Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

November 21st 2012
Nelly Bay Gateway concept plan puts legs first

The history of Nelly Bay Harbour being bailed out by tax and ratepayers’ dollars continues with the release of the latest effort to stitch a little silk into the sow’s ear Magnetic Island was dealt after the former state government became the developer of a horribly botched canal estate plan after it had turned to mud and rubble in the late 20th century.

As was known well and reported by Magnetic Times at the time, the carpark was never going to be big enough and the space dedicated to public facilities was always the poor cousin, room and position-wise, to that of the commercial marina development.

So, now, the harbour has been open for nine years. The 'hole in the ground' remains a muddy reminder of the pre-existing site’s languishing years and, to some, a testament to those greed-is-good old days; while the steel, concrete and bitumen surfaces which abound, have over achieved to place Magnetic Island well towards the live cattle-handling-dock end for visitors’ first impressions.

While one cannot blame the current Townsville City Council for having a go to improve the site with their recently commissioned Nelly Bay Gateway Concept Plan, the sound of round pegs being jammed into square holes is muffled as best as can be achieved by the anodyne buzz terminology of the document..

An overview of the plan

There are: ‘core nodes’, ‘hubs’, ‘interfaces’, the usual batch of ‘stakeholders’, lots of ‘enhanced’ this and that, ‘exploring’, ‘prioritising’ and ‘interacting’, ‘instilling local character attributes’ and even, ‘A high quality landscaped linear open space, the central pedestrian spine...’ which, I believe, is actually a foot/cycle path!

In a nutshell, however, the plan, developed by AECOM makes a radical proposal and it isn’t one your editor, who would prefer to ride a pushie whenever possible, particularly dislikes.

For all its verbal enhancements, the plan - which is only a suggestion now and, not by any stretch an about-to-do or done deal, but a ‘vision for future consideration’ - wants to remove most of the public carpark behind the terminal and replace it with something which sounds clumsily pitched to win over green-minded souls. It’s called a ‘Green heart‘ which, ‘will embrace Magnetic Island’s natural landscape setting through a significant public space positioned between the IGA, Ferry Terminal and future waterfront development’.

AECOM don’t quibble, however, when they say, ‘The Gateway prioritises people walking or riding before vehicles.’

111 (29 more than at present) car park spaces will re-appear, over the road near Boulder Court and on the block diagonally opposite (across the round-about) from what has, once again been described, for the first time since the days of the Nelly Bay Harbour Environmental Impact Statement I think, as a ‘convenience store’ or, in other words, the largest supermarket on Magnetic: IGA.

On that note, IGA would maintain their existing 30 spaces and a new short-term parking area, of about 53 spaces, would be made within a bus loop and terminal south east of IGA.

There are ideas to remove the glass and open up the passenger terminal, adding timber linings and, to form an ‘open air terminal with lockable core’. Vegetation would be increased around the building including the space where, presently, emergency vehicles can deliver patients to the ferry. It’s not clear where this space will now go, apart perhaps, from what is marked as a disabled parking area nearby.

And, the awning over the lower ferry access ramp would be replaced with something transparent as well as a vegetated arbour or trellis to soften the surfaces some more.

The plan has ideas for the ‘hole in the ground’ too, based on the hope that the owner might subdivide the large overall space into smaller and perhaps more viable retail spaces.

There is plenty to consider with this plan and while there will no doubt be objections, a document has been developed to bounce our likes, dislikes and hopefully some creativity against. It’s just a pity that after all these years we are still trying and paying to get something that isn't a dog at the front door of Magnetic Island.

The complete document is on TCC's website and there is a dialogue box there for comments too. We are having trouble with linking at present but if you visit TCC's website and enter "Nelly Bay gateway" you can read the full plan and make a comment to Council but why not copy your comments to our comments box below and be part of a community discussion.

George Hirst

Nelly Bay Gateway concept plan puts legs first
November 21st 2012
As a "concept plan"it will attract many opinions,as a "viable plan" to fix the present reality it is a joke and an excuse by TCC to make us think something will be done.
During 41 years as a resident I have seen many ferry companies come and go,landing places changed and peoples objections,suggestions,ideas ignored by TCC and State Gov.
My opinion is:The Nelly Bay Harbour is an "ugly but usable"reality.
The dropping visitor number will not improve by sprucing up buildings,car parking,planting trees.
The main complaints by visitors are:
1. Ferry costs
2. High food prices
3. Bus services
4. Business attitudes

These complaints could be addressed by local companies sitting together and changing their profit attitudes.They will not be fixed by dreams of a "New Harbour Image".
As a PS: For over 30 years southern retirees came to the island to overwinter and stayed for weeks and months,I know some personally.
They find it cheaper to go to Bali or Thailand now.

November 22nd 2012
I'm sort of with you, George. It would be the incentive to get me on the bus. Another incentive to use the bus has been the traffic lights. I digress. In my experience,schemes which often say that they are trying to promote public transport put down paths which detour all over the place instead of going straight from A to B and also make it difficult to get to public transport. The bus stops and taxi ranks should be as close to the terminal as they are now. The elderly and disabled don't only travel by car and the terminal also services back packers and holiday makers with all their bags.
Chris Chappell
November 22nd 2012
I think M.Subke has it the nail on the head. The report doesn't produce any evidence that revamping the entry to the island will do anything to tourist numbers although I would have to concede that it may help with real estate sales at Peppers and 1 Bright Point.

While many returning visitors most certainly have fond memories of the old Picnic Bay jetty entrance - that is not the reason they return. As then and as now, visitors get off the ferry and are dispersed within minutes, off to their accommodation or their day destination - that how it should be and always will be. And as Mr Subke notes, it's their experience when they get to their ultimate island destination that will determine whether they return

Given that most of the "plan" involves private investment (eg fixing the hole in the ground or the unfinished Peppers development) or significant TCC investment (eg to buy the land for the proposed re-located carpark) I don't expect that it will ever happen. Rather it looks to me like one of those $100K 'plans' that governments commission when they want to appear that they are doing something. I would have done it for half the price.

patrick Collins
November 23rd 2012
what a cock up, to walk wth bagage from those car parks will test not just thee pensioner sand Lisabled members of our community, leave the area as it is at least we have learnt to live with it as it is
November 23rd 2012
Surely logic would suggest the only way is up! I am happy for more pot plants, along as it comes with another level for a car-park. Does this model suggest how the elderly, young families & disabled will make the extra hard yards to the ferry, so we can go green & back to nature? 75% of the Island is National Park, why have a reversal on a car-park? If people were silly enough to buy units next to a car-park, too bad. I think Chris is right, some consultant has pocketed some money, thank you very much. How ridiculous. I am sorry George but I am not riding my pushie bike from Horseshoe in the rain with kids on the back to have a feel good moment about one less car on the road.
Double Standards
November 24th 2012
Another lame attempt by you and a few of your cronies to have a go at the Nelly Bay terminal and Nelly Bay harbour.
It works well as a transit centre it is a safe harbour, Yasi proved that. And your still on about a battle you lost years ago , isn't time you and your mates moved on. Preferably sooner than later.
As for preaching the benefits of not driving motor vehicles, don't you drive a large gas guzzling 4 wheel drive around the island?
On your bike George - in more ways than one!
November 24th 2012
At the risk of being sceptical, is this another rort to get MI rate payers to pay for another of the developers' planning mistakes? A major winner of a greening plan for the car park would be Blue on Blue and those sad unsold units which overlook the asphalt and cars and fumes and noise. Meanwhile, we park our cars further away for a longer walk in the hot sun, or we leave them at home and pay exorbitant fares for the bus. At least with the jetty it was a lovely walk.
George Hirst
November 24th 2012
Gee Double Standards, call it 'lame' if you like but it's started to get a bit of discussion going and that's what I wanted to do. And yep the Nelly Bay 'battle' was lost years ago but when the subject is raised, such as in this concept plan, why not remind readers of a little of the history which led to us needing a Gateway Plan after millions in taxpayers dosh were spent making the harbour and terminal? Only seems fair that newer residents be aware of how the ugliness of the harbour facilities came about.

As for the (4 cylinder diesel) 4WD, yep, it was the only car we could reliably run when we lived in very floodable Bolger Bay but those more familiar with my means of transport would tell you that I ride my pushie, or walk, a lot - whenever I don't need to carry heavy loads etc. And why would I preach a pushie-favouring design if I was such a gas guzzler?

Pity you only wanted to have a crack at me DS. My transport habits are not that interesting and it's so easy to go personal rather than contribute something worthwhile.
November 25th 2012
This upgrade/Greening of the Ferry Terminal can be accomplished without having to go to the extremes of outlaying 1 million dollars+ for extra land, elevatating said prone flooding land and that's just for the new carparking without the calculations of uplifting the existing carparking and greening the existing carparks.
This is an outrageous proposal, a complete waste of taxpayers money and really will not create a better tourist experience.

Green the terminal by all means, have plants from floor to ceiling, interior and exterior, waterfalls within the ferry terminal would replica a tropical oasis, lots of plants at a fraction of any costs that they are proposing in that ridiculous proposal of the recently commissioned Nelly Bay Gateway Concept Plan. Soften the carpark with shadecloths or some sort of cyclone proof coverings.

Goodness even by todays over pricing on quotes for Government jobs this would be relatively simple and cheap, with hardly any interruptions to the day to day commutors.

I shudder to think if this concept plan goes ahead what would happen to the daily commutors when we are in our wet season, them all having to trudge from those far away carparks, in the rain and wind, umbrellas not covering anything really.

Let's face it, the tourists get off the ferry, heads down , trying to cope with their luggage, they're not too concerned about taking a walk around a ferry terminal or the surrounds, they just want to get to the accommodation, have a drink, unpack, shower and relax, unless the terminal supplies all that for them just lets be sensible and green the ferry terminal with an abundance of tropical plants .

If Peppers are the main instigators of this proposal to there benefit surely a screen buffer of green plants could be erected. Could be as high as the council would allow and still be safe through a cyclone. We need those units sold, it's not good for the reputation of the Island to have realestate just sittng unsold and unused; yes it's a mistake having units overlooking carparks, so lets try and correct it but surely this could be corrected without having to get rid of the carparks and inconveniencing the daily commutors

That hole in the ground, make the owners place a wooden deck over it and fill it up with plants, stragegically placed this could green up the place even more and logically that's what the tourists notice as soon as they struggle off the ferry with their luggage that god awful hole in teh ground.
Barrie Saunders
December 4th 2012
We have been enjoying Magnetic Island in September for most of the last 20 years. Before that my late father came, as did his father, who traveled from New Plymouth, New Zealand, for months at a time in the 1930s and 40s. So Maggie runs in the blood.

I agree the present terminal is functional but not really what one might expect for this Island. However it is there and fundamental change at public expense is not warranted. But that awful hole in the ground should be dealt to and maybe some greenery could be incorporated into the surrounding area.

To get more visitors from southern states, New Zealand and offshore, there will need to be more promotion, probably via the web.

It would be nice if service standards at restaurants and elsewhere were somewhat upgraded. The prices at some restaurants match the big cities, but the whole food/service package doesn't which is why we eat at home 90% of the time.

It is unfortunate for those of us who play golf, that the buses take so long to get from Arcadia to Picnic Bay. The golf club could come up with a package for medium term visitors that is a bit more affordable - I know of kiwis who now don't play because of the cos, but the course is rarely under pressure.

Occupation rates at the various condos appear to be quite low and greater profitability is possible, with more creative pricing and marketing.

Maggie is a great island for us visitors and we would like to see more but it will take a collective effort.


Barrie Saunders
Wellington, New Zealand

Peter Neil
January 8th 2013
Although I have only recently moved to the island I couldn't help but admire the proposal to "landscape" the arrival point at Nelly Bay. My initial perception was that there is a lamentable shortage of true landscaping around the built environment leading to an impression of harsh and unfriendly scenery. Then the overwhelming presence of the paved car parking area just makes you wonder where it is that you have landed? An urban ghetto? So imagine my surprise in reading your draft proposal and finding myself agreeing with the direction and scope. I have been involved in community committee work liaising with councils and this is the first time that I have seen a council generated proposal more than adequately address the problems and then also propose meaningful solutions. Magnetic Island presently lacks a cohesive "direction" or visual sense of purpose. It is...nothing more. Any work undertaken to create a new and invigorated "arrival experience" should also recognize and help formulate an overall theme (signage, access) that could then be replicated over the island to create that all important visual harmony that enhances a visitor's experience and memories. Use of natural elements should include the almost iconic "boulders" that set this island apart from other coastal areas. Sandstone paving, for example, mimics the colour and texture of these rock forms and would provide a continuous background theme that visitors would continue to experience. Pedestrian and cycling paths should link to those outside this precinct and be of a similar form to further create a seamless visual pathway. Moving the longer term car parking areas further away is not harmful to users but may require a "soft touch" level of encouragement? Possible one-way lanes inside the precinct (entry from south) would allow for increased number of car parking places? The main pedestrian spine could be curved to allow a more natural walkway rather than a forced angle as depicted?
Palm trees...lots of palm trees...and even more palm tress...please...inside the terminal, around the terminal, all over the "heart". And please hide the solar panels; there is absolutely no reason they need to be "stuck on" to an existing roof structure. Integration of these panels is not difficult and shows a sophistication of design development. Finally, no grass...plants, shrubs, trees...yes. Sun/rain shades...absolutely...The reworking of this terminal and arrival precinct can and should be a visual treat to be enjoyed by all, and set the scene for what they are about to discover on the island.
January 22nd 2013
More pot plants is a great idea. They will give the back packers somewhere to urinate and spew on full moon party nights when the terminal building is closed.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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