have near all tidal access for safety reasons.”

Ian Moody of Ian Moody Sportfishing Charters said Enterprise Channel was mainly a big problem on the low tide as it restricted larger vessels from getting in and out of the boat ramp.

“The locals know the ins and outs of how to get through the channel, and now a lack thereof a channel, but I’ve seen some yachts and larger vessels try to get through on low tide and they have quickly aborted,” Mr Moody said.

“People do get stuck.

“It’s quite a serious safety concern too. If the rescue vessel can’t get out and the weather conditions get worse things can go bad very quickly.

“It was only 2020 when a spearfisherman was bitten by a bull shark over at Britomart Reef. In cases like that every minute counts and had there been any delays getting that bloke back to Lucinda he might not have survived.

 “The lack of a defined channel does play havoc on charter bookings because if we have to factor in the timing of the tides, it sometimes impacts on people’s travel plans and therefore they just aren’t able to book.”

Steve Whipps, Commander of the Ingham Coast Guard, said the Coast Guard frequently faced up to four hour wait times to get the main rescue vessel over the Enterprise Channel sandbar, both at launch and on return with a rescued vessel on tow.

“This delay could be life threatening where a vessel is in danger of sinking or is drifting onto rocks or a reef,” Mr Whipps said.

“A permanent rock wall and exit channel would be welcomed.”


Nick Dametto MP