New beach driving fees
BEACH vehicle bans and access fees will come into force along significant sections of the Cooloola Coast and Noosa North Shore within weeks.
Sustainability Minister Kate Jones announced the new rules yesterday, saying they would ensure that “Queensland’s iconic Cooloola area will be safeguarded for years to come”.
She said the new plan identified priority projects including “an expanded campground at Freshwater, internal road upgrades, new amenities, dune protections, visitor signage and waste facilities”.
Vehicles will be banned between Teewah and Noosa Heads and access fees will apply for all vehicles driven to Double Island Point from both directions.
Vehicle access permits will also be required along the Freshwater Track between Bymien and the beach, the Kings Bore Circuit track and the Leisha Track.
No permits will be required for Inskip Point or from Rainbow Beach township to Middle Rock.
Free access will also be retained for the Cooloola Way, the four-wheel-drive track to Poverty Point and the 3km unsealed Freshwater Track from the Rainbow Beach Road turnoff to Bymien Picnic area.
The changes were generally accepted positively in the Gympie and Noosa regions yesterday, with a major exception being the economically embattled Rainbow Beach business sector.
Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism Association president Scott Elms said many businesses were in fear that the restrictions and fees would worsen a local business recession.
“We asked for free access to Double Island Point and if we haven’t got that, we’re not happy.
“Free access as far as Middle Rock is a joke. It’ll be a parking lot.
“How are people going to turn around at high tide at Middle Rock? At a time when business is down 30 to 40 per cent, this is just what we didn’t need,” he said.
Gympie Mayor Ron Dyne, Ms Jones’ Opposition counterpart Glen Elmes and Noosa Parks Association senior vice president Michael Gloster welcomed the news to varying degrees.
Cr Dyne said the new regime would still allow free vehicle access to the coloured sands area.
The government also had compromised on the type and cost of vehicle permits.
“We’ve tried to look after the Rainbow Beach end of things.
“We asked for a day pass and free access to the coloured sands and we’ve been accommodated.
“All in all, if you’ve got to have a fee, we’ve come out of it reasonably well.”
Noosa MP, Mr Elmes said there were always going to be changes “and what she’s come back with exceeds our expectations.
“Originally, we had a three-day pass for $25. Now we have one day for $10 or $15 and the $25 pass is now for seven days.
“In all, the people I’ve spoken to at my end are pretty happy.”
Noosa Parks Association has welcomed the announcement as an “important breakthrough”.
“NPA has been lobbying the Minister for this announcement since 1995, and we thank the Minister for increasing the environmental protection of Cooloola” NPA senior vice-president Michael Gloster said.
“Cooloola’s claims for World Heritage recognition have just received a significant boost,” Dr Gloster said.