CQ Action Group-The Good Fight

CQ Boat Ramp Action Group fighting the good fight

By John Boon

Central Queensland

It is a well known fact that Capricornia is in much need of another all tide boat ramp to service the ever growing surrounding area. Between Gladstone and Mackay the only dedicated boat ramp for all tide offshore access is the Rosslyn Bay Marina ramp. Now don’t get me wrong, it is a great multilane setup with floating pontoons but with the increase in boat trailer registrations, I’m sorry to say, but, we are falling behind the times.

CQBRAG has been on the front line, trying their best to secure funding for much needed upgrades around the Central Queensland area. Clive King (President) and John Reed (Vice President) are the two big names heading up CQBRAG and have been for a number of years.

CQBRAG came about because Clive King, along with his wife Christine, and John Reed were both pushing the same wheelbarrow, as they discovered, and they finally met and continued their cause together. This prompted the forming of Central Qld Boat Ramp Action Group (CQBRAG) by a few very committed local boaties, to highlight the need for more boating facilities on the Capricorn Coast. This included more parking at RBH and an All Tide Boat Ramp on the Southern End of the Capricorn Coast. Years of hard work was put in and finally South Capricorn Coast Boat Ramp Advisory Committee (SCCBRAC) was formed by the then RRC and included Mr Bruce Young, CQBRAG, the very knowledgeable Wade Clark RRC, Councillors and staff and several interested community stakeholders in the fishing industry.

John Reed was kind enough to forward on some valuable information regarding the problems we are facing with boat ramps on the Capricorn Coast.

The recent boat registration figures provided by the Department of Transport and Main Roads indicate that there has been strong growth in our region with 9,605 registered boats.

The problem is that there is only two certified all tide boat ramps (four lanes each) in which car trailer loaded boats can access Keppel Bay when it is at low tide. Coorooman Creek boat ramp, whilst a good facility, can provide access for only smaller vessels at low tide to Keppel Bay.

To indicate the scale of the issue, our region is 24 lanes behind what is needed with no new boat ramps being implemented since 2008-2009. That was until 2014 when it was announced $1 million will be provided by the State Government to upgrade the current ramp at Coorooman Creek to four lanes.

In terms of boat registrations, our region has been growing rapidly. For three years (2011, 2012, 2013) our region was the fastest growing area for boat registrations with no new facilities being planned (see table).

But there is a solution to this undersupply of boating facilities – an investment pipeline that can be established for new boating infrastructure including new boat ramp facilities.

To gain the necessary funds it is suggested a user base model be implemented with grants being sought to improve infrastructure. This investment will also generate a positive economic benefit.

Currently around $1.4m per year is generated from boat registrations within our region. $700,000 of this needs to be allocated to Rosslyn Bay Boat Harbour for ongoing operations, dredging etc…

This leaves $700,000 per year. This needs be allocated within our region, and not elsewhere in the State, as places like Gladstone, Mackay and Townsville have had massive injections of capital to build new boat ramp facilities over the past five years.

Since 2008, there has been investment by the State Government into mainly upgrading Rosslyn Bay Boat harbour which we thank Bruce Young MP and his government for, and we hope we can continue with the new member Ms Brittany Lauga and party .

Apart from some additional car parking, this facility is now fully realised and would require the normal repairs and dredging to keep it fully operational. We estimated this at around $700,000 per year to service the Boat Harbour that accommodates the 500 private marina berths, 300+ car and boat trailer units, commercial operators, numerous State bodies and the Yeppoon Coast Guard.

It is important the we, as a community, actively encourage and work towards appropriate boating facilities along the coast, not just from a local point of view but in terms of the economic spin-offs that it can bring.

The Mackay, Fraser Coast and Bundaberg Regions have secured $260,000 in Queensland Government funding to develop a marketing strategy to target recreational fishers (June 2014).

We don’t have mining; we have a bit of agriculture, but what our area has in buckets loads is tourism opportunities. We need to provide better facilities to encourage more tourists to visit this area. Better boating facilities will produce more tourism spending meaning more jobs for our young people.

It is time for us all to come together Federal, State, Local Government, boaties and the community to make this a reality.

Supply and demand calculation

  • There were 9,605 registered boats within our region (including Rockhampton) at July 2014.
  • 76% of this is within the direct catchment and utilises facilities along the Capricorn coast, a total boating fleet of 7300 vessels.
  • 94% of the fleet are trailer loaded boats; a total of 6862 trailer-loaded boats requiring facilities.
  • In terms of demand, not everyone is going to place their boat in on a weekend. In saying that, the normal benchmark for maximum demand is 20% of the fleet on a good weekend therefore 1372 vessels.
  • To come up with how many lanes are needed, the optimum amount is 40 boats per lane (1372 / 40), therefore 34 boat lanes are required. We have a maximum of 10. The region is 24 behind what is needed, that is why boaties are disgruntled on good weekends.

It seems that everything that has come out in the media in regards to small wins for the CQ area has been at the hand of MP Bruce Young. This isn’t entirely correct with Mr Bruce Young working very closely with CQBRAG. I know for a fact that Clive King, John Reed and their associates have worked their arses off collecting data and putting it together for presentation to Bruce Young and I was in attendance at two meetings that CQBRAG organised for the public to attend. The efforts that Reedy and Clive went to deserved a massive round of applause.

“Never depend upon institutions or government to solve any problem. All social movements are founded by, guided by, motivated and seen through by the passion of individuals.”