I was lucky enough to take a school trip to Heron Island late last year in 2012. It was there that I learnt that the world around us is unbelievably, limitlessly beautiful. Heron Island is a coral cay off the coast of Gladstone, and well, it’s pretty special. The sea life there is stunning, and colourful. The landscape is fantastic, and the whole place looks very picturesque as the sun hits the water and warms the sand. Heron Island is a place that people all over the world flock to in an attempt to experience the joys of nature, and leave deeply affected by it. Biologically, it’s biodiversity is outstanding, I remember a shark brushing past me, which was both cool and terrifying at the same time. I remember waking up to the sounds of birds singing their songs, and going to sleep still mystified by all the beautiful creatures on the island. Heron is a beautiful place, and I hope that you all can go there one day, as it truly brought me joy during my time there.
All in all, Heron showed me how beautiful nature can be, however it was the trip home that started to make me think. We weren’t sent to Heron for a holiday, there was definitely a purpose behind the trip, we learnt that Heron Island and the Great Barrier reef are under threat from things like ocean acidification and global warming, unless we do something about it, we’ll lose the great barrier reef forever. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and it was at a McDonalds on the way home from Gladstone that I found out about the cruise ship terminal on the spit. I remember that moment very clearly; I picked up newspaper on a table at McDonalds and saw an article on the cruise ship terminal. It was then that I realized that the Great Barrier Reef wasn’t the only environmental gem in danger; I realized that I faced losing something in my own backyard, the spit.
Obviously I was mainly concerned about the environmental affects of a cruise ship terminal on the spit, but as I continued to research the topic, I realized that the cruise ship terminal was not only environmentally unviable, but it also did not work from a financial or logistical perspective.
It’s important to remember that the Gold Coast is renowned worldwide for its beautiful, natural coastal environment that is loved and revered by both tourists and residents alike. The Gold Coast spit is a site of high cultural and social significance, facilitates industries worth millions of dollars and is home to over 450 diverse species of marine life. Our Government and council are risking this unique asset through the Broadwater Marine Project. This project aims to build a cruise ship terminal on public land, with the possibility of additional infrastructure such as a hotel and casino. The council claims this project will provide a boost to the economy, and that they will attempt to minimize the environmental impact of the terminal.
This is actually not the first attempt to develop the spit. In 2006, a cruise ship terminal was proposed by the Government and Council of that time, the public response was overwhelming, a resounding no.