Ugly ducklings set to fly in Moreton’s neglected south
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