Thursday, September 21, 2006

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

For those of you not familiar with Mount Tamborine...the above pics will give you a small idea of what this area has to offer. Mount Tamborine is in the hinterland up behind Australia's (Queensland's) Gold Coast, around about a thirty minutes drive up the winding, picturesque mountain road to the plateau, which is Mount Tamborine. The plateau is approximately 9 kilometers long and about 5 kilometers across at its widest part. The highest point is 600 metres above sea level. The plateau was formed by an ancient volcano to the south. On the top of the plateau the soil is fertile, deep, rich, red volcanic soil....Red Murrum. The first national park to be declared in Queensland has its home here on the mountain. These days there are a number of other national parks on and about the plateau.

The style of living up here at Mount Tamborine is semi-rural, relaxed with a village-like atmosphere. It is this atmosphere, together with the beauty of the area and its cooler climate that draws day-trippers and tourists, both local and overseas, to our mountain. Dotted along the meandering roadways one will find roadside stalls with honour boxes attached, offering home-grown, pesticide-free produce to the passing traffic. I, myself, last winter set up a stall outside from where I live on Sunday mornings, selling my home-made jams, pickles, chutney, cakes and biscuits/cookies...and mint sauce, (which proved a real winner!). This is only a brief insight to what Mount Tamborine is like. The pace up here on the mountain is much slower than our neighbours in Brisbane, Queensland's capital about an hour's drive to the north, or our neighbours to the east on the Gold Coast. That's why I live up here and, I'm sure, why others live here. I guess you're wondering why I'm giving you a 'travelogue' spiel on Mount Tamborine...well, I will explain. I hope you can spare the time.

I discovered two days ago, much to my anger, distress and shock, that a re-development application is in the works for a 'staged development' at the St Bernard's Hotel site. St Bernard's Hotel, its history going back to 1881, (it's one of the oldest buildings on the mountain) sits on 4 hectares of land. Geese wander the property, quenching their thirst at the natural waterway at the entrance to the hotel site. Curious peacocks roam, greeting equally curious guests. Basil, the St. Bernard dog (he is a 'St. Bernard) begrudgingly lifts his head in an attempt to be welcoming, but really he is annoyed for having his sleep disturbed. From the eastern side of the property, magnificent, breath-taking views of Guanaba Gorge overwhelm while guests sip on their drinks of choice and ponder an inviting lunch menu.

The 'staged development' plans...33 tourist cabins, extension of an additional 12 units to the existing motel to the left-hand side of the hotel, 2 separate shop tenancies, commercial/professional, 2 tenancies, 8 tourist business tenancies, indoor entertainment/caterer's room, caretaker's residence and environmental relevant activity etc., etc.

I'm sure I'm not alone in saying I would like to see restoration work done to the hotel, retaining its original structure...there is renovation work required on the hotel, this I do not deny. As for the adjoining motel...well, I think I can speak for many and say whoever designed and built it in the first place must have had a few too many tipples of rum while designing it! Why someone would design and build a mock Mexican-style building adjoining the style of St. Bernard's hotel is beyond my comprehension. So if it was knocked down and replaced in similar style to the hotel...not increased in number of motel rooms, then I have no complaints. I believe the hotel should be restored to its former glory and the adjoining motel to visually fit in with that 'glory'.

However, this 'staged development' which is planned is not in line with the character of this mountain. It is neither needed nor wanted. And to add salt to the wound, the "Public Notice of Development Application" was placed in such a spot to be not noticeable to many. It also held 'pride of place' not long enough to give many time to write in their objections to the council. I think that wreaks of underhandedness by the local council...and by the would-be developers! I didn't even mention the word 'collusion', did I? No...I didn't. You must have imagined that I did!

I also heard a whisper that Woolworths are looking to get a foothold here on the mountain. Woolworths are not needed up here. IGA supermarket covers all needs adequately. If there's something you want and they don't have it in stock, they willingly get it big deal. IGA are cheaper than the larger supermarkets and their staff have retained a 'rustic', pleasant approach to the shoppers. If people want the hype of the bigger supermarkets and the huge, hectic shopping centres...they can find many of such centres down on the Gold Coast or north, in Brisbane. These centres are NOT needed or wanted here on Mount Tamborine.

These types of developments are not wanted here on the mountain. I wish the money-hungry developers would wake up! It's not their call to ruin what is not theirs to ruin. They come into places like this, make lots of dollars and then run. They don't care. All they see are dollar signs.

It's happened elsewhere. Past lessons and lessons from other areas are never learned. I had this argument years ago with a politician, Peter McEchnie, who was then Minister for Sports & Recreation, Tourism and who knows what else! In May, 1986, when I was managing the resort at Cape Richards, on Hinchinbrook Island, I was guest at a dinner in Cardwell on the mainland. McEchnie was there to open the new National Parks & Wildlife Information Centre in Cardwell the next day. He waffled on with all the normal political run-around...sprouting lots of words but in the end, saying nothing at all. Come 'question time', I couldn't help myself, though I did try. I called him out saying that errors of the past are never rectified but are continued to be made. I accused him of 'running around the mulberry bush' and ending up back at the same spot. All the mistakes made in the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast were about to be made again in Cairns. Remember, this was 1986. People visited Cairns to see Cairns for what it was. Now Cairns is a clone of Miami or Honululu. And, it would appear, developers want to make Mount Tamborine a clone of the Gold Coast. If people want to visit the Gold Coast for what it has to offer, they will and do. Leave the mountains as it is....that's why visitors come here. It's why I chose to live here.

I know progress is a given but for Heaven's sake, progress should be monitored. It's so frustrating. Not everyone wants 'concrete and clay'!


  1. After copying and pasting your post into word, then changing the font, I could read what you wrote. And it breaks my heart to read about the changes that are planned. You're area is where I would love to live someday - close enough to the city to go there for a weekend, but far enough away that you're not part of the rat race. I love where you live. Please fight to keep it as it is. Write to the council. Get everyone you know to write also. Tell the council you will not shop at Woolworths if it is built. Tell the newspapers. Tell the television stations. If there is anything I can do to help from up in Townsville, do let me know.

  2. Thanks, Tanya...I've written a letter to the editor for the local paper here. I write an article each week for it, so hopefully it will be printed and bring some attention. Letters are being written to the local council. Thanks for your is appreciated.

    I'm sorry about the font...all is well on my end...not sure what that is all about...but at least you got it up okay.

  3. My apologies for the 'ding-bats' view was fine but I've heard from others that their 'copy' was unreadable. I have changed the font (hopefully successfully) and my post should now be legible.

  4. Indeed it is.

    Amazing how many times "progress" isn't in the right direction.

    Good luck with the fight. Perhaps some good ol' bulldozer blocking is in order?

  5. It is frustrating. I'm only one 'small voice'...and no one will listen to me...but that doesn't stop me from having my say...I believe it is my right. Hopefully, my 'letter to the editor' will be published (I think it will...because of my weekly article)...and I hope there are compassionate readers out there who agree with my sentiments. The few people I know at a 'personal' level up here, think similar to the way I think. But that is only a 'few'...

    There are issues...such as...increased noise levels...demands on the aquifer causing inevitable degradation of water quality as a result of up to 1500 persons visiting the proposed site at any given time....buildings will be out of character with the current character and natural environment.

    The proposed new and additional commercial activities are inconsistent with existing amenities...if this proposed 'stage development' is allowed to go ahead, it will be the beginning of the end of what Mount Tamborine has going for it.

  6. I loved being up in the tree houses we built as children in the back yard of where we lived. I don't mind reverting to childhood...I reckon sitting up in a tree (as long as I've got some cheese, salami, crackers and wine with me...and a couple of good books) would be kinda fun! ;)

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