Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

March 21st 2011
Full moon vandals irk local business body

Last Saturday night, following the Full Moon Party at Base Backpackers in Nelly Bay, a gang plank for the ferry was thrown into Nelly Bay Harbour which prompted Island salvage operator, Mr Peter Illidge from Oceania Maritime, to observe that, as the gangplank landed on the floor of the harbour in an upright position, it could well have punctured the hull of the ferry as it attempted to dock. Along with a number of acts of presumably alcohol/drug-fuelled stupidiy, the incident has led Dr Lindsay Simpson, President of the Tourism Operators and Businesses Magnetic Island (TOBMI) to claim that, “No tourism benefits flow from this event” and that, “It’s time something was done about it.”

The full moon party attracted about 1150 party goers according to MI Police Sergeant, Kerry Kraut who told Magnetic Times, “To be honest, patrons on the night were well behaved. We spoke to some people but there was nothing that warranted us to take action.”

Dr Simpson said the dinghy from Providence V, the tallship she operates with her husband Grant Lewis, was stolen with a full tank of fuel and taken across to Townsville where it was found washed up in the Strand full of beer cans and water.

“We were going out on our first charter for weeks following bad weather and thought we had to cancel,” she said.

She said tourist businesses were finding it difficult to get back on their feet following the floods and Cyclone Yasi.

The vandals also smashed signs at Peppers and threw weekend newspapers, yet to be delivered, outside the terminal.

MI Police were however following up on the vandalism at the harbour and are awaiting CCT footage which may help identify the perpetrators.

Dr Simpson said the vandalism was directly associated with the Full Moon event held on the island.

However when Base’s General Manager, Ms Aimee Jones, was contacted for a response to Dr Simpson’s comments she said, “This is very disappointing as I have not been approached by Dr Simpson with regards to the concerns of the organisation she represents. 

While making little mention of the vandalism Ms Jones was quick to defend Base on economic grounds claiming, that the domestic and international youth and adventure market Base targets, accounted for 22% of all visitor nights in Queensland to the year ended September 2010 and spends, on average, $76 per day but less than a third is on accommodation with majority on food, beverage, activities & transport.

Dr Simpson said, "Almost every time this event is held there is damage done as the revelers walk from the ferry terminal at Nelly Bay to Base Backpackers where the event is held. At the Nelly Bay Harbour marina goods are stolen almost every Full Moon party. Locals have come to expect to wake up and find stuff stolen," she said.

"No tourism benefits flow from this event. Mostly the participants are inebriated before they arrive. They continue to drink on the ferry from Townsville because of the cost of the liquor at the event. They don't buy any goods locally. They often sleep on the beach. Police also attend the event - which is all taxpayers money. It is of no benefit to the community," she said. “It is time something was done about it.”

Ms Jones told Magnetic Times, “We employ people from the island & we support local businesses but we can not support everyone.
“Bus services are subsidised for the duration of the event which is paid for by the event & provided by Magnetic Island bus services.  The police on duty are paid for by the event & are often called away for unrelated events at the cost of the event, not taxpayer.  We have local food vendors who sell food at the events & support the hardware, foodworks, etc. 
“Island activities are at the forefront of what we are about as one extra activity a day means one night longer they (stay) with us.  That could be horse riding, car rental, bike rental or a Koala Cuddle over at Bungalow bay.
“Base as a company believe that we are part of the community & things are pretty tough at the moment.  Tourism enterprises across the state are struggling to survive & we are feeling the pain so to hear we are not contributing to tourism or economic sustainability on the island is extremely disappointing. 

“We have been hit by Yasi as most of you will know & the vast majority of those repair costs thus far have been spent with island businesses.
“We would like to see fewer traveller across Cleveland bay on the night of the event or more staying on the island after the event & heading off a few days later. 

“Our aim is to create length of stay on the island and this is one tool we believe can achieve it.  Other tourism-orientated destinations do this quite well in creating a product that can be leveraged into longer stays or value added propositions for the guests.
“We would ask that before blanket judgements or accusations are made on us or our events that an approach is made to us first.  We would love the support of Magnetic Island Tourism Operators & Businesses in developing a way to encourage this potential guest to stay longer on the island & spend more in destination, providing economic benefit to a wider cross section of the Magnetic Island community.”

Story: George Hirst

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

Full moon vandals irk local business body
March 21st 2011
I would be interested to hear where Dr simpson got her information that “No tourism benefits flow from this event” i am sure the scooter hire,car rentals and various eateries would disagree!!
Lindsay Simpson
March 21st 2011
My comments:
X-Base has been approached numerous times by TOBMI to come on board and help tourism on the island.
I have never heard of a police force being paid to be anywhere. I didn't know there were 'cops for hire'.
X-Base has been approached about vandalism which is a recurring issue for everyone where there is no security provided ie between X-Base and the ferry terminal. Security guards are provided on the ferries and the venue. That's it.

A resident on the island picked up several bags of rubbish on the beach after the Full Moon where everyone was 'well behaved.' A syringe was found among the rubbish as was considerable amount of faeces. Faeces was also found at the terminal.

This goes nowhere to bringing more people to the island for longer stays.
Curlew porn lover
March 21st 2011
Pure Crap
March 21st 2011
We too bore the stupidity off Full Moon revellers. Friday Night a group of people walking past our property decided that it would be fun to jump on the back of our trailer which has our machinery on it and take photos of themselves, OH what FUN for you. We have also coppped the spate of theft and vandalism that has encroached the island. We had 100ltrs of diesel stolen out of our truck 1 week after TC Yasi and someone had gone through the cabin last Wed night, islanders please be aware there are people helping themselves to vehicles, particularly in Nelly Bay.....
Aimee Jones
March 22nd 2011
Kerrie, i am sorry to hear that the incident happened on your property, please be assured that Base does not condone such behaviour hence us paying for bus services to run the night of full moon, we do encourage the use of these buses to avoid such behaviour happening.

It is unfortunate some people do decided to take the walk instead of using the bus service provided.

In saying that this doesnt excuse such behaviour and I totally agree it is unacceptable.

Lindsay, you will actually find we are members of TOMBI, i was approached October last year and signed up straight away.

The police are paid for special services by the event, i can assure this is in fact correct as i am the person who approves the invoices. Feel free to check on this, i assure you it is in case Fact.

The island resident you refer to picking up rubbish is a paid employee by base and yes they are a island local, as are all staff here at Base Magnetic. We make our responability for cleaning the beach after the full moon a priority as soon as the sun comes up we have staff picking up rubbish as we acknowledge that patrons drop this rubbish on the way to our event, i will correct you by saying that WE in fact picked up 10 bags of rubbish though. It is a disappointing to see that people do not feel responsible for disposing of there own rubbish in a correct manner.

Yes you are correct in saying there was faecus found, this was found by the same staff member who quickly disposed of it in a proper manner.

Base Magnetic island and our Events do not condone the use of drugs and patrons found with drugs are handed over to the police.

Lindsay as mentioned a few times now our door is always open here at Base Magnetic island, i welcome your feedback, cristism and suggestions the only issue i have is the process you have decided to act these out in.

I have been the general manager here for 9 months now, many locals and tourism providers have stopped in during this time to welcome me to the island and given up there valuable time to give some feedback in regards to full moon parties and any other issues they may have.

You have never approached me by phone, email or in person therefore i have never had the opportunity to meet you to discuss your concerns.

I am disappointed that you have come to the conclusion that we do not help with tourism on the island i am sure that many would beg to differ, i do welcome your suggestions in how you think Base can improve on this.

I look forward to meeting with you in person Lindsay, feel free to drop in any time.

March 22nd 2011
I saw at backpackers buying FM tix at Breakwater ferry, travelling to Maggie well over a week before the FM, I suppose they just lived on fish and slept on the beach?
This event attracts backpackers from all over the world, as well as many locals from TSV who otherwise may never experience the island.
It is a world class dance party, that puts Maggie on the international stage and a highlight of many people's month locally.
Luv the FM, thanks XBASE!
March 22nd 2011
Curlew porn lover, sounds like your the one responsible for the FAECES.
March 22nd 2011
I was disgusted when I arrived to board the 6.20 ferry to go to work on Saturday morning. Newspapers were flapping around everywhere empty bottles and debris was just everywhere. I can just imagine if tourists had just arrived on the early ferry how stunned they would have been and wondered where on earth they had come to. If this is good for tourism I'm astounded.
March 22nd 2011
I am sure there are some positives to come out of holding Full Moon Parties for the Island but in my opinion far outweighed by the negatives.
We have a holiday rental property that sits in a direct line between Base and the ferry terminal. We promote the property as being quiet and peacefull etc, and so do not take bookings for FM party nights. We have to put up with the screaming and shouting and the obsenities, and we take special precautions in locking up property and items normally left out. Despite a paid clean up there is always plenty of left over rubbish for locals to collect. What about bent street sign posts, they are a regular vandalised item. (last Friday the one on the corner of Yates/Sooning). To be fair the noise level has been put under control, although that dorf dorf can still be heard in the wee small hours and over the years I lost sleep listening to that racket.
If Magnetic Islands fame and fortune rest with a monthly 'world famous?' alcohol fueled dance party then heaven help us.
March 22nd 2011
Someone has said This event attracts backpackers from all over the world, as well as many locals from TSV who otherwise may never experience the island. Errrr not saying much for TSV locals if this is the only reason they would come to the island. Many "moons" ago TSV locals came to Maggie for a day or longer to enjoy what it had to offer without trashing the place, stealing property and being down right feral. Maybe they had respect for the others, island and residents. As a resident the backpackers/tourists I've come across have been well mannered and keen on just making the most of their stay on the island. Shame I can't say that about some, though a minority, TSV folk.
March 22nd 2011
Aimee, I have to say that you are handling all this brilliantly - if only there were more like you maybe our Tourism wouldn't be in such a mess. I had previously sat quite comfortably on the fence with this issue (even though I too have suffered property damage and disturbance from FM's)but you've got me coming over to your way of thinking.
Island View
March 23rd 2011
George, I see that The Bully's article yesterday lifted at least 35% of their content from your piece published the day before!!

I've blogged about their rip off at "Blogging Townsville" (Google it or click the blue banana on The Times' front page).

As for the substantive topic, I'd encourage all islanders to visit Base regularly - especially from the beach front. I'm sure you'll come to the same conclusion as I have
March 23rd 2011
A quick correction from Aimee's contribution - as I had a conversation with Lindsay Simpson over the weekend, I assume that I am the island resident she refered to, that picked up the rubbish, dealt with faeces, and found a syringe on the day after the last FM. Like many locals (not employed by x-base), my children and I often walk Nelly Bay beach and always take a bag to collect any rubbish we come accross. Immediately after a FM party we know to take extra bags, and last weekend was no exception. Last Saturday we filled 3 large bin liners in one sweep of the beach (didn't collect on the way back as we had to run due to rain), we found faeces (assumed to be human due to presence of tissue/toilet paper), and a syringe which may or may not have been from the FM party - amazing to add our tally to the 10 bags and more faeces found by the x-base employee (and possibly more picked up by other residents).

I've no objection to people having a good party once a month - but am getting sick of the aftermath.

Really pleased to see the likelihood of constructive dialogue to improve the situation.
March 23rd 2011
clearly if the island continues to approve such events that impact negatively on the community then extra security and clean up measures are necessary at the expense of the hosts ie XBase please take responsibility for bad behaviour of few
Chris C
March 23rd 2011
Libby's input clearly shows that Base's response to all of this is totally inadequate.
The Recreational Tourism Group’s (owners of X-Base) business model is a high turnover / low margin one (think Sam’s Warehouse or Crazy Clarks). As such, they have little interest in increasing visitors length of stay in any one location (knowing full well that most backpackers tend to have a per day and per location budget and aim to see as much of the country as possible in the time they have). Rather they have every interest in shifting their guests up or down the cost to their other ‘resorts’ in order to maximise the company’s over-all return from any one visitor. This of course explains why they have clearly been reluctant to partner with TOBMI and other operators on the island – there’s little in it for them as they already have a company-owned pipeline of customers.
Edwina also hit the nail on the head. Base (and Sunferries) are the ones who profit from this event and as such it is completely their responsibility to ensure that it leaves no mark on the community or its assets.
And as raised on Blogging Townsville - I’d also be fascinated to know if the post storm-surge repairs that they are doing on their beachfront are being inspected by the relevant authorities to ensure that they are up to standard, particularly given the location and its susceptibility to further storm surges (think TCC’s decision to NOT approve the Radical Bay development for the very same reason).
Aimee Jones
March 24th 2011
You will find Chris that our response to all of this is far from totally inadequate.

Libby, i would like to thank you for feeling the need to pick up rubbish left behind, as a thank you i would like to invite you and your family down for a dinner at Base. As you mentioned you were the island resident that was mentioned, i apolgise for presuming it was my staff member who also in fact had to clean up faeces and collected rubbish, it is such a shame we live in a world where people believe it is acceptable to leave either behind. Feel free to contact me direct if you would like to take me up on my offer of thanks.

Since this story first came to light we have done the following:

Organised two security guards each full moon to patrol the Marina and Ferry terminals. Paid for by the event.

Ensure that every full moon a staff members walk from the terminal to base on both road and beach picking up rubbish dropped by patrons. Paid for by the event

Ensure that every full moon a staff member picks up all rubbish left behind at the ferry terminal. Paid for by the event.

Hireage of a extra bus dedicated to a direct service between the Ferry terminal and Base in Nelly bay, It will run during the whole event.

And this is just the start.

We would like to work with the community and listen to suggestions and complaints rather than work against you.

We understand that you may believe that we hold events for person gain, but these belief couldn't be further from the truth.

We just ask that you work with us and accept us as part of the communitiy.

Our full attention is focused increasing average stay for guest, which is why our main focus is on selling packages that get the guests to stay for 2-4 nights, and is by far our biggest seller.

Yes that is correct OUR biggest seller, but whilst people who have booked theses packages are staying on the island we book rental cars, dive trips, scooter hire, nature experiances but not only that we recommend supermarkers, doctors, chemist, shops, we make dinner bookings, we even suggest a great pub where people can catch the footy or cricket game.

Guest and patron safety is paramount to both Base and myself, after the cyclone we employed both a engineer and a geo-technical engineer to report on property damage, all works completed have been approved recommended by these engineers.

I again invite any member of the public to come down and sit down with me to discuss your concerns, so far i have had no one has take me up on this offer.

Have a fantastic day.
March 24th 2011
Having lived on the island, and enjoyed the monthy full moon parties, I was always dismayed at the litter and vandalism by idiotic drunk louts.

As a female in my 20's I love the FM parties and of course I enjoy a drink but it would never cross my mind to start damaging property or dropping litter along the streets (for wildlife to inevitably later be harmed by). I struggle to understand the mentality of these louts.

Alot of the time, from my experience the troublemakers are often not tourists or backpackers but infact townsville youths who come over, high on alcohol and goodness knows what else.

It really makes me angry to know that there are all these ungrateful, uncivilized, anti-social Australian youths who have no respect and no appreciation for their stunning natural environment, I would do anything to move back to Australia permanently but don't have the necessary work experience to qualify for citizenship, yet so many Aussie kids are lucky enough to be born in your beautiful country and have nothing but disrespect for the environment and the community, it really makes me livid.

Whilst it's good to hear Aimee saying 2 security guards have been hired for the FM parties, I worry that it might not be enough, after all they can't be everywhere at once. Personally I'd like to see a zero-tolerance approach - anyone who is caught littering, vandalising or damaging/stealing property should be fined and banned from any future events.
George Hirst
March 25th 2011
Hi Island View, Sorry to be slow to set the record straight but the quotes you saw as lifted from my article by the Bully were from a press release which they would also have probably received. Really appreciate your preparedness to defend Maggie Times' against the Murdoch empire but this time I stuffed up and posted your comment without checking. Thanks again and apologies for causing this misunderstanding.
George Hirst, Ed.

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