Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

November 9th 2006
Is this necessary?

The drill line to remove stone from the sentinel For days now drillers have been hard at work creating a dotted line of holes across the side of a huge granite tor, known historically as one of "the Sentinels", beside the Rocky Bay scenic view parking area. The work is being undertaken, seemingly to make enough space for the new walkway to pass between the road and the Sentinel. Without the excavation there is about 1 metre of space between the road and the rock face.

Islanders have expressed concern at the aesthetic impact of the removal of the stone which is part of the Townsville City Council managed $1.2M project.

This Sentinel is the only remaining of the pair which appeared in historical photos of the Island. The other Sentinel was removed when the road joining Picnic to Nelly Bay was built in the 1950s.

The Sentinels prior to the road's construction (photo courtesy Miriam Hardy Collection)

Some have suggested that routing the walkway around the other side of the Sentinel would have been preferable but understands that this may have caused the path to be too steep to comply with disabled access requirements.

The existing gap between the Sentinel and the road

Co-ordinator of disability support organisation, Inclusion Works and resident of Picnic Bay, Rick Thompson, told, "Standards vary from 900 to 1800mm width for two people but we prefer 1500mm," but later commented, "Signage would be a satisfactory option," when asked whether clear signage to alert both drivers and walkers negotiating the couple of metres walk past the sentinel. He also noted that the location, "was not on a blind bend". Rick Thompson was however supportive of the Council's intention to embrace a "duty of care in the sense that they are creating a walkway off the road."

We have also attempted to seek comment from Magnetic Island Councillor Jenny Hill but she is yet to return our call.

Story and photos (except historical): George Hirst

To make a comment see below

Is this necessary?
v jeffery
November 9th 2006
If 900cm width is an acceptable space for people to negotiate, surely the four steps it would take to get past the sentinel could be managed, especially as it is not on a blind corner or steep. Seems a great shame if we lose part of this great monolith for no real gain.
Katy Hinton
November 9th 2006
Well, another travesty of development for the island. What on earth could be more ludicrous than destroying rocks? These beautiful monuments of nature which make the island so memorable. In particular these rocks. Which welcomed so many of us over the years.That marvellous respite for the eye as the bus came up over the hill from the Picnic Bay ferry. These rocks greeted us and said, "Hello, welcome, here is my beauty". And, viola the blue pacific would open up right at the zenith of where these rocks stand.
Who makes these decisions to damage and destroy? Shame on you!!
Bruce Williams
November 10th 2006
Dear Katy, "viola" is a lovely word with delightful connotations. But both the word and the opinion are inappropriate. If you mean "voila", the French word meaning, "look", then you should look past the tree (or rock) and see the forest (or all the other rocks). What's more, you should look and listen. Most Magnetic Islanders have been pleading for a safe pedestrian path over that hill to Picnic for years. I suspect the Council is sick of our compaints about the dangers of pedestrians, buses, cars, bikes, mopeds, hikers, concrete trucks converging just uphill of the bloody so-important rock . The rock is the least of our worries. Don't worry about the rock, Katy, put your shoulder behind the task of completing a century-old campaign to give pedestrians equal rights with the trucks. Bonne chance!

PS. The new sheer face of the rock might benefit from some artistic improvement, preferably with the approval of the Council.
Bruce Williams
November 10th 2006
Bruce Williams
The choice is between a hugely expensive steel and timber structure around the outside of the rock, or knock a bit off the inside of it and lay a conrete footpath between rock and road. Those who object to this option might care to pay the enormous difference if it so important. If the appearance of the rock is of such importance, then either the rock-huggers can pay to have it smoothed over, or try to convince the Council that they should divert scarce resources from elsewhere to appease a looney minority. After being held to ransome for years by Johnny-come-lately expert tree-huggers, I'm not surprised the TCC isn't answering the 'Green Times' tragic phonecalls.
Bruce Williams
November 10th 2006
Dear Bruce,
"Ransome" is a lovely word with delightful, yet meaningless, connotations. If you mean "ransom" which in origin is the same word as redemption, then you should look up the hill further, to the crest where the afternoon light (on the hill?) hits you fair between the eyes. Using the same logic, some mass excavation will have to take place there to create enough space for the walkway over the blind and turning crest.
Looking down on Baghdad (Picnic Bay) from the new lookout won't bring much redemption (deliverence from sin and damnation) so I too am not surprised that TCC is not taking calls.
George Hirst
November 10th 2006
Hi Bruce
Great to have you on board with that impressive spray. Visitors laugh at me when I tell them that after 15 years on Magnetic I am still considered to be a "Johnny-come-Lately" but now I have my proof. Thanks!

As a non-motorist I applaud your efforts to improve the lot of walkers on Magnetic but I
Bruce Williams
November 10th 2006
Advice to readers: the media IS the message. Be aware that your little "spray" will be hosed down with a "deluge". Luckily there is competition among "local" publications. Two sides of every issue are always in the air. I urge both "sides" to speak up
Ken Dun
November 13th 2006
November 13th 2006
I remember when literally hundreds of people claimed (at the end of the 1980s) that only removing a small portion of Bright Point to create a building site and some rock for a breakwall would have a small aesthetic impact of little consequence. That's what they said. And that's what they did. The federal government even agreed and had no problem with potential impact on any old values that might be still clinging to the site. "Whatever it takes" was what the minister said.
And now that they've actually finished the job I'd have to agree. Standing at the lookout next to the Sentinel you can hardly see where the Bright Point thing happened and there's little aesthetic impact. Also, the concern of the government and local council for public safety (they gave us a safe harbour for only 50 million taxpayer dollars remember?) should be applauded. The rehabilitation (by putting a small inconsequential building in front of the scar) is first rate and surely deserves respect as twenty first century world's best practice. I can hardly believe that I made such a fuss about it at the time.
Ken Dun
November 14th 2006
It seems that the first casualty of the polemicist is logic. Had I known that the words
November 15th 2006
No Ken, wrong logic. It's not Bright Point that's the topic it's the idea that having knocked the front tooth out of a face the vast bulk of the face will remain in situ and will have the same visual impact when viewed from many angles. Your stated belief is that such defacement will be of "no great consequence" and I will die in the ditch to defend your right to state such a view. But while I'm writhing there (in the ditch with at least one of your shiny boots stuffed in my mouth) I will be pointing out that you are gazing skyward, mesmerised by your own profundity and just over your shoulder the powder monkey is leaning hard on the plunger. The last chip from the rock face is about to take out the one eye you have left.
When you are completely blind you'll probably see my point.
November 16th 2006
I too was horrified at the sight of the drillholes on the Sentinel.Coming home after a trip to town in the "old days" when the ferry landed its passengers at the Picnic Bay jetty, the sight of the Sentinel meant that all the stress and bother of a day on the mainland was well and truly over, and the peace and tranquillity of home was only a couple of minutes away.
However as a user of an invalid scooter, I will welcome the chance to be able to "escape" from Nelly Bay safely. I CAN navigate a 900mm path with no trouble, but if TCC in its wisdom decrees that a chunk of my favourite rock must go, I must perforce accept it. But decorate the remains with artwork? No, No, and NO!!
Some of us would still love to see our island looking exactly like everywhere else, but I think the majority still love it for its unique natural beauty. I don't remember hugging a tree since I was a small kid playing Catch, but I'm afraid I must ally myself with Bruce Williams' "tree-huggers" on this one.
Bruce Williams
December 9th 2006
Actually Jill , the art work I had in mind was more of the type advocated by graffiti artists and others frustrated by their inability to be heard. Such creativity has been in the public eye for decades in "Scotch on the Rocks" which appeared on a Scotsman-shaped rock, complete with Tam-o'-shanter, on the Picnic Bay side of the bloody tree-huggers' rock. But all the best anyway.
April 18th 2007
It's now mid April 2007 and the Sentinel still looks the same as it did 5 months ago - except the boardwalk down from the lookout has been completed and opened for public use.
The weeks of drilling (back before Xmas) have only left a butchered rock - my guess would be that a steel and timber boardwalk could have been built around the outside of the Sentinel for considerably less money than has been expended on the (pretty much) mindless destruction visible in the photo.
Still silence from Councillor Hill of course. And no doubt the valuable contributions from the pro-blasting commentators above are front-and-centre in the mind of the Mayor as he considers a replacement for retiring Deputy Mayor, Anne Bunnell.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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