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September 14th 2009
Nelly Bay Harbour breakwall revegetation: what do you think?

A view across the breakwater (file photo) First impressions really count and, as Nelly Bay Harbour plays a big part in Magnetic Island's first impressions, it is vital that a plan being proposed by Queensland Transport to revegetate the harbour breakwall is considered carefully by all who love and care for the Island.

It has been a long time coming as earlier attempts to vegetate the very exposed location only resulted in the success of a handfull of hardy shrubs and some tough groundcovers.

But now, Transport Minister Rachel Nolan and Member for Townsville Mandy Johnstone are encouraging Townsville and Magnetic Island residents to have a say about the draft landscaping plan for the Nelly Bay Harbour main breakwater public space.

Ms Johnstone said copies of the plan were available at the Nelly Bay ferry terminal.

“We want to know what the community thinks about the proposals and whether you have any ideas to suggest before the plan is finalised,” Ms Johnstone said.

I visit Magnetic Island frequently and I have had several discussions with residents about improving the amenity of Nelly Bay Harbour,” Ms Johnstone said.

“Magnetic Island is a wonderful tourist attraction but first impressions are important – that’s why the Bligh Government is committed to landscaping and maintaining the Harbour precinct.

“The plan has been designed to suit the local environment.

“Because the area is within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, it is also subject to environmental conditions designed to safeguard the health of the nearby coral reefs,” Ms Johnstone said.

Feedback can be posted to DTMR PO Box 1293, Townsville QLD 4810 or emailed to and would be appreciated by COB 28 September 2009.

Magnetic Times has reproduced a reformatted version of the draft Master Plan as designed by consultants PLACE Design Group and encourage our readers to also share their views below.

Story and photo at top: George Hirst

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

Nelly Bay Harbour breakwall revegetation: what do you think?
Sara Shaw
September 14th 2009
Excellent, something is on the move! My only comments are about the amenities.
1) Will any of the public seating be under/near trees for shade? Will it just be seating, or will there be any picnic tables?
2) Will there be any access to drinkable water or a water fountain?
3) Will there be allocation of rubbish bins throughout the park area, or especially at the entrance?
4) Are there any thoughts for adding some simple exercise courses, as they appear on The Strand?
5) Are there any thoughts for adding signage for trees/flora, to make it an informative nature walk?
Barbara Gibbs
September 14th 2009
Good thoughts Sara. The less encouragement for rubbish that can be blown either way, the better. Also a turf that doesn't require fertilisers to be washed into the surrounding waterways...don't need any more than there already is to discolour rocks etc. Choice of foliage is at least sensible.
Phil Coleman
September 14th 2009
They have tried too hard to recreate a typical Magnetic Island bush effect in a location where this is inappropriate. In particular the screw palms and hoop pines are messy and have sharp foliage which will be dangerous in this location even stopping it from being usable. Neither the Strand nor Horseshoe Bay have been planted out in this way so why should the breakwall ? Attractive coconut palms and similar vegetation should be used in line with the average person's and tourists' expectations of a tropical paradise ! I doubt whether certain varieties of the planned native trees will survive in such an exposed location and we could end up with something that looks worse then it does now.
Donald Simpson
September 14th 2009
I like the plan on the whole, although I am a bit doubtful about the sandpaper figs, as these tend to be scruffy. BUT I hope the powers that be realize that, like all gardens, it will need LOOKING AFTER. If they do the plantings, and then forget all about it, it will have been a terrible waste of time, effort and money.
Wendy Tubman
September 14th 2009
My query is why are tax-payers being made to fund this work when the landscaping was part of the obligation of the developers when the site was signed over to them? We are being forced to make good the failures of the developers - at least one of whom has had the audacity to demand that government 'do something' to vegetate the sad, sorry, salt-sodden site. Yet another example of how the development advantaged the developers and disadvantaged the community. Think what else the community could have had if we hadn't had to pick up the tab for this.

And before it is yet again suggested, I won't 'move on' and conveniently forget the disaster that was/is NBH - and, thanks, but I already have a life.
Barbara Gibbs
September 15th 2009
Well said Wendy! I was unaware of the developer being held responsible, but it stands to reason if they put it there...let alone the 20year fight to stop it. And no, it isn't wrong to remember the devastation of the former NBH, it is always worth remembering to prevent future abuse of island properties. Ask the foreign visitors what they think...quite a lot of them have commented on the negative tone about the development, although we have to accept it as a permanent fixture now it is here.
September 15th 2009
It's interesting that the consultants did not include in their list a number of trees and shrubs which appear to be succeeding on the site already. The large and thriving silver/grey leafed wattle (Acacia holosericea?) right out at the tip of the breakwater has spawned dozens of 'babies' which are spreading back towards the helipad creating an excellent environment for new plantings. Also at the tip are a number of Tuckeroos (Cupaniopsis sp.) which I think are original plantings. They are hanging in there so we know they work. There are also some grasses or sedges (not listed above) which are surviving without much help so they would seem to be a good choice for future plantings.
We know that Casuarinas are as tough as nails and would seem to suggest themselves, especially if the sand is not going to be washed away around them as is happening on the beach nearby. Personally, I support the use of Pandanus (screw pines) for the same reason. I don't think it is necessary for every part of the site to be prickle-free so why not use Pandanus in clumps at a distance from the path where they won't hook into people (or babies or dogs)? There's no way that site is ever going to be as 'soft' as the Strand, regardless of what foreign visitors or even misguided locals, would like. Even the Strand has Pandanus by the way - at the Tobruk Pool end.
And keep in mind that there is a small, silent but powerful minority who really don't want to see anything growing on the breakwater. They would prefer it to be clean, sterile concrete and may even make some effort to stop things growing there.
Now that the owner of the site (Queensland Transport - let's face it, they took over from the developer, warts and all, after a two year 'warranty' period) has put up some real money to fix it why don't we, as a community, see it as an opportunity to contribute to the creation of our own recreational facility? We are the ones who use it and we can't possibly abuse and neglect it any further than it has already gone...... can we?
George Hirst
September 15th 2009
Chasmac is correct in looking towards those plants which are already surviving and his reference that some people, "even make efforts to stop things growing there", raises the inevitable mention of mangroves. I think the "beach", inner side of the breakwall, has 'mangrove habitat' written all over it. Several have already tried to grow there and, according to some locals, have mysteriously disappeared. There are clearly pros and cons but lets not ignore the best suited native plants out of hand.

People fear mangroves as possible mosquito breeding grounds but this drawback may well be manageable and expert advice should be sought as the payoffs in the form of a fish nursery, a softening of the brutal landscape with beautiful trees which enhance cyclonic protection for starters, are worth consideration.

As a legacy of the developer's tropical-dream-paradise cut and paste job, some are probably still waiting for a beach of white sand for that sad and barren spot. I think it was always and will ever be a hoax as any sand would surely be quickly relocated by the tides to the bottom of the swing basin. Let's consider mangroves as they are already trying to grow there and native, volunteer, pioneers should surely be investigated.

George Hirst (Ed)
Lindsay Simpson
September 17th 2009
Read everyone's comments with interest. Think it is important that we ask for upkeep - as I understand it there's $200,000 in the kitty to redevelop this landscape and much disappears into consultants' hands. One thing that hasn't been noted is how dangerous the harbour is with the small bottleneck. Vessels coming out of the harbour have no clear view, as it is, of other vessels coming in. As the owners of Providence, we already send deckhands up the mast to see if it's all clear so we should avoid large trees that obscure vision.
Only other issue is at least there is some money being provided as it is absolutely unsightly as is.
September 17th 2009
Excellent point Lindsay. Of course we aren't privy to the parameters of the consultancy but by the look of the plans there are trees all along the breakwater with plenty near the tip where visibility might be critical. Some types of trees (like the wattles currently growing there) spread out wide but Casuarinas, coconuts and the sand wattle (Acacia crassicarpa) are definitely capable of reaching for the sky. Perhaps these taller types should be kept away from the last 50-80 metres of the breakwater.
I agree with George that mangroves could be a useful choice at each end of the 'beach' if only to provide part of an erosion control mechanism for the steeper sections of the breakwater which washed out badly last wet season.
September 18th 2009
My impression on arriving at NBH every visit has been how inappropriate the area is as a place to welcome people to the island. The sight of such sheer ugliness is not what one anticipates of a tropical island paradise. Fortunately on my first visit to Magnetic Island pre NB devastation days I approached the island via the delightful and picturesque Picnic Bay and this whetted my expectation of what wonders and beauties Maggie held. I believe it is of paramount importance that the existing mess of NBH be corrected so that future visitors will have a welcome to the island that truly reflects the magic of the island and it does not continue to deteriorate environmentally. The mangroves would be a good provision to prevent further erosion of the beach front but the whole area needs to be ''softened''. I think the area is probably too exposed for Hoop Pines but Casurinas set back from the breakwater would soften the landscape made ''hard" by the cement apartment blocks. Speaking of ''softening " things, something needs to be done in this area around the eyesore of IGA and the carpark. Sara asks about drinkable water. How about filtered tap water accessible, on the foreshore and at the terminal, so tourists can refill drink bottles? This could lead on to phasing out the sale of plastic bottles of water on Magnetic Island.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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