BOAT RAMP OPEN AT LAST
BOB Spees will now be able to enjoy the school holidays without worrying about safety on the Whisper Bay boat ramp.
Since a five-year-old girl was nearly killed on the ramp five years ago, the local fishing guru has led the charge to have the facility fixed.
On Monday morning he backed his boat down the newly re-aligned and widened ramp, sheltered by a rock wall, and breathed a sigh of relief.
“It’s always been about the safety of everyone here – there’s been so many accidents,” he said.
The fight to build a breakwall as shelter from the northerly winds started when Mr Spees went to former Whitsunday MP Jan Jarratt, whose Labor Government had a feasibility study done.
“Then all we got was promises,” Mr Spees said.
Sick of seeing nothing done, Mr Spees joined forces with another local identity, Kevin Collins, and together the pair mustered the fishing fraternity and held a protest march along the main street of Airlie Beach.
The 2012 elections were filled with more promises and a boat ramp committee, including Greg France and current councillor John Atkinson was formed.
While Labor candidate Bronwyn Taha wasn’t elected to the seat of Whitsunday, her party won government in Queensland and before long the promised millions came rolling in.
Mayor Jennifer Whitney, who has also supported the project since its onset, said part of the reason it became possible was the work Council did to reduce the facility’s cost.
“The original $10 million was way out of our reach so we’ve been working as a council collectively to get that price down,” she said.
Councillors Jan Clifford, John Atkinson and former Cr Kevin Collins all said Monday’s opening was something they felt proud to have achieved.
“Our postcode – 4802 – has the highest boat ownership per capita in Australia and now we’ve got facilities to match,” Mr Collins said.
Ms Taha meanwhile described it as “quite surreal” to be finally looking at the finished product this week.
“This wasn’t about an elec- tion commitment – it was about a necessary bit of infrastructure for the Whitsundays and Labor delivered it,” she said.
Clearly emotional, Mr Spees said he wanted to thank everyone who had played a part. “Every little bit counts and it just shows what we can do when people stick together,” he said.
MAGIC MOMENT: Bob Spees, John Atkinson and Kevin Collins, Bronwyn Taha, Jan Clifford, Jennifer Whitney and Ray Cook and Jodie Davies in the background, celebrate the opening of the Whisper Bay boat ramp on Monday.