Kirk Barker is a long term resident of Port Douglas, having lived and worked here since the early 1970s. Kirk is now a resident at Port Haven, an aged person’s residential community at the south end of Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas, and adjacent to the Ozcare Health facility. Many residents of his community have health and mobility issues, and some need the assistance of walking frames and wheelchairs.
For many years, the residents of Port Haven and Ozcare have enjoyed secure and peaceful access to the beach, just a short distance from their homes, along a pathway through the pristine littoral vine forest which protects their community from storm surge and cyclonic conditions.
For residents, the walk through the forest and along the beach, and simply relaxing on the sea shore, is an integral part of their daily regime for physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Unfortunately, those Port Douglas residents who live next to Four Mile Beach are familiar with the social problems being experienced in the area. Issues such as trespassing, theft, illegal camping, fires on the beach and in the forest, and the dumping of rubbish, cause constant problems. Port Haven’s location at the southern end of Four Mile Beach has to some extent protected its residents from the worst examples of these problems.
But that is all about to change.
Kirk has been following with interest the development of the Wangetti Trail, the tourism project for mountain bike riders and bushwalkers being funded and built by the Queensland and Federal governments and running for 90 km from Palm Cove to Port Douglas.
What he has found out about the proposed route of the trail is of great concern to him and his fellow residents.
The trail will be built to meet the littoral forest just to the south of Port Haven and a one kilometre track will be cut through the forest from there to Nautilus Street.
The pathway from Port Haven to the beach will be the first one encountered on the trail when travelling from the south. This will have a significant negative impact on residents using the pathway. The risk of serious injury from a collision with a mountain bike is a very real one. Opening up this area to public use will also attract other bike riders, both tourists and locals, causing further risk of injury. There will also be an inevitable rise in those existing problems identified, such as illegal camping, fires, theft, rubbish etc.
Kirk also has major concerns about the environmental impact of the trail. The cutting of a trail through the littoral vine forest, the most intact example we have in Port Douglas of what is a very rare habitat, will lead to even further degradation, disturbance and exploitation of a kind already seen further north along Four Mile Beach.
His proposal to avoid this social and environmental mess, is for the proponents of the trail to scrap the plan for what is only one km of a ninety km trail, and to divert that section to enter at the end of Mitre Street, going on to Nautilus through to Four Mile Beach Park.
This solution would preserve both the integrity of the existing forest and the amenity of residents and others who regularly use this part of the beach.
The Queensland Government is still accepting submissions on the alignment and design of the Wangetti Trail. Those interested have until September 14 to make a submission to the following site: