Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Ge­or­gia Simp­son ge­or­gia.simp­son@ whit­sun­day­

A LOCKED steel gate has been placed across a state road re­serve pre­vent­ing ve­hi­cle ac­cess to the beach at Fun­nel Bay.

On Mon­day, more than 30 res­i­dents met at the gate to stage a peace­ful protest for the gate’s re­moval.

The area has been un­der­go­ing pri­vate de­vel­op­ment, but the beach re­mains pub­lic.

Emer­gency ser­vice ve­hi­cles are able to ac­cess the road via a code to un­lock the gate.

Long-time lo­cal Craig Devlin, has been go­ing to Fun­nel Bay for nearly 30 years, and no­ticed the gate more than six weeks ago.

“It’s not the pri­vate de­vel­op­ment I’m con­cerned about, we don’t care about that. It’s purely the de­nied ve­hic­u­lar ac­cess to the beach,” he said.

The se­cluded beach is one of a few in the re­gion that is wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble.

A Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil spokesper­son said sev­eral beaches such as Boathaven Beach at Air­lie Beach had di­rect dis­abil­ity ac­cess pro­vided.

Kylee Adam­son is wheel­chair bound. Her left leg was am­pu­tated when she was just 10 years old.

She suf­fers from sco­l­io­sis and lym­phatic fi­lar­i­a­sis, or ele­phan­ti­a­sis as it is more com­monly known. As a re­sult, the area where her left hip and leg would nor­mally be, is in­cred­i­bly painful and swollen.

Swim­ming is one of the only ac­tiv­i­ties that helps to re­lieve the con­stant pain she lives with.

“I haven’t been swim­ming for ages be­cause I can’t get down there – it’s a wheel­chair not a four-wheel drive,” she said.

She prefers Fun­nel Bay to other beaches, be­cause it’s qui­eter.

“The wa­ter in that bay is cooler and calmer so it’s com­pletely dif­fer­ent – not as em­bar­rass­ing, not that many peo­ple there,” Miss Adam­son said.

Miss Adam­son said she knows of two other peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties who would be pre­vented from ac­cess­ing the beach be­cause of the gate.

Sev­eral peo­ple at the protest said as well as pre­vent­ing peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties from ac­cess­ing the beach, it also ruled out prams and fam­i­lies with young chil­dren.

Save our Fore­shore spokesper­son Suzette Pelt said the pub­lic road to the beach had been in place for at least 50 years.

“It’s coun­cil’s role to main­tain the in­fras­truc­ture needed for a grow­ing and chang­ing com­mu­nity. Fun­nel Bay is one of those ar­eas that the com­mu­nity has his­tor­i­cally used,” Mrs Pelt said.

In 2015, the Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil re­stricted the ac­tiv­i­ties that could take place on the Fun­nel Bay Es­planade Re­serve, which in­cludes the beach and the track from Lang­ford Road to the beach.

“De­vel­op­ment is pro­gress­ing quickly at Fun­nel Bay, with the re­cent con­struc­tion of Lang­ford Road and the lodge­ment of a de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion for a 150-bed ho­tel,” a Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil spokesper­son said.

“Coun­cil has iden­ti­fied the seal­ing of the pedes­trian track from Lang­ford Road to the beach as an emerg­ing cap­i­tal works pro­ject which will be dis­cussed for fu­ture fund­ing.”


OPEN THE GATE: Res­i­dents want ac­cess to Fun­nel Bay via road as it too far away for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties oth­er­wise.

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