Fight on to save gateway to Glades

Friends of Kinaba roll up their sleeves.
Friends of Kinaba roll up their sleeves. Contributed

UP IN the Noosa Everglades a bunch of committed locals are fighting to save a monument to the Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen days when it was the done thing for a minister to build a getaway for his cronies to do a spot of bird watching.

The Friends of Kinaba steering committee, for what is called the Kinaba or Sir Thomas Hiley Information Centre, have spent the past 14 months seeking official approval to form a citizens' caretaker force dedicated to keeping this striking bit of colourful local history that welcomes Everglades visitors, ship-shape.

And ironically, after making good headway with authorities to negotiate expressions of interests about taking care of Kinaba, the group is not sure what to expect with the new LNP State Government's double-barrelled policies of public cost-cutting and commercialisation of national parks.

Friends of Kinaba steering committee member Bruce Charlesworth has been heartened by a good turnout to a recent picnic up at Kinaba that was held to refocus the fight to preserve the eye-catching structure and prevent its toilet system from failing and spilling into the pristine ecosystem.

"A lot of people here now who are aware of it, every time they pass through, they'll stop there and make sure the toilets are clean and they're working," Mr Charlesworth said.

"The waste system there is very limited - that's a huge issue."

He said there were genuine fears for the integrity of the centre that had been treasured by environmental researchers as the gateway to the Everglades.

"It's been maintained, but every budget there was less and less spent on it, and it's reached the point right now where national parks are just keeping it safe and usable, I suppose, for the public. But it's deteriorating rapidly and everyone around here is concerned that it's going to get to a point where it can't be saved.

"Or if it is tendered out, which has been rumoured, we would be even more concerned, especially with the new State Government wanting to make money out of national parks. We don't want to see the building go to ... a commercial entity."

Mr Charlesworth said to his knowledge the building was constructed in the 1970s.

"Sir Thomas Hiley was one of Bjelke-Petersen's ministers, who arranged to have it built as a lodge and an entry to the national park that was created around there at the time.

"His crony mates were very keen bird watchers so they built a bird hide there. What we're hoping to do is form a volunteer group to have some working bees there. We're offering a workforce of volunteer labour to even possibly man it on weekends and busy times."

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Great Sandy regional manager Ross Belcher said his organisation would invest "approximately $20,000 in 2012-13 in maintaining the Kinaba Information Centre, including ongoing building maintenance and staffing".

"Rangers visit the centre on a regular basis to ensure it remains clean and functional.

"A report on repairs that may be needed in the future, such as roof and sewage system maintenance, is currently being considered."

Mr Belcher said most of the land the centre was on was not national park, but land controlled by Sunshine Coast Council.

"Any future management arrangements will need to be negotiated in consultation with council."

Topics:  noosa

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