FUNNEL BAY PROTEST
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.