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Turtle Sands sign

''Every obstacle known to man'

Turtle park accuses government
of blocking development plan

Story and Photos: Dennis Amor
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Turtle sands signTHE owners of a caravan park adjoining the newly-opened multi-million dollar Mon Repos Turtle Centre near Bundaberg in Queensland have accused the State Government of blocking their development plans.

Turtle Sands Camping and Holiday Park has now re-lodged a development application to improve and extend the park with resort-style features.

The upgraded park would include caravan sites, glamping facilities, resort-style pool, playground, larger cabins and dormitory-style accommodation.

But David and Jenny Baker, who have owned the facility for more than 20 years, say they are being forced to "jump through hoops" to have their plans approved.

"We have gone to great lengths to address the turtles and to be sensitive to the lighting situation," Mr Baker told media.

"Yet the State Government has, for whatever reason, put up every obstacle known to man to delay us in proceeding and to make it more and more difficult."

Ironically, the couple voluntarily closed their tourist park to general visitors in 2010 after becoming concerned that bright lights from caravans and tents were discouraging some endangered turtles from nesting on the beach just metres away.

It now caters primarily for group-style bookings including families and friends, school parties and caravan clubs.

Mr Baker told Caravanning News shortly before closing it to general tourists that it was not practical to operate for only a few months of the year.

Loggerhead turtle

Loggerhead turtle returns to ocean after laying

"It was not a decision we took lightly ... because of the turtles this is the most sensitive parcel of land in Queensland," he said.

"As a family we are very conscious of its environmental importance ... that is why we bought it all those years ago.

"Our children were reared on this site and we are very protective of it. We do not want to contribute to anything that would damage this fragile environment."

The Bakers admit they want to take advantage of the newly improved Mon Repos Turtle Centre by providing an environmentally-based, resort-style accommodation experience next door.

More than $22 million has been invested in the new turtle centre, including more than $17 million from the State Government.

Located on a 1.5km bay just east of the Bundaberg city, it is regarded as the world's most important loggerhead turtle nesting site. It also sees a few flatback and green turtles during the season.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has employed five new rangers to work in the centre during the peak nesting season which began on October 16 with the arrival of a 70-year-old female flatback.

"The Bundaberg community will continue to benefit as the centre will inject millions of tourism dollars to the local economy, while promoting the importance of turtle conservation," Queensland Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said.

Around 30,000 visitors are expected to visit the new centre this season.


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the prior written permission of Dennis Amor.

Copyright 2005 Dennis Amor
All Rights Reserved

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