Plan to ‘ban’ visitors on iconic tourist island

 

Tourists could be barred from Moreton Island's iconic destinations and struggling tour operators sent to the wall under a new plan to split control of the world's second-largest sand island.

Management of the southeast island is set to be shared between the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation under a new law set to go before state parliament.

Moreton Island tour operators fear access to the island's most iconic sites including Blue Lagoon and Boulders at Cape Moreton will be restricted under the proposed laws - which grant QYAC new control over the island.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service officials have told operators negotiations with QYAC are ongoing but confirmed the closure of Cape Moreton was "on the table".

QYAC - which also manages North Stradbroke Island - has previously flagged its intention to restrict access to Cape Moreton, the Lighthouse and Blue Lagoon, but insisted the sites may still be accessed on an approved indigenous tour.

The lighthouse at Cape Moreton could be restricted to tourists.
The lighthouse at Cape Moreton could be restricted to tourists.

However, QYAC said the legislation would have no effect on recreational users of the island, and urged the state government to educate non-indigenous people about the proposed changes.

"Native title is not accompanied by education or information for the general public, and other users tend to have concerns which are not correct at law and often are very damaging to Aboriginal people," a spokeswoman said.

"We have requested that the state support native title declarations with better education for non-Aboriginal people."

Tour operators also say there is "massive concern" about QYAC's ability to grant the permits required by businesses to operate on the island.

They fear QYAC will refuse to grant permits to existing operators and instead run its own tourism business.

 

Cape Moreton.
Cape Moreton.

 

It is understood proposed permit changes include a requirement for existing operators to undertake cultural training and include an Aboriginal person on each tour to speak about the island's indigenous history.

"These are commercial operators who are dealing with COVID and now they have to deal with this," one business owner said.

Another operator, who spoke anonymously due to fear of retribution, raised concerns about a lack of competition on the island.

"QYAC would become a regulator as well as an operator," he said.

"What hope have we got?

"We might as well shut our doors."

QYAC was granted native title over Moreton Island in November 2019 and the corporation already manages 54,000 hectares of land and sea on and around North Stradbroke.

It says the majority of Moreton Island will remain a national park, with 120 hectares added.

"It will increase Aboriginal employment and management of cultural and natural values of the park," a spokesman said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Plan to 'ban' visitors on iconic tourist island


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