Lack of sig­nage a real dan­ger at Woobadda

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - TOURISM TALK -

AF­TER a short, but bril­liant hol­i­day in New Zealand, I had sev­eral trips along the Track last week­end with clients fas­ci­nated by the rain­for­est, wa­ter­falls and creek cross­ings.

The Wu­jal Wu­jal Falls are re­ally cre­at­ing a great spec­ta­cle with the re­cent good rains.

Snakes, frogs, in­sects, flow­ers, fruits and beans are ev­ery­where, pro­vided you have a good look around - and up.

Water lev­els have been gen­er­ally ok.

How­ever, I note that one un­for­tu­nate mo­torist had risked the Woobadda Creek when the lev­els were well up and run­ning pow­er­fully a few days ear­lier.

He tipped his 4WD, lost his load and car but not, luck­ily, his life.

Whether or not it con­trib­uted to his ac­ci­dent I don’t know, but some­one (some fool?) has painted a dan­ger­ously mis­lead­ing yel­low water level mark on the big marker rock down­stream on the south­ern side of the Creek. I ig­nore the “sign” to­tally. I strongly ad­vise oth­ers to do the same.

A more-re­al­is­tic safe level is about 400mm lower. I have alerted the Coun­cil to the prob­lem, and it should be fixed by time of pub­li­ca­tion.

I don’t know the ex­act fig­ures, but Woobadda is too dan­ger­ous to cross for per­haps 20-30 days dur­ing the year, mainly dur­ing the mon­soon sea­son. Yet, it is an im­por­tant road for many peo­ple.

This begs two ques­tions - firstly, why aren’t there any for­mal warn­ing mark­ers?

No doubt Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil is reluc­tant to pro­vide any water level ad­vice for fear of lit­i­ga­tion, es­pe­cially as the creek base is un­sta­ble and un­even.

“Bet­ter no sign than one that leaves a chance of lit­i­ga­tion” runs the sort of ar­gu­ment.

Yet the lack of sig­nage, or in this case, dan­ger­ously mis­lead­ing un­offi cial sig­nage, is clearly dan­ger­ous to life. Are not lives more im­por­tant than po­ten­tial lit­i­ga­tion?

The big­ger ques­tion has been raised also by lo­cal De­garra res­i­dent Mar­garet Upite: “Why isn’t a per­ma­nent Woobadda Creek cross­ing fix hap­pen­ing?”

The Wet Trop­ics Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity and re­spec­tive coun­cils have for some time been pre­par­ing a strat­egy to ex­am­ine and test ideas which will im­pact on the to­tal Bloom­field Track.

The very dif­fi­cult bal­anc­ing act in­volves jug­gling lives on the one hand and loss of her­itage val­ues on the other. The is­sues need proper ex­am­i­na­tion, in­formed ideas and test­ing in the com­mu­nity.

So, please con­trib­ute to en­sure that an ef­fec­tive and good com­pro­mise so­lu­tion will be found.

In the mean­time, the Track has been ac­ces­si­ble al­most ev­ery day in the last few weeks.

Trees keep fall­ing with wind and rain and cre­ate an ad­ven­tur­ous drive. Water lev­els can and will rise sud­denly.

So, be care­ful, but don’t let it stop you en­joy­ing the ex­pe­ri­ences of the area.

Tides will be build­ing up to kingtide lev­els in the mid­dle of next week, so make sure you study the tides be­fore cross­ing the Bloom­field River, and get ad­vice from lo­cal po­lice fac­tor­ing in the ex­tra ef­fect of rain.

Lucky es­cape: this ve­hi­cle over­turned at Woobadda Creek on the Bloom­field Track re­cently

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