Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

October 6th 2009
Bottled vs bubbler goes global

The Nelly Bay bubbler While Magnetic Islanders are still debating the merits of banning bottled water on the Rock, we can announce, with some fanfare, that the broken “drinking fountain” or “bubbler”, as Aussies used to call them, at the Nelly Bay Harbour terminal has been replaced and its liquid of life is now available for all. The move puts us slightly in advance of another, rather larger, community where the bottled water vs public bubbler debate - which has been raging in - is also beginning make a splash. That community is London, England.

In a report from the major British daily, The Guardian Newspaper, we learn that, “Thames Water, Britain's largest privatised water company, with 13.6 million customers, has had talks with the Greater London Authority and Transport for London to install water machines in the capital. In the first trial, Hydrachills will be installed at Hammersmith bus station and at the Tower Bridge museum. The machines can fill bottles of up to 500ml with chilled water for a 20p charge. All proceeds will be donated to Waste Watch, a charity working to change the way people use natural resources.” (read here)

Astonishingly, the NSW hamlet of Bundanoon – the world's first town to ban bottled water and install public-drinking-bubbler-water-stations instead – is noted in the Guardian article. A publicity coup of grand proportions.

The replacement of the Nelly Bay bubbler can apparently be credited to the Magnetic Island Residents and Ratepayers who, we hear, have been sloshing it to Queensland Transport for 12 months over the dry fountain.

As for the ban on the bots it seems our readers are still leaning towards the plastic. So, if you haven't voted on this bottler of an issue yet, go to the bot-tom of our front page, right side column and show us if you prefer to twist the handle or unscrew the bot-top.

Story and photo: George Hirst

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

Bottled vs bubbler goes global
chris copping
October 6th 2009
Coming back from a swim at Florence bay the other day I was asked by an international quartet of bikini'd beauties if I could take them to Alma Bay.
So far so good.

But the main reason they needed a lift was that they were not aware that there was no drinking water available down there- and its a steep climb even for a fit young thing- with no water.

So maybe, short of actually supplying the stuff down at Florence(and I guess Radical and Arthur too) maybe a sign could be put up alerting tourists to this fact

Chris Copping
October 6th 2009
Yeah, but Chris it's also pretty good to go down to the bay and not have anyone telling you what to do or not do, what to read or not read (including numerous signs about world heritage, national park, green zone, no pets, no parking, toilets here, no laughing, no fun). If you're feeling thirsty when you're out walking you'll remember to have a drink next time.
October 6th 2009
But how will you take a drink to Florence a bottle of course
October 6th 2009
Given the excellent quality of Townsville water, I'm at a loss as to why we don't do something similar here, especially when a city as huge as London is prepared to give it a go. I realise retailers need to make a profit and people want freedom of choice. But the question is surely how much and at what cost. What an easy way to reduce our carbon footprint, and how easily we've frittered it away.
And what a marketing tool for eco-tourism.
October 6th 2009
I'm all for reducing litter, but admit I like the convenience of buying water instead of a sugar-laden soft drink. And unfortunately I remember the disgusting things kids used to do to our drinking taps in primary school so I find it very 'distasteful' to use a public bubbler. Also my daughter got very sick when she was young from drinking from a public tap. However, on my last trip interstate I was pleased to see a filtered water dispensing machine capable of handling those huge water bottles for the home for a reasonable fee. Then again, it was Adelaide where visiting ships NEVER used to take on water because of its poor quality. And Muzza, I think a reusable personal bottle is expected when on a trek.
October 6th 2009
Not sure about your experiences Muzza but in the 30+ years I have been walking to Florence Bay (or anywhere else that involved only a couple of hours on the track), I haven't carried water - rather, I have a drink before I leave. That's not to say I wouldn't drink if someone offered but I usually find that a piece of fruit will suffice unless I'm conducting some sort of hard labour in the mission.
I think we can carry the hand-wringing nanny process too far sometimes. If people walk for a couple of hours in this heat (knowing the distance because the signs tell you how far) wearing only a bikini and probably no hat, well, they need their heads read.
October 6th 2009
Hey George, I agree with the ban, but with one condition, instead of selling bottled water lets sell maggie island bottled water, just one per person, with the bottle branded Magnetic Island. They can refill them when here on the island and take em home. Won't hurt with our marketing...
Bruce Williams
October 9th 2009
Confronted by an obesity epidemic, a state government trying to shut down one of the last of our outdoor education camps, a contemporary tendency to regard "bought stuff is best" and an island suburb which is overseen by a councillor with twenty other suburbs and communities to tend, it is hardly surprising that the water needs of thousands of visitors from elsewhere rate so low in Magnetic Island priorities. I suppose a survey is a start. So many similarly important tourism issues on our lovely island have been sidelined for so long, I wonder if the survey results will be ignored by whoever has responsibility for MI matters. Is this issue of providing water to thirsty visitors (and others) likely to go anywhere? Or will it bubble down the drain?
October 11th 2009
Sue, I’ve used bubblers all my life (when available) and have never had any problems (ie health or sensibilities) with the water from them, nor have my friends, nor classmates at school. I keep a bottle of water in my car which I refill as needed and carry a smaller bottle around with me when on foot because I can never find a bubbler when I want one. Its not hard to do, in fact the change of habit is no more difficult than remembering to take reusable bags with you when you go shopping. Like Bruce, I really hope this issue won’t bubble into the dry sands of entrenched attitudes.
John Becker
October 11th 2009
Further to Tully's comment, why not have some reusable water bottle designed and for sale on the island with a logo stating that our tap water is top quality (in a few languages) and provide locations where the purchaser can refill for nothing? Perhaps provide the bottle in two different sizes, the smaller for the elderly and young.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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