OUT OF THEIR DEPTH

Push to make tourists safer at state’s most dan­ger­ous beach

The Cairns Post - - FRONT PAGE - GRACE MA­SON grace.ma­son@news.com.au

GREEN Is­land has been rated the most dan­ger­ous beach in Queens­land for the sec­ond time in three years de­spite ef­forts to make tourists safer.

A 67-year-old Ja­panese tourist be­came the sixth per­son to drown at the pop­u­lar leisure des­ti­na­tion, 27km north-west of Cairns, in the past 10 years. He could not be re­vived af­ter be­ing pulled from the wa­ter in Oc­to­ber last year.

The fig­ure could have been even higher af­ter a 43year-old fe­male snorkeller sur­vived a near-drown­ing off the is­land which left her in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion in Jan­uary.

Both in­ci­dents oc­curred out­side the pa­trol flags.

The man was among four drown­ing deaths on beaches through­out the state be­tween July 1, 2016 and June 30 this year.

Green Is­land’s hor­ror record will be high­lighted in the Surf Life Sav­ing Queens­land an­nual re­port re­leased to­day along with stingers and other aquatic trends in the past 12 months and 10 years.

“A lot of th­ese drown­ings have un­for­tu­nately in­volved in­ter­na­tional tourists and trav­ellers who don’t al­ways have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence in the ocean,” SLSQ North Queens­land re­gional man­ager Rob David­son said.

“In the past few years, we’ve been work­ing closely with key stake­hold­ers to im­prove and in­crease safety and this will con­tinue to re­main a pri­or­ity.”

The two episodes on Green Is­land prompted a re­newed call by for­mer SLSQ re­gional man­ager Col Sparkes for fur­ther State Govern­ment fund­ing to pay a third life­guard on the is­land to pa­trol the sec­ond beach.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion briefly funded the third spot in early 2015 be­fore cof­fers dried up.

Se­abob tech­nol­ogy has been in­tro­duced on the is­land in the past year to as­sist life­guards with search and res­cue ac­tiv­i­ties.

Mr David­son said in­creased use of mul­ti­lin­gual book­lets to im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion with tourists, an aquatic au­dit and ex­tra signs had been in­tro­duced.

He said plans were un­der­way to in­stall a life­guard tower on the is­land. The fea­si­bil­ity of re­motely-op­er­ated drones in pa­trols and search op­er­a­tions was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

Pic­ture: BREN­DAN RADKE

EX­CIT­ING AD­VEN­TURE: Matisse Reed of St Mon­ica's Col­lege (left) and James Humphris of Cairns State High School will fly to Italy on Novem­ber 18.

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