Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

October 16th 2008
MI Tourism takes a tour

Jo explains the Rangers role On Tuesday the newly formed Magnetic Island Tourism group conducted a tour of Magnetic Island to familiarise themselves with local business locations and activities as well as getting to know each other a little bit better.

About eighteen local business people took the bus which left from the Nelly Bay boat ramp heading towards the Esplanade. Aquasearch Aquarium owner Rick Braley started the commentary with a description of a plan he has been hoping to attract interest in for a "swim-through" aquarium rock pool which he would like to see located in the corner of the Nelly bay beach which adjoins the start of the breakwater.

Commentary by Sara Shaw

The bus then headed off towards Base Backpackers and along the way Sara Shaw from the Butterfly House took up the commentary - noting that there was currently a business interested in taking on the old Nelly Bay helipad as a commercial helicopter operation.

On the deck at base

We visited Base's party deck then over to Picnic Bay to the EPA's Ranger's Office on Hurst Street in Picnic Bay where Ranger, Jo Peterson outlined the basic roles played by Rangers on the Island. According to Jo the most time-consuming jobs are track maintenance and weed management. One tour member asked why there were not more of the very popular interpretation walks and tours by Rangers and this was apparently due to the budgetary priorities of the EPA. Another asked why there was no track to Mount Cook (Magnetic's highest peak). The answer is that it is basically, very expensive to build and maintain. Jo Peterson did however emphasise that the EPA was very open to working with the community and urged business people to make sure they had supplies of the many useful brochures they have at the Office.

Later, our attention was drawn to Island attractions in Picnic Bay including the History and Craft Centre and future plans for Butterfly House to incorporate a gallery space.

Next stop was the new deck built by Townsville City Council over the old cement slab which was the base of the original art-deco style Lifesaving club house. It was good to see that the new deck, which will be a fine spot for a picnic, maintained the outline of the original building base which includes a curved front.

Once again we returned to Nelly Bay where we visited Rick Braly's Aquasearch Aquarium which drew lots of attention as a great little educational experience and, for seeing (Nemo) clown fish and Rick's favourites: the giant clams. As a special surprise, Nel Barley met us with a delicious, take-away Indonesian lunch.

Nel does take-away

We swung past Magnetic International Resort, Mantra Number 1 Bright Point and Pepper's Blue on Blue where Nicky Gardener from Peppers stressed the usefulness of the Peppers conference room for weddings, parties and, well, anything.

Next we were over to Arcadia where the pleasures of Geoffrey and Alma Bay were extolled. The Arcadia Pub was pointed out as a great destination and, nearby, the large sign advertising "Aparments," so a long-standing Island giggle was once again shared.

We wound our way up Horseshoe hill and noted Tatjana's juice stop at the start of the Island's famous Fort's Walk then down into the Bay where it was mentioned that Bluey's Horse Ranch is now under new management. Hitting the beach the Horseshoe eateries, accommodation and other shops were acknowledged before we stopped to take in the fresh breeze off the bay.

Backchat at Bungalow bay

Bungalow Bay was the next stop for a walk checking out the great revegetation work and insightful information on their extensive signage. We met a chatty Cockatoo and of course some Bungalow koalas.

Next was the boardwalk out of Sandals development which leads through to the Horseshoe Bay Lagoon. Unfortunately there were few lotuses to see at this time of year but the cooling paperbarks made it a restful stop.

Soon we were heading back to Arcadia where, onboard comic, Phill Stephens stressed that the restaurant was the only professional theatre restaurant in north Queensland.

We passed the marvelous Arcadia Store which has done much to bring gourmet food to the Island and other shops including the Magnetic Island Bicycle Hire.

We were then back over to Nelly Bay and the tour was over but it seemed clear that once one really looks it is quite amazing just how many and diverse businesses and attractions are tucked away through the Island.

All together now

Just how the fledgling tourism body will develop from here will be interesting to watch. Given the effort and interest shown by the participants on this tour the future looks a little brighter as the dark clouds of a major economic change gather.

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

MI Tourism takes a tour
October 17th 2008
This all sounds wonderfully enlightened (except for the helicopter base); I don't doubt the benefit of tourism operators having a better idea of who's who and what's available on the island.

But how much, if any, thought will be given to those people not involved or interested in the tourist industry. This island is also home to retirees and commuters. Whilst tourism no doubt has spin off effects, not all of them are to the benefit of those outside the tourist industry. Recent cries of "tourism or perish" (or words to that effect) only serve to obfuscate a range of other issues, such as what sort of tourism, how many tourists, what sort of tourists etc.
October 19th 2008
Helicopter rides from Nelly Bay,great idea.We need more innovative ,creative businesses on the Nelly Bay side,especially onlong the Esplanade of Nelly Bay.This will help keep tourists interested in activities on the Nelly Bay Esplanade...maybe a children's water theme area, a smaller version than the Strands, with great BBQ facilities,it's a fantastic Esplanade and NOT used to it's best. The small shopping complex,pizza place, would certainly benefit from the share of families that would visit the Esplanade.
October 21st 2008
fluffyduck - I understand your perspective. There are residents on the Island, and their concerns must be addressed with respect any tourism development of the Island. That being said, it should also be understood that many of the residents are actively involved in businesses that rely upon visitors for income. They therefore rely upon those visitors simply to justify their Island existence. Whilst the development of Tourism on the Island must be carefuly managed, with respect, the Island cannot survive on retirees and commuters alone. Neither should it be Tourism alone, as the Island would quickly lose its appeal.

Having attended the recent TMI Steering Committee Meeting I know that these 'factors' are being actively, and carefully, considered. Magnetic Island offers some interesting challenges in that regard - but it is not unique.

Stewart Island in New Zealand's South Island hosts a residential population of 2,500. The population thrives within three bays (one is even named Horseshoe Bay) yet caters to Residents, Backpackers and high-end Eco-Tourism. Positioned within 176,000 hectares of National Park, it remains a wonderful place to visit. It's charm remains intact, which is wonderful considering that the population was only 400 when I first visited the area.

The targeted demography of the tourism operations established on Magentic Island is equally diverse. I would strongly encourage you to attend the next meeting of the TMI-SC. It would allow you a valuable, and I believe 'restful', insight into the due dilligence and compassion of the Island's Operators with respect your concerns.
October 21st 2008
Helicopter rides! Yuck. But if they're going to happen, certainly have them operating out of Nelly Bay...

How helicopter rides are innovative or creative I'm at a loss to understand (there's nothing like attaching positive words to a negative idea). But smelly, dirty and unbelievably noisy, undoubtedly yes. On the other hand, a children's theme or water park similar to the Strand sounds a great idea. Rick's idea of a swim through aquarium sounds even better. My point being that we can have tourist attractions which don't damage the environment or send human stress levels through the roof with intrusive, inescapable noise, but which are still fun and inviting. And with careful planning, something like a kid's water garden might even be relatively low impact in terms of water consumption and power use.
October 24th 2008
fluffyduck - Sir/Ma'am, please do not be overly concerned about the proposed Helicopter Operations to Nelly Bay. It is not planned to be Heicopter Rides, but rather an arrival and departure point for those visiting the Island - tourists and residents alike.

I am the individual conducting the enquiries and research into the feasability of such an endeavour, and I would be one of the pilots. I am preparing a full explanation of the proposal to offer Mr George Hirst, as the editor of the Magnetic Times, for publication. It is my hope that this will answer your concerns and prove informative.

To ease your mind on a couple of issues you have raised, the proposal involves a near-new helicopter, the EC120. It is extremely quiet. Indeed it is one of only three helicopter types (EC120, EC130 and EC135) that are permited to fly under the strictest noise abatement management structure in the world - the 'Grand Canyon National Park Standard' in the USA. It holds a $2.5million replacement cost. It is not smelly and it certainly isn't dirty.

The Helicopter will allow fast (240km/hr) and efficient transportation directly to the Airport, Billabong Sanctuary, the Casino, Hidden Valley Cabins, Willows Golf Course - and the list is growing as Expressions Of Interest are received.

As mentioned, a full explanation shall be presented to the Magnetic Times as soon a possible for publishing. If any resident or operator on the Island has any questions or concerns, please do feel free to contact me directly.

Kind Regards
Gair Bowbyes Mob. 0417 467 866
October 25th 2008
Dear Gair- a quiet helicopter! Now there's a thing.
One of things I most strongly object to, in your very courteous, reasonably toned letters, is the disingenuousness with which you present your case. The island has already had the wool pulled over its eyes with less that fulsome explanations of various new enterprises. No doubt it is why people hire PR companies to present their case.
I hunted around the internet to find information on your "quiet" machine. Most sites I visited said the noise level was below that of various exacting world standards. Only one site ( an actual noise reading,
" A new-generation Eurocopter helicopter flying over at 1,000 ft. altitude has a perceivable noise of 68 dB. Compared to regular road traffic, a car will be perceived at 72 dB and a motorcycle at 73 dB. In real life conditions, you will not hear a Eurocopter helicopter coming
The ambient noise level for much of the island is 40-43 decibels (obviously more where there is traffic). Even though the nose level at 1,000ft (approx 300 metres) is at 68 dB, the machine has to land and take off with the commensurate increase in sound. Also bear in mind the forward edge of the main rotor blades is breaking the sound barrier on every forward rotation, hence the characteristic noise.
Gair, quieter does not mean quiet, implying a sometime/anytime service gives no indication of frequency (1 take off, 1 landing per day, 5, 10, 20?). Perhaps you will aid island tourism, perhaps detract from it. I would not be surprised to see a great deal of opposition to your enterprise should you find the wherewithal to go ahead, on noise levels alone. Unfortunately for some of us, once you have your permit to operate to the island, its near impossible to have you divested of it.
Despite aviation associations advising on reducing carbon emissions, flying still has to be one of the highest carbon dioxide emitters transport activities available, notwithstanding that on large aircraft the carbon dioxide emission per passenger is quite low. An helicopter does not carry enough passengers to have a low carbon footprint per passenger. And keep in mind that this is a World Heritage site. Reduced carbon emissions relates to the difference between the EC 120 and other helicopters and is not the same as not introducing a new source of carbon emissions. It seems a contradiction in terms to have a solar city base on the island and an overwhelmingly positive response to it, and yet to allow your sort of industry in.

October 25th 2008
The old helipad in Nelly Bay is close to a number of overhead electricity wires. It's only a few years since residents were being told that because of this safety issue, the Medivac needed to be relocated to the Nelly Bay Harbour wall. The media reported that when the Qld Govt agreed to include a medivac facility, a businessman apparently applied to use the new helipad for tourist rides and his application was refused. It's designed for small medivac helicopters and it's too small. Why didn't the old helipad suit the businessman? Why the push for the Govt to build a new one?
October 28th 2008
Fantastic ideas here. A children's water theme park at the beachfront nice and handy to a helipad where the little darlings can go for joyrides direct to the Mainland if necessary. We should make that top of the list - although it would be even better with a liquor licence. And Linda, don't be such a spoilsport. Those electric wires...well, the helicopter could loop the loop over them (for a small extra charge) and us Nelly Bay residents would be only too happy to accommodate their teensy demands. Maybe we could lure the Red Baron back to Nelly as well. Wouldn't that be great?
But if this new-fangled helicopter is so quiet it might as well land in the hole next to the ferry terminal. There's convenient parking, late night shopping, the residents, particularly the valued tourists staying in the attractive high-end accommodation there, are used to traffic noise day and night and after all, isn't that likely to be most convenient? Let's put tourism ahead of everything. It's what makes Nelly Bay so terrific.
One-eyed sloth
October 28th 2008
Notwithstanding your irony, satire, sarcasm, there is one and only one logical place for a helipad and that is in the monstrosity about which you protested and were subsequently berated because of your protest, the Nelly Bay Harbour wall.
The Harbour is there so let us exploit the eyesore that it is. The helipad (emergency only) is there complete with wind sock, so a commercial helipad with the correspondingly required infrastructure (cost to TCC or State Govt; and our rates and taxes) would be a one off only. All other possible helicopter landing places are for emergency only and have to be policed for the emergency (by SES, Ambulance, Police etc).
Why not a heliport on the Harbour headland; it coudn't be any worse that what' it looks like now.
PS. You can gather from this that I was also against the Nelly Bay Harbour and I don't like the Red Baron much either, so logically, he should go in the harbour too.

October 29th 2008
Fluffy Duck - It would be very easy to take to heart your comments regards an alleged 'disingenuousness' presentaton. It is certainly a hurtful remark. I can only assume that past events in your personal history have embittered you to a degree that you feel such a comment to be justified, which is disappointing. In terms of communication, the written word is often acknowledged as less than ideal. Please call me and discuss your concerns. My mobile number is published and I invite your input. Indeed I would be delighted to meet with you in person and discuss your concerns, openly.

On the upside, you are obviously passionate and determined to ensure that (your perception of) past wrong-doings is prevented from repetition; and you are pepared to perform the research, which is excellent.

That said, your own conclusions do leave some scope for closer examination.

I would refer you to the following link [] which will explain some elements of decibel comparison. It is worth noting that the decibel itself is a logarithmic scale. 5dB, whilst not a great deal on paper perhaps, does represent nearly a 30% reduction in transmitted noise energy. Every 10dB increment represents twice the sound energy (volume).

You wrote the following;
"The ambient noise level for much of the island is 40-43 decibels (obviously more where there is traffic)".
40dB is one quarter of the noise generated by a quiet conversation.
* 'Bird calls' are registered in the 40-44dB range. If by 'most of the Island' you imply the ambient noise levels in the National Park, your levels may indeed be quite close.
* 'Conversations' feature in the 60dB range.
* A dishwasher on a 'rinse' cycle, when heard from 10 feet away, registers 60dB.
* An air conditioning unit registers 60dB at a distance of 100 feet.

Regards the comment about the advancing blade breaking the sound barrier and causing the noise levels experienced, that is incorrect. In my regular employ as a Maintenance Test Pilot for Eurocopter, I would be delighted to explain helicopter aerodynamics, as it relates to sound generation, to you in detail. In passing however, most of the noise from a helicopter comes actually from the tail rotor. In the case of the EC120B, the tail rotor is a fenestron design, now in its third evolution and designed specifically to attenuate noise. Given the advances made by Eurocopter in this field they are now working on the next noisiest part of the equation - the engine. The main rotor does not produce significant levels of noise. Obviously I am unfamiliar with your background, but perhaps you are refering historically to the Vietnam-era Hueys, which cetainly did produce a distinctive sound from their two massive rotor baldes. Perhaps that is where you draw your reference from?

Carbon emmissions? compared with the ferries? Compared with people taking their own cars to the Island? Compared with people taking their own boats to/around the Island? Four people travelling direct to the airport in six minutes by helicopter, versus 25 minutes on a twin diesel engined ferry and a 15 minute taxi ride (or four, 15 minute taxi rides) through town? The A380 moves passengers at the equivalent fuel consuption and carbon emmisssion rates per person as a Hybrid Car - so the technology is definitely headed in the right direction. If a genuine concern, perhaps we should look at a carbon credit program? Perhaps a carbon credit program for the whole Island, for all of the operators and the residents? It would certainly benefit both the Island and the Islands image.

You have mentioned tourism and whilst there is certainly an avenue for the tourist market, there has been significant interest generated by residents of the island seeking a time efficient link to various destinations. In addition we are already speaking with the Magnetic Island Naval Cadets (up until a year ago I was a helicopter Pilot with the RAN), the SES and the School for training, visits and educational opportunities.

Finally, please be advised that a Press Release, published today in the Magnetic Island Times, may provide a valuable insight into perceived issues and considerations. You may find many answers to your questions therein. If not, please do contact me. As I said, I would be delighted to meet with you and discuss, in person, your obviously well intentioned views and concerns.

Over the following months I do hope that you shall see fit to, privately or publically, retract your comment regards a 'disingenuousness presentation'. I would like you to be, ultimately, proud of the process that we are engaging upon to involve and educate as many people as possible as to our proposal and intent.
February 11th 2009
Hi Jo,
Great to hear your still in the thick of things Jo.
If this is Jo peterson from BIEEC, please let me know. A long lost friend is looking for you!

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