Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

July 10th 2009
Illegal camping leads to fire

Smoke from the foreshore fire at Horseshoe Bay Horseshoe Bay avoided a dangerous fire last weekend after a camp fire, which got out of control and burned out a 50 x 50 metre of beach foreshore, was brought under control by the Horseshoe Bay Rural Fire Brigade assisted by Island rangers.

The fire, which occurred about 500 metres west of the boat ramp, is alledged to have been started by illegal campers and was reported to the police by people on a yacht in Horseshoe Bay.

It burned out an area of she-oak and cheese fruit vegetation on Horseshoe Bay's foreshore and, according to Queesland Parks and Wildlife Sevice, Conservation Officer, Jo Peterson, the fire brigade removed a small dome tent from the burn area. It was evident that a camp fire had escaped.

Jo Peterson told Magnetic Times, “It was very irresponsible of these people to have a camp fire in the dunes amongst the she-oaks. There is a heavy fuel load in the this area and the fire could easily travel.

“The fire was not properly contained before it was left unattended.

“The fire danger is very high at the moment with the dry SW windy conditions and campfires should be avoided.”

The dome tent from the illegal camp

Beach fires are particularly dangerous on Magnetic Island as they are often being fuelled by strong onshore winds which can quickly drive them inland.

Constable Ben Costello from the MI Police told Magnetic Times, “ A tourist was issued a notice to appear for lighting an unauthorised fire and to appear at a later date. There was no property damage.

According to Constable Costello, “The maximum penalty for the charge would be $3500 or 6 months prison however the actual penalty would be at the Magistrate’s discretion based on the individual facts”. 

Constable Costello went on the explain that, for the MI Police, “There are no specific police powers in relation to camping.  Controlling camping is not a core responsibility of the QPS.  Other government agencies are responsible and, if requested, we are able to assist as we have done previously.  My experience from the Gold Coast in the past is that occasionally police would be tasked on special duties to assist council officers for a shift."

Photos courtesy QPWS

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

Illegal camping leads to fire
July 9th 2009
Each year there are signs of foreshore fires at the back of the Horseshoe Bay beach, usually made from branches torn from surrounding trees. They may not always be lit by camping tourists as it is a favourite spot for fires judging by the bottles and cans left around or thrown in the remains of the fire.
Sometimes we have put out the embers,and once called the Fire Brigade.
Maybe a more prominant "no Fires" notice may be in order.
July 9th 2009
If only the council or the higher powers would only start issuing permits to camp. Are we the only island where you can camp where ever you like?
July 12th 2009
Yes I have been asked by passing backpackers where to camp on the island. It's obvious a camping area is needed here.
July 15th 2009
A permit to camp (at a National Parks camping area for example) suggests a consent to light a fire. Clearly, there is nowhere at all on Magnetic Island where it is safe and secure to light an outdoor 'campfire' - particularly for people with no idea of the risks they are taking to themselves, let alone the surrounding bush. Isolated sites like Florence Bay ('no fires EVER' written into the management plan), Five Beach Bay or the west coast are particularly vulnerable but prominent spots like the old helipad in Nelly or the Geoffrey Bay beachfront are no less attractive and regularly host illegal campers (often with a fire).
These people simply refuse to pay for the perfectly adequate and inexpensive commercial facilities prominently advertised on the main road near the beachfront in Horseshoe Bay. Horse, water, drink?

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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