Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

January 12th 2013
Gabul Way: pros, cons and ribbon cutting

Gabul Way approaching Geoffrey Bay It will definitely be a moment of Magnetic history when, finally, the much-needed and very long-time-called-for walkway between Nelly Bay and Arcadia - to be named in honour of the Wulgurukaba dreaming, carpet python, Gabul - is finally, formally opened on Sunday March 3. But as the walkway is, minus the viewing platforms, effectively complete and open for feet and pushie tyres right now, Magnetic Times decided to walk the walkway and document the experience for our many non-magnetic readers.

The big day when Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill cuts the ribbon will no doubt be quite an occasion and businesses are invited to contact Townsville City Council to add promo material for 300 reusable shoulder bags containing Magnetic information which will be given away to event attendees. Not unexpectedly there will be a free sausage sizzle, market stalls, entertainment and even some prizes to be won on the day.

As for the walkway itself it is clearly hugely beneficial for pedestrian and cyclist’s safety. It will surely encourage many more walkers (instead of drivers) between Nelly and Arcadia and will quickly become an easy must-do on Magnetic attraction. But for any motorist especially, the walkway is a view blocker and for an tourist island this is no small matter.

An Island visitor and Magnetic Times letter writer Andrew Robson put it recently, “...the Picnic Bay walkway uses timber which is more in keeping with the natural surrounds. The Nelly Bay walkway is all metal and concrete and gives the impression of walkway in a bird cage.” and called for the removal “of the vertical metal bars to free up the view”

One certainly might wonder at the level of engineering over aesthetics with the finished structure and we would be keen to hear from the designers as to why, for instance, the walkway had to be so high? In parts the walking level is about 1 metre above the road and why the metal “bird cage”?

While so many of us will be grateful indeed for the walkway’s great utility, in a time when perception is everything and in a World Heritage location where everything is on show, it’s hard to believe that a piece of public infrastructure so desperately needed for so long could not be designed in a way that would less heavily impede one of the loveliest and most iconic views Magnetic Island has to show the world: that seen when we approach Geoffrey Bay from the top of the pass.

Of course, the flip side to this criticism is: if you want the best experience from this little journey then walk, cycle or ride in a higher vehicle like the bus!

Magnetic Times has put together a photo essay of the walkway from one end to the other and back. But for easier viewing we have posted them to our facebook page (Click here). We’ve also included a number of views approximate to those car drivers will experience.

Of course, with such a major project, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

For any business people interested in being part of the TCC promotion mentioned above, TCC’s Sally Burke, Marketing Communications Officer can be contacted on 07 4727 9572
or mobile: 0448 448 923 or email:

Gabul Way: pros, cons and ribbon cutting
pam barlow
January 12th 2013
quite frankly I would wonder why drivers would be paying so much attention to the view when they really should be watching the road when driving!!!!! as to the structure I am happy to see it so strongly built considering its proxcimity to the edge of the cliff and having more possibility of wash away or minor collapse particularly in wet season as in comparison to the picnic bay walkway which had more solid grounding. otherwise I find THIS WALKWAY a must have for MI. especially seeing people in wheelchairs and young families with prams already using this walk way. I look forward to that great day 3rd March when the 16yr wait is over thank you to all who have been involved over the years.
January 12th 2013
the gabul walkway is the name.and"the birdcage"?I reacon its a benefit from a walkers perspective,in fact acts as a partial visual barrier from the trafic passing by
Chris C
January 12th 2013
Looks to me as if it was designed by the guy who took the island to new hights in ugly industrial architecture - the Ergon Power Station at the HB skate park
January 12th 2013
Yes I've heard several detracting comments about the metal appearance but let's get back to the important function of the walkway and pay credit to the work of Hutchinson employees who worked in extremely difficult and hot conditions to get the walkway open by Xmas.
Also I sincerely hope that Claudia, who named the walkway, will be acknowledged on the eventual signage. Wouldn't that be a first!
Wendy Tubman
January 12th 2013
Yes, it's functional; but in this day and age, I would have thought it possible to combine beauty and functionality. I agree, it look likes an extension of the (now officially shifted from 'award-winning' to 'unattractive and in need of a re-think') Nelly Bay Harbour Terminal (and surrounds). I also understand that the failure for it to link well with the over-hill track is a problem. Good to have a safe walkway but an opportunity missed.
Tim Johansson
January 12th 2013
i agree with pam, sick of idiots driving at 30km like they are the only ones on the road looking at the view when they should be looking at the damn road. Get out and walk if you wanna see the view
January 13th 2013
It's wonderful to be able to walk and cycle safely over the hill, while enjoying the view! Pity nobody thought about leaving a gap in the security railing on the Nelly Bay side where the walking track comes down from the forest. Maybe it can still be done?
Barbara Gibbs
January 13th 2013
I agree it is a lovely walk and has its advantages for the disabled and elderly to have safe passage from one bay to the next. However, it IS an island and heavily reliant on tourism, and it has been the custom for many years that tourists hire mini mokes or topless cars, all of which are quite small and cannot see over the infrastructure. the huge cement bases look like a mini freeway and as George rightly said, detracts from the natural aesthetics greatly. However, like all bad development, once it is in, there is little to do to change it. With regard to the speed over the is only 40kmph anyway, and tourists come here to admire the views, not infrastructure. Honestly, I wonder why so many choose to live on an island when they really prefer a city.
January 13th 2013
I think it is fantastic. Safe for everyone, peds, cyclists and cars. Easy to walk and should be low maintenance.
January 14th 2013
you know what should be done, get the school kids to paint it.

the old Picnic bay jetty looked way better once the kid's paintings were installed in the gazeebo.

or you could always crochet it

January 14th 2013
It's a pleasure walking over the hill now. 20 years of tramping along the road dodging busses are almost forgotten. Any idea when a couple of solar powered lights will be installed for the safety of night walkers and to, hopefully, reduce the increased road kill which now occurs as the wallabies are unable to 'escape'. If we've paid $5.6M and it doesn't include some lighting that would be very disappointing.
January 14th 2013
Personally I am tired that people seem to assume council and engineers don't consider beauty in design. Even more so that they bag council rather than celebrating the positives.

I am neither a council employee not an engineer.

I am aware of the process this project went through and am pleased to say that beauty, engineering and life cycle costings were all considered to achieve the best product for the available funds for council and the community. This is also why it was not just an engineer but an architect involved in the design process.

Key factors in product selection are
- environment (sea side)
- life span
- environmentally sensitive products
- cost of maintenance

How about a bit more positivity.
Alf Goater
January 14th 2013
The dreaming carpet python Gabul, lets give Arthur Johnson on the behalf of the Wulgurukaba people the honor of cutting the ribbon on opening day, and his name on the eventual signage. to let tourist and the future Islanders know what the walkway is all about.
Steve Ashton
January 15th 2013
I am an architect and I think it looks pretty good from the photos. I will be up there in March to see it for myself. The height of the balustrades and the spacing of the vertical balusters are not optional (they are regulated) so the choice of the metal actually gives the least interruption to the view. if they were in timber the elements would all be thicker and obstruct the view more. The only bit that looks a bit strange is the pieces of in-situ concrete wall at the Nelly Bay end - they look a bit out of place. But I will wait to see it in the flesh. Basically looks like a good job.
Lucie de Monchaux
January 19th 2013
As a joyful visitor to your wonderful Magnetic, the walkway is long overdue. when you all think ahead, tthe basics are : saftey and more safety and to enjoy your incredable place to live or visit
Thanks so much to all who pushed long and hard for it to happen. Lucie de Monchaux
kas zierl
January 22nd 2013
you should crochet the walkway, make it look like a colorful python:
ian watson
March 2nd 2013
I have nothing but praise for those workers who constructed the walkway. From its beginning to the end they were cheerful, courteous, friendly and as can been seen, professional in their trade.
It is a very functional piece of engineering and one can now wheel ones suitcase over the hill if so inclined (Yes I saw it being done yesterday).
It is easy to use, has a springy surface and is safe.
However a tourist track - it is not.
The seaside barrier, at least, should be lowered by a foot to allow most adults an unimpeded view of the rock sea interface.
It is like walking through a sheep run.
It is a sadly missed opportunity that has not delivered on the scenic aspect so much vaunted and anticipated.
The two seats are so positioned to afford a prison like view.
There are many walkways in both Australia and overseas that are so much more friendly to the walker, that hang over high cliffs, that go nowhere near the engineering overkill that has been employed on Gabul Way.
Whether it was the standards that had to be employed or the interpretation of them - it misses the mark.
In all, a functional pedestrian walk. Sadly ,very pedestrian, that for less dollars could have been so much more enjoyable to traverse.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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