Tag: Gold Coast

‘We’re stranded’: Thousands of travellers stuck in caravan parks as coronavirus closes borders

Halls Gap 3381

The Schoon family are used to travelling the world, but not like this.

Key points:

  • The caravan industry estimates there could be 75,000 travellers stuck in caravan parks across the country
  • With many states and territories closing their borders, travellers are stuck amid reports supermarkets will only sell to locals
  • The Prime Minister has made it clear that people who are stuck are essential travellers and should be welcome in caravan parks

During their fourth visit to Australia from Belgium, they find themselves stranded in one of the country’s many caravan parks with nowhere else to go.

They’ve booked flights out of the country only to see them cancelled.

“Nobody knows exactly how long we will be stuck here and that’s a strange feeling,” Koen Schoon said.

Tens of thousands of travellers could be stuck in Australia’s caravan parks, as Australia’s states and territories tighten their borders due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have all introduced tough new border restrictions, as Australia’s coronavirus cases pass 2,000.

The Caravan Industry Association of Australia estimates there could be 75,000 people in the country’s caravan parks at the moment.

“There’s a lot who can’t get home and they need to bunker down and get a safe place to ride this out,” the association’s general manager Chris Johnson said.

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International travellers can’t get flights out

Mr Schoon and his wife are travelling around Australia in a small van with their three young children.


The Schoon family from Belgium is stuck in the Grampians National Park, unable to get a flight back home. (Supplied: Koen Schoon)

They are stuck in the Grampians National Park in western Victoria, at the Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park.

“Some people are saying it could be one month and others talk about six months,” he said.

“I’ve called the embassy in Canberra, but it’s the first time everyone is dealing with this.”

The Schoons were six weeks into their Australian adventure and were due to fly home at the end of April.

“For the kids it’s a long holiday and they like the weather, and the animals, and at the moment they can play outside,” Mr Schoon said.

“I’m worried about the financial side. My work will pay for one more month and then it will stop.”

But he was remaining positive.

“It is stressful, but if there is one place I would want to be right now it’s in Australia,” he said.

“It’s a good place to be and it’s a safe place. It’s worse in Belgium. People have to stay inside and everything is closed. Social lives have gone.

“If everybody here stays at home, maybe in two weeks the virus might be gone.”

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Julie and Rene Thalmann say they are due back home on the Gold Coast in June. (Supplied: Rene Thalmann)

Towns not so caravan-friendly as they once were

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For many Australians, jumping in the caravan and travelling around the country for months at a time is a tradition.

This year, though, it is posing a few extra challenges.

Rene and Julie Thalmann have rented out their Gold Coast home until June and have been travelling for months in their caravan.

“We are virtually stranded and if everywhere closes, it would be challenging,” Mr Thalmann said.

“My stress levels will rise when we have to figure out how to get across two state borders once our home is available again.”

Some regional towns have called on caravaners to stay away, worried they might bring the virus in.

Some supermarkets grappling with a massive increase in demand are also only selling to locals.

“We are now seeing a lot of towns that would have been caravan-friendly and now they aren’t,” Mr Thalmann said.

“We can only try to explain our situation. Most of the caravaners — we are 65 and 60 — it’s in their interest to practise social distancing anyway, and we have been doing that for a month.

“I feel that, deep down, we are all still humans and eventually it will become clear that we need to find solutions.”

Confusion clears for caravan park owners

On Tuesday night, the Federal Government made it clear that caravan parks should not take in non-essential travellers.

The Caravan Industry Association of Australia’s Chris Johnson said that cleared up a lot of confusion.

“There was a lot of confusion as to what was essential travel and what was not,” he said.

“The Government has seen that workers, people who live within caravan parks, and also people who are travelling around Australia and cannot get back to their place of residence, are classed as essential travellers and are welcome at caravan parks.”


Josephina and Rohan McDonald have opened the Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park to people who have nowhere else to go. (Supplied: Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park)

Josephina and Rohan McDonald own and operate the Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park where the Thalmanns and Schoons have been staying.

Earlier in the week, they decided to stop taking bookings, despite there being no clear direction from governments if that was the course of action needed to be taken.

“My core business is non-essential travel, so I used my common sense and knowledge and thought we couldn’t continue to operate,” Josephina McDonald said.

“We tried to make a plan A, B and C, but we didn’t get much further than A.”

The park is only taking people who have nowhere to go, and they have set up an online form for people to fill out.

“We have to differentiate between essential and non-essential, and we are being very careful and dealing with it case by case,” Ms McDonald said.

“I will ring them up afterwards and chat to them about their situation.

“We are still charging $20 for a site, but we also have a few cabins where people can self-isolate if they need to.”

Business is suffering

Ms McDonald said she had cancelled $500,000 in forward bookings.

The Easter school holidays are typically a busy time, and the Grampians is one of Victoria’s biggest drawcards.

“We have had to lay off staff so they can go to Centrelink and work out their situations,” Ms McDonald said.

“The honest truth is you wake up extremely positive and the next day you’re flat and aware of the fact you might not be standing by the end of it. It’s just horrible.”

Ms McDonald said, while her business was suffering, she felt happy she could at least provide a roof for those with nowhere to turn.

“There are people who are desperate and are stuck,” she said.

“I have a strong feeling we will go into a lockdown — there are a lot of people out there who don’t have a house or a roof over their heads.”

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Gold Coast after-school care worker tests positive to coronavirus after working while sick

Brisbane 4000

A worker at an after-school care program on the Gold Coast has tested positive for coronavirus, forcing all students to self-isolate for a fortnight.

Helensvale State Primary School has written a letter to parents saying the employee of YMCA Helensvale returned the positive result on Friday and was at work on Wednesday.

“It is understood that they had some sign of illness in the days prior,” the letter, obtained by the ABC, said.

All students and staff must now be quarantined, and the centre is expected to be closed for the rest of the term.


Helensvale State Primary School, where the YMCA runs the after-school program. (ABC News: Kate McKenna)

Qld COVID-19 snapshot

  • Confirmed cases so far: 221
  • Deaths: 1
  • Patients tested: 29,867

Latest information from Queensland Health.

The school will remain open, on advice of Queensland’s chief health officer, the letter said.

“I wanted to make this information available to all families as soon as possible so that you can be alerted to your own child’s health over the coming days,” the letter said.

Federal and state authorities maintain there is no need to close schools at this stage, although more than 100 other countries have.


The school was being washed-down after one staffer at the YMCA Helensvale tested positive to COVID-19. (ABC News: Kate McKenna)

Health Minister Steven Miles said the Helensvale case was one of 37 people diagnosed in the past 24 hours.

There are now 221 positive results in Queensland, which is the third highest tally in the nation.

Mr Miles said the staff member had been working for some days.

“It underlines the message, we all have a responsibility to one another, if you’re unwell and in contact with a lot people, you should seek medical advice,” he said.


Helensvale State School will remain open, despite the case at its after school program. (ABC News)

Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young said the increase of 37 cases overnight was a similar level as the past two days.

She said all the country’s chief health officers are considering escalating travel restrictions, including domestic travel bans should the situation deteriorate.

“We are keeping it under control,” she said. “We are keeping it in hand.”

Brisbane, Logan libraries close, Gold Coast open

Brisbane City Council will close all 33 of its libraries from Monday until further notice.

For those who already have books out, loan periods will be extended to June 30 and book return chutes and bins will still be operating.


The Annerley library is one of the Brisbane libraries which will close. (ABC News: Kate McKenna)

If people wanted to loan books out on Saturday, they were able to get out 60 per person, instead of 20.

All nine Logan City Council libraries will also be closed by noon Monday, but on the Gold Coast libraries will remain open and people will be able to get out 40 items. Loan periods have also been extended.

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Parents stuck on cruise ship

The daughter of a Brisbane couple stuck on a cruise ship in the South Pacific is pleading with the Federal Government to bring her parents home.

Marcia Kretschmer said her parents, both in their 70s, left Sydney on the Norwegian Jewel more than three weeks ago.


The Norwegian Jewel cruise ship docked in Sydney on Valentine’s Day. (AAP: James Gourley)

The ship was supposed to disembark in Tahiti but it has been denied entry to several ports which have closed in response to coronavirus.

“If there is no other country that will accept this boat then I think it’s Australia’s responsibility to return them where they actually embarked on the journey,” she said.

The Foreign Affairs Department and the cruise line have been contacted for comment.

‘Stay home this weekend’

Residents are being told to stay indoors this weekend.

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It is now a requirement that all indoor venues have spacing of four square metres per person, which equates to 25 people per 100 square metres.

Mr Miles said there were some reports last night that some pubs and clubs were not following the guidelines.

“If we work together, stick together, we will be able to keep more people out of hospital and more people alive,” he said.

Coffee vendor Sebestian Velasquez said unclear messaging from the government could be the reason people were still crowding together.


Unlike crowded scenes at Bondi Beach, people practiced social distancing at South Bank in Brisbane on Saturday. (ABC News: Julie Hornsy)

He worked on Saturday morning at the West End Markets in Brisbane.

“I think the information is a little scattered, people aren’t sure what they should or shouldn’t be doing,” he said.

Until stricter messaging is released, he does not think people will stay home.

“It’s human nature to not think that those rules [don’t] apply to you, or make exceptions when they don’t suit, so maybe until there is a clear line that is set out, stuff like this is going to keep happening.”


West End market on Saturday morning. (ABC News: Jessica Rendall)

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

First case of coronavirus in regional Australia shuts down two university campuses

Sydney 2000

Southern Cross University (SCU) has closed two of its campuses for the day following detection of the first coronavirus case in regional Australia.

Key points:

  • The Lismore and Gold Coast campuses are shut for the day
  • A staff member who attended workshops earlier this month has tested positive to coronavirus
  • The University is yet to decide when the campuses will re-open

The Lismore campus in northern NSW and Gold Coast campus in Queensland are in lockdown to stop any potential spread of the virus after a staff member tested positive.

The decision means an estimated 8,000 students will have to study at home but are not required to self-isolate.

A university employee from the Philippines attended a series of workshops at both campuses between March 2 and 6 before falling ill.

The male staff member returned a positive test for coronavirus on Tuesday but told the university his symptoms had subsided the previous day.


The Southern Cross University campus at Coolangatta is closed today. (ABC News: Steve Keen)

“He is a strong young man and said that by Monday he felt fine,” SCU spokesman Dean Gould said.

“From what we know he is recovering well [but] we know we had a staff member on campus with this highly-contagious virus so it’s a duty of care really that we want to intervene straight away and break that potential cycle,”

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus continues its steady rise in NSW with the total reaching 65.

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SCU has identified and contacted 45 people who came into contact with the man but only 16 of those people had frequent contact.

The campuses will undergo thorough cleaning today.

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

Acting director of the North Coast Public Health Unit Dr Jane Jeffs said anybody who had not been contacted had no reason to be concerned.

“Generally close contact is someone who has been face-to-face for 15 minutes or more,” she said.

She said the unit is awaiting further information from their counterparts in the Philippines to gain better insight into where the man visited.

Dr Tony Lembke who is a GP in Alstonville, near Lismore, lauded the university’s decision as prudent and sensible.

He said lockdowns should be the emphasis to stop the virus “cascading” through high-traffic institutions like universities.


Jonathon Manitta arrived at the Lismore campus to find it was closed due to coronavirus. (ABC News: Bronwyn Herbert)

But engineering student Jonathon Manitta said it was “a little bit scary” arriving to a locked-down Lismore campus this morning.

“How many weeks ago was it just in China and now all of a sudden it’s at Southern Cross Uni in rural Lismore,” he said.

“It’s unsettling, it’s eye-opening but we do have systems in place to deal with it so hopefully they keep us safe.”

Marine science student Sarah Daynes was pleased the university was being cautious.

“I’m not really too worried, it’s up to them, whatever they think is right. They’ve got to take in the safety of the students and that’s what they’re doing,” she said.

Southern Cross University’s coronavirus taskforce made up of senior executives will meet today to discuss when the university should re-open.

“There could be some online delivery of our courses but there’s a whole lot of other stuff that happens outside of the classroom that’s also suspended at the moment”, Mr Gould said.

Anyone who is feeling unwell has been asked to self-isolate and seek medical attention.

Video: Will the coronavirus push Australia into recession? Alan Kohler takes a look


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Roads and train lines cut in Brisbane after heavy downpour hits South East Queensland

Dalby 4405

Cars were underwater and roads and train lines were cut after heavy rain and severe storms caused flooding in parts of South East Queensland and the Darling Downs.

Key points:

  • A severe storm warning was issued for parts of South East Queensland on Sunday afternoon
  • Heavy rain hit parts of Brisbane, with cars going underwater and roads and train lines cut by flooding
  • In the Darling Downs, Myall Creek at Dalby peaked at 3.2m Sunday morning and caused widespread flooding in the town

Trains on the Ipswich/Rosewood line were suspended between Wacol and Gailes stations in both directions due to flooding, with customers warned to expect delays.

Brisbane suburbs including Pullenvale, Kenmore, Woolloongabba, Moorooka, Holland Park, Tarragindi and Durack experienced flash flooding.


Authorities had to come to a rescue of a driver whose car was stuck at Moorooka. (Supplied: Claire Garton)

East Brisbane resident Deslea Sneddon was one of several locals who took advantage of the brief reprieve to take a look at flooding at Hanlon Park.

“It’s pretty exciting to see it so full of water and flowing so fast, we haven’t seen it like this for some time,” she said.


Locals visited Hanlon Park in East Brisbane to see the flooding. (ABC News: Anna Hartley)

“I’ve never seen it before when it’s flooded like this. It’s quite extreme.

“It’s great to see the rain, I love it. There does seem to be more on the way so we’ll just have to keep the washing under the house.”

Video: Flash flooding has hit parts of Brisbane with creeks overflowing in Pullenvale, Tarragindi and Kenmore

(ABC News)

Redlands Mayor Karen Williams said the council had opened sandbagging stations at Cleveland and Russell Island after calls from concerned residents.

“Everyone is welcoming the rain because it’s been so dry, but we’ve had such heavy rain in short periods and, after a week of onand-off rain, the ground is saturated,” she said.

“Our residents know the drill. We still have a week of rain coming so being prepared could help avoid damage to homes.”


Grandview Road at Pullenvale was cut off by floodwater. (Supplied: Laura Greive)

The storms followed heavy rain overnight in eastern parts of the Darling Downs and Granite Belt, as well as on the Gold Coast, which recorded the highest rainfall total of 201mm up to 9am.

Flood warning issued for Dalby

The bureau has warned towns downstream of the Condamine River of flooding at river crossings following the flash-flooding at Dalby on Sunday.

Dalby flood levels reached just below peak on Sunday morning before temporarily falling.


The Condamine River rises over Park Road Pedestrian Bridge in Warwick. (Supplied: Southern Downs Council CEO David Keenan)

Water arriving from upstream caused levels to rise again Sunday afternoon, approaching the moderate flood warning level.

Senior hydrologist Paul Birch said towns downstream will be impacted in the coming days.

“For townships downstream of Dalby like Condamine and Chinchilla where those sorts of areas are crossing its more about the big flow that’s happening in the Condamine River rather than the small flow that’s coming out of Myall Creek,” Mr Birch said.

“There will be a number of crossings that will be affected by the floods when they come through this week.

“It’s still coming out of the middle reaches of the Condamine River above where Dalby connects in so over the next several days that water will start moving downstream into those areas.”

Video: Heavy rain has caused flash flooding on South and McDougall Street in Toowoomba

(ABC News)

On Sunday, two people had to be rescued from a car in floodwaters at Greenmount, south of Toowoomba, and about 10 homes were evacuated in Jondaryan.

The Bureau of Meteorology said severe thunderstorms also created intense downpours around Warwick, with more than 80 millimetres falling in an hour.

Forecaster Peter Markworth said while some areas received more than 200mm of rain in 24 hours, no records were broken.


Residents are being urged not to drive through floodwaters. (Supplied: Sowerbys Towing)

“We’ve had some decent falls across the south-east,” he said.

“The Gold Coast and Stradbroke Island were the most affected and the Darling Downs saw large totals getting up to over 100mm, with Coolangatta getting up to 201mm.”


Parts of Dalby are already under water after heavy rain overnight Saturday. (Supplied: Hamish Felton-Taylor)

Rain provides drought relief for Southern Downs

Residents of Warwick have received some minor relief from drought conditions following significant rainfall overnight Saturday.

The town has received over two years of water supply following the rain, with water still flowing into the Leslie Dam which supplies water to the area.


Condamine River flooding at Churchill Drive in Warwick. (Supplied: Southern Downs Council CEO David Keenan)

Southern Downs Regional Mayor Tracy Dobie said while residents are pleased with the rainfall, she hopes the town remains drought-declared.

“We haven’t seen rain like this since ex-tropical cyclone Debbie in March 2017 and following that big downpour, our drought declaration was lifted,” Ms Dobie said.

“We have been drought-declared since 2018 and our assessment for drought declaration comes up at the end of March and it’s really important that our declaration remains in place.

“Even though we’ve had this rain and the tanks have been filled, the land is dried from three years of no rain.

“It’s going take a year of average rain before our land becomes moist again.”

Heavy falls hit Gold Coast

Doug Lance, who lives at Ingenia Holiday Park in Chinderah, south of the Gold Coast, said he and another 20 residents did not get much sleep as floodwaters rose at the caravan park overnight Saturday.


Water reached the doorsteps of some caravans at Chinderah, south of the Gold Coast. (ABC News: Cathy Border)

He said it was lucky no homes were flooded and water only reached doorsteps.

“The rain just didn’t stop. It just kept coming non-stop all night. It never let up,” he said.

“It was restless all right, I didn’t go to bed.

“I was up every half hour checking the water level.

“We could get another 100mm yet.”


Despite the heavy falls, the Bureau of Meteorology said no records had been broken. (Supplied: Hamish Felton-Taylor)

Video: Flash flooding forced the closure of Mihi Tavern in Ipswich.

(ABC News)


Parts of Woolloongabba also went underwater. (ABC News: Craig Andrews)

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Wild storms rumble across South East Queensland

Brisbane 4000

Severe thunderstorms have moved across parts of South East Queensland, bringing down powerlines and trees.

Energex said more than 18,000 customers were left without electricity across the region and crews were restoring supply.

The storms hit parts of Brisbane, the Scenic Rim, Moreton Bay, Logan, the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast this afternoon.

Earlier warnings from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) have been cancelled.

Video: Hail at a home at Beaudesert during afternoon storms.

(ABC News)

There were wind gusts of 96 kilometres per hour at Nambour on the Sunshine Coast.

Small hail fell at Beaudesert south-west of Brisbane.


Peregian Beach was plunged into darkness as the storm approached. (Supplied: TJ Jarrett)

The storms swept in from the west on Tuesday afternoon.

On the Darling Downs, authorities were called to a home at William Street in Clifton, south of Toowoomba, after the roof was ripped off during a storm.

Live wires trapped a man and two children inside the house, but they were not injured.

Video: A storm rips the roof from a home at Clifton on the Darling Downs.

(ABC News)

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) said the State Emergency Service (SES) crews were on their way to install a tarp over the roof.


The storm cell dumped hail on gardens and backyards in Beaudesert. (Supplied: Emma Davis)

BOM forecaster Lauren Pattie said the storms had been fuelled by hot unstable air that had made it feel “very tropical outside, quite sticky as well“.

“We got to a top of 30.9 degrees [Celsius] around the [Brisbane] city,” she said.

“The dew points are really high — that’s the amount of moisture in the air — so you walk out in the air and it feels really heavy.

“A dew point above 20 is considered very sticky and at the moment we’re sticking around 24.9 and it’s been like that all day.”


Beaudesert, west of the Gold Coast, was hard hit by hail during the storm. (Credit: Linda Mahaffy)

Ms Pattie said the same weather system brought rain to other parts of the Queensland coast.

“We have had some moderate falls around the tropical coast thanks to a surface trough, which is sitting around Cairns and is not really shifting at all,” she said.

“By the time we get to Friday, there’s a lot of tropical moisture that comes to north-west Queensland.”


There was enough hail at Beaudesert to fill a bucket. (Supplied: Emma Davis)

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QFES advises that people should:

  • Move your car under cover or away from trees.
  • Secure loose outdoor items.
  • Never drive, walk or ride through floodwaters. If it’s flooded, forget it.
  • Seek shelter, preferably indoors and never under trees.
  • Avoid using the telephone during a thunderstorm.
  • Beware of fallen trees and powerlines.

For emergency assistance contact the SES on 132 500.


The storms rolled in across Surfers Paradise as beach-goers quickly sought shelter. (ABC News: Solua Middleton)


Storm clouds over the Brisbane CBD on Tuesday afternoon. (ABC News: Kerrin Binnie)


The storm approaches Cooroy Mountain on the Sunshine Coast, near Noosa. (ABC News: Arlie Felton-Taylor)

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Hole big enough to swallow a car opens up on suburban Sunshine Coast road

Helensvale 4212

A road has partially collapsed on the Sunshine Coast in what the local council believe could have been caused by recent heavy rain.

Key points:

  • A large hole several metres wide opened up on a Sunshine Coast road after heavy rain
  • It follows flash flooding on the Gold Coast where a caravan park at Helensvale went underwater
  • One guest told the ABC the park had not warned her or her family about the rising waters

Police were called to Tingira Crescent at Sunrise Beach around 11:00pm on Saturday night to a large hole in the road and contacted the Noosa Shire Council to assess the damage.

“It’s taken out half the road, so my estimate would be roughly 10-15 metres wide and 3 to 4 metres deep,” Noosa Shire Council spokesman Ken Furdek said.

“What we have been able to ascertain is that it’s been quite a big slip that has been caused by either the heavy rain overnight and Friday night or by a burst water main.”

A specialist contractor was expected to be onsite during the week to start stabilising the site.

“A full repair of the road is likely to take some time,” he said.

“Our priority is to get that land stabilised near the unit block and once that’s done then our council crews will be on-site to repair the road.

“We encourage people to stay away from the area.”

Local resident Tracey Stevens was at a cafe down the road when she saw it.

“A car would disappear in there for sure,” she said.

“If you didn’t know it was there it would be hard to see, people are very lucky they didn’t get hurt.”

Deluge at Gold Coast caravan park

On the Gold Coast, a massive clean-up was underway at a caravan park after what locals describe as “life-threatening” flash flooding ripped through the area, forcing 400 guests to flee to higher ground.

Saturday’s deluge smashed through the Helensvale Big 4 Caravan Park during high tide on a nearby creek.


Parts of the Gold Coast received a month’s worth of rain on Friday night. (Supplied: @rnrwanderers)

The fast-rising floodwaters consumed caravans and cars and were so strong they carried away a minibus.

Tow trucks were called in to remove damaged vans.

Guest Jenny Cowman was camping with her grandchildren and said they were traumatised.

“About 4:00am my son-in-law came screaming in ‘Jenny, Jenny! Wake up quick! We have to go!'” she said.

“I thought I was having a dream.

“My daughter’s child was screaming and she saw there was water all through the camper.

“She said later to me she was not worried … but they could have drowned, they were only on little, thin air mattresses at the time, they could have rolled over. It only takes a few minutes in water.

“The kids were so scared.”


One resident told the ABC her family was not warned by the park about the rising floodwaters. (Supplied: @rnrwanderers)

Ms Cowman, who lives in Chinchilla, said it was their first family holiday with their camper trailers.

“My mum who was with us is 85 years old and she nearly had a heart attack being so scared,” she said.

“We tried to stay as calm as possible but it just kept rising.


Jenny Cowman was staying at the Big 4 Holiday Park at Helensvale when it flooded. (ABC News: Curtis Rodda)

“Apparently they have 24-hour security here and CCTV surveillance, but nothing, no-one came to warn us.”

The family lost two cars and two camper trailers and fear their damage bill will be around $100,000.

Only the cars were insured.


Movie World’s car park also flooded on Saturday. (Instagram: mickeylou15)

The park staff refused to let media in to talk to other residents or look at the damage.

No-one was injured during the flooding event and the park remains closed.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Drumlines rolled out after 4m great white spotted at Gold Coast beach

Palm Beach 4221

An international conservation group says Queensland’s shark control program is “lagging far behind” other states — and countries — after more drumlines were installed on the Gold Coast.

Key points:

  • A shark control manager says new drumlines on the Gold Coast are a precautionary measure after multiple shark sightings
  • The Humane Society International says the move ignores overwhelming scientific evidence and a legal case
  • There is a push for Queensland to follow New South Wales and trial high-tech ‘smart drumlines’

Six drumlines have been installed 400 metres off Palm Beach after a four-metre great white shark was spotted in recent weeks, and days after a diver was killed by a shark off Western Australia’s south coast.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the drumlines will be in place “as long as they need to [be]”.

“Human life is absolutely paramount,” she said.

“When we get that information we have to act, and they’ve acted quickly.”

But Humane Society International (HSI) said the decision flies in the face of scientific evidence and will put marine ecology at risk.


A still from vision taken by conservation group Sea Shepherd showing a dolphin tangled in a drumline off the Gold Coast. (Supplied: Sea Shepherd )

New drumlines a ‘precaution’

Michael Mickitis, the manager of Queensland’s Shark Control Program, said the drumlines at Palm Beach are a precautionary measure.

“We’re hoping the shark actually moves off of its own accord,” he said.

“Obviously the other alternative is that we catch the shark.

“We’ll be assessing the situation everyday and we’ll remove the drumlines as soon as the immediate risk has passed.”

Mr Mickitis said installing drumlines after individual shark sightings is not a regular practice, but he said that the shark had been in the area for longer than normal.

He said 40-60 sharks are caught in drumlines on the Gold Coast annually, but ‘occasionally’ other animals like dolphins, rays, whales and turtles are also caught.

“We do everything we can to try and minimise the by-catch including deterrents and alarms on the nets, and alternatives baits on the drumlines,” he said.

“We have trained people that go and release those animals as quickly as possible.”

Answers still slipping through the net

In April 2019 Humane Society International won a legal bid with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to stop the killing of sharks caught in drumlines within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The State Government later lost an appeal and removed the drumlines after Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said authorities could not “immediately or safely comply” with the tribunal’s findings.


A 2015 trial of drumlines in NSW caught 43 sharks, including this great white. (Supplied: Department of Primary Industries)

In its decision, the tribunal stated that culling sharks caught in the drumlines “does not reduce the risk of unprovoked shark interactions”.

“The scientific evidence before us is overwhelming in this regard,” the tribunal said.

Mr Mickitis said the Government’s position is that “human safety comes first.”

HSI marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck said the Queensland Government should be “acutely aware” of the tribunal’s findings and that the state is “lagging far behind”.

“Queensland’s marine ecosystems are the crown jewel of the ocean environment in this country, and one would say perhaps the whole world,” Mr Chlebeck said.

“Yet it’s one of the only places on the planet where lethal culling still exists.”

Drumlines a ‘good response’: Opposition

Opposition spokesman for Environment and Tourism, David Crisafulli, said the installation of drumlines on the Gold Coast should be a catalyst for reinstalling them in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.


David Crisafulli says drumlines are needed, and should be more widespread. (ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

“Drumlines are effective and they are the right response,” Mr Crisafulli said.

“If it’s good enough for one part of Queensland, it should be good enough for everywhere.”

In September, the State Opposition committed $15 million to install high-tech ‘smart drumlines’ in the marine park, similar to those trialled in New South Wales.

The smart drumlines alert a fisheries operator when an animal is caught, and the animal is then tagged and relocated.

Mr Chlebeck said New South Wales, and other countries, have had positive results with the technology, but that it will take additional training and resources.

“When these sharks are tagged you get a better idea of shark movements,” Mr Chlebeck said.

“Any bit of research, any bit of education is going to improve people’s safety in the water more than just killing a few random sharks in the area.”

‘People versus sharks’ the wrong debate

Mr Chlebec said human safety must be a top priority, but that the political debate around drumlines and culling has become misleading.

“It’s important to take this debate away from people versus sharks,” Mr Chlebeck said.

“There’s better ways to protect people in the water, especially on the Gold Coast — things like drone surveillance, personal shark deterrence, education.”


Alex Carvalho and Jimmy Martinovich do not support the drumlines at Palm Beach. (ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

Palm Beach resident Alex Carvalho said the drumlines at his beach are “no good at all”.

“There is no shark problem mate,” he said.

“We don’t see them a lot.”

Byron Bay local Jimmy Martinovich said, “we know the risks when we go into the water, and sharks are in the water.”

“It’s just doing its thing, it’s just living its life,” Mr Martinovich said.

“If there’s a way for them to not have to kill the shark and they can move it on, I think that’s a better idea.”

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

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