Last weeks of free beach driving
DOUBLE Island Point looked magical early yesterday morning as fishermen lowered their boat into the huge lagoon formed on the north side of the point.
Thousands of tonnes of sand have been deposited over The Sticks over the past couple of months making access to Double Island the easiest it has been in years. But for lovers of Double Island Point, there are only three weekends left to enjoy its beauty for free.
On October 17, beach driving fees will come into force, which means Gympie Region residents will pay to drive in and around their own backyard.
Rainbow Beach businesses were trying to look on the bright side of the new beach driving fees that will come into affect from October 17, saying they are still one of the only places left in Queensland with some free beach driving.
The amount of beach allowed to be driven on without a permit has been drastically reduced but Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism president Scott Elms said Rainbow still had nearly 20kms of free beach from Middle Rock to Inskip Point for visitors to enjoy.
“While I am not happy with all of the changes, people will still be able to see the Coloured Sands for free,” he said.
The catch for many Rainbow Beach residents and tourists is that they will have to pay to visit their favourite surfing, fishing and sight seeing spot at Double Island Point.
Double Island Point is looking the best it has for many years.
Access is easy via 4WD at low tide.
Sand has covered the sticks and a huge crystal clear lagoon has formed on the northern side of the point.
Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Kate Jones announced in September that charges for accessing the beach from the southern side of Middle Rock and the inland Freshwater Track would cost $15 a day ($10 over the net), $25 for two to seven days, $39.35 a month of $197.20 per year.
The fees also cover Teewah Beach south of Double Island Point to the third cutting on Noosa North Shore.
Many Rainbow Beach businesses were still trying to work out what implications the new fees would have on their business yesterday.
Robbie Rye from Rainbow Beach 4WD Towing and Breakdown Service said a lot of people still weren’t sure of how much they would have to pay to operate their business on the beach.
He said when permits were introduced at Fraser Island, businesses using the beach as a worksite were given an exemption and he hopes that will happen at Rainbow.
“We have had one of the hardest years ever in business and beach fees will be an added pressure,” Mr Rye said.
He said the combination of the fallout from the global financial crisis and the bad weather on the coast had a negative affect on his business.
Looking on the positive side Mr Rye said free beach access from Middle Rock to Inskip Point was something the town had to promote.
“We don’t have a choice; we have to make the most of a bad situation.” .
“The biggest problem is that we will lose tourists coming up the beach from Noosa.
“They will now have to pay the barge and beach fee.
“The beach is our main link to Noosa tourists
“People aren’t going to drive around the road unless they upgrade it and they (the government) are not going to spend money on that”.
He said the community needed to put a positive spin on the beach fee decision.
“It’s here and we have to live with it.”
On Wednesday morning The Gympie Times emailed questions about the new beach fees to the Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Kate Jones. Late yesterday afternoon her media advisors were still putting the finishing touches on her answers and asked The Gympie Times for an extension.