Ugly duck­lings set to fly in More­ton’s ne­glected south

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Primespace - Chris Herde Real es­tate

LONG ne­glected as ugly duck­lings, More­ton Bay’s four south­ern in­ner is­lands have shed their im­age prob­lems over the past few years to be­come a south­east Queens­land prop­erty hot spot.

In the Red­land Shire Coun­cil area, south of Bris­bane, Rus­sell, Ma­cleay, Lamb and Kar­ra­garra is­lands of­fer the com­bi­na­tion of very af­ford­able hous­ing min­utes from the main­land, with a unique, laid- back coastal lifestyle in the More­ton Bay Marine Park.

Ray White Ma­cleay Is­land prin­ci­pal Ed­ward A’Bear says the is­lands, once mainly a pre­serve for re­tirees, are at­tract­ing younger buy­ers lured by blocks of land sell­ing from about $ 70,000 to $ 90,000, or beach­front blocks at $ 280,000 to $ 350,000 over­look­ing a shel­tered bay.

An av­er­age house on the is­lands is worth about $ 230,000 and is rapidly be­com­ing more ex­pen­sive, but com­pared to the main­land, it’s still a bar­gain.

Val­ues and the per­cep­tion of value on the is­lands are ris­ing rapidly,’’ A’Bear says.

I orig­i­nally opened Ray White on th­ese is­lands in 1999 and those were the years when we sold land at $ 5000 a block.

Re­cently on Ma­cleay Is­land we’ve had two demon­strated set­tles of over $ 1 mil­lion — one of $ 1.1 mil­lion and one for $ 1.2 mil­lion.’’

Peo­ple are flock­ing to the is­lands and there are pro­jec­tions that the pop­u­la­tion on the four is­lands could ex­pand from 6500 now to be­tween 15,000 and 20,000 in 20 years.

How­ever, the is­lands are in dan­ger of be­ing swamped by their own pop­u­lar­ity.

A hard- fought coun­cil elec­tion cam­paign, which cul­mi­nates to­day, has fo­cused on the is­lands’ de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tion.

Red­lands Shire coun­cil­lor John Burns de­clares that their fu­ture is self- suf­fi­ciency. He has pushed for more in­fra­struc­ture and jobs on the is­lands, against op­po­si­tion from Green groups and lo­cals con­cerned with overde­vel­op­ment.

Peo­ple are mov­ing here in droves but the in­fra­struc­ture hasn’t caught up. Is­lan­ders are an­gry be­cause they pay rates and taxes and be­lieve they should have the same ser­vices as the main­land,’’ says Burns, who re­mains com­mit­ted to the dream of a bridge link­ing the is­lands to the main­land.

Part of the prob­lem is that the four south­ern bay is­lands have a che­quered his­tory, com­pared to their well- es­tab­lished north­ern neigh­bours, Coochiemudlo and North Strad­broke is­lands.

Up un­til the late 1960s, the is­lands were dom­i­nated by farms, but when the farm­ers left, about 22,000 blocks were sub­di­vided on the four is­lands, with­out any pro­vi­sion for in­fra­struc­ture.

The is­lands’ rep­u­ta­tion was fur­ther mud­died when some un­sus­pect­ing buy­ers on Rus­sell Is­land found their blocks sub­merged at high tide.

The Red­lands Shire Coun­cil took over the main­te­nance of the is­lands and over time bought around 8000 blocks for conser- va­tion, drainage and in­fra­struc­ture pur­poses. Be­tween 60 and 70 per cent of the blocks have never been built on.

It is this growth po­ten­tial that con­cerns Burns.

He says any cap­ping of the is­lands’ pop­u­la­tion would make many blocks worth­less, en­sur­ing years of le­gal wran­gling and mil­lions in com­pen­sa­tion.

The horse bolted when they sub- di­vided the is­lands into build­ing blocks, with­out any parks or in­fra­struc­ture,’’ he says.

The is­lands are no longer a se­cret to the world.

When a pop­u­la­tion in­creases there is the need for up­graded and new in­fra­struc­ture.’’ And that has been hap­pen­ing.

Lamb and Kar­ra­garra are the small­est is­lands, with lit­tle room for ex­pan­sion. Most of the de­vel­op­ment, ac­tual and pro­posed, has been on Rus­sell and Ma­cleay is­lands.

Both is­lands will have a po­lice sta­tion this year and new or re­de­vel­oped shop­ping cen­tres, while Rus­sell will have a con­crete plant, pub­lic pool and re­cre­ation cen­tre. Red­land Coun­cil has given pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval for the 88- unit More­ton Bay Ecore­sort at Kib­binkib­binwa Point on Rus­sell Is­land.

Con­tro­versy sur­rounds Canaipa De­vel­op­ments’ pro­posed $ 185 mil­lion, 245- apart­ment tourism re­sort, which in­cludes nine- hole golf course, on the north­ern tip of Rus­sell Is­land.

Wildlife Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety Bayside sec­re­tary Si­mon Bal­tais de­scribes the re­sort as a sore thumb, stick­ing out there in the mid­dle of More­ton Bay’’.

He says his or­gan­i­sa­tion and many is­lan­ders sup­port sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment that pro­tects the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment. They want in­dus­tries that pro­mote and sup­port nat­u­ral as­sets.

You can have jobs and an econ­omy and main­tain sus­tain­able com­mu­ni­ties and have the en­vi­ron­ment,’’ Bal­tais says.

But when you overde­velop, all those things that at­tract peo­ple here in the first place ba­si­cally erode.

Things can hap­pen at such a pace that by the time we re­alise they have gone too far, it is too late.

What is progress if it di­min­ishes a per­son’s qual­ity of life?’’

Par­adise found: Rus­sell Is­land is one of sev­eral More­ton Bay is­lands be­ing de­vel­oped

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