Tin Can Bay tensions rise

TENSION between some Tin Can Bay home owners and more itinerant houseboat and motor home residents is a sign of the times, but one that should not involve vandalism or violence.

That was the view expressed yesterday by Gympie Regional Councillor Graham Engeman.

Cr Engeman freely admitted yesterday that he had stirred a hornets’ nest with his recently published comments that the Transport Department should have the power to move houseboat dwellers on from tidal areas around Norman Point.

Angry houseboat residents last week told The Gympie Times they feared it was only a matter of time before someone is killed, after vandals joined the dispute, spraying obscenities on the vehicles of the town’s marine dwellers.

Cr Engeman yesterday acknowledged that the boat residents had every legal right to land their craft between the high and low water mark, but said he was concerned that houseboats were appearing in growing numbers on the foreshore and that camper vans and motor homes were using streets and parks as free accommodation areas.

Ratepayers had every right to be concerned at people making free use of water supply and other facilities which had to be paid for by land-based householders.

He said there was also a major concern about environmental damage, despite one marine household pointing out that their craft had sullage tanks which they had to pay to have pumped out at Hervey Bay.

“We can’t do it here, because the sewerage plant at Tin Can Bay can’t handle salt water,” boat dweller Michael Norman said last week.

But Cr Engeman said this seemed to go against the observations of residents.

“When do they go to Hervey Bay to do that?” he asked. “They seem to be there (at Norman Point) all the time.”

He said the issue was an offshoot of his ongoing concerns about itinerant campers in vans at Rainbow Beach.

“They’re not all backpackers.

“People have complained to me that they (defecate) in the Centreblock and they strip and shower in public at the beach,” he said.

“Why should people with houses have to pay thousands of dollars a year in rates while others use ratepayer-funded facilities for free?

“Some park their cars on the grass foreshore. They use water from a council tap in the park and I’ve seen one with a towel over his shoulder apparently having a shower in the public toilet. Who pays for that?” he said.

Gympie Times

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