Your Say: IN REGARD to comments by D. Warne about access to the Mary River at Widgee Crossing.
As part of Gympie's history, Widgee Crossing played a major role at the time of the goldfields. It is where hopefuls coming from the northern and western parts crossed the Mary River to enter the goldfields. They would have travelled the same dirt road that is there today.
Ever since those early days, until recent years, Widgee Crossing was a delightful place for swimming and picnics. Access was easy. A bridge actually spanned the river there.
In the earliest of days a hotel was quite nearby on the northern side and the hotelier charged a toll for crossing the river until he was stopped. The bridge washed away in the early 1960s but the most recent flood revealed some remaining posts on the southern side.
Great times were spent at Widgee Crossing by families throughout all those years. Safe access on both sides of the river and a gravel ford in the river provided vehicle access.
These good times continued until the arrival of 4WD vandals in recent years who vandalised enormously the whole area on both sides of the river. Unfortunately, the council during that time chose to ignore complaints and the vandalising continued unabated. The police response was they could do nothing unless the council requested. The area was desecrated, with very deep holes dug out by the 4WD vandals; the river banks themselves were scoured out purposefully also.
After each flood, more and more erosion occurred. Following one particular flood about three years ago, a family ventured down to the river, making their way along our adjoining fence line to dodge a particularly deep hole full of water.
On their return later in the day they decided to go on the other side of the deep hole only to find their vehicle ended up precariously balanced alongside this deep waterhole that had been the result of 4WD vandalising.
How they got out of their vehicle safely I do not know but they arrived at our home shaking with fright and asking for help.
If that vehicle had rolled over in that waterhole, there would have been a major tragedy, babe in its cradle, the children in seatbelts. How I loathed those 4WD vandals.
Needless to say I made a point of it to council first thing the next morning and without hesitation the large rocks were placed across the road, preventing vehicle access to that area. It was a very sad day to see that happen, absolutely totally caused by selfish 4WD vandals.
Council inspected the south side area as well and applied the same solution there: rocks across the road.
Cars can park nearby and access to the river is by foot; it's not too far to walk though it's now pretty rough going.
What other effect has the 4WD vandalising made on that reach of the river? Never before have we seen the river banks washed away, leaving them vertical and at risk to even greater destabilisation. The beautiful Widgee Crossing area was now destroyed.
The access beyond the rocks is now overgrown with long grass. As a good neighbour we have sprayed weeds where we could, but in the main, the council needs to attend to the area and make safe walking and picnicking areas, restore the areas affected by the 4WD vandals, restore access right to the river and return the area to the public for enjoyment.
The rocks unfortunately need to remain as it is without doubt the 4WD vandals would return. They have many times tried.
For the canoe and kayak enthusiasts, if council restores the area you might need to bring a small trolley you can easily trundle along.
If this were to occur, then the public would need to do their bit also and take their rubbish home, as done in the "olden days" and all could once more enjoy Widgee Crossing.